back to article Parcelforce website cold-shoulders Linux lovers

Blighty's national parcel service has no online facility for Linux fans because its website only supports some Microsoft Windows operating systems and Apple's Mac OS X. Many have complained that Royal Mail's Parcelforce.com site freezes out anyone using a Linux distro. One reader told us: "When you try and ship a parcel [on …

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Saynoto0870

Courtsey of www.saynoto0870.com don't dial the number, call 0191 5127003 to contact Parcel Force and get the same call for a lot less

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Parcelfarce

Having worked (briefly) on a project for the Royal Mail, I am disappointed but not surprised.

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More tea, Mr Lennox-Brown?

Funny, you'd expect an organisation of ex-GPO, ex-civil service people to be right up-to-date.

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So?!

<rant on>

I love the penguin, use it all day at work, but feck me, get over yourselves! The mail website probably doesn't Blackberry either or Amiga web browsers, or Lynx, but I don't here them complaining!

I hate it, IE the world most insecure browser used to access on the world's most secure websites, absolute madness but get a sense of perspective. MS may not be the most popular company right now, but they have a massive share on the PC market and Linux does not, a crying shame Iknow, but never the less, it's true. Make inroads in the places that matter, we will keep trying, but fighting over one website ( mail ) or a video player ( BBC ) is going to make us look like spoilt little crybabies everytime something doesn't go our way.

<ranf off>

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Stop

Why blame Parcel Force Majeure?

C'mon guys. This isn't a Parcel Force problem. Surely you know that this is merely the Linux "Shit Filter" at work, actively blocking access to companies known to be utterly crap. This is great software at work! Even Microsoft are trying to clone the technology so expect access for XP and Vista to cease with the next system update as well.

If you really do have the urge to hurl your temporal lobe into a blender and use Parcel Force, then simply go to Applications > Internet > ShiteFilter 2.0 > Preferences and remove it from the list of blocked sites.

Simple, no?

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Don't I know it!

In addition to this, Parcelforce REQUIRE my organisation to use this interface to log all our parcels, and it is impossible to link to the site directly from our intranet, requiring our operators to double-type the full dispatch details for all our orders. What's more, they need to run PC emulation on their Macs even to to do that.

We ship a lot of parcels to many countries.

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Linux

@Peter Simpson @AC

He's probably the developer...

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Linux

Wine?

try running IE under wine , if you really need to do this (though probably better to use another service )

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Anonymous Coward

@ Rob Clive

Isent it spelled Windows ?

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would this be the same bunch of idiots...

...who last week managed to lose my passport and blamed it on the snow? And then said that I would have to wait 10 days before I could complain... I think I lasted about 10 seconds before I was on the phone to their complaints department and in the end I had to send a real courier to go and collect the passport from one of their sorting offices. Which was closed. Because of the snow. F**ktards!

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Linux

DOH!!

@Andrew, so what happened to the plamtop?

I would have thought the solution was obvious, even to the fanboyz, an "enhancement", ahem, to your fav browser/OS combo that reports windoze as the OS when on the Parcel Farce or Royal Fail websites.

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Flame

Insulting

They can support firefox on windows, but not the exact same browser when running on linux? I'm sure it would work if you modified the user agent... Intentionally discriminating against a browser or os is ridiculous. What's wrong with just making a standards compliant site and not caring what browser people access it with?

And the suggestion to call an 0870 number is quite insulting, those numbers are extremely expensive to call.

I ship a fair number of items out, things like ebay sales, and this ridiculous behaviour will make me choose couriers other than parcelforce for future deliveries.

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Alert

Incompetence rather than malice

I've just been to their site and it seems to be little more than piss poor design. Firstly there are several parts that silently fail with JavaScript disabled -- there are no JS probes or noscript tags. Once I've allowed a couple of different domains in NoScript I get to the form in question. Switching my user agent from Linux to Windows lets me get pass the operating system check.

@Lazy or practical: Making sites work for Firefox/ Safari/ Chrome/ Konqurer/ $standards_compliant_browser is pretty easy. Making it work right for different versions of IE is where the browser specific hacks come in.

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Oh no! End of the world stuff,,,

Considering that the mass-market choice of browser is STILL IE6 - I don't see that this is an issue? Certainly most of my customers don't even care about FireFox on PC, so for 1% of the market, they care even less.

