The parcel that wasn’t stolen

It is interesting how a sequence of events can take on positive or negative appearances as they unfold. That is what happened in the story that I want to relate today. I will also share a very important marketing lesson.

I wrote recently about my thoughts on making purchasing decisions and how I chose a local company to replace the windows in my house. A significant factor in that choice was a recommendation from a friend. Personal recommendations are a godsend for any business and have a value way beyond any advertising or sharp salesmen. Normally, a recommendation is derived from someone being happy with the product or service that was provided. However, it can also result from things going wrong. I think there is much to learn about how a company deals with problems, because, if they do a good job, that will lead to repeat business …

A few weeks ago I ordered a book. Nothing interesting – just something I needed for my work. I ordered it online from my favorite book supplier. I am not going to advertise them explicitly here, but they are the market leader and you know who I am talking about. I have been using their services for at least 12 years and every year I seem to place more orders than in the last. I received notification that my book had shipped and followed the tracking information. On the Saturday it showed “Out for delivery” and then “Delivered”. But I had not received anything.

On the Monday, I contacted the local postal delivery office and they confirmed that the delivery had taken place. I was told that the delivery guys are instructed to ring on the bell of the house. If there is no answer, they can leave the package outside, if they feel it is secure, or leave a card and take the package away again. The door to my house is close to the street and there really is no place secure nearby. The manager at the office said that the delivery had been quite early and maybe, being a Saturday, the delivery man did not want to disturb us, so left the package outside. We concluded that the parcel had been stolen.

The manager was very apologetic and said the delivery guy would be suitably disciplined. I would need to claim for compensation. To do that, I needed proof of posting from the supplier, so I emailed their Customer Service. Their response was amazing. They said that they would not send the proof of posting, but would deal with compensation from the Post Office direct and refund me immediately. Now, that is service!

This left me with very mixed feelings. I felt bad that someone would steal a package off of my doorstep and started to ponder installing a secure place for deliveries to be placed. On the other hand, I was so impressed by the prompt and comprehensive action of my supplier.

There is a postscript to the story. About 2 weeks later, there was a ring at the door and a lady had a package and said “I think this is yours”. It was the “stolen” parcel. It was not stolen at all, but had been left outside the door – in a secure place – at a house with a very similar address. The owners had just come back after 2 weeks away.

Naturally, I returned this parcel to the supplier, having already ordered and received another copy of the book. My faith in humanity was restored.

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  • That’s a pretty good story.

    I recall an experience where FedEx misdelivered a VERY rare set of speakers to an apartment with a somewhat similar number as mine, where I lived some years ago.

    I tried to work the delivery company to back trace the delivery but to no avail.

    Unfortunately the recipient was not honest enough to notify me or the apartment office and I had to go through terrible stress to get the value of the items back. It was a very long & drawn-out process.

    But you’re right, more often than not people are generally honest.

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This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at https://blogs.sw.siemens.com/embedded-software/2011/03/03/the-parcel-that-wasnt-stolen/