It's Bethan here, one of the co-founders of The British Blanket Company reporting from the warehouse today! You might have heard on the news that additional Royal Mail strikes have been announced and naturally feel concerned about online shopping and delayed parcel deliveries this Christmas.
When it comes to all things delivery-related, you won't find more experienced and knowledgeable people than our hard-working warehouse team. So, I've gathered all their advice into a blog post to help you get ahead and have the best delivery experience possible. The circumstances are not perfect this year but, with a little forward planning and working together, you can keep shopping online and receive your Christmas gift orders on time.
Here at The British Blanket Company, we keep a close eye on delivery times throughout the year, and especially over the festive period when we know timely delivery of Christmas gifts is even more important. This advice is written with a focus on the parcel delivery companies we use, but these tips are still helpful when you shop with other online brands. Please continue to support small businesses with your online orders, it really means the world to us all!
12th December updates:
Royal Mail last postage date has been moved forward to 12th December, so we no longer advise using their services for pre-Christmas delivery. Please choose DPD if ordering for Christmas. Orders over £150 are upgraded to DPD for free.
DPD has published this list of service disruption adding 1-2 days to the usual timescales for a number of postcodes. Note we are sending from Avon BS21, which is affected.
We'll continue to update the information below if the advice we have changes.
What are the Royal Mail strike dates for Christmas 2022?
The Communications Workers Union has scheduled Royal Mail strikes on the following dates:
Thursday 24th November
Friday 25th November
Wednesday 30th November
Thursday 1st December
Friday 9th December
Sunday 11th December
Wednesday 14th December
Thursday 15th December
Friday 23rd December
Saturday 24th December
The strikes include key dispatch and delivery dates over the busy Black Friday weekend and Christmas Eve, when parcel volumes are always naturally higher, placing extra pressure on the system.
While there is a hope that an agreement may be reached and strike action could called off. To be transparent, you should expect delays to deliveries throughout November and December.
What do the postal strikes mean for online shopping and deliveries?
If your order is being sent by Royal Mail, your parcel won't be collected from the warehouse until the working day following the strike date. This will result in a backlog and a delay on parcels being scanned into the Royal Mail system. While waiting for its first scan, your tracking may suggest Royal Mail are still waiting for your parcel, even though it has already been collected by them.
After recent strike dates, we have seen some parcels taking up to 10 working days to be scanned. In many cases, the tracking doesn't update until the day of delivery.
The November and December strike dates are more frequent and closer together, so Royal Mail will have less time to catch-up in between.
When should I place my order to avoid my parcel being caught up in the Royal Mail strikes?
The simple answer is, as early as possible. This allows more time for your parcel to clear the backlog and move smoothly through to delivery. The British Blanket Company's free delivery option is sent by Royal Mail, as is the 1st Class upgrade, which costs £4.99. While we're told 1st Class parcels will still be prioritised, delivery will take longer than normal.
Royal Mail have advised 12th December as the recommended order date for 2nd class and 16th December for 1st Class deliveries to arrive in time for Christmas. However these dates are not guaranteed.
We advise customers to opt for our DPD delivery option to bypass Royal Mail altogether. If you spend over £150 we will give you a free upgrade to DPD, or you can pay £7.99 to choose the DPD delivery option on smaller orders. Although not directly involved in strike action, DPD delivery might still be slower than usual due to increased parcels going into their network.
What are the last order dates for Christmas 2022?
We usually publish last order dates for Christmas, but due to expected disruption, couriers are not committing to last order dates this year.
Royal Mail has moved their recommended last posting date earlier to 12th December (previously 19th December). This should not be taken as a guarantee.
Usually, Royal Mail and DPD would make deliveries until and including Christmas eve. However, the 23rd and 24th December are included in the Royal Mail strike dates.
Orders with DPD will be dispatched by our warehouse until 1pm on Thursday 22nd December so should in theory be delivered on Friday 23rd December. Next day delivery isn't guaranteed though, so we strongly encourage you not to cut it this fine!
Deliveries are not usually made on weekends or bank holidays, but sometimes delivery companies are able add extra shifts over the Christmas period in areas where drivers are available.
Will The British Blanket Company be using a different courier company instead of Royal Mail, such as Evri or Yodel?
We've considered this very carefully and taken advice from our experienced warehouse team, who deal with couriers all day long. We've concluded that 'budget' couriers such as Evri and Yodel are not generally as reliable as Royal Mail and there is a higher risk of parcels being misdelivered or lost. With extra pressure on their systems as a knock-on effect of the strikes, we don't want to swap to a courier company that does not have a positive track record.
Although customers may experience delays with Royal Mail because of the strikes this Christmas, instances of missing parcels remain very low. Royal Mail drivers are generally reliable, delivery office locations are convenient for most customers and the tracking tends to be accurate. Therefore, we have decided to stick with Royal Mail for our free delivery and 1st class options. Delivery with DPD is available as an alternative for customers who prefer to avoid Royal Mail.
How quickly will The British Blanket Company pack and dispatch my order?
Our warehouse team work every day, Monday to Friday, plus we have added an extra evening shift on Sunday nights over the festive period. They are incredibly hardworking and speedy, so most orders are picked and packed within a couple of hours of your order being placed.
When you order before 1pm Monday - Friday, we can usually ready your order for dispatch the same day.
Once readied for collection, it will wait to be picked up by the courier. Usually, Royal Mail and DPD collect daily Monday to Friday. However, on dates when Royal Mail strikes occur, the parcels will be collected on the following working day.
Please note that while we pack parcels on Friday afternoons and weekends, collections from our warehouse only take place Monday - Friday.
You have sent me a tracking number, but I'd like more details about my parcel. Can you chase up?Unfortunately, the tracking information we have is the same as that customers receive via their tracking number so we can't give extra insight. Royal Mail's customer service staff are striking too, so they're unable to give us individual updates.
My parcel didn't arrive on the estimated date, can I have a refund?
We firmly believe that honesty is the best policy and it would be wrong at this time to make promises we can't keep. We'll always be transparent so you know what to expect and can weigh up your options. To be completely up-front, delays are definitely to be expected over this rocky period. Even outside of strike action, delivery timeframes are offered as estimates only and never guaranteed.
Thank you in advance for your patience!
We know how frustrating it is when deliveries are delayed, but want to thank you in advance for your patience and understanding over the strike period. Please know that our team really do feel your pain and we'll be working flat out to mitigate delays by preparing parcels as quickly as possible on our side.
We are a small family business run by real people who care very much about your experience. Please be kind to our customer service team and trust we are doing all we can to help. Your order means the world to us!