Living out in the country we rely on shipping services a lot and this morning one of our usual drivers went out of his way to warn me that this was likely to be a terrible holiday season when it comes to getting packages delivered.
We do a lot of shopping online and have a going eBay store so this is especially important to us but as more and more consumers and even businesses come to rely on online shopping the need for fast, competent deliveries become ever more critical.
Just a few years ago we knew most of the delivery drivers by name but even then holiday hires caused occasional delays and even lost packages.
By last year unless the company let us specify USPS delivery we stopped placing any orders after November 15 through mid-January because the seasonal drivers just weren’t familiar enough with rural addresses and packages were being delayed for longer and longer periods – when they arrived at all.
But this was the first year one of the regular drivers from one of the big companies everyone would recognize actually went out of his way to warn me that it was going to be a lot worse this year.
I won’t specify which big delivery service my friend is with other than to say it wasn’t the U.S. Post Office which doesn’t tend to hire new temporary drivers. Based on past experience the problem is widespread and not tied to a single carrier, at least out here in rural areas where a new driver may have 10-20 Zip CODEs to cover in a single day.
Now the Post Office has its own problems and I’m not going out of my way to defend them, but when I have a package sent to a P.O. Box it always seems to arrive.
Just how much impact will poorly trained seasonal delivery drivers have on the online shopping season, customer satisfaction, and therefore the future growth in the trend toward more online shopping?
How bad can it get? Last holiday season I had some electronics dropped at a similar address but in an entirely different Zip CODE and was told confidentially by yet another permanent driver I knew that one of the temps responsible was known for getting frustrated and sometimes dumping packages along the road if he was running short of time or patience.
It took months to finally settle the problem with the seller since the temp driver had market the package delivered and was nowhere to be found when we reported it missing.
That gadget may still be in a ditch after disappearing into a snow drift one dark and stormy December afternoon.
Would it help of more online companies permitted buyers to specify the shipping method they know will be reliable in their area?