There were 9 parcels in total, all of which weighed under 1kg. 6 went via Hermes and were collected from us, and 3 went via Royal Mail after being dropped off at the post office. All had tracking and insurance.

The three Royal Mail parcels were for overseas buyers. Of these, one was sent to a parcel handling company in London which presumably forwards it on, one went to eBay’s Global Shipping Programme (GSP) distribution centre, and one is on the way to France direct.

Now, bear in mind here that Hermes started this year rather poorly for me, failing to collect one parcel resulting in me having to cancel an eBay sale and send a refund, and loosing a model railway engine on the way to me. Then there was the news item regarding Hermes selling ‘lost’ parcels at auction even though many had perfectly readable sender and recipient details and barcodes. But I have had parcels delivered via Hermes with no issue and they did collect all 6 on the allotted day. One must remember that things do go wrong sometimes.

So why Hermes? Well, basically convenience and price. Selling on low margins simply requires it. When I sell on eBay I include the postage (so basically postage is ‘free’) because (a) eBay charge you a percentage of the postage cost (why?!) and (b) I only sell when eBay has their £1 maximum charge offer.

And so why not Hermes for the others? Two reasons here. First, the insurance Hermes charge for high value items is a lot more than Royal Mail. Second, the France buyer did not want their parcel to go via the GSP. I have a lot of sympathy there because they (the GSP) claimed that two valves were dangerous goods and had been destroyed and then took ages to refund the buyer. I’ve heard from others of these same issues. At the time I had not dealt with Royal Mail’s pre-paid online services so I sent one parcel via the GSP because that way I did not need to work out the international shipping. Having now seen how easy it is I may use Royal Mail next time but the GSP is really easy as a seller.

So, high value items via Royal Mail and dropped off at the post office, others via Hermes and collected. I would rather they were all collected because of the convenience and there are other couriers I could have used but the prices were a lot more. Of course, I can always build the higher prices into sales in advance.

Now, the big question is how did the parcels do.

All the Hermes ones were to UK addresses, one of which was in Northern Ireland. All 6 parcels were collected at the same time and all arrived at their destinations ok. All 6 took two days from collection to being recorded in the Hermes network. Four parcels were delivered in 5 days overall.

The parcel for Northern Ireland first went to the national sorting centre and then back to our local hub, then onwards to delivery, taking 7 days in total. One other parcel apparently had it’s label re-printed with no explanation which delayed it a day, taking 6 days overall.

Given the current state of the world this is not at all bad.

And on Royal Mail, these were sent 3 days after the Hermes ones due to the need to take them to the post office. Two were delivered the next day, both to UK addresses. They were on a next-day service because it had sufficient insurance included. Royal Mail state that due to current issues they cannot guarantee next-day but in the event it was. The third was on the way to France. It looks like it spent a day between here and France and was delivered on the 25th so 6 days overall, not at all bad. The GSP tracking for that one indicates that it has successfully been delivered in Italy and I have no way to see what happened to the other unless the eBay buyer leaves feedback – GSP is more useful in this case as it does provide end to end tracking but of course that was not a part of the Royal Mail service which sought only to deliver it to the GSP centre in the UK.

For background reading as to why sending these parcels made me nervous see https://www.moneywise.co.uk/work/shopping/fight-your-rights-myhermes-lost-parcel-payouts and in particular the 7 pages of comments. The author of the above article is of the opinion that these courier companies should be held responsible for loss and we should not need to insure items against their incompetence. I do insure parcels though.