Last week, Topshop told us they’re ditching eCourier. We contacted eCourier CEO Ian Oliver and his new bosses from Royal Mail to express our concern:


Dear Ian,
Last week we were contacted by the Arcadia Group (Topshop, Topman, Miss Selfridge etc.), informing us that they are dropping eCourier as their delivery services partner, in favour of CitySprint. They sited eCourier’s lousy service and noted that the decision was made before Christmas, and was not as a result of our campaign. This news comes just weeks after Channel 4 apparently did the same thing; dropping eCourier for CitySprint.
This is of grave concern to us, because it means that eCouriers will struggle even more to earn a living. Despite eCourier’s meagre 20p pay rise, eCouriers are reporting that they continue to find it hard to cover the costs of their job, as well as the costs of living. Many are forced to work 7 days a week just to top up their incomes, trapping them in cycles of fatigue and low-productivity. And since couriers earn per drop, not per hour, loosing a big client like Arcadia, will directly effect eCouriers’ wages and wellbeing – it won’t just be the company that takes the hit.
Given that it’s now 2016, most people would think that the idea of running a business on exploitation would be out of date. Most businessmen know by now that exploiting people ultimately doesn’t pay; workers get tired, they need to rest, they are unmotivated and unproductive when they are paid a pittance.
Actually it’s in the business-owner’s own interest to pay people fairly. If you don’t believe me, maybe you’ll believe international business consultants KPMG who are also one of the Living Wage Foundation’s principal partners.
If you really are seeking Living Wage Accreditation, then you will know that one of the main reasons companies sign up to the Living Wage in the first place, is because of the benefits it brings to their business; when people are paid a living wage, they feel less exploited and work harder, are more productive, become more experienced, then work even more efficiently and use up less company time being trained, and less company resources troubleshooting their problems. The company also benefits from increased staff retention. It’s a win-win scenario.
Speaking of staff retention, or the lack of it, eCourier hired 103 pushbike riders last year, averaging at 31 riders per week. These figures were sited by Malcolm a number of times when we visited your office. This means that effectively eCourier shed two-thirds of its fleet – your retention in 2015 was just 30%! This is shocking, even by courier-industry standards. Many of the couriers who left your organisation told us that it was a combination of bad pay and bad treatment that forced them out, some saying they couldn’t even afford to save for a deposit on a rented room and therefore could not afford to work or live in London on their eCourier pay.
So couriers are leaving eCourier, fed up with being over-worked and underpaid. Clients are leaving eCourier because they’re fed up with the lousy service. Normally, a business-owner would look at these two events and it would shock him into sorting out his business. If you need some inspiration, you could look back at your own twitter feed from 3rd August last year. Ecourier posted a meme saying “It takes months to find a customer… and seconds to lose them” – maybe it’s time to start joining the dots, and realise: exploitation doesn’t pay.
In the long run, if you start paying your couriers enough to live on and enough to work, you’ll do less damage to your business – you’ll retain your hard-working and experienced couriers, you’ll retain your clients, and you’ll grow your business.

Kind Regards,

The Couriers & Logistics Branch

eCourier August 2015