Christmas delivery drivers: Diary of a courier

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An employee sorts deliveries at a Royal Mail centre in London during the Christmas periodImage source, Getty Images
Image caption,
This is what a Royal Mail centre looks like during the Christmas period

There's nothing quite like that sinking feeling of coming home and seeing the "sorry we missed you" delivery card on the floor. That's a trip to the sorting office you can't quite be bothered with.

But spare a thought for the delivery drivers, working flat out in the run-up to Christmas.

"If you can't put a parcel in an outbuilding or letter box, you can't deliver it."

That's the experience of courier Sally Smith, who often drives 100 miles in a single day.

Image source, Sally Smith
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Sally Smith works as a driver in North Scotland

Her "extremely busy" route goes from Lossiemouth in northern Scotland.

"Everyone in my depot is sound and they wouldn't do stupid things. For me, I've got a military base on my route and a lot of customers there that I have to support," says Sally.

She's had Christmas cards, biscuits and chocolates from happy customers.

But up and down the country, there are other disgruntled people - furious at either not receiving a parcel or finding it stuffed in a neighbour's bin.

"If couriers stuck to the guidelines that have been set out, we'd be returning about 70% of the parcels," Sally explains.

"It's a case of using your own discretion.

"The bad stories just make us look bad and it's a shame. The majority of drivers I know are really nice - and they'll go out of their way to help you in any way they can."

Talking of bad stories - earlier this week, the Hermes courier firm "apologised and provided compensation" after one driver did a poo in a customer's shed, before bagging it up and leaving.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
The majority of people who shopped online last Christmas had a problem with their delivery, according to research by Which?

Unsurprisingly, Sally accepts that sort of incident is "totally unacceptable".

"Couriers will often make arrangements with customers and they'll say: 'I know I'm not going to be in on this day so I'll leave the door open for you.'"

As Christmas draws closer, she's looking forward to visiting the Kinloss barracks, where she has a "great relationship" with the military families who are stationed on site.

She'll give a bag of sweets to the guards and personnel, before receiving one in return.

But if you're delivering everyone else's Christmas shopping, how do you manage to buy your own?

"I don't! I haven't started. I'll probably have to do mine on Christmas Eve."

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