John Walker's Electronic House

Never, Ever Use City Link

by on Dec.30, 2010, under The Rest

I'm like Rory Bremner

City Link, the UK parcel delivery company, is abysmal. It’s predictably abysmal. A typical conversation with friends:

“My parcel’s not arrived.”

“City Link?”


Everyone knows they’re hideous. Everyone you ask has a City Link horror story. Searching the internet and you’ll find so many tales. Many people I know, including me, have been unambiguously lied to by City Link. “We put a card through your door when there was no response,” they say, when they’ve been nowhere near the house and certainly not put through a card.

And yet so many major companies still use them despite there being so many far better, far more reliable companies offering the same service. Including, terribly, Amazon.

Whenever I see delivery information emails coming through with “City Link” named, I sigh and give up any expectations of a delivery date. When things do arrive on time from them I’m so surprised their drivers get a bit scared. So it was with such a happy heart that I learned my Christmas present from my parents was to be delivered by these bastions of the postal service. Delivery date: 24th December. Just on time for the happy day.

It’s now the 30th, and I’ve received nothing. Those contemptible incompetents have ensured I’ve not had my new video camera for the entire Christmas holiday period. And best of all, when I track the order I see this stunning page:

So either their plans include developing time travel, or they’re intending to deliver it to me in another 359 days.

It seems the package disappeared mysteriously in the early hours of Christmas Eve morning, on its way to the delivery depot. After that, NOTHING MORE WAS HEARD:

Calling them to find out what’s happened to the parcel is even more fun! They have two numbers available. One for General Enquiries, one for Complaints. I picked the latter, and was told by a recorded message that they’re having very heavy volumes of calls, and then hung up on. I tried the former, and was told I’d be placed in a queue, and then hung up on. Presumably when you run a company offering an experience as shoddy as City Link you get a high volume of complaints.

After managing to get through an hour later I learned something interesting. You know those messages that incessantly interrupt hold music, assuring you of the importance of your call? They’re better than nothing at all. It surprises me to realise it. Clearly they need only happen once every two minutes, rather than every thirteen seconds, beginning with a click that sounds like the phone finally being picked up. But they do need to happen at all. After fifteen minutes on hold listening to a piece of music that loops every 34 seconds (I timed it), and within itself loops every three seconds, I wondered if I might be dead. Just hypnotically repeating, never interrupted, never telling you what position you might be in a queue.

But I eventually got through to a despondent sounding man. I asked when I might get the delivery, and he traced it to the depot floor in Bristol, where it’s been sat since the 24th December.

“They’re trying to get it out onto various routes, if they can fit it into a van.”

So when will it arrive?

“I can’t say. We’ve got a massive backlog of parcels.”

But it was due on the 24th. It arrived in Bristol on the 24th. Why didn’t it go out on the 24th?

“We were already backed up by then. We had so many parcels for Christmas.”

You weren’t expecting Christmas?

“We had a huge number of parcels.”

I’m going to buy you a calendar with Christmas circled, so you can expect all the presents next year.

“We were expecting more parcels. But we got so many parcels from Amazon, and they wouldn’t stop sending them to us, even after we told them we couldn’t deliver.”

So when will I get my parcel?

“Well, we came back on the 29th, so…”

You haven’t been delivering until the 29th?!

“It was Bank Holidays.”

But you’re a delivery company! But when will I get my parcel?

“Well, it’s the 31st tomorrow. Then we’re back on the 4th January.”

You’re not delivering until the FOURTH?!

“It’s the weekend, and then a Bank Holiday. But our drivers are working so much overtime. Sometimes they’re here until 8pm.”

So when will I get my parcel? A ballpark figure?

“Maybe on the 5th, but I can’t guarantee that.”

You’re an awful company, obviously. But do you agree that this is especially dire?

“We are very backed up and doing our best to clear it…”


Enquiries about a refund were fobbed off onto Amazon. The company is a useless mess. Everyone, every business, needs to stop using them. They’re atrocious. And I have no Christmas present.


27 Comments for this entry

  • Nick Mailer

    My Amazon Christmas gifts were apparently “delivered” on the 18th of December. My calls have remained thusfar unanswered.

  • Fede

    Only 359 days? It’s actually saying “Fri 24 Dec”, next one should be in 2021. :)

    I agree Amazon is better. Most of my books arrived on time, and only one got delayed (by a week).

    I guess you’ll get your parcel around the 6th… :(

  • Rodti

    City Link are awful, awful fuckers. They must be _very_ cheap, otherwise I have no idea how they stay in business.

  • beararsed

    ive had the delivery guy sign for a parcel himself and place the package in the bin outside my house, there was no note but when i phoned they told me to check the bin because sometimes the drivers dont want to have to try again the next day WTF!

  • Delta

    They lost my Inception script.


