Why use Hermes?

A still from a video shot during the night showing a blue Hermes van with a man throwing a parcel into the back. A roller cage of other parcels is waiting at the back of the van.
An angry Hermes driver throwing parcels into the back of the company’s van

This week a video appeared on social media and in some newspapers of a Hermes van driver picking up a cage full of parcels and throwing them with great force into the back of his van. I saw the video and my impression was that the man was angry, perhaps because something hadn’t gone well for him or he had been asked to do another collection on top of his usual. But it’s also possible that this was his usual method of getting parcels quickly to the front of his vehicle. It understandably attracted outrage, with numerous stories shared of parcels arriving with fragile goods smashed or just never arriving. This is not the first time such behaviour by their drivers has been filmed and exposed; there is a video on YouTube from 2018 showing a driver doing much the same. I have worked for Hermes and used online retailers who use them and none of this surprises me.

It’s important to understand that most of Hermes’ business is delivering clothes and other soft items ordered through catalogues and their online equivalents. They are not really set up to deliver fragile goods such as craft products. If you send such products with them, it will be treated like a parcel of clothing which is unbreakable and thus can be thrown around the floor of a warehouse, much as airlines treat wheelchairs and guitars like suitcases full of clothes, with the result that both frequently get smashed. When I worked at one of their distribution centres I saw packages get thrown around the warehouse floor and dropped into big bags which then got humped around when delivering them to local agents, then they might get thrown over a fence at the point of delivery. I have been hearing complaints about craft products sent through Hermes arriving smashed for years and this can only be the reason.

One problem is that craftspeople do not wrap up their products carefully which might reduce the risk of them getting broken, but not eliminate it, but my advice to craftspeople other than clothes makers is to use other delivery services such as DPD or Yodel. These also offer better services to the recipient: in DPD’s case they allow the recipient to specify delivery to a pick-up shop, for example. They also offer better tracking than Hermes which will not tell a recipient where a package is, only at what ‘stage’ of delivery it is at. The best option is to allow the customer to specify a delivery service as different courier companies offer better service in one neighbourhood than another. I prefer DPD because of the pick-up shop option, but a friend in another part of the country has said that their local driver refuses to go to the right door and no amount of complaining does any good.

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