Fri 01 Nov 2013

A Day In The Life Of A Society Delivery Driver


This is an account of how I got to experience how one of our drivers goes about his day’s work recently.

A Wine Society vanMy day started at 4am! A total shock to me and my alarm clock, normally set for 7am. At 5, I met Dale at the warehouse. The day’s work was already loaded onto pallets. His worksheet was set out in delivery order (1 to 32).

Once inside, he sorted the cases into reverse order so drop 32 was at the back of the van working forward, so once at the drops minimum time was spent searching for boxes. A heavy but effective start to the day!

Our route was south London. We hit the A1 at 5.40am and on into the smoke, missing a LOT of rush-hour traffic. The early start was a very good idea.

Dale works two of our Stevenage shifts and some London ones, driving over 1,000 miles a week. He is 33 and knows south London like a cabbie! As we chatted, I also discovered that he played football from an early age to a very high level and two of his mates went onto make careers: a certain Elvis Hammond and Darren Bent. He has always loved driving, but to my dismay has never rode a motorbike. I duly bored him with tales of my biking years…

The first drop of the day was at a large, fairly new development close to the Thames. Up in the lift with four cases we saw several ‘costly suits’ on the way down. I wondered whether their day was going to be more stressful than ours!

Dale has a very good rapport with his ‘regular customers’ (his words, not mine) and takes tremendous pride in his work. A prime example of this was towards the end of the run when we received no reply after ringing the doorbell. There were no instructions for where to leave the wine in the event of this, so Dale tried four neighbours. Only one was in, but they refused delivery. Undeterred, however, Dale called the member, who then called his wife. Ten minutes later, the wine was safely inside.

Dale knows the area extremely well and the rest of the drops were all on schedule. He completed all drops safely and, escaping the heavy traffic in Kilburn via the back roads, we were back at base at 2pm.

This was sunny Wednesday, rather than the stormy Monday but the day’s work still took nine hours to complete (not counting the driver’s commute). It was a long, hard day’s graft: all these guys need to be fit, strong and have a very good even temperament and a sense of humour for what their days present.

I really enjoyed my day with Dale, a man who really does travel the extra mile for Society members.

Andy Young
Member Services

Categories : Miscellaneous


  1. Steffan Williams says:

    This entry made me laugh out loud.

    My deliveries (despite multiple requests not to do so) are generally left outside in our front garden on a busy London street with the upshot that one was recently pinched.

    This is despite the fact that our neighbours are pretty much always around and that I have made repeated requests that deliveries be left with them. Various assurances that this would happen in future have had no impact.

    The latest delivery – this week was left out in the pouring rain so that the wine boxes had become soggy and could not be used by the time I got home.

    Clearly the Wine Society has various grades of delivery people…

    • Ben Briffett says:

      Dear Mr Williams

      We are sorry to learn of the problems that you have encountered with the delivery of your recent orders, especially as these were made by one of our own drivers. We have passed your comments to our Delivery Manager who has taken the issue up with our driver.

      In future he will attempt to deliver to your neighbours if you are out and will not leave the wine unattended again. To reinforce this we have added ‘Wine must not be left unattended’ to your permanent delivery instructions.

      Please accept our apologies for the continued problems you have encountered with your deliveries. This is not the level of service you should receive from The Wine Society and we are sorry that it has taken so long to address.

      We hope that this will resolve the problem in future but if there are any further lapses please let us know so that the matter can be taken forward.

      Kind regards

      Ben Briffett
      Member Services

  2. Rob Watt says:

    Just by way of balance to Steffan Williams’s unfortunate experiences, I must say that here in the east of Scotland the service from the Society’s own driver is superb. As is the service from TWS head office. Last year, for example, when I had to cancel a regular delivery because I was going to be abroad, someone took the trouble to phone me and suggest that they’d be happy to deliver my wine to my daughter’s house if that would be convenient. Her house is 50 miles away, yet the driver knows us both well enough to make such helpful suggestions without me having to ask. This is the kind of personal service one gets in a traditional gentlemen’s club or a top hotel, both of which cost a great deal more than TWS membership.

