Yodel chiefs battle customer yells in Christmas delivery crisis

15 December 2014 -


Courier struggles to contain Cyber Monday aftermath as festive purchases ramp up workload

Jermaine Haughton

Bosses at delivery firm Yodel are deep in crisis-management mode after staff were forced to stop making deliveries over the weekend to clear backlogs in its depots ahead of the final run up to Christmas. On Sunday, the company confirmed that it had rounded up overdue deliveries of parcels generated by online-shopping splurge Cyber Monday, and that those goods should arrive to customers by Wednesday this week – finally freeing up warehouses that had been packed to the rafters.

Yodel, which delivers products on behalf of Argos, Tesco, Boots and even Amazon, is currently handling 5.5 million parcels per week – well up on the 4m per week it processed this time last year – with web-based sales drives such as Cyber Monday and Black Friday playing a major role in the rise. That has led Yodel to double up its normal roster of 8,000 staff to deal with the buying binge, but the firm has admitted that it is still struggling under the pressure.

Indeed, the company has faced significant wrath in recent days, after backlogs forced it to stop picking up goods from retailers. Buyers were warned to expect delays of up to 72 hours on Christmas-related orders. Meanwhile, video footage of couriers mishandling a package containing a ceramic poppy from this year’s Tower of London display, and accusations that drivers are being paid as little as 50p per delivery, have spawned a glut of anti-Yodel sentiment on social media.

To handle the fallout, the company has attempted to contain the feelings of its users by providing regular updates – together with a measure of rumour control – on its website. “New parcels entering the Yodel network,” it announced, “may still be subject to a 24 to 48 hour delay, which is reflective of normal Christmas peak operations. We have liaised closely with our retail clients and we expect a slowdown in the number of consignments to be sorted over the next week; this means that parcel volumes will be at the levels originally forecast, and that the Yodel Christmas network was designed to handle.”

It added: “We will be closely monitoring this situation to ensure that all parcels are out for delivery before Christmas. Customers can follow the progress of their parcels by visiting the tracking page on MyYodel.co.uk.”

At the same time, executive chairman Dick Stead has been on a media mission to smooth things over with Yodel’s public. “I want to give a big apology to people,” he told the Daily Mail. “I know how frustrating it is when you have placed orders for Christmas presents for children and you don’t know where they are. There has been a deluge of parcels far exceeding anybody’s expectations. It has caught the manufacturers out, it has caught the retailers out and it has caught the parcel carriers out.”

Remaining confident that shoppers will receive their deliveries, Stead explained: “I am personally happy to give my assurance that you can place orders and they will be delivered in time for Christmas. If that changes, if for any reason volumes are any dramatically different from what we now expect, I will forewarn people.”

Yodel’s workload hasn’t been helped by problems at rivals such as Hermes, which suffered a fire at its flagship depot in Warrington, Cheshire, a fortnight ago, disrupting its services. In terms of management skills, a successful handling of the situation would have a huge impact on the firm’s reputation in the coming years, repaying the trust and faith of customers.

For more on these issues, sign up to the forthcoming CMI seminar Harnessing Customer Loyalty.

Image of logo on Yodel van courtesy of the Wikimedia Commons.

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