Perhaps Petar Cvetkovic, the CEO of the mail and self-styled logistics company DX (their slogan is ‘delivered exactly’) might engage in one of those jolly TV programmes where management secretly mucks in on the shop floor and gets to know what it’s really like. More likely he has a managerial horror of becoming that much scorned White Van Man, from the way people are generally treated by his ‘management’, in their case a very inexact use of the word too.
Why should the fifty five year old executive even bother though? After all, according to Company Check, he holds the directorship of 16 listed companies and has resigned from the board of another 11. Over the last few months and weeks though Phoenix Ark Press have done it for him, with a man on the ground working out of their depot in Penrith. The result, Mr Cvetkovic, is disgust with the way people are exploited and the stupidity of the company ‘ethic’ too. It comes with freely delivered advice to the good British public never to go near DX, and, if you can, to order via Royal Mail, Parcel Force, DPD or another other rival. These days it’s only a little pause for thought, after all, and a discerning movement of the finger, in choosing retail Companies who use different operatives.
Except if you’re expecting one of Her Majesty’s great British passports through the post though, because apparently DX have the monopoly. They deliver other things too, Wiggle packages, Boo Hoo (hoo), White Stuff, Parcel Monkey, the monkeys, and so on, but one of their mainstays are our great British Passports. Quite a responsible and, in those bygone days when British business meant anything truly positive, if it ever did, even a thing commanding a tiny degree of respect? It certainly results in drivers being vetted for criminal records, credit issues, general dodgieness and so on.
Perfectly proper, as perhaps is some kind of penalty for not delivering your passport through the right letterbox. Except that there seems to be a standard and appalling 8 weeks wait to even work, with no concern or apology, and virtually no proper training either. While DX thinks it has the right to impose a £250 fine for every miss-posted letter of transit. With a three week wait for your first pay cheque too, doesn’t that strike you as a kind of bonded labour, that having a British passport was supposed to have abolished long since, and perhaps not entirely legal either? A three strikes and you’re out system would be far more reasonable, and less damaging to people’s real lives too. But maybe it’s only cynics or multi-company executives who fail to treat others like grown-ups, and start with the premise that everyone else is a crook, lazy or irresponsible, and not them at all.
Even such a fine might be justifiable, if the rewards given to their drivers matched the responsibility they are expected to carry. But, like the value of delivering your bicycle repair kit, or lovely White Stuff, so the drivers are paid 50p per passport, and 46p per mile. Apparently, that has not changed in at least 6 years. Now in rural areas that does present a margins problem, yet in that £72 or £82 charged by HM Passport office for processing our passports, what exactly does Her Majesty’s government set aside from you and us for p and p, to deliver perhaps hefty profits so exactly to DX owners and bosses? How many are issued per week too, and how much are our passports worth in the wider sense too? ‘Civis Britanicus Sum’? Fat chance. Any information request must go to them, and as for DX, they never answer any questions. Meanwhile, since 46p per mile is what any self-employed person is allowed to offset against tax in petrol, it might be worth HM Revenue investigating DX’s accounts to see if they are claiming on that too, to double their profits. We have not done so yet.
That level of pay though may prove fairly acceptable in such high density places as Manchester or London, despite one walk out there, but with no variance or weighting in what DX people get Nationwide, while in rural areas like Cumbria it amounts to pretty exact exploitation. Not least because drivers are expected to provide their own vehicles, Sat Navs, pay their fuel, while waiting to be paid, incur all the wear and tear costs of thrumming up and down the M6, or over impossible if beautifully scenic roads, so recently suffering floods and appalling and dangerous conditions. Laughably they have to pay £60 a month rental on those signing machines too, you have to fiddle with on your doorstep, so DX looks professional and serious. So, on certain routes, the promise given of about £120 per day to invite drivers in turns out to be impossible to achieve for new drivers, even working 9 hours, and sometimes 12. That seems to be pretty exact misrepresentation too.
