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 site freezes out anyone using a Linux distro. One reader told us: "When you try and ship a parcel [on …


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  1. Anonymous Coward


    cos if the site made windoze users phone the 0870 number they would make more money.

  2. bygjohn

    That probably explains...

    ... why I couldn't track a parcel on my iPhone, then. Idiots. Haven't they come across things like web standards yet? Pathetic. And here's me wanting to support Royal Mail against the hordes of useless carriers... Pah!

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Post Office woes

    You would expect this of an organisation which is the bastard child of the

    British Post Office. It's the same mentality which gave us those wonderful

    "Position Closed" panels behind which frosty-eyed women counted

    stamps and pushed pieces of paper about, as the lunchtime queues

    gradually lengthened to around three city blocks ......


    Chris (ex-pat Brit, now, thankfully, living in Ireland)

  4. Daniel Bennett

    How the hell?

    How the hell can they cold-shoulder Linux users, when Linux users are most probably using Firefox or another SUPPORTED browser?

    I fail to see the sense...

  5. Kevin Fairhurst


    No reports on what happens when you spook the user-agent, or is pretending to the parcelforce website that you're running IE6 on XP even more unacceptable than picking up the phone and talking to a real human being?

  6. Paul Talbot

    No, we don't want your custom?

    "The spokesman added that the website supports 90 per cent of operating systems and internet browser users"

    Why, in this day and age, would a company deliberately refuse custom from 10% of its entire potential customer base (and a lot of people will just go elsewhere instead of picking up a phone)? Not least because there's absolutely no reason to refuse a Linux Firefox user if Firefox works OK on WIndows and OSX...

    Oh well, off to a competitor...

  7. Alexis Vallance

    No surprise

    I'm surprised they have a website at all. They still run the company like it was 1988 and make no money anyway.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    Tardy Parcel Farce

    Seem like yet another case of lazy web development, this time by Parcel Farce. My response to any company that can't accommodate my requests...move on to another that will.

    Monkeyboy...because he really is evil you know :-)

  9. Roy Stilling

    So stupid

    If it supports FF, why should it care what OS FF is running on?

  10. Tim

    Every cloud...

    I tried to use their website last month on my XP/ Opera browser combo and discovered that they don't support that. So I tried Parcel2go and not only do they support it fine but they only wanted £8 for my shipping compared to Parcelforce's £25. Nice & quick too, they actually sent it DHL next day rather than than the 2-3 day service quoted.


  11. MarkJ

    The delivery company known as 'Parcelfarce'

    Spectacular own goal. Who on earth would write their web app to specifically exclude Linux users? What possible motivation could they have for doing something like that. And crucially, is it hosted on LAMP etc?

  12. Richard

    Isn't it about time?

    Why is it that there are still idiot developers (no doubt egged on by idiot managers and marketing droids) who insist on putting browser checks in at all?

    How hard is it to have a simple "we've tested this on the following browsers, if you're using anything else we can't guarantee it'll work" message? Unless you're relying on InactiveX, there's no reason for it.

  13. Dale Strickland-Clark

    Let them fester

    I wouldn't even bother to complain. Let them fester in their own ignorance.

    I use this site when I need to send a parcel. No problems with Linux:

  14. Anonymous Coward

    Supports 90% of operating systems ?

    90% eh ? Solaris 2?, Irix?, HPUX?, SunOS?, BSD?, Gentoo?, Mandriva?, Ubuntu? OSX?, BeOS?, RedHat?,

    No I think we've concluded that it doesn't support 90% of operating systems. Did ParcelFarce mean to say 90% of customer desktop machines?

  15. Rob Clive

    Why should they care?

    Why do they need to care about the OS anyway? Their application runs in the browser and is quite happy to use Firefox. It's just that some clever idiot decided to check the OS and throw a wobbly when it doesn't see the magic word 'Windoze'. This is just sloppy programming by some Windoze shop.

  16. Dave Stark


    Beware their customs payment page too - claims your transaction has failed but takes your money anyway, then lets you try again and again...

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    90% of Operating Systems?

    "The spokesman added that the website supports 90 per cent of operating systems"

    Bullshit, I bet we could spend all day listing operating systems.

    "and internet browser users."

