I try hard to avoid being a grumpy old man on here, but every now and then …
This story starts in mid May, when in the post was a card from ‘Parcel Express UK’ advising me they had tried to deliver a package, and there was a redelivery charge of £2.20. Cue AC fulmination about whatever happened to the days when you just had the Post Office, and the delivery business had not become the all-consuming giant it is now?
The card, which looked genuine enough, nicely designed, with a mix of pro forma print and postman’s scribbles, said I could call and organise redelivery by credit/debit card, or collect the package in person. I was due to go the Heathrow later in the day, and the collection address was just off the North Circular, so I decided to pick it up on the way.
The address – Oxgate Lane NW2 – turned out to be an industrial estate, with no sign of a ‘Parcel Express UK’ depot. I asked around, and eventually found a man who said ‘don’t tell me – £2.20 redelivery charge – it’s a scam.’
He said there had been a steady procession of people up there to look for the depot, which didn’t exist. And presumably a steady flow who had called the number and given their credit card number, like I might have done had I not been going to Heathrow.
Once back from my trip, I googled Camden council trading standards, surprised myself at the ease with which I navigated the site to leave a short report for their attention, and was electronically told someone would be in touch within a few days.
I heard nothing for a while, so tried to phone, but got nowhere and eventually gave up. Instead I went to the local police station. The officer at the desk, as soon as he saw the card, sighed and said they had had loads of them, so thanks for popping in, but it was already under investigation. Fine, I thought.
Then yesterday up pops an email from the Planning and Public Protection department at Camden Council, thanking me for my message, apologising for the delay in replying, and telling me that they no longer deal with such complaints.
Instead, the ‘customer support officer’ told me, I should contact ‘Consumer Direct London, a telephone and online consumer advice service that is supported by local authorities in London, and by the government.’
There then followed the usual 0845 numbers (always a turn off) a couple of website addresses, and then this ‘To provide you with the best possible service, incoming emails are handled by the team as a whole: please help us maintain standards by sending all responses to this email to … etc.’
Handled by the team as a whole? But in truth it would seem to me it has been handled by nobody, for five or six weeks, until finally I get an email saying I should go somewhere else.
‘Handled by the team as a whole’ reminded me of that sign at Euston that always makes me smile, urging passengers to use all entrances to the train to ensure a speedy departure. I know what they mean … but if we all used all entrances, we would be so busy going in and out of entrances, the train would never leave.
Anywhere, there we are, grump over. I will assume the police are doing what they have to do. I will also assume that in the time it has taken for the council to tell me I need to take my complaint elsewhere, the scamsters have moved into another area, then another, then another, moving rather more quickly than the pace of trading standards complaints procedures.