Useful Advice for Using a Delivery Service

So, you need to select and use a delivery service? It's not an uncommon thing these days. But for those not used to dealing with transport companies it can be a minefield. These tips may be of help.

As a recipient

It might be the case that you need to arrange a delivery service to get something to you. An example of that might be in a case where you've purchased something at a retail outlet and they don't arrange deliveries, or maybe you've purchased something from a private individual that's too heavy for your car.

When you're looking for a service, price will be a big factor of course, but also check out:

• When can they do the job - and get guarantees because some promises about dates might be easily made but then rather harder to keep.

• Their reputation - use the Internet, review sites and just ask around if they're based in your local area.

• Insurance cover - things can and do sometimes go wrong for a delivery service. If your goods are damaged, destroyed, stolen or lost whilst in their care - who is going to pay?

• Access and to-the-spot drops - if your property is up a driveway, narrow lane, steep hill or similar, make sure your delivery service will be prepared (or perhaps in some cases able) to get their vehicle to the front door. An added issue here is if you'll need the item carried into your property to a specific room or upstairs, make sure the company can oblige. Some might operate very rigidly on a 'no further than the front door' basis.

As a sender

Many of the above points will apply if you're responsible for getting something to someone else.

However, there are a few other things you might wish to consider:

• What is the company's reputation for damages, losses, thefts and claims? Remember that you may be responsible if the goods don't reach the consignee or they're received damaged.

• Make sure they take care in obtaining the signatures of recipients. Missing signatures will mean the person at the point of destination can legitimately claim they've not received the items and that will result in some interesting debates between you and the carriers about who's responsible.

• Do they also work for your competitors? Some companies need to guard the names and addresses of their regular clients for fear of poaching. Can you trust your company to keep your cargo entirely confidential?

• What care do they take over the selection of their drivers? It's worth remembering that however hard you stress that you're contracting out a job, your customers may judge your company and its professionalism based upon the service they see. Rude, offensive or unhelpful drivers might reflect very badly on your organization even if you've had no control over their recruitment or the company using them.

So, a few minutes spent looking closely at a delivery service before using it might be time well spent.

Norman Dulwich is a correspondent for Courier Exchange, the world's largest neutral trading hub for same day delivery service in the express freight exchange industry. Over 2,500 transport exchange businesses are networked together through their website, trading jobs and capacity in a safe 'wholesale' environment.