To all of you awaiting back ordered shipments from us here at BOD, to all of you holding off on ordering till you see product in stock again… our sincere apologies. We have done our utmost to keep individual customers advised about the fate of their particular goods, but the situation has gone so far, we decided it was time to explain to our general public what exactly is going on, to the extent we know ourselves.
BOD’s latest shipment from Christian Hedwitschak in Germany is caught in a perfect storm of postal backlogging, understaffing, red tape, whatever the problem(s), the result is truly rotten customer service.
No, not our latest shipment, come to think of it – we placed three orders in quick succession in September, and orders 1 and 3 arrived smoothly, for which we are profoundly grateful.
But the order that contains nine drums as well as cases and accessories, most of which are already sold or promised, has been sitting in UK Customs since 26 September. It was despatched from Germany on the 21st, arrived UK customs 26th, and has sat there ever since. When we look at the on line Parcel Force tracking, it says they are awaiting information from the addressee.
They have never contacted us to request any information.
On the other hand, John has spent days on the phone and on emails trying desperately to get information, send them information, learn anything we can to get this expedited, to no avail. And when I say “days” this is not hyperbole – this is 4 or 5 hours in a day, on at least 4 different days so far, not including the random other hours on lots of other days. I don’t think a day has passed in the past 3 weeks that John has not spent some portion of his day trying to get this package moving.
What’s the problem? Where do we start…
- On line tracking states Customs Authorities need information from us. They have never yet contacted us by any means to request information.
- We have, fortunately, come across a few sympathetic souls at Parcel Force who, though they are unable to see the full details available to the Customs Clearance team, have been able to tell us that team probably needs us to confirm the contents and value of the parcel, and John was given an email address to which we could send that information. We did that some weeks ago. In fact, we have done that at least twice so far in the saga. Still no movement, not even acknowledgement of our messages.
- The Customs Clearance team are unavailable to the public. We cannot talk to anyone directly involved in the process. There is no phone number or email contact generally publicly available. Even other Parcel Force employees cannot contact that group, though they did give us the email address to try sending the further information they probably want.
- Industrial actions over the past month or more have created backlogs. Phone line recorded messages admit to perhaps 10 days delay, live people admit to 3 weeks, our package has not moved in 30 days.
- And more industrial action is planned for today, 25 October, and the 2nd, 3rd, 4th November according to the Parcel Force website. News coverage in recent weeks mentioned a further 18 days between now and year end earmarked for work stoppages, primarily aimed at crippling late November on-line sales and deliveries in the run up to Christmas.
- The hold ups by Parcel Force’s Customs Clearance group are unavoidable, no matter how parcels are shipped. Christian ships via DHL which worked a treat till the shipment arrived in England, at which point, it seems, all packages from all couriers are funnelled through this Parcel Force controlled Customs Clearance group. We have been told that the group controlling our parcel is badly depleted due to illness at the moment.
- We are VAT registered, and the documentation on the package presents our VAT registration number and the relevant import codes for the products shipped. However, packages are routinely held while Customs demand a VAT payment from us together with processing fees of £25.00. The VAT money will be refunded to us in the quarterly VAT filing, so what is the point of this exercise? It is pure, sheer time consuming and utterly pointless red-tape. On a normal package, this VAT demand / payment / release for delivery consumes at least one week by itself.
We have written to our local MP, but as a Conservative we concede she has probably been so distracted by the past month’s events that the concerns of her constituents and local small businesses have probably taken a back seat. It does seem our letters were forwarded on, and we have received some vaguely sympathetic responses from other government agencies, but no action has been taken, our package remains log jammed and our business continues to suffer.
So what about your order?
Any of you who have done business with us will, we think, know how very much we care about BOD, and about ensuring you are happy with your purchase and the service your receive from us.
We are just sick about this situation. Circumstances which are wholly beyond our control are hurting those of you waiting for goods and damaging our reputation in your eyes and in the eyes of everyone who looks at our on line shop and just sees “Backordered” against so many goods. The worst of it is that we are utterly helpless against the stone wall of non-communication from Customs Clearance.
Of course, it’s not just about this one package. We need to re-stock many products, but are now wondering how – or even if – we will receive any goods from Christian or Stevie between now and year end.
If and when we do receive incoming goods, the next problem is how, with all the threatened postal strikes, how on earth we can reliably get packages TO you.
At this moment in time, we still have no answers. Not on the outstanding order, nor on how we can manage the shipping process to circumvent all these issues in the future. We can only continue to do our best and continue to keep our customers apprised of the situation.
We are very grateful for your understanding and support through this.
John and Xin Blackwell
Blackwell Original Drums