Online shopping: Is it just me or are delivery services a real problem? – Helen Martin

Attempting to receive delivery of a desk bought online turns into an extended saga ending with a refund and a donation to charity, writes Helen Martin.

Monday, 28th October 2019, 5:00 am
Sitting at home waiting for courier who doesn’t come, or brings damaged goods, is no fun. Picture: Getty

IT’s common for many people over 50 to grumble about new methods in life and long for the old ways. It’s such a widespread affliction that, in 2003, BBC2 started the series of Grumpy Old Men and Grumpy Old Women featuring famous middle-aged moaners.

Never thought I’d get there, but I did – as last week’s column about the pains of online living and shopping exposed my age. One item it featured was the order of a PC desk from a firm I can now reveal as Wayfair, the supplier whose ads star Lorraine Kelly.

Here’s a consumer report you may find hard to believe.

The desk was supposed to be ­delivered on Wednesday and complying with the tracking, the van arrived on time. The man brought in two ­horrifically heavy boxes. Hours later I saw the label hidden underneath – bearing the wrong address and containing bunk beds rather than a desk. I phoned Wayfair who had it collected next morning. Our desk was to be delivered the following Tuesday.

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Instead it came on Friday. We weren’t warned so we were out. (In fact, I was stranded on Seafield Road waiting for a pick-up truck when my car broke down in a monsoon.) When I got home, Himself showed me a card popped through the letter box from the delivery firm bearing a telephone number which didn’t exist. I phoned Wayfair again. They apologised, and reorganised things telling us it would be delivered on Monday. The tracking system promised arrival between 12.45 and 2.45pm. It failed to turn up.

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Rang Wayfair again who were equally dumbfounded and arranged for it to come on Tuesday between 3.45 and 5.45 pm. We had to cancel a meeting and rearrange it for Wednesday.

Tuesday? No delivery. The tracker said “service fail”. Rang Wayfair (each time they answered the phone immediately and were very supportive, trying to help). They contacted the delivery firm to insist it arrive on Wednesday. A whole week had passed now but our Wednesday meeting was cancelled again and once more I sat in the house waiting for delivery between 3pm and 5pm. It arrived at 2.15pm.

The driver said he actually had two desks addressed to us, but he could only give me the one that bore our original order number. It was clear it had been dragged on and off between vans, trips and the depot for a week. The tape holding the packaging was slit in some places and the corners were bashed. He insisted it was safely wrapped in polystyrene but I should add “box bashed” to my signature. He was busy and had to go.

I opened the box, polystyrene was shattered and the veneer had sheared off one of the surface pieces. Time to ring Wayfair again, to say come collect it and return our payment.

They had been helpful throughout, but this particular delivery firm was a nightmare and checking it on several review websites its highest rating was 1.7 (awful), with many reviewers telling folk not to buy from Wayfair.

Wayfair returned the payment, offered us a discount on anything else we wanted to buy, and told us we could ask which delivery firm was involved so that we could avoid THAT one again. They also said we could give the desk to charity or anyone else if we wanted to, or have it collected and dumped by them. Since several charities collect goods, we opted for that.

The staff were good, tried their best, and were almost as angry as I was, ­having dealt with several similar delivery fiascos. Their bosses have to deal with this.