Courier Problems Explained

As we come out of this pandemic, there seems to have been an awful lot of what I like to call ‘unintended consequences’. I’m thinking about the HGV driver shortage, the energy crisis that’s unfolding right now, the shipping crisis and the fact that you can’t get a shed or a fridge freezer for love nor money.

As a Venture Banners customer you may have also noticed increased delivery times, multi-package consignments turning up days apart and some packages not turning up at all. I cannot remember a time—and we’ve been doing this for some years now—when trying to get something from us to you or your customer, has been this hard.

It’s incredibly frustrating for us, because we work tirelessly to get your job out of the door and then are let down by a courier who doesn’t deliver it until three days after the event that it’s needed for.

Firstly, before I explain why it is so bad at the moment, I must take this time to advise that you allow as much time as possible when ordering your print. Ordering something on Tuesday for an event happening that weekend is a recipe for disaster. And I know it’s ‘your’ customers—the end users—that are not allowing the time, but we have found that managing your customer expectations mitigates the customer disappointment. I’m sure you don’t want to get shouted at any more than we do.

You may remember that FedEx (the company who left Tom Hanks on that island for years) bought TNT, way back in 2016. At first nothing changed, TNT carried on as they were and having used TNT since we started our production in 2012, I can confidently say that they were one of the best.

The trouble started when the FedEx integration began a couple of years ago, and we noticed that problems were more frequent. The service we received, which used to be pretty damn good, started to diminish dramatically. Then towards the end of 2020 they decided that they were going to make non-conveyable packages so expensive that they would effectively withdraw from the non-conveyable or ‘ugly freight’ market.

In layman’s terms that meant that any package that didn’t go onto their automated conveyor belts, which is pretty much everything we send out as a large-format supplier, was going to double and in some cases treble in cost, making it commercially unviable to continue using them. Bearing in mind that in 2019 we spent £353,000 on couriers as a business, they were effectively giving us our marching orders.

Of course we weren’t the only ones who were affected by the FedEx policy change and everyone who sends non-conveyable or ugly freight changed their supplier to the two remaining ‘main players’ in that market: DX and Tuffnells. That combined with the existing driver shortage, has caused a massive over-subscription of the service resulting in the delays and issues we are currently experiencing.

There is no easy answer I’m afraid, but here are a few pointers:

  • Allow as much time as possible for your delivery
  • Educate your customer that following the order being dispatched, it could take several days to arrive
  • Make sure you have the courier tracking number, though a number of consignments are not being scanned into the network so tracking information may be sketchy at best
  • Be patient