We calculated though, exactly or not, that some of their drivers are really touching the minimum wage, despite the responsibility of handling your vital passport, and being punished outrageously for getting it wrong too. With the pressures they’re putting on drivers, and the people running their shabby depots, arguably life threatening pressures in these recent weather conditions and famous Cumbrian flooding, it is far more likely they will get it wrong, and walk out as well. Meanwhile, the hard core of drivers sew up the easiest and most lucrative routes, (perhaps who can blame them considering such a culture of basic intimidation), and the real strain is put on the people coming through, not used to the topography, and often quickly walking out, as our bloke did.
What exactly will DX do about all this? It seems, exactly nothing at all. Precisely because the company was born out of the strikes by the Royal Mail through the seventies, before becoming privately owned in 2006, and with the rise of internet shopping too, that’s done such harm in many areas we may all be waking up to. While, in our experience, DX cares not a fig for the people it takes on so contemptuously as self-employees, and is perfectly willing to loose too. Allegedly, when one London depot tried to resist it by standing together, they sacked everyone and hired agency staff, until they could get more long term drivers. Noble British strike breaking, to ensure Mr Cvetkovic’s salary, and such vital services as passport delivery too? Not when the ‘culture’ of that company is so cynical and depressing, top to bottom. You would have thought prominent retail companies too have some small concern with what reputation is attached to the arrival of their Label in the post.
Then, in 2014, and with 3000 employees, DX floated itself on the AIM small company stock exchange. Which, considering informed commentators like Tom Whinifreth call that badly regulated market ‘the AIM casino’, makes you pause too. If you’re a concerned or even a ruthless shareholder then, you might prick up a wary ear to the opinion of the company from several on the inside. Or listen to one member of the public last week, after spending three hours on the phone complaining, and having looked up consumer comments he described as flooding onto the internet, to match the bad weather. Just pit that against stopping to ask directions of a smiling Royal Mail girl, in her smart red van, who beamed at the concern they show for their people, the perks they offer, the holiday incentives and the shares too.
Not vast money an hour, the Royal Mail, but actually it isn’t all about money, and goes with a real air of respect for lives, for work, safety and some job satisfaction. Take too the experience of a car blowing up near Kendal and borrowing water for the engine, from a bloke, it turns out, who had just packed in DX and now works for Parcel Force. From both the point of view of good business practice and treatment of people, eventually such a fly by night attitude to a workforce makes a business both distasteful and potentially unsustainable, as it tries to hold the market. Especially if prospective drivers get to know of the risks they are taking going near DX.
Their vaunted logistical business exactitude might be directed then to a little easy software investment and development, or time given to supporting warehouse managers, working a 70 hour week, or warning drivers of seriously blocked routes and so on. Instead it is clearly turned on to the thought that anyone in need of a job will do such work in the end, and so can run on just parcelling them off into the wild, blue yonder, and seeing who is desperate enough to sink or swim. In our humble, White Van Man opinion though, and for lots of reasons, the writing is certainly on their forcibly rented signature machines.
If Britain was really great too, perhaps Her Majesty Passport’s Office, that boasts a ‘Good Practice’ code, might use such a monopoly contract to inculcate some real culture again, top to bottom, by suggesting anyone handling our once World valued passports should be given a little more respect and value too. Indeed try to ensure it, by giving it back to Parcel Force, DPD, or The Royal Mail! Meanwhile the public too might spare a thought on the doorstep for people trying to cross tough terrain, to often unnumbered or unnamed houses, and give even a DX person a little smile and a real thanks, considering what they really earn. In the meantime, out of respect for the jobs DX drivers are forced to do, if not their culture, next time we’ll vote with our feet, especially now the car’s ruined, and we’re proudly Ex-Delivery, and get a passport in person. Then take a well-earned holiday! Exactly.
If you’re interested in any of the social and cultural issues in this article please share and reblog via Social Media and vote with your fingers.