If you have read my review on Parcel Monkey you will be aware that for the most part I am very happy with the service they provide, however recently I have noted one of their shortcomings. Customer service.
Customer service is a vital part of any business, if you don’t treat your customers right they wont come back. Selling on eBay as I do I recognise this fact and try to do all I can to answer my customers questions and deal with their problems without any effort on their part. And that’s where this story begins.
It all started innocently enough when I sold an item on eBay. It was a Cluedo board game from the 1950′s, it didn’t weigh a lot but it was vintage and sold for £50. When it sold I was quite happy because it had been listed for a while. I wasn’t quite so please when I realised it had sold to a buyer in the USA.
I am usually quite willing to send items internationally, but generally transactions fall through when a customer realises how much they are going to have to pay for shipping. In this case I had looked for quotes on various websites and the cheapest price I could find for shipping to the USA for this parcel was with Parcelforce through the Parcel Monkey website. The price to send the parcel was a whopping £29.59. I was offering free shipping to the UK and so to keep things fair I gave the buyer a discount comparable to the cost of UK shipping and they paid £22.39 for shipping. The cost to send was so much because I require tracking on items I sell overseas that sell for more than £20 in order to protect myself.
I booked the courier, filled out the customs forms and Parcelforce picked up the next day which was 22nd January 2014. As far as I was concerned the buyer would receive their item a week or so later. Being the good customer servant I am I marked the item as dispatched in eBay and also sent the buyer a message which contained a tracking link so they could see the progress of their parcel as it winged its way towards them.
Weeks went by and I forgot all about it. I didn’t receive feedback for the item but that’s not unusual as probably less that half of the items I sell get feedback. Then a month later on 22nd February 2014 I got a message from the buyer.
“I have yet to received my thing. Has it been returned to sender.”
At first I thought that possibly it had indeed been returned to sender due to the buyer not picking it up after a missed delivery, but then I checked the detailed tracking on Parcelforce’s website.
As you can see from the image above the item was with the delivery agent on 27th January 2014 and even if the courier had to walk to deliver the package it shouldn’t have taken this long to be delivered. Surely this must be easy to sort out. A quick message to Parcel Monkey and they should be able to do some enquiries for me. Right?
I used Parcelmonkey’s support centre and opened a ticket. The conversation went as follows:
I sent the above order via yourselves with Parcel Force on 22/1/14, the tracking states that it’s been with the delivery agent since 27/1/14.
My customer has been very patient waiting so far however I think that the item may have gone missing. Please can you look into this for me so I can appease my customer. And if there has been a problem can you take steps to resolve them. Regards
We apologise for the inconvenience you and your customer have experienced.
Please kindly provide a full description of the parcel- the contents and how this was packaged as well as the value so we can pass this on to ParcelForce and request an investigation.
Thank you for your quick reply, unfortunately I cannot be very specific as I packed and sent this a month ago.
All I can say it I generally use brown cardboard to pack my items up with and then use white “Fragile” tape on the sides. I will have had the customs documentation on a re sealable packet on the parcel. The contents was a vintage Cluedo board game and it’s value is £50. It will have been wrapped in bubble wrap inside the cardbord box.
Thank you for the details. We will pass this on to ParcelForce for you. Please kindly get back to us on Monday afternoon, we may already have an update by then.
I then perhaps got a little too big for my boots, in hindsight I was a bit arsey and this may have contributed to what followed.
Respectfully, I would expect that if you have an update for me by Monday then you let me know as soon as you receive one. It shouldn’t be up to me to get back in touch to check if there is any news. I will be at work and busy myself on Monday and so would appreciate any news as it becomes available to yourselves.
Parcel Monkey conducts business in accordance with its standard Terms and Conditions of Carriage; these conditions can be found on the Parcel Monkey’s Website or at the time the order was processing. Please be advised that when you or your representative signed the ‘Shipper’s agreement’ section of the Terms and Conditions, you entered into a legally binding contract and agreed that Parcel Monkey’s Terms and Conditions were all the terms of the contract between Parcel Monkey and yourself.
Clause 5 provides that all missing claims must be reported to Parcel Monkey within 7 working days from the scheduled delivery date. Our records indicate that your shipment was collected by Parcel Monkey on the 22nd of January 2014 and that your first notification to Parcel Monkey was on 21st of February 2014
As this falls outside of the 7 working days, regrettably, we are unable to proceed any further with your claim.
Parcel Monkey Claims Department
Ah, well at least they are sincere in their regret. My main issue with their reply was that I wasn’t looking to make a claim. I just wanted them to look into it and see where the parcel was. To see if they could get in touch with the stateside couriers and check to see if it was stacked in a corner awaiting delivery or something. Obviously this didn’t translate so I replied with the following.
First of all I have not informed you that I am making a claim yet. I simply want some help in finding out what has happened with this parcel, where it is etc, which any reputable customer service department would do without complaint. However your recent reply quoting terms and conditions has left me feeling incredibly let down.
