Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Tis the season...to go to the DHL depot

Oh, the joys of Christmas shopping online. It's just great. No fighting the crowds, queuing at the till or being pressurised by pushy salespeople into buying something totally unsuitable. With just a click of the mouse and a flex of the credit card, you are ready to go. Bliss.

Until, of course, it comes to delivery. And when you are out of the house half the week at work, and have to get out of it for at least a couple of hours on other days in order to maintain your sanity with two small children, you will inevitably miss the all-important arrival of the parcels.

So instead of queuing at the shops, you get to queue at the delightful Royal Mail sorting office. My local one is a benighted place that moves at snail's pace and is only open between 8 and 12 in the morning. I swear they must go off, make tea, do the crossword and phone their grannies during the time it takes them to find most packages. And the other customers don't exactly help - forgetting to bring any ID and then arguing about it, or turning up, as one woman did the other day, and saying 'I'm expecting a parcel from my sister,' without having any notion of from whence or when said parcel had been sent. All great fun when you have two bored Littleboys in tow....

Then, you return from picking up one item, only to find that in your absence, another one will have been delivered. And a card left, telling you to collect it between 8 and 12....it's like postal groundhog day.

Now, Royal Mail's problems are well-documented, but I have to say that this year my worst experience was at the DHL depot. Having missed a delivery twice, I decided to go and collect it myself from their depot on a South London industrial estate. I found the place easily enough, as there were literally scores of yellow vans emerging from its entrance, no doubt laden with presents (so does that make DHL vans the modern-day reindeer?). But once inside, there was no sign to indicate where to go and I drove around in vain, avoiding forklift trucks, until a guy in overalls took pity and pointed me in the right direction. I then stumbled around in the freezing cold looking for 'customer reception', which turned out to be a dingy office behind a barbed wire fence.

By the time I had queued and was handing my slip over, I was desperate for the loo, so stupidly enquired whether there was a customer toilet....

Much consternation. Endless discussions behind the counter. Er, no, actually - well, there might be, but it was being painted. I started to tell them not to worry, but it was too late; they genuinely wanted to help, so a female member of staff was fetched from the bowels of the building and ordered to show me to the staff loos.

We went through a series of locked doors with combination codes to reach it (apparently the male staff weren't allowed to know the combination to the female loos; I'd rather not start to think about why). When we finally reached it, the resigned-looking DHL lady was very apologetic, and no wonder. It was squalid: water leaking all over the floor, no soap or paper towels, broken loo seat. And this was her workplace, poor thing. I was pretty shocked - sure, I wasn't meant to have seen it, but surely DHL, a multinational corporation, could afford a decent loo for its staff?

And so this Christmas, perhaps we should remember the unfortunate ones. While we sit at home gleefully ordering presents online, an army of downtrodden Santa's DH-elves sit in dingy offices with sub-standard loos, sorting parcels, so that global corporations can cream off the profits. Merry Christmas, everyone!

7 comments:

Mud in the City said...

Sounds hideous - fo ryou and them. But I'm sure my sympathy would slowly erode due to the dreadfully inept service I always receive on trying to actually GET a parcel.

This is one of the many reasons why I have decided I need a Butler. Someone to be there to pick things up, do the queueing for me and generally run the admin in my life.

Do you want to share one?

Nota Bene said...

I have posted a comment, but you weren't there. So could you come back tomorrow between 8 and 12 to collect it?

Iota said...

Better than the DHL delivery man who left a present in our wheelie bin one year. Luckily I found the card on the doormat, but it struck me as a very bad place to leave something. Not least because getting it out from the bottom of the wheelie bin was quite a challenge. You don't realise how tall they are.

nappy valley girl said...

Mud - I would love a butler. I think it's high time they had a revival! (When I lived in Hong Kong, we had some friends who had a butler. He was an 80 year old guy, who had been the butler of the Dad as a child, and had stayed with the family to act as a kind of au pair to the kids, as the parents both worked fulltime. He wore Hawaiian shirts and was superb.)

NB - does that mean I have to visit your depot?

Iota - leaving it in the wheelie bin seems to be a well known courier trick. It has happened to me on numerous occasions. We used to get wine delivered from a wine merchant, and the courier company they used were rubbish - putting whole cases of expensive wine in the bin, which were impossible to get out. On one occasion the wine never turned up, and we were sure they had left it sitting on the doorstep....

Susanna said...

We got five deliveries yesterday, FIVE.

And I think the delivery men are so used to people NOT being home that they ring the bell and then leave after two seconds...

Audrey said...

I got online ages ago to Toys R'Us so I could avoid the queues in the store etc...I missed the DHL bloody deliveries three times because they would give me a window of 9-5 and I just couldn't gaurantee that there would be someone at home all 8 hours and yes, they would always come when I had to leave for twenty minutes. Anyway, had to schlep to the DHL depot but didn't realise it could have been worse. Ugh.

nappy valley girl said...

Susanna, sometimes they don't even ring the bell. I've been known to chase the postman down the street shouting 'I am here, you know,' after he had put a slip through the door without even knocking.....

Audrey - yes, yes, yes. I just can't stay in the house all day with my kids - if I did, the DHL man would turn up and find me raving and waving a bottle of vodka....