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Footage has captured Hermes couriers launching parcels around a depot in a bid to save time and a manager telling an undercover reporter posing as a member of staff to ‘act stupid’ if customers complain.
An employee at the delivery firm is seen chucking deliveries against cages, walls and onto the floor in the video secretly filmed at the site in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, earlier this month by The Times.
At one point, the depot’s manager, Mark, confesses a surge in Christmas orders has led to next-day delivery deadlines not being met every single day, despite customers paying out for the service.
He says: ‘This time of year, it’s difficult. Volumes shoot up. This depot is supposed to be clear every day. It’s supposed to be empty. Never happens.’
Giving advice on how to deal with customers’ complaints, the manager adds: ‘All you can do is act totally stupid, say: “I really apologise.”‘
Meanwhile, shopping giants that deliver items through the company – namely Next, Marks & Spencer, John Lewis and H&M – have expressed their ‘alarm’ at the footage and urged the firm to ‘urgently’ investigate.
An employee at the delivery firm is seen chucking deliveries against hard cages, walls and onto the floor in the video secretly filmed at the site in High Wycombe earlier this month
At one point, the depot’s manager confesses a surge in Christmas orders has led to next-day delivery deadlines not being met every day, despite customers paying out for the service
The Christmas delivery lottery: Four in ten buyers reporting items going missing or being damaged
Christmas deliveries are becoming a lottery, with four in ten buyers reporting items going missing or being damaged.
Pandemic shoppers have switched to spending billions online and crossing their fingers that items turn up before the big day.
A survey by consumer champion Which? found that 43 per cent of online shoppers experienced at least one problem last Christmas.
One in five (19 per cent) of this group said the item was late, 11 per cent of deliveries were left outside without consent, and 7 per cent went missing.
Parcels arrived broken after being thrown over fences – including a crate of wine hurled over a gate – some were left in the snow and rain, and others were put in the bin as a ‘safe space’, only to be taken away by binmen.
Which? said: ‘Don’t be afraid to make a complaint if you are having problems.’
A separate survey rated courier firms on overall satisfaction, communication, condition of the item and the ease of rearranging deliveries.
Yodel came at the bottom of the survey and fared the worst for delivering on time and communication. Almost one in ten (8 per cent) customers rated the company’s punctuality as poor and one in seven (14 per cent) said communication was poor.
Amazon Logistics and Royal Mail were top of the poll.
The newspaper’s investigation further found that couriers joke about throwing deliveries over fences, refer to customers as ‘c***s’ and leave parcels in the rain.
It was also claimed that hundreds of customers are having to launch legal action against Hermes over lost or damaged orders.
The reporter said he earned £8.08 per hour on average – in addition to a £25 new-starter earning – while the national living wage is £8.91 for those aged 23 and above.
The company said it is conducting a full investigation and that senior teams at the delivery unit are undergoing an ‘urgent review’ – but added the site is performing well with no issues relating to service or damage.
It also strongly refuted the claims regarding minimum wage payment, saying the average courier is paid £14.88 per hour after expenses.
While discussing how to deal with customer complaints in the clip, one employee suggests ‘telling them you start today’, as the manager adds: ‘First day today, I’ve been lumbered.
‘Yeah that’s all you’ve got to say, say: “Look, I’m awfully sorry, it’s my first day.’
While discussing being kept waiting to deliver an order in another part of the video, a courier says: ‘You’ve got f***ing big houses to go to.
‘They’ve got massive gates, you’ve got to ring the f***ing bell. You’ve got to wait for the c***s to open it, you know what I mean?’
‘Best thing to do is just f***ing chuck it over the gate mate, but you don’t know how to do it.’
In a statement, Hermes said: ‘We do not claim to be perfect and are aware that in an operation of our size there will be individual issues that we need to improve.
‘We are determined to do this but remain confident that the vast majority of these allegations are unfounded and do not reflect our business and the standards we deliver.’
The company added: ‘We have however acted swiftly and launched a full investigation. Our senior teams are currently at the Delivery Unit mentioned undertaking an urgent review.
‘This unit is performing well and there are no issues regarding service or damage.
‘Finally, we strongly refute his claims regarding payment of minimum wage. All courier rounds pay above National Living Wage and the average courier pay is £14.88 per hour after expenses.’
Responding to the investigation, John Lewis told the newspaper it was ‘alarmed’ and had asked Hermes to ‘investigate urgently’, while Next and H&M said they were discussing the footage and Marks & Spencer took the claims ‘very seriously’.
Shopping giants that deliver items through the company – Next, Marks & Spencer, John Lewis and H&M – expressed their ‘alarm’ at the footage and urged the firm to ‘urgently’ investigate
Hermes said it is conducting a full investigation and that senior teams at the delivery unit are undergoing an ‘urgent review’ – but added the site is performing well with no issues relating to service or damage (file photo)
The revelations follow Hermes and Yodel performing the worst in a league table released by Citizens Advice last month.
Have your parcels been lost or damaged? Email email@example.com
The revelations follow Hermes and Yodel performing the worst in a league table (pictured above) released by Citizens Advice last month
The Hermes fat cat: Dutch-born CEO who studied business at Warwick University went on to amass a net worth of £71.7million
Martijn de Lange, CEO of Hermes UK
Born in Holland, Martijn de Lange came to the UK in 2006 to set up TNT Port North LTD, where he became Operations Director.
He moved to Hermes in 2013, where he continued working as as Operations Director before becoming CEO of Hermes UK in 2017 after promotions to COO and managing director.
Previously, he completed a three-year postgraduate executive managing programme at Warwick University.
According to Company Check, the combined cash at bank value for all businesses where Mr de Lange holds a current appointment equals a total current net worth of £71.7million.