When you said, on your website, "Book a Collection online! It's so easy!", I think that was technically not quite right.
Perhaps you should amend the part where it says "We'll pick up between 2 and 4:30pm" to say, instead:
When you ring at 4:24 to find out where the driver is, we'll ask you to sit through lengthy explanations of how it's easier to track by web, and how marvellous your website is. We then won't let you speak to an adviser until after we've taken your tracking number and tracked your parcel for you. Our state of the art technology will then pinpoint that your parcel is currently sitting in your living room.
Then we'll let you get through to an adviser. They won't give you a direct line. They'll let you know that the Romford depot is dealing with it, and give you a direct number. It will be number unobtainable. When you ring back, you'll have to go through the advertisement for the web service, the voicemail tracking process, etc. and so forth, again. Discovering that your parcel is in your living room gives you assured peace of mind. You'll get through to Julie, who will put you through to Romford directly; having gone through Romford's voicemail, you will be returned to the central Parcelforce call centre. Luckily, it will be Julie who picks up the call, thereby cutting through a mess of trouble.
You'll speak to the manager, who promises to find out what's going on at Romford and get back to you by five. You notice from the web that he and all his minions stop work at 5:30, oh the joys of English life, and have a lovely weekend.
At 5 you ring back, and, after the standard five minutes of tracking service (hey! It's still in the living room!), the manager assures you he will work tirelessly to sort out your pickup. When you query whether that means 'tirelessly' or 'tirelessly until 5:30, after which you might as well forget it until Monday', he allows as how it is the latter. Romford aren't answering the phone to the central people, either. The manager will explain that he tried to call you, but your number was engaged (Parcelforce were busy tracking your parcel at the time). You give him your mobile number.
At 5:15 you ring back, this time from the front doorstep, the only place in the house with mobile reception. When the voicemail asks for your tracking details (none of which will ever be passed to any live person at Parcelforce; they ask you for the tracking number three times per call on average), you realise you're so angry with the voicemail system that two nearby policemen ask if anything's the matter. On explaining that you're sorry, you're talking to voicemail, they nod understandingly. Turns out the package is in the living room. Who'd have thought it?
When you get through to an adviser, you start to escalate, explaining that no, actually, the reason you booked a timed, tracked delivery was because you wanted a timed, tracked delivery, and that you cannot, in fact, drop everything and take another day off on Monday (honestly, who can actually do this), and no, you can't take a Great Big Cardboard Box into London on the tube for work pickup either.
Only when you suggest that you are planning to spend the weekend telling everyone you know never to use Parcelforce as long as they live will anyone show any signs of caring about the customer experience, and even then it won't involve, eg, picking up your package on any timescale other than galactic.
Have a nice day!
I am an idiot. I didn't do this through TNT, who have never once failed to pick up in 9 years of regular pickups (mostly Plokta), because the quote for insured shipping (it's a large parcel going to a hill village in Italy) was so much more than the Parcelforce equivalent. And although I'm whining about Parcelforce, everyone has loads of rubbish stories about every other parcel company too. At heart, too, this is a failure of modern society; I'm only doing this because the insurance limit on international parcels through the post office is a laughable £150 (NB: this is little more than the *shipping* cost); you cannot send a valuable parcel internationally from your local post office any more.