London-based courier company Excel has said special surcharges for deliveries within the British capital were not justified during the summer’s Olympic Games, given that feared traffic chaos failed to materialise.
The company chose not to apply an Olympics surcharge to its deliveries during London 2012, and told Post&Parcel that careful planning meant it was able to maintain “excellent” service levels during the proceedings.
But although it said there were some areas of significant congestion and disruption as the city transport authorities gave priority to Games participants in a special 109-mile Olympic Route Network, Excel said the anticipated traffic gridlock was avoided.
Gregory Hoy, Excel’s managing director, said in hindsight it made him particularly pleased that his company did not apply Olympic surcharges to any of its services, given the importance of cost efficiency for clients.
“Had the congestion been significant, such surcharges may have been justifiable, in order to compensate for the additional time taken to complete journeys, however, given that the congestion was modest, to apply surcharges would, in my view, have been wholly inappropriate,” said Hoy.
As with other courier and mail firms in London during the Olympics in July, August and September, Excel made more use of alternative transport means – such as cycle couriers – in order to beat expected traffic congestion. The company says it saw the number of consignments completed by bicycle during the period increase by 27% compared to normal, while there was also an increase in use of foot messengers, double-team van crews and deliveries during non-peak hours.
Excel, which has a turnover of around GBP 8m a year at present, also developed bespoke contingency plans for clients that were most at risk due to their location or service requirements during the Olympics.
However, the company told Post&Parcel that it did not have clients needing delivery to Olympics venues themselves, which meant avoiding GBP20 surcharges imposed by the official logistics partner for the London 2012 Olympics, UPS, to cover security checks on items going to the venues.
DPD UK said it felt vindicated for its decision to impose an Olympics surcharge by the level of preparations and service quality during the event
A number of other courier companies did not level an Olympic surcharge for deliveries within the affected areas of London during the Games, but firms including DPD, Interlink, Parcelforce and City Link did charge a pound or two per item.
DPD UK told Post&Parcel yesterday that even though mass disruption was avoided during the Olympics, its GBP 1.95 per consignment surcharge was justified given the measures taken to ensure service levels were maintained during the event.
Steve Woodman, the London regional manager for DPD UK, said his company invested GBP 1.3m in its Olympics preparations, but wasn’t able to absorb all of the costs arising from deliveries to post code areas within Olympics-affected areas.
DPD’s preparations included opening additional facilities, increasing the number of vehicles and adding drivers’ assistance to make final deliveries on foot if necessary in Olympics areas. It also introduced early morning and late evening deliveries, and increased the number of customer service staff available to help customers collect their parcels at depots.
Woodman said the Olympics surcharges were carefully targeted and restricted as much as possible to areas impacted by the Olympics.
“The mass disruption feared by some was largely avoided. However, the disruption we did experience was focused around the venues themselves which is exactly what we were anticipating,” Woodman said.
“The truth is nobody likes surcharges, but then no one likes late parcels either. It wasn’t a step we took lightly but I think we were totally vindicated.”
Woodman said feedback from DPD customers had been “excellent”, since they could see the preparation the company put into its Olympics services and the results during the Games.
Source: James Cartledge, Post&Parcel