  • Alex Bakke


    John, I literally had a ‘delivery’ by City-Link today.

    I overslept, my mum is in all day so I knew she’d manage to accept the delivery.

    When I woke up at noon, I got an email from Ebuyer telling me that Citylink had attempted a delivery, but nobody was in. This was at 9:56, when my mother was most definitely in.

    There was no card, no knocking, no van outside at that time.

    So I rang them up, asking if I could collect from Reading (My nearest depot).

    They said I needed to bring two (Two!) forms of identification, passport, utility bill, drivers license. Which was fine, but then they asked for my delivery card.

    There was no card – My mother was in all day and she didn’t hear a single knock.

    “Sorry, you need a card to collect it.”

    But your van driver literally didn’t attempt to deliver!

    “Sorry, we need a card.”

    What am I to do if your colleague didn’t give me a card?

    “You’ll have to wait, I’m afraid.”

    Even if there was no delivery?

    “Yes, sorry.”

    So there was no delivery?

    “Maybe, maybe not.”


    I hung up at that point.

  • iainl

    Amazon Prime is awesome, because you can tell them specifically to use Royal Mail. At which point I get my parcels.

    Every other online retailer is pretty much dead to me, on account of them using City Link or the equally as bad Home Delivery Network.

  • George

    I couldn’t bring myself to make the Shitty Link joke.

    We just had a delivery (at about 1:50pm) from City Link up in Combe Down, so there’s still hope, John! maybe they’re just doing the nice parts of Bath first. ;)

  • Robert Morgan

    Next year, we get a privatised Royal Mail. Everyone seems to hate Royal Mail, so we can all welcome the future Citylink Utopia.

  • Adam

    +1 agree. 3 weeks and still no delivery. It’s sitting in the Edinburgh depot, which is currently not accepting collections due to “adverse weather conditions and unexpectedly large volumes”, and is on holiday.

  • Icarus

    I actually took to timing my orders from Amazon. If I ordered Thursday night/Friday morning with 1st class delivery it forced them to deliver on Saturdays. Since Citylink don’t do Saturdays and insist on delivering on a day when I’m not in, it forces Amazon to use Royal Mail instead who will do Saturdays.

    On top of that, Royal Mail will do me the courtesy of leaving it with a neighbour or the local post office, which Citylink will not do no matter how much you ask and despite the fact it would save them a second journey.

  • Beardy

    Allow me to join the doubtless millions groaning and nodding in recognition at this tale. I too am still waiting for some christmas deliveries from these bastards, and a delivery that was due 30th November (the first day it snowed, but before the snow was anything resembling untraversable) eventually arrived two weeks later with no word of apology or explanation, and with the website still claiming a delivery date of the 30th – and furthermore that they were on a van out for delivery in the AM. I can only surmise that the van fell into a wormhole en route to my house.

  • Flameberge

    I recognise this story. Though you say there are loads of other couriers out there who do a good job. Like who?
    As much as I detest the Royal Mail around Nottingham for their appalling service (considering I love about 600yds away from the Nottingham depot), any time I see any company state ‘courier delivery’ I cry a little inside.

    My pet hate is HOME Delivery Network. First time I heard of them, BT was trying to send me a broadband router. Didn’t turn up on the due date, no card left. Nothing the next day. Nor the next. Just as I was about to ring, got a knock on the door. Was a driver for HOME asking if I could take a parcel for number 3 – he’d ben trying to dleiver it for days. He looked at the parcel. “Oh, hang on… this is for number four! Oh… wait… is that you?” Apparently he thought it was funny. I called him a dickhead. (Sorry, but you can’t even fucking READ?)

    Next time was a year or so later, Amazon present for the better half. Didn’t turn up. Waited, for I am patient. No cards, no knocks, nothing. I was in for the day before, the day, and the two days after the delivery date. Checked order tracking on amazon. The fuckers – without every trying to send it to me – had said that they had tried to deliver (which they hadn’t) and sent it back to Amazon. The bright side of the story being I immediately called amazon, got through in about 2 minutes, lovely lady on the phone set me out a replacement item there and then, royal mail special delivery, arrived 7:45 the next morning.

    I hate couriers. UPS never leave cards around here, DHL only ever try to deliver once, then demand the item be picked up from their depot 40 miles away. They are all shockingly awful.

  • Alex Bakke

    I’ve only had good experiences with FedEx.

  • Mark

    Well this isn’t exactly the reassurance I was hoping for when I typed “City-Link” into google! How silly of me to order a new mobile on next-day delivery and actually expect it to arrive.

    Planned delivery date was yesterday between 0730 and 1730 and I never left the house once, no ard or anything either. Their website says they’re delivering today again, but I don’t know if they actually are as when you ring the depot they just say they are experiencing a high volume of deliveries and then hang up.