Also please can you confirm when exactly this shipment was supposed to arrive? Because I can’t find a quoted date.
I then thought I would take my frustrations to social media in the hope that public shaming may force them to take action so went to their Facebook page but couldn’t see how to post on their wall but I did find their Mission Statement, which prompted me to turn to Twitter.
— Sayzey (@sayzey) February 24, 2014
I followed this up with another message on the support ticket.
Please may I also ask when you are considering wether or not to help me on this issue that the mission of Parcel Monkey is as follows:
To be the most respected courier quotes site on the planet.”
I have definitely lost respect for the Parcel Monkey brand after your latest reply. I am extremely disappointed.
An hour later I received a reply:
We are sorry that a positive outcome could not be reached in relation to your claim.
However, when a shipment is raised to a matter of claim we have certain policy that we have to follow according to the Trading Standards of the Company.
Our record shows that you agreed to our Terms and Conditions and confirmed that if the delivery does not happen within the estimated timescale, you will notify us within 7 working days.
Since you reported the case after the 7 working days unfortunately we had to reject your claim.
A full refund of your delivery charge will be offered back in our next email.
Please accept our sincere apologies for any inconvenience this may cause you.
I then got a refund offer. That’s all well and good however they still didn’t understand that is not what I wanted! I accepted the offer thinking it was the best I was going to get, but it would still leave me £40 out of pocket.
Thank you for accepting the offer.
The details have been passed to our accounts team who will credit you within 24 hours.
I will let you know when the money has been sent.
Thank you for your offer of a postage refund. I have accepted this as I know when to quit while I am ahead. Please know however that I wasn’t seeking a refund and I wasn’t making a claim, I simply wanted some help in finding out where the parcel was. I have learned my lesson for next time, hopefully there won’t be one but you never know.
I then cut out the middleman and got in touch with Parcelforce directly. After a few very helpful exchanges they provided me with a direct telephone number for the US courier company for my customer to get in touch and see if the parcel had been undelivered. They also requested parcel details from me so that they could begin the investigation process. I provided all of this and waited.
On 27th February I was under the weather and ill in bed and I got a phone call from Parcelforce customer services. The lady I spoke with was very nice and explained that as I had paid for the parcel through a third party she couldn’t deal with me directly and give me any details of the parcel because that was the job of Parcel Monkey. She also said that they should be the ones who got in touch and then Parcelforce would gladly look into the issue. It all seemed so simple to me, yet the people I was dealing with either didn’t grasp what I needed or weren’t bothered either way. Back to Parcel Monkey I would have to go.
I submitted another reply to Parcel Monkey.
Thank you for my refund. I am very grateful that this was issued. I am unsure if the issue of this refund was due to the parcel already being deemed lost or not, however I got in touch with Parcelforce in the hope that they may be able to shed some light on the location of the parcel and while they were very helpful, as I paid yourselves and not them it would have to be yourselves who initiate the investigation.
They told me to get back in touch with yourselves and inform you that despite Parcelmonkey Terms and conditions, Parcelforce international packages have 120 days in which for investigations into the location of parcels can be made. They informed me that it would be simply a case of yourselves getting in touch with them and they would do the rest.
I hope you will find this an easy way to try and resolve this situation once and for all. Thanks
I wasn’t going to hold my breath. In the mean time my buyer got back to me in a message. He informed me that he had called the number I had sent him and they had told him that his package was returned to sender. Doh!
I gave the buyer a full refund since they were very patient and never complained about the delay. Perhaps if they had complained earlier it may have got sorted, but you live and learn in this business!
After I had issued the refund I had a reply from Parcel monkey:
Although Parcel Force may have 120 days of investigation however your contract was with Parcel Monkey and your claim had to be assessed as per the contract you entered.
I was a little bit annoyed and sent the following reply.
Seriously how hard can it be to send an email? If required I will write the email, I will even supply you with the email address, all I need is someone from parcel monkey to send it. Parcelforce will do the rest.
Is it too much to ask for you to consider this? Is it too much to ask for the customer service team of a business which relies on customers to run to actually serve the customer?
Two days later and I was surprised to receive the following reply:
We have submitted a claim on your behalf as requested and your reference number is AB-123456.
Excellent. I made some progress.
Fast forward two weeks and I haven’t heard anything more from Parcel Monkey or Parcelforce and I don’t think I ever will. As for using Parcel Monkey again, I don’t think I ever will.
An interesting side note to all of this was that minutes after I sent the tweet to @parcelmonkey a rival courier broker, Parcel Hero, followed me, which I thought was rather clever, so I am ready to try them out.
I have run a few quotes through their website and they are competitive on price and use a slightly different model to their simian competitors. They have a very good refer a friend scheme and if you would like to help me out, drop me an email and I will refer you. I’ll get £5 for referring you and you can then go on to refer your friends and earn credit to send parcels that way.