Autographs and the Courier

in Courier

One of the great challenges for any courier is securing that signature from the client – the one that confirms that you’ve done your bit. In other words, the consignment (or parcel, letter etc) has been delivered and it’s now somebody else’s worry. It sounds so easy and perhaps, for a lot of the time, it is. However, life and its vagaries (i.e. the client) don’t always seem to have been informed of the plot in advance.

Entry to the inner sanctum

A good example of this is something the courier may see when delivering to the large factory, industrial complex or even some large office buildings. Arriving at the notional address (the use of ‘notional’ is pretty key here) you suddenly realise that the address really encompasses an area about the size of Wales and has at least 964 gates or other forms of entrance. It’s always good fun when, having been unceremoniously kicked out of the first one you tried at random, you have to decide whether to start checking out the other entrances clockwise or anti-clockwise. It must be one of those ‘challenges and opportunities” the courier boss promised you in your recent career review. Yes, one would think that any of the gates or doors would have someone available that could make a few internal phone calls to find where exactly you’re supposed to go to deliver, but that can be a bit of a ‘jobsworth’ challenge for some of the parties concerned. “I’m not allowed to deal with deliveries in any way”; “This phone’s not working”; “I’m on my break”; “I’ve never heard of him/her”. These are just some of the gems the poor courier may encounter.

The invisible man

Once you do finally gain entry, assuming you’re not exhausted, you’ll have to try and find the consignee. That can be equally good fun for a courier and quite often breaks down into:

• You’re asked to wait and about 30 minutes later, somebody comes up to ask you again just who exactly you are and who you’re waiting for or;

• You’re asked to find your way to the person’s office or desk along a labyrinth of corridors, multiple lifts and adjoining walkways. Chances are that you’ll get lost and end up standing in the middle of a vast open-plan office bleating helplessly “Mr Smith? Anyone know a Mr Smith?” That’s always good for generating sniggers and guffaws in those around you.

Oh, and when you do find Mr Smith, be prepared for a baffled look and “this is nothing to do with me – I don’t want it!”

War and Peace

Eventually, you do manage to find the person that seems, very reluctantly, to want to take the package off your hands. That’s when you’ll encounter the ‘ordinary signature isn’t good enough’ syndrome. Instead of just a plain signature, the recipient seems determined to write a novel in the tiny box designated for their name. This often betrays a certain lack of confidence:

“Parcel received, without prejudice and unchecked, by Mr J. Smith. The contents were unverified and no responsibility is hereby accepted for their condition. By signing for this, I do not accept personal accountability for …..etc etc”


Having an electronic signature pad may not help this much – in fact it just opens up a new can of worms for a courier. Have you ever met anyone that can really read what’s written on those? Then there are the multicolour lights that mysteriously flash on and off and the strange beeping sounds that periodically come out of the box. You may remember the one time you asked someone in your IT section just what the beeps, lights and odd symbols on the screen meant, only to find that they didn’t have a clue either. All that might be funny if it didn’t have the effect of terrifying some clients who assume that you’re some kind of hacker and your signature pad is really going to allow you to gain access to their bank overdraft to help deal with your bank overdraft.

Happy New Year

Finally, having missed several New Years in passing, you finally get back to the entry point only to have the security guard say: “Is that your van they’re towing away over there?”.

How does the typical courier really view signatures? We love them!

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Norman Dulwich has 1 articles online

Norman Dulwich is a correspondent for Courier Exchange, the world's largest neutral trading hub for the same day courier and express freight exchange industry. Over 2,500 transport exchange businesses are networked together through their website, trading courier jobs and capacity in a safe 'wholesale' environment.

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Autographs and the Courier

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This article was published on 2010/12/08