Delivery drivers reveal horrific customer attacks: 'Extremely hostile'

Transport and delivery officials have spoken out about the "hostile customer abuse" they’re copping as increased online demand continues to lead to postage delays.

Speaking to Yahoo News Australia, staffers from Bonds Transport Group have described the toll of increased customer abuse in the delivery industry.

Ely Benchoam, manager of delivery drivers and warehouse staff at Bonds Transport Group’s Sydney depot, said that heightened stress due to the Covid-19 pandemic has meant that drivers are copping it from frustrated customers.

“Our delivery drivers are experiencing the heightened stress levels in the community first hand,” he said.

“Customers often project their frustration towards our drivers because, like our health care workers, they’re on the front line of the Covid crisis.”

Mr Benchoam left, delivery drivers standing next to truck, right. Source: Sling & Stone (left, provided), Getty Images (right)
Mr Benchoam said that it's unfortunate that drivers are copping abuse and not always getting the respect they deserve. Source: Sling & Stone (left, provided), Getty Images (right)

“They are being sworn at and being threatened by angry members of the public on a daily basis,” Mr Benchoam said.

“Just last week I had an extremely hostile customer call me after hours and demand that I deliver their parcel immediately.”

Mr Benchoam said that it’s important for everyone to remember that their drivers are doing their best under pressure.

“People are saying to us: ‘I want that delivery by tonight and I don’t care that your driver has been on the road for twelve, thirteen, fourteen hours, I want it now’,” he said.

“We’re urging customers to be kind and patient as we work through the gobsmacking volumes of parcels (currently up to 5,000 per day) travelling through our depots, especially in Sydney and Melbourne.”

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues, front line workers have spoken out about customer abuse.

Supermarket retail workers have previously spoken about heightened customer abuse since Covid-19, as panic buying continues to cause scenes in stores.

Pressure on delivery drivers increasing

As delivery drivers speak out about customer abuse, significant demand for deliveries has skyrocketed.

Recent data reveals that about 75 per cent of Australians are shopping online and parcel volumes have significantly increased as a result.

According to data from courier and postal service Sendle, there has been a whopping 88 per cent increase in parcel volume recorded in Greater Sydney since the New South Wales lockdowns were announced in June.

The report also shows that Greater Melbourne’s parcel volumes have shot up 46 per cent since the announcement of Victorian lockdowns in July.

Worker in warehouse. Source: Getty Images

Mr Benchoam said that state border closures have also significantly affected parcel delivery.

“Our drivers are being stopped at state borders which can add to the disruption,” he said.

Managing Director at Bonds Transport Group Jonathan Ryce has told Yahoo News that delivery drivers are doing their best to adapt to the new normal.

“On top of managing the challenges of Covid-19 such as working from home and the additional health and safety requirements, we’re also maintaining our high levels of service and communication with our customers, and working as proactively as possible to mitigate potential issues,” he said.

Australia Post has also recently adapted to increased parcel demand, by announcing it will bring on thousands of new recruits to assist with Christmas deliveries.

Hand holds phone and parcel (lfet), Mr Ryce (right). Source: Getty Images (left), Sling and Stone (provided, right)
Mr Ryce has asked customers to be mindful of delays. Source: Getty Images (left), Sling and Stone (provided, right)

Navigating Christmas delays

Eva Ross, Chief Customer and Marketing Officer at Sendle has revealed tips and tricks to ensure your parcels arrive on time for Christmas.

“Plan ahead. If you want to ensure your parcels are delivered in time for Christmas, start buying them now!” she said.

Ms Ross has also encouraged business owners to set realistic expectations with their customers for delivery times across all communications.

“Clearly state the expected delivery times on your website so your customers aren’t left frustrated when a parcel comes later than expected,” she said.

Delivery driver (left), Eva Ross (right). Source: Getty Images (left), Sling & Stone (provided, right)
Ms Ross encourages business to speak to their customers and urge them to do their Christmas shopping early to avoid disappointment. Source: Getty Images (left), Sling & Stone (provided, right)

Mr Ryce also asked customers to be mindful of how hard delivery drivers are working this festive season.

“We ask that consumers make allowances for the service delays due to the unprecedented parcel volumes within our freight network,” he said.

“During the lockdowns, we ask that customers exercise patience and understanding as they interact with our front line workers including our drivers, our customer service team and our network partners.”

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