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Driven around the bend

Posted on: May 28th, 2014 by Jules
Liz Asteraki from Riverford relies on her van to deliver fresh produce to her customers

Liz Asteraki from Riverford Organic relies on her van to deliver fresh produce to her customers

For everyone waiting on Thursdays for the arrival the weekly vegetable delivery from Riverford Organic, something’s changed.

White van man has replaced some of the brightly painted veggie vans.

Why? Ask Renault.

We all rely on a few key tools for our businesses. For Riverford’s “Organic Sisters” it boils down top-notch produce and wheels to deliver.

Having been in the business for many years they know to plan well ahead. So in January, as the old van was due to slip into a rust-ful retirement, they placed a £500 deposit for a new vehicle.

Renault took the order and the local Riverford franchise duly made its plans for delivery scheduled for late March or early April.

They coaxed the old van to keep going for a couple more months, and meanwhile got quotes for signage, ply lining and the rest of the paraphernalia that goes into a getting ready a new goods delivery vehicle.

When no van showed up, Liz Asteraki, from Old Wives Lees, co-owner of the franchise with her sister Caroline, called up the dealership.

Here’s what happened next:

“Initially they couldn’t understand what had happened to our order,” says Liz. “I was having to liaise between the local dealership in Canterbury and customer services at Renault UK.

“It transpired that Renault UK changed the chassis number of the ordered vehicle and my name wasn’t reassigned, so an admin assistant just deleted the order off!

“I have been a tennis ball between the two Renault organisations, constantly being told by each that it was the others fault.

“When it was clear there was no van for me, I had to place the order again.

“I had hoped that due to this monumental cockup Renault would prioritise the order through the factory, so I would only have to wait a couple of extra weeks. But no, they were unwilling to push this order any quicker at all, so I have another 12 week wait.

“When I asked whether they would supply a vehicle for me to use in the interim I got a categorical No!

“This is the third order for a new van we’ve placed with them over the last 18 months yet their customer service is non-existent. My business will incur extra expense, through their incompetence.

“I wasn’t looking for anything from them over and above the extra cost involved for me but they weren’t willing to offer anything.”

With the old van no longer fit for purpose, the Riverford franchise has had to hire a van. Meanwhile the quotes obtained for sign writing and ply lining in January will no longer be valid for the new delivery date, and then there’s the expense and time of calling all the parties involved.

“The extra stress has added yet more grey hairs!” says Liz. “I’m just dumbfounded by how big business can treat a small, but loyal business customer.”

What’s your experience of dealing with transport issues? Tweet me @julesserkin ; listen to my radio shows live Tuesdays 11-12 @SCOFFQUAFF & 1pm @businessbunker on www.channelradio.co.uk

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