    Granted, but if you cant write a website to work with Firefox/Linux then I suspect your programmers are incompetent; in which case I don't trust your security. Thanks, but no thanks.

  18. Sean Ellis

    Why does it matter?

    It's a web page. What does it matter what OS you are running on? Nonstandard HTML is an argument, of course, but they say that they support Firefox 1.0, so that's probably not the reason.

    Specific DOM quirks? No - Firefox support again rules this out.

    ActiveX components? Euucch. But, given the general level of clue displayed, this is possible.

    On the plus side, I've never had to use them so far, and now I'll just go and use someone else if I can't get in.

  19. this

    Gathering dust

    That's Parcelfarce in a nutshell.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Simple Answer

    Use someone else. Parcel farce tend to be more expensive I have found anyway.

  21. Nigel Titley

    Doesn't surprise me

    I'm afraid this doesn't surprise me. Parcelforce has yet to be dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century. What other courier service would send you a second class letter telling you that your parcel is in the local depot awaiting customs payments. My small business tries to avoid them for this reason. Either you sit on their track and trace facility (which is so brain dead that it can't even remove spaces from the tracking number) or you wait for an extra two days while your urgent package sits in the local depot waiting for you to turn up with your credit card.

    Every other courier we use can either take a cheque when they deliver, or can deliver and charge afterwards. I'm afraid they deserve to fail.

  22. Sam Liddicott
    Thumb Down

    parcelforce blows off 10% of potential customers

    So.... arcelforce blows off 10% of potential customers by designing their site for certain operating systems instead of open standards standards.

    Doesn't this sort of mistake require a lot of effort to get properly wrong?

    arcelforce won't last long if they make a policy of turning away 10% of business


  23. Radek W

    are p'force happy with 90% satisfaction?

    If p'force is satisfied to serve 90% users they should not cry if they loose 10% of customers, are not they?

  24. Andrew

    The first (and only) time I ever used Parcel Force…

    … they diverted the repaired palmtop that was being sent back to me (from New Zealand) through their VAT/duty collection procedures. The device was being returned to me after warranty repair, and was obviously not a new device that should be subject to these taxes. However, it is worth noting that Parcel Force themselves receive a hefty “administration fee” for VAT/duty items, and so obviously there is an incentive for them sending as many items as possible through this procedure.

    No way was I going to pay about £50 for a device I already owned. I told them to send it back to New Zealand, as I would be back there a couple of months later, and could pick it up.

    Two days after that, I was informed an empty box had arrived back in Auckland…

  25. Dr. Mouse Silver badge

    So what?

    To be quite honest, I've always found them to be a rip-off anyway.

    I tend to use for anything larger than a letter, and theyve always been very reasonable. No probs under Linux.

    As has been said multiple times above, this is either a case of crap developers, in which case I dont trust putting my card details in, or a specific block against OS's other than those they list, which is idiotic. Its a frigging web page!

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    Hey FreeTARDS

    How about this?

    Why don't you FreeTARDS get yourselves more than 1% of the operating system market and maybe you will get more than 1% of the development monies spent in the system dedicated to supporting you!

    Oh wait because you guys want eveything to be free you guys aren't even the high volume big spenders customers worthy of dedicated funding support!

  27. Darren Coleman

    Royal Mail website b0rked on Linux too

    Curiously the Royal Mail website ( is totally b0rked for me on Linux + Firefox, yet on Windows + Firefox it is fine. It's almost as if they are specifically breaking Linux support or something. Or maybe I've seen too many X-Files. Or maybe it's just my PC.

  28. The Envoy

    Lazy or practical?

    Not a programmer of sites I've wondered if there are any great obstacles to overcome in making a site work for all browsers and operating systems? Or is it just plain (calculated) laziness?

  29. Anonymous Coward

    ...idly wondering

    is there scope for a site dedicated to providing linux-friendly alternative service providers (cf @Tim) to sites which insist on Windows ... a bit or SEO and googling "Parcelforce Linux" returns Parcel2go ...

  30. Naich

    This is a good thing

    This is streamlining their service by focusing their efforts in the important areas. Their drivers also do it by leaving your parcel at the depot, quietly popping a "you were out" card through your door and sprinting back to the van before you can get to the door. The benefits of this are that it's quicker, easier and better for the environment. No-one loses out except the poor fucker who wanted to actually get their parcel delivered.