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Paris Hilton

Parcelforce are alright

I used to be a PowerSeller on eBay (until eBay lost the plot a few years ago - another story) and sent a couple of parcels a week via Parcelforce. I was charged £6.25 for 48 hour shipment up to 30kg and charged my customers on eBay exactly that. Needless to say I did very well shipping all sorts of desktop computers and printers and so-on for £6.25. I also offered £7.50 next day but no one ever paid extra for that - and not once did I get a complaint about delivery.

Also, I spent £100's per week at my local post office and in four years not a single thing was lost (apart from an item sat unclaimed at the sorting office once - not their fault). Everything I sent had the address clearly printed inside a documents enclosed docket.

I liked the ability to use my PC to print out the consignment label (something Royal Mail still charge a premium for oddly) - but I always used to take the parcels to the local depot for drop off because it was more convenient for me than waiting in.

I suspect their website hasn't been updated in a few years - spoofing the useragent cures the problem so hardly a big issue until someone at Parcelforce amends a text file?

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90% - is a title

As others have said they are (according to their own admission) purposefully turning away 10% of their potential customers. What no one seems to have mentioned so far is that because of the way that the overheads work; it is quite likely that every 1% increase in custom equates to (say) a 1.5% - 2% increase in profit. So essentially they maybe turning away a 20% increase in profit for no good reason (of course assuming that all their custom comes through their website).

It is similar to a few years back when M&S profits fell by 50%, due to a 15% drop in sales (can't remember the exact figures, but I seem to recall it was of that order).

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Unhappy

They don't care

'Thing is, Parcel Force just don't care. I know of two cases where they lost the shipment and still have their tracking site claim "your parcel is in the process of delivery..." two years (!) later.

There is a Quango called Postwatch to which you can winge - they can't actually do anything other than wring their hands on your behalf - but did rather nicely describe the Parcel Force complaints system as "obfuscation on an industrial scale".

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Paris Hilton

does this work

If you have an ebay account and paypal account try this:

1.) create second ebay account with address set to whatever destination you need to parcelforce your parcel.

2.) on your main ebay account create a "buy it now" for an item for 1p, with shipping set at £12.

3.) buy this item with the second ebay account.

4.) mark item as paid, pay for postage through paypal.

You can now send using paypal's bulk rates for parcelforce 24 and parcelforce 48 rather than the crap rates you pay as a consumer, plus you will be able to use the paypal / royal mail system to produce the stamp and docs yourself through paypal rather than through parcelfarce.

I'm no fan of paypal / ebay but at least it's crossbrowser. And if that won't make me your BFF I don't know what will ;)

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Flame

10% of it's customer base ?

On a parcel by parcel basis, the Linux geeks who all still live with their parents probably ship substantially more parcels than the rest of the population as they trade their D&D figures and Manga comics

<Flameproof Suit On>

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Boffin

Hypocrites!

Just out of curiosity, I ran a Netcraft site report on ParcelForce...

Guess what? They're running Sun ONE Web Server on Solaris...

And just as interestingly, their nameserver sits at consignia.com, which has a rather interesting address: "Royal Mail Group Limited, 148 Old Street, London, EC1V 9HQ, Sweden"

Sweden?!

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0870 Rip off too

It's worth noteing that http://www.saynoto0870.com have some nice geographic non-rip off numbers for Parcelfarce too. Should you absolutely need to talk to them.

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Jobs Halo

sounds like a re-hash of...

...that whole "this site best viewed in..." bullshit. Cripes. Hey, you guys, 1995 just called; they want their lame-assed anal-retentive Webmasters' requests of users back.

(so, look; you guys have a little penguin icon, but no classic "Smiling Mac" boot icon. I'd rather not have to use Steve Jobs with a halo as while I'm an enthusiastic MacOS user, I really don't think the guy's been too goddamn' angelic lately. Either that, or how about Torvalds with a halo/horns?)

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Anonymous Coward

Unboxing

Does this mean there'll be fewer unboxing videos on YouTube?

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Nationwide isn't worse

Jamie Kitson: "The Nationwide site just loops back to the login page with no error displayed if you try to login on a linux box."