    Yay, way to run a company. I hope you all burn in hell for the terrible experience you mannage to so consistantly provide.

  • Alex

    FedEx is a stereotypically evil delivery company. They managed to get themselves declared an airline to avoid having their workers unionize and have set up some sub-contracting scheme for the actual ground delivery portion of their business that ensures that customers get the worst service possible.

  • EthZee

    …But at least the parcels run on time!

  • Janek

    (TOUCHING WOOD) I’ve never actually had a problem with City Link. I guess I just got lucky in my area being covered by a driver with an actual work ethic, as opposed to some idle bastard who’d rather go to a local drive-through Burger King rather than deign to get out of his van because it’s a bit nippy outside.

    Plus one for having immense problems with Home Delivery Network, or whatever they’re branding themselves now. Ordered a coat for a birthday in the first week of November (birthday was on the 19th), finally arrived in the second week of December. After it had already been cancelled, and a replacement sent by a different courier. Ho hum.

  • Patrick

    AH for crying out loud. I’ll agree that the only problems I’ve ever had with a delivery have been city link, but when you order something to arrive on christmas eve in this kind of national weather crisis, with the worst backlog of parcels in at least a decade, don’t be surprised when it doesn’t turn up.

  • John Walker

    It’s not that it’s late, you twit. It’s that they’re lying about it.

  • Fred Smith

    Hear hear. The only way to give Citylink a wake up call is to stop high volume clients of their like Amazon dealing with them. Citylink are the worst of creation and I detest Amazon for using them, particularly for their Prime service!

    How can you kick Citylink up the ar$e? Write to the Managing Director of Amazon UK, Brian McBride – and voice your views and let him know the hell Citylink put you through. It only takes a minute or two.


  • Richard House

    Fede – lol the next friday the 24th is in 2021 made me laugh out

    My parcel was received at the depot on the 15th and still hasn’t arrived it is now the 05 of January and I can not get through to them and they will not respond to my online contact.

    I think they have faked a delivery attempt as it is now asking me to reschedule the delivery on the tracking info. I know for a fact they have not attempted because I setup a camera on the front door.

    I want Amazon to cancel the order for me and resend it via another company. I would do it myself but I can’t get through.


  • bob

    peak periods , when all delivery company’s are struggling try ordering earlier to avoid non delivery , or ask the people who order then are not in when we get there not to waste our time , failing that if its that important go to a shop instead of dripping on like yours is the only parcel we have , and the reason we were so busy is because everyone came to us because the other company’s could not cope

  • Tony Morse

    my new gaming graphics card was despatched on thursday the 6th of jan for guaranteed next day delivery,been checking the tracking section on city link and planned delivery day is the 7th of jan now i waited in all day for them and nothing has arrived yet a city link van was parked round the corner and the driver was stuffing his fat fucking face doin nothing,now on the tracking section it says the same as the above screenshots it seems also that my parcel has mysteriously disappeared on way to the bristol delivery depot,ive emailed them twice with no reply,rang them 8 times and all im gettin is we are expierencing high volumes of calls. city link are a bunch of silly half arsed fuckwits(sorry for language)now if they turn round and say the attempted delivery then i am gonna be extremly pissed off and gonna take it further maybe newspapers,news etc oh and my best mate is laywer and he has said if they lie to me i have to let him know and he will contact them.
    imho STAY AWAY FROM CITY LINK means i have to wait till monday to be able to finish my build

  • Roxy Philip

    Ordered a DS from Amazon, with express delivery guaranteed by 1pm Tues (yesterday). Havent got it. No card left, rang City Link, was hung up on, then found this website while on hold and understood… :(

    Shouted at a woman on the phone who told me that they dont put cards through flat doors for security reasons…when our postal door isnt the entrance to our flat so we have to go and check for post. I had no idea anyone had even been and was about to blame the neighbours for stealing my DS. Apparently its in Beckton, where Im not going, have shouted at them enough to make them deliver between 7.30am and 5pm (could be fun, seeing as Im working) How are you ever meant to recieve items if you work 9 to 5? Luckily I normally work evenings, but tomorrow is afternoon too. They have said theyll ring me and then I can go around to the driver. Im not holding my breath. Stand by for a complaints letter to Amazon and Citylink. :)

  • Jonny

    My parcel was meant to be delivered on 20th December.

    After a visit to the depot and lots of phone calls City Link finally admitted that they have ‘lost’ my parcel…

    Now Ebuyer need to contact CityLink to confirm that it is lost but CityLink haven’t bothered to reply to a company they are delivering parcels for!!

    Awful service.

  • Jamie

    According to the City-link tracker my package has been in transit from the Milton Keynes collection depot to the delivery depot in Peterborough for 2 days. This should take about 2 hours max.

    Hopefully this means they are driving slow to avoid damaging anything.