  31. matt

    The funny thing is

    that according to netcraft:

    The site runs on Sun, so it's not like they haven't spent a lot of money on it!

  32. Christoph Silver badge

    What colours do they allow?

    Do Parcelfarce allow people to use any colour of computer when connecting, or do they insist that they will only accept customers who use a standard beige box as that's 90% of computers?

  33. Paul Taylor

    FF on MacOS 10.3

    I tried using the ParcelForce site with Firefox on MacOS 10.3. It didn't actually refuse to talk to me, but at some point there was a crucial button that, probably as a result of the typefaces, was too far across the fixed width panel to be accessible.

  34. Peter Simpson
    Paris Hilton


    "Why don't you FreeTARDS get yourselves more than 1% of the operating system market and maybe you will get more than 1% of the development monies spent in the system dedicated to supporting you!"

    I believe the point here is that there is no additional effort required to support Linux/other OS. The effort seems to have been exerted to *prevent* use by anything other than a few OS/browser combinations.

    Now, does that make any sense to you?

  35. Jamie Kitson
    Thumb Down

    Nationwide Is Worse

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

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The 21st century name for a company with a 19th century heart

    Don't you just love these dusty old companies who never quite manage to modernise. They think delivering a modern service means getting a new name and logo that makes no sense to anyone.

    If Thatcher hadn't have broken the unions and put an end to 'old Britain' back in the 80s, I doubt very much if any major UK company would have a website that worked in IE7 let alone Firefox on Linux. And the links would all be broken, the information decades out of date and every link that did work would be a random choice between PDF, DOC, RTF, ZIP or PPT formats. And online shopping would mean browsing a load of 48x48px GIFs before going down to an actual depot and queueing to buy the product.

    No wonder they're not making any money and keep having to streamline. I think the Register should have first gone around the websites of their commercial rivals and reported whether people like DHL, UPS and Addison Lee can cope with Linux.

  37. Gordon Grant

    Re: FF on OSX 10.3

    I'm betting it was a borked CSS. I'm betting it was styled on IE 6 which is totally borken when it comes to CSS. I should know I still have to code around it..

    since on IE6 width !=width it's width+padding+margins+borders i.e width of 200px not going to come out as 200px unless margins, padding and borders are 0 even then it's suspect.

    there is "hacks" for it but they are just UGLY!.

    wonder if would pass the W3C tests.

    Also it maybe that you have a "default" stylesheet running and that takes over when it can't find stuff...

  38. Jack Harrer
    Thumb Down


    I tried from Ubuntu 8.04 and latest (stable) Firefox - EPIC FAIL. Site is totally broken. So then I used User Agent Switcher and switched to IE7. Guess what? Perfect.

    No comments...

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Use parcel2ship

    Unless you want your parcel to be used as throwing practice don't use parcelforce anyway. Try parcel2ship they send 25kg in the UK for £10 via DHL (who are actually helpful and you can use any OS/browser you want)

  40. Douglas Yates

    It Does Work on Linux

    Two years ago I signed up with Parcelforce, and I've arranged the collection of several hundred parcels from my Linux machine. I simply changed the user agent string to read:

    Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; en-US; rv: Gecko/20061204 Firefox/ (actually running on Suse Linux 10.2)

    The website worked perfectly after that.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Anti social lot are we?

    "we pointed out that some customers would be unsatisfied with Parcelforce's advice that they should use the telephone instead."

    So is this Linux users or geeks in general that would rather use a website than speak to another human being?

    My efforts to persuade people that the IT department are not staffed by socially phobic wierdos and oddballs is dealt another blow.

  42. Giles Jones Gold badge

    @Hey FreeTARDS

    The best way to support as many users as possible is always to build sites to web standards. It may result in a few quirks but these can be lived with by many users.

  43. Aetyr

    @ AC 10:50am

    "Why don't you FreeTARDS get yourselves more than 1% of the operating system market and maybe you will get more than 1% of the development monies spent in the system dedicated to supporting you!"

    No idea why you're talking about 1% when Parcelforce themselves already admitted it's 10% they're not accommodating, which is not a percentage any good business would want to systematically exclude.

