Changes to UK Shipping Services & Options
You may be aware that our UK courier City Link ceased trading on Christmas Day, throwing over 2,000 staff out of work.
As a result we have had to make significant changes to how we send out our UK deliveries.
Please note that we previously used City Link because they were the cheapest at taking the two troublesome items that Royal Mail will no longer accept - i.e. Chemicals and parcels longer than 60cm. We have had to find alternative couriers who will accept these products. Most will not touch chemicals in any shape or form and quite a few have restrictions on length. After hours of research we have not found any one company who can deal with everything, but we believe that we have found two couriers who between them can fill the gaps left by City Link. However, their prices are higher than those charged by City Link (which is probably why they went bust!). To add to our troubles, we were notified that our rates for Royal Mail deliveries have gone up (as of the start of the New Year), by more than inflation (so much for privatisation!).
We now aim to operate as follows:
UK Mail - any order containing chemicals
My Hermes - any order with a length of 61cm or more (but not containing any chemicals) e.g. all track boxes with flexitrack or rail
Royal Mail - everything else (i.e. no chemicals and only up to 60cm long)
No doubt there will be some teething issues whilst we get to grips with what is required by the new Companies and we work out the best options for collection and delivery.
Please note the following:
Heavy Parcels - Royal Mail are the cheapest (provided there are no chemicals or excessive length items) but there comes a point where the new courier price becomes cheaper than Royal Mail. Previously that point was at £8.50 when using City Link prices. It would appear that the new switch over figure is now around the £9.50 mark. We therefore suggest that if the Royal Mail quote for shipping in your Shopping Basket (or the Royal Mail option is selected at the Checkout Page) and either shows a price of £9.50 or more, then you should change the shipping option to Courier.
Large Letters - some good news! Even though Royal Mail has put up their prices we have decided that a minimum shipping charge of £3 is too high for a really small item. We have therefore brought our minimum charge down to just £2.50. We think this is one of the cheapest minimum charges around. Unfortunately it can only cover really small items that are thin and able to pass the minimum thickness Large Letter test device, bearing in mind that most such items need to have a padded envelope surrounding them item for protection.
Royal Mail - we have re-categorised our weight bands and adjusted our prices, all in the downwards direction!. In some cases there is a significant reduction of as much as £7 or more for heavy parcels. We hope this will go some way to offset the increases in the courier charges.
Couriers - this is where it gets difficult! Now that we are using two couriers it is currently impossible to set prices for both, as we have to have some software code written to enable us to add another Courier option. We have therefore had to base the new courier prices on an average across the two providers. Obviously we can't set rates for all eventualities of size, weight, content restriction etc. The alternative would be to get quotes for every order needing a UK courier, as we currently do for overseas customers who can't use Airmail due to the Royal Mails restrictions. The numbers of suck orders are small and therefore manageable, but it is not practical to do this for the many UK courier deliveries that we now have to make.
The result might be that we get the odd price that comes up as extremely low or high on the Courier shipping charge. We will of course monitor each Invoice and where necessary make adjustments to rectify the price accordingly. We will add a line to the invoice to either make a refund or to show the additional charge that we have made to bring the price charged to the customers into line with that which we actually pay. Charges/Refunds will both be applied to the card that was used to pay for the order. If the amount is small, we will not trouble customers by contacting them first, but if there is a significant increase required, we will of course contact the customer to ask permission to take the charge and continue with the order. Customers will of course have the right to cancel if they consider the additional courier charge not appropriate.
For the time being it would probably be sensible to think of the price quoted for the courier as being a guide price rather than a definite fixed price. As soon as we have more experience of the way these companies work their charges we will of course try to bring our software into line with them so that we can go back to that showing being the actual confirmed price.
Please bear in mind that the days of small parcels being delivered by City Link for as little as £5.75 are over! We have had couriers quoting us anything from £12 to £38 to deliver a track box that City Link used to do for £8.50 and that might only have a couple of pieces of track in it!
Courier Delivery Options
Next Day deliveries - City Link offered a next day service (by 5.30pm) and achieved it in 97% of our deliveries over the last three and a half years.
Both of the new Couriers that we have chosen can offer this services, but at an additional cost. In order to try to keep prices down it is our intention to use this option only where either the customer has indicated this as their wish, or where due to the size of the order, a small extra charge is not noticeable.
Signed For - 'Signed For' will be used for all but the smallest orders (in terms of value) as it is in both ours and our customers interests to know what has been delivered. There is a small additional charge for this option which we will apply unless the value is under £20.
Tracking - This will be available for both couriers but we do not intend passing on the details unless customers specifically ask us to do so. In most case, by the time we have finished sending out all the previous days tracking details, the parcel will have been delivered. If customers are concerned about a delay, please contact us and we will track the parcel and send them the details to enable them to track it as well.