Angry shoppers have been left frustrated by delivery giant Yodel for a second year running, after numerous reports of presents not arriving for Christmas.
Yodel, the UK's second-largest delivery company, works for a number of big retailers including Amazon, Argos, Boots and Tesco Direct.
Complaints about Yodel include:
- Presents arriving late for Christmas, when ordered in good time.
- The contents of parcels arriving damaged.
- Parcels thrown over fences and left to soak in the pouring rain.
- Parcels left in bins.
- Drivers claiming customers were not in to receive packages when the customer insists no attempt was made to contact them.
- Customer services unable to locate parcels.
Shoppers have also reported many problems with delivery firms Hermes, Royal Mail and City Link. However, from our checks on our forum, and on our Facebook and Twitter pages, many more were about Yodel than any other delivery firm.
Angry customers have even set up a petition urging Amazon to stop using Yodel. So far, it's received nearly 2,000 signatures.
As we explain below, you may be able to get a refund or compensation for delayed or damaged goods.
Some retailers have already stopped using Yodel. They include O2, which ended its contract with Yodel in June, though it is not saying why.
Shirtmaker Hawes and Curtis, in contrast, was damning in its criticism after it stopped using Yodel last year.
Antony Comyns, head of e-commerce at Hawes and Curtis, told The Guardian newspaper: "Yodel's service works fine if the delivery is actually made but if there is a problem, you just can't get hold of them.
"We would have customers calling us in desperation, we would apologise and then not be able to get through to Yodel."
Dan Plant, MoneySavingExpert.com web editor, says: "Some of the tales we've heard are an absolute disgrace.
"But many huge retailers persist with using couriers that provide abominable service and the kicker is it's very difficult for you to know who's going to deliver your package and therefore avoid them.
"Any retailer should be ashamed of inflicting this on paying customers, and ditch the delivery companies that are causing the pain."
Problems last year
These stories echo those from this time last year, when many customers also said deliveries did not arrive on time for Christmas.
In August, Yodel's then-chief executive Jonathan Smith told MoneySavingExpert.com the firm would improve its delivery standards.
Yodel says it had a good Christmas this time, but has apologised for the "inevitable few delivery issues".
Yodel bottom of the pile
To gauge which firms annoyed you the most, we asked our users on Twitter and Facebook which delivery company they had the most trouble with over recent weeks.
Of the 215 people who took part last Friday afternoon before 5pm, 92 people named Yodel as the delivery company they had the most problems with over Christmas. There were 46 complaints about Hermes, followed by Royal Mail with 35, and City Link with 23.
We have not been able to verify each individual complaint. But the sheer volume Yodel attracts appears to show customers are sometimes finding the company still struggles.
Numerous customers also took to the MoneySavingExpert.com forum to express their anger at Yodel. From the complaints we have seen, more were about Yodel than any similar firm.
However, Royal Mail has also come in for criticism for a separate problem where it failed to deliver letters from Santa to kids in time for Christmas, under a scheme it ran, as we reported today.
'Delayed AND damaged presents'
Rebecca Walton, from Tunbridge Wells, says she ordered a cat house as a Christmas present which she says was due to be delivered by Yodel on 12 December.
When she checked her order status online, there "were three days when they had supposedly tried to deliver my parcel", the 23-year-old says.
"In fact, one of them said they had even dropped a note through the door. That's not even the slightest bit true."
The box eventually arrived on 23 December, only just in time for Christmas. But she says the present was "damaged".
She adds: "I will not be using a company that delivers via Yodel ever again. Hopefully the big names will stop using them, or they will lose out on many a customer."
'Late for Christmas'
Forum user Browser123 said at 10pm on Christmas Eve: "Yodel failed to deliver my Christmas presents on time. When I got the dispatch confirmation on 13 December, I felt assured I'd get things in time.
"They claimed to have attempted delivery five times, but never appeared at the house."
We contacted this user and were told the presents eventually arrived on 27 December, "a little battered and damp".
What can you do?
If you have a complaint you should contact the retailer, not the delivery company. Your contract is with the retailer, and the goods are its responsibility.
If any item does not arrive on time, or at all, or is damaged on delivery, you may have a right to get your money back, or to get compensation if you still want to keep it.
For further information, see our Delivery Rights guide.
We asked Amazon, Argos, Boots and Tesco if they will continue to use Yodel.
Argos says Yodel has "a very high delivery success rate". The others did not answer the question directly.
What Yodel and other couriers say
Yodel chairman Dick Stead says: "Despite flooding in some areas, our planning paid off and all of our nationwide service centres were clear at close of play on Christmas Eve with the exception of a small number of parcels, where we were either unable to obtain access to the address or the addressee was unavailable to sign for them.
"With a peak workforce of 16,000 and over 13 million parcels handled in just three-and-a-half weeks, inevitably there were a few deliveries where issues were encountered.
"This is not exclusive to Yodel and some issues faced were outside our control but, where we are at fault, we apologise and our customer services teams have been available online, via email and telephone to help resolve these as soon as possible.
"As always we will be reviewing our performance and seeking to work with our retail clients to innovate and further improve the service in 2013."
Royal Mail spokesman Nick Martens says: "Our postmen and women worked hard to deliver a first class Christmas. Royal Mail had extra deliveries and collections right up to and including 24 December."
Hermes told us it had a 99.8% delivery success rate in Germany in 2012, but did not tell us the rate in the UK.
We asked City Link for a response, but it has declined to comment.