    "Oh wait because you guys want eveything to be free you guys aren't even the high volume big spenders customers worthy of dedicated funding support!"

    It doesn't work on iPhones either and, as mentioned above, has issues on Macs at crucial points (despite Macs being part of the 90% that Parcelforce thinks it DOES support). People who can afford these two devices are often known to fit into the "big spenders" category, so Parcelforce could actually benefit financially from a bit more funding in the cross-platform support area.

    As is usual for all factless comments from angry trolls, you fail. Hard. Twice.

  44. Mike Manship

    No penguins allowed

    Yeah, I noticed this a while back, it does seem that they've gone out of their way to actually develop code to prevent Browser/OS combinations from accessing their services.

    So I decided to go to the Post Office instead of using their dumb website, only to find that the real reason that we should be avoiding Parcelforce is the extortionate pricing.

  45. OSC

    it's about standards

    Many people here and elsewhere wonder why GNU/Linux users get uptight since we are such a small percentage of the installed base. Some go on to point out that "you have to be really techie" to use it.

    Now, if the second sentence has any truth, it's not bound up in the canard about printer drivers or command line, it's about others' failure to use standards. (Laziness, as already described above) The ordinary user gets their cheap netbook from Tesco or Asda and can't use it to send a parcel to their relatives.

    They blame the computer, get one of those more expensive (not the really expensive ones...) ones, and so continue the status quo in which everyone ends up paying too much for software.

    There are of course, other reasons why I think GNU/Linux based computers are a good idea.

    It's wider than Parcelforce, and I could provide a list. Charities are the ones that I find particularly amazing, as you'd think they wouldn't do anything to exclude anyone.

    For an illustration of how it should be done, nip over to the Central Office of Information and read their newly published website guidelines. They listened to us, we didn't rant and rave (it's on our website) we just asked for standards.

    They agreed. Credit where credit is due. Just got to wait for the rest of the public sector to catch up :)

    Proper standards, nothing more, is all that is required. We all know what that means, no cant about giving our customers "choice" in which "standards" to use. Tim Berners-Lee slagged that off in 1996, and I think we can all agree he knows a bit about it.

    Gerry Gavigan

    Open Source Consortium

  46. Znort666

    Oh well,

    their loss. As more and more people seem to be using a wider variety of OS's, it seems their customer base will decrease if they refuse online support for them. In this day and age, surely you would want your business to thrive, using any medium possible.

    @AC freeTARD

    Love the Bill Gates icon next to freeTARD comment...genius!

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    try to fake it:useragent switcher

    I have seen this problem in the past but there is a nice add-on for firefox users

    that will tell the website what is wants to see. Of cause it will not magicly add missing stuff

    but at least you should be able to make the first step.

    useragent switcher

    If this works the page is a piece of crap since there is no busines to alienate customers about nothing.

  48. Robert E A Harvey
    Paris Hilton

    WAI ?

    Have a look at

    "We are working on making our website more accessible following principles laid down by the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI)."

    Apart from the lunacy of that link pointing back to the page it is on, I suspect that the WAI does not require the restriction to a single browser.

    Paris, because she knows only one way to do things.

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Anyone tried faking it?

    I have a nice little firefox plug in which can give false answers when queried as to your browser and OS. Its handy when something demands IE.

    Have any Linux users tried the same?

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    none whatsoever

    "Not a programmer of sites I've wondered if there are any great obstacles to overcome in making a site work for all browsers and operating systems? Or is it just plain (calculated) laziness?"

    There are no obstacles whatsoever - so long as you're not using ActiveX you can put your onscreen output code together so that it'll work on anything (excluding really old browsers perhaps, IE5 for example). In fact, to actively exclude Linux creates more work than it would be to support it.

    If the site already supports Firefox on Windows, then it should work using Firefox on *nix - if it works on Safari, it should work on Konqueror (*nix) and Chrome (Windows) as they're all based on Webkit.

    They've actually bothered to get the user agent string and specifically apply rules to exclude certain Browser/OS combinations - presumably based on systems they've not tested the site with. So it's not laziness it's worse, they've deliberately made work for themselves to actively exclude certain systems.


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