My absolute main bugbear in life is lateness. I can’t abide it. If you agree to do something or be somewhere at a certain time, then don’t be late. It’s downright rude. Couple this with poor customer service and you have got one angry Libby.

Let me explain.

I recently sold my dining table and chairs on eBay. The buyer lives in London so she contacted a delivery / collection company to come and pick the furniture up. This company, Shipley, is basically a broker for self-employed drivers. You book your job with Shipley, and then choose a company from a list, based on price and feedback. Seems like a reasonable system, as long as you do your research.

The buyer arranged, by mutual agreement, a collection time of midday on Saturday. I was due to go out at 12.30ish, so this was all fine with me.

At 12.20, the driver rang me to say he was 80 miles away so wouldn’t be there on time. He was already 20 minutes late, so I had started to get one of those feelings about his reliability. He wanted to come at 3 but I said I wouldn’t be there so we arranged for him to come at 10am on Monday.

Monday came and no show. The driver called me later to say he’d had to go to Scotland instead but could come at 9 o’clock that night. I was attending a networking event that evening, so we arranged for him to come at 9am on Tuesday.

When I woke up on Tuesday, I checked my phone and the driver had texted me at 4.31am to say he had just got back from Scotland (good job I hadn’t agreed to the 9 o’clock collection the previous evening or he wouldn’t have turned up then either!) after a 22 hour day and so wouldn’t be with me at 9am as planned.

This was getting ridiculous.

The worst thing for me, apart from the inconvenience, is that the driver wasn’t communicating any of this to the buyer. I sent her a message after every single piece of contact, so that at least I, as the seller, was providing the best customer service I could in the circumstances.

The driver eventually called me back at 5pm on Tuesday and said he could come at 5am on Wednesday. I said that wasn’t a great time for me (!), and so a much more reasonable 8.30 on Thursday was settled on. I explained to the driver that I had an important client call at 9.30 on Thursday so he had to have been and gone by 9am. “Yes, yes”, he said, “that is fine”.

You can guess where this is going, right?

Today is Thursday. I was ready and waiting for the driver at 8 because I thought he might be early as he had promised me faithfully that he would be here. I am an unfailing optimist!

Cue a text message at 8.21 saying he was 25 miles away. Expletives galore ensued, I can tell you.

I replied, in as curt a tone as a text will allow, that I had an important meeting and I wouldn’t be available after 9.15. As he already knew.

At 9am I rang him to see where he was. 16 minutes away according to the sat nav.

9.17. He calls and says he had the wrong postcode. I’d asked him on Monday if he wanted to check he had the right address but he said he had it. I reiterated that I had a call at 9.30. He said, and I quote:

“I have no excuse. I am sorry”.

Oh, well that’s alright then. All is forgiven, mate!

Whilst on the phone, I had an email from my client checking the number to call me on, and I quickly replied and asked if we could delay for five minutes as I was having an eBay delivery nightmare. She, luckily, was very understanding and said that was fine.

At 9.29am, my doorbell rang. Two shifty looking fellas had arrived in their beat up white Transit.

I told them again, in no uncertain terms, how appalling their service had been, and I wasn’t even actually their customer. They muttered some vague apologies, took the table and chairs and left. They didn’t ask me to sign anything or even say goodbye. It was very strange indeed.

I messaged the buyer to update her on the tale and she sent me a lovely reply saying “thank you for your patience, you have been a real star”. By keeping in contact with her, I have managed to maintain my customer service standards and keep my buyer happy. That is always my objective, no matter the circumstances.

The moral of this particular tale of woe is to properly investigate who you are employing or engaging with. Always check references and feedback, and don’t – for goodness sake! – choose a service simply because it is the cheapest.

You really do only get what you pay for.



The really useful email full of strategies, advice, and guidance that will help you grow your business without a whiff of 24/7 hustle…