The Rural Delivery Nightmare


Now we live at the actual point within our postcode area that the postcode refers to. This can happen with you in a rural area. Rural postcodes here in the UK can be quite big. So from any given point in the post code you cannot see all the houses in it. But in our case, the point your satnav will bring you to is the top of our drive.

Like all these things it has advantages and disadvantages. It’s easy enough to tell people how to find us, even if they haven’t a satnav they can still look at google maps before they set off and mark us on a proper map.

It does have disadvantages, we’re where couriers arrive, almost always looking for somebody else. So I just direct them to their proper destination. Indeed over the years I’ve got to sort of know some of them. One of them from DHL is an excellent driver, he can casually back down any lane to let others through, and does. Another driver got out of his van, saw me walking towards him and said with a big grin, “At last, I’ve got one for you.”

Then there are the various fast food delivery companies. Unlike couriers who tend to arrive during the day, the fast food companies turn up in the evening. It has been pointed out that I could live forever off pizza that other people have paid for. But there are problems. Like the night we had a knock on the door about midnight to discover two Bulgarians standing there proffering a takeaway. They spoke virtually no English and our Bulgarian is distinctly rusty. One held out his phone. This means a swift retreat to find reading glasses. The poor beggars had been given the wrong post code. The right one was in the order but whoever had sent them had put the wrong one on the bottom of the bit they would look at. I challenge you to explain that in Bulgarian! Anyway eventually the information was conveyed and off they went, they were only six miles away from where they should have been.

But every so often I do get stuff online. I was wanting a kneeling chair (I’m ‘sitting on it’ now) and what with one thing and another I wasn’t going to get into town for a while. I didn’t have time to make a special trip, and a friend of mine showed me his chair which was both comfortable and could be adjusted to fit me. So he emailed me the link and I bought it off Amazon.

I ordered it on the Saturday. I decided not to pay extra for speedy delivery and it was fine with me if it came on Tuesday.

It arrived on Sunday morning. But still, I’d not paid extra.

So I assembled it. But one part (part e) is a pin which should have two threaded ends so that you can put the nuts on them to hold it in place. As you can see from the photo, somebody in the factory hadn’t threaded it.

Muttering to myself, I put the whole damned lot back in the box to return. All I needed was somebody to send me part e, but that isn’t apparently possible. So I ‘told Amazon’ and their website said that Hermes would collect our parcel “on next business day (Mon-Fri: 8 AM – 8 PM, excluding Bank Holidays), as long as the collection is booked before 11 PM local time.”

We sort of made sure somebody was about all day on Monday but nothing happened. So I contacted Amazon and in the chat I was told that I had to give them three working days.

I pointed out some of us have to work for a living, and I had livestock to feed etc. I hadn’t time to sit with my brain in neutral waiting for the winged messenger of the gods to remember me. Anyway after three working days, nothing happened. Indeed the Hermes page showed (and still shows) that they’re about to collect it. I mean, it’s barely been a fortnight since they were asked.

When they named the company, Hermes, did they know that “Hermes is the winged herald and messenger of the Olympian gods. In addition, he is also a divine trickster, and the god of roads, flocks, commerce, and thieves”?

Apparently I could take it into the one shop in our local town which deals with Hermes. (I’m not entirely sure whether the others won’t or whether Hermes cherishes some sort of air of exclusivity.)

The problem here, and a lot of rural people will doubtless back me up on this, I buy online when I haven’t got time to make the long trek into town. I use couriers to ship stuff I don’t have the time to ship myself. Then there is the fact that Hermes think that we’ve nothing better to do that to sit for twelve hours a day keeping an eye out for them, on the assumption that they will, one day, turn up. Well it’s thirteen days and counting as I write this. Perhaps the winged messenger of the Gods is a touch out of condition?

But as a business model, is it anywhere near sustainable? Something is shipped from the People’s Republic of China, put in a warehouse, shipped out to a destination somewhere in England. One small part is faulty, so it’s stuck back in the box, eventually shipped back to the warehouse. Then what happens? Somehow I cannot imagine that the warehouse manager gets on the phone to a colleague in China and says, “Can you have a word with Old Wang Mang on the lathe, he’s letting part e slip through without threading it again. Oh and drop us another part e in the post will you please.”

So what happens to all these kneeling chairs and other things which are faulty? Do they get sent back to China in disgrace? (I have a mental picture of the battered tramp steamer of shame making its slow way back, avoiding busy shipping lanes and only entering harbours late at night)

Are they sold off dirt cheap to some bright lad or lass who goes through them, salvages what they can and sells them from a market stall in Barnsley?

Enquiring minds want to know.

But anyway, whilst I was getting irritated with Hermes it suddenly occurred to me that it might make more sense to just fix it myself.

I took offending part e out to the workshop and luckily the smallest die in my tap and die set fitted it. So I threaded it, took it back in the house, assembled the chair and I’m now kneeling/sitting on it. It takes getting used to but I’m happy enough with it.

Hermes on the other hand…….

Jim Webster farms at the bottom end of South Cumbria. Jim was encouraged to collect together into a book some blog posts he’d written because of their insight into Cumbrian farming and rural life (rain, sheep, quad-bikes and dogs) It’s available here.