No it doesn't. I've been using it on various Linux boxes for years and it's fine. In fact I've just logged in now to my internet banking on an OpenSuse 10.3 box using Konqueror and default browser ID (which includes "Linux") with no problems at all.

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Anonymous Coward

@Wine?

Far easier to change your browser identification (built-in to Konqueror; available for Firefox) than go through the palava of using IE in Wine. And I don't suppose you can use IE in Wine legally anyway.

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Anonymous Coward

Works for me

With and without a switching of user agent headers.

In fact I have used it a few times, and it has always worked. There is something else going on.

A lot of linux distros don't use FF, in fact most don't, they use GP or IW, FF can only be used if you are using a compile from source distro, like source mage or your own, or you get it from Mozilla.

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Linux

Works for me! :)

Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686; en-US; rv:1.9.0.6) Gecko/2009020410 Fedora/3.0.6-1.fc10 Firefox/3.0.6

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Amiga

It works on the Amiga.

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Paris Hilton

ParcelFarce

Why would anyone voluntarily use ParcelFarce anyway? They're incompetent, corrupt and so in the pocket of the unions, it's scary. The fact that the website excludes a minority who could do with getting some sunlight anyway (my experience with most Linux fanatics) is the least of their problems.

Check these fine examples of Royal Fail and ParcelFarce mistakes:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/derbyshire/7853770.stm

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/3023939.stm

http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?p=30426256

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-497971/Postman-delivers-DVD-collection--residents-dustbin.html

Not to mention the number of kids who've had money stolen from christmas/birthday cards.

Privatise Royal Mail and open up the market. They'll have to play the game properly then. After all, Paris knows where to stick a nice, large parcel.

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Anonymous Coward

Improved website?

Have they actually *improved* their website now? It used to probe for a specific version of the Adobe Acrobat *ActiveX plugin* which is why it also required Windows and Internet Explorer. Yes, those enlightened Foxit users were also turned away. Isn't this still the case? I thought it was because they were using PDF forms which only the Acrobat activex supported.

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Flame

Ha ha ha ha ha ha...FAIL!

Post office forgets to support noisy minority and failed desktop.....lolz. Stop dreaming freetards and admit that linux on the desktop is a huge FAIL, no shame in admitting you were wrong and coming back to windows.

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Linux

@Royal Mail website b0rked on Linux too

What do you expect from a site which can't even setup an @ Record?

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Direct them to the Morons in Webspace site

http://www.cameratim.com/personal/soapbox/morons-in-webspace

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Paris Hilton

I just can't believe...

that you spelt 'fanboi' wrong in the by-line.

Paris, because she loves fanbois

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@ha ha ha ha ha ha flamebait

Yeah, another flamebait article about Linux, and yet again we see the Linux 'fanatics/zealots' posting well argued reasoned commentary about the issue, and windows supporting trolls / shrills posting ad homein flamebait attacks.

Look, you did read the guidance from your masters ( google: Comes v Microsoft 'The slog' ) didn't you? You're rather failing at making Linux users look like kooks when all your posts can be summed up as illiterate teenage trolling. Or is that the only market share that hasn't woken up to how bad Windows and Microsoft really are?

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Flame

Re: Hey FreeTARDS

"How about this?"

How about what? The Internet isn't Microsoft's plaything, you know. The reason why we have standards is so that people can have a choice about the stuff they use, and if that stuff behaves itself according to the standards then why should it matter who made it? Nobody should even care.

The whole "90% of customers" stuff is a total charade, not least because it pretends that a lot of work would need to be done to get from 90% to 100% when in fact, if standards have been followed, it should be zero effort. In fact, perpetrators of this "90% of customers" fiction have probably done more work than would be required in order to make their stuff specific to Microsoft technologies in pursuit of "the shiny".

It's like the whole BBC media format debacle. The BBC claim that "90% of viewers" being able watch their online content is doing enough of the job, but what you have is a situation where on top of paying the BBC's tax you then have to pay a private tax to Microsoft or whoever has booked a place at the trough. In this case, Parcelforce obviously think that their customers should be paying taxes to Microsoft, which is either generous or stupid depending on how generous we should be in assessing their performance.

Well, if you like to have a bunch of corporations effectively imposing taxes on everyone and can't see past the inadequacies of the "catering to the most popular brand" strategy, especially when "most popular" is an artifact of questionable business practices, then you're obviously a brandtard who shouldn't be expected to keep up with even the most elementary aspects of the discussion.

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What do you expect?

Sell them off......now.

All these polls that say large percentages want them to stay nationalised are taken exactly where?

Outside Depots?

How bloody awful do they have to get before HM the Q strips them of their "Royal"?

Not one single item sent by me during 2008 through their wonderful Recorded Delivery system (at extra charge) was processed correctly.

Still, if Tesco online has problems handling Firefox should we get too excited at the Royal Mail?

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Linux

But

its always been illegal to send Penguins in the post...

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They don't support OSX either

It's because they insist on the Acrobat plug in to print the postage labels it doesn't work. If you set your browser to pretend to be Windows it fails as it can't find the plug-in. OSX has the same problem. I had to use them to send a parcel last week ended up phoning them as I couldn't get a machine that would talk to their system.

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@Anonymous Hero

Bored are we? Did someone threaten you for other annoying behavior like using your cell in a restaurant, so you decided to tone it down and just troll forums instead, where you need not fear getting your ass kicked?

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Anonymous Coward

Parcelforce

Why would you want to book a collection with ParcelForce anyway? They're one of the worst companies I have ever used.

Their IT systems, from what I can tell, are complete rubbish. When you are not in, they card you and they can't deal with your enquiry unless you can say whether it is the first or second time they've carded you! So much for the package's reference number for being the primary key in a database table..it's clearly not.

I would dearly love Royal Mail/Parcel Force to go out of business, to be replaced by organisations that are up to the job...becare RM/PF are not.

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@Ponder Stebbins

I think there's little doubt that Parcelforce staff stole the palmtop I referred to before it left the UK. They (falsely) took my refusal of the parcel to be a lack of interest in its contents, and decided that they could help themselves.

The thing that sticks out in my mind is the shock in the voice of the electronics company representative in Auckland when I spoke to him on the phone. To explain; in New Zealand, a courier is what you use when you want a really professional, premier service. Up until that time, it was unimaginable to me that a courier would ever steal anything!

Good thing it was insured by the sender...

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Linux

@ha ha ha ha ha ha flamebait

"You're rather failing at making Linux users look like kooks when all your posts can be summed up as illiterate teenage trolling"

thats also why he didn't have enough braincells to enter the comment under his real name. Got to feel sorry for the sad little person

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HTML Validator

Just ran their font page through http://validator.w3.org/check

264 Errors, 96 warning(s)

Now there's a group of web developers that can feel proud of themselves.

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Not So - I can view it!

Perhaps i missed the problem, but using Ubuntu i can vist ALL area's of parcelforce.com!

Another non-event!

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Anonymous Coward

NOBODY

in their right mind uses ParcelFarce anyway

Complete and utter failtards.

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Bet they Use GPL/OSS code on internal systems

Should change the GPL licence - If a company can't be bothered to support Linx/Other/GPL OS's then they should not use Linux/GPL stuff internally.

Willing to bet a lot of the internal/web stuff at ParcelFarce run's on linux/GPL code.

Site written to be browser specific - OK can but live with that.

Site written to exclude specific OS - BAD (muppet for developers).

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user agent modification

just do the old user agent modification using the firefox addin. was handy using free iphone wifi while it lasted but I regularly change the user agent to iexplorer and windows when some web designer has taken stupid shortcuts.

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Anonymous Coward

@ Not So - I can view it!

The issue comes up when you click on Send a Parcel and it goes into some other part of the website. This is where it gives the message ... on Mandriva with Firefox.

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Who cares about the browser? if you get through, you troubles are just starting!

I have driven HGVs for Parcelforce, and they are the most incompetent firm still in business I know of.

Bowling with an antique wooden rocking horse? Check.

Losing a fully loaded trailer for 3 days (eventually found in the workshop)? Check.

Employing 6 men to do a job, cancelling the job, and 2 YEARS later they're clocking on, going to sleep on full pay, because the union has to approve ALL redeployments?

Managers having fist fights in view of the agency staff? Check.

However, they make a nice home for waifs and strays. ADHD, narcolepsy, morbid obesity, self harmers: all part of the job's rich tapestry.

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