  3. James Stark says:

    The regular driver to my house in Sheffield is exemplary – always when I am out the delivery instructions are followed to the letter.

  4. Mike Kettlewell says:

    I have never had a problem with delivery by Society drivers, or even contract deliveries for the Society, over many decades as a member and regular user! Never had a bad dull bottle of wine either! I would like to congratulate the Society and all its team

  5. Will Stevens says:

    We have always had excellent service from the Wine Society delivery staff, both in Bristol, and for the last five years here near Carlisle. I remember one driver being desolated by a broken bottle (which the Society promptly credited to me, without being asked). Another driver (now, alas, no longer with you) who delivered to us also used to deliver to some friends of ours, and always had a biscuit for the friends’ dog. When our friends were not in to receive the delivery, the cases were left, as specified – and with a dog biscuit on top.

    This is personal service of a very high order! Long may it continue.

  6. Wendy Abbott says:

    I live in a relatively safe, rural area but to ensure no casual visitor takes a fancy to my precious Wine Society delivery, my delivery instructions request the drivers to tramp round the house into my back garden and leave the boxes under a summer house porch, which they have never failed to do, rather than taking the easy option of leaving it in the front porch. Deliveries are always in the time slots promised, which is so helpful. Thank you!

  7. Peter Chambers says:

    I live in Richmond, SW London. Our regular driver is absolutely first rate and he couldn’t be more helpful. Having said that, when I schedule a delivery I either ensure that there will be somebody in or that an alternative instruction is left for the driver!

  8. Colin Wright says:

    I live in Cheam SW London and our delivery driver is always punctual, helpful and cheerful. Unlike so many other delivery companies our driver is reliable, follows instructions and uses his initiative. A good example occurred last week; our deliveries are between 7.30 and 8am and we are normally up and about to receive them. On this occasion we overslept and seeing no signs of life, instead of ringing the bell to rouse us he left the wine in the porch. Would that others were as considerate.

    • Andy Young says:

      Delighted to hear this, Colin – you may be interested to know that your delivery driver is none other than Dale himself!

  9. Greg Patton says:

    I have always found my delivery instructions followed to the letter and on almost invariably on time. I have no idea how the Wine Society make this service economical but am delighted it is available.

  10. Peter Davies says:

    I have used TWS delivery vans ever since the service has been available here in northern Hampshire. Deliveries have always been on time and my instructions carried out to the letter. Well done Wine Society

  11. Guy Reynolds says:

    It’s a shame the opening comment isn’t a positive one. I’ve had nothing but dedicated, helpful and friendly delivery drivers, who not only always follow the instructions to the letter, but keep very accurately to the given time slots and if we happen to be at home, always a make a point of heaving the boxes around to the back of the house and into the kitchen, when they could easily leave them with us at the front door and save themselves the effort. Hooray for the Society!

  12. Greg Sinfield says:

    We live close enough to Stevenage to be at the beginning fn the delivery round so we get our wine early but have usually left for work so the wine is left at the back of the house as per instructions. One day I came downstairs at 7:00 to find a note pushed through the letterbox. It said: “I didn’t want to wake you so I left the wine at the back.” I think that the delivery service is excellent.

  13. John Howes says:

    The driver who delivers wine to us in South-east London is always very cheerful, and if by chance we are not at home, he leaves our order as requested in the cupboard by the front door. A great, and free, service.

  14. J. A. Corcoran says:

    This article says it all.

    While deliveries by contracted carrier may be below par (viz. leaving boxes out in the pouring rain rather than putting under a clearly visible garden table)…

    …our Society’s carmen (wish we still used that gracious if maybe old fashioned term) are brilliant, friendly and reliable. Delivery by them is a prerequisite.

    Mr Millican (if memory serves – long since retired through ill health) and his successor Mark, due to deliver the Christmas order tomorrow, are very valued members of The Society’s delivery team…

    …i.e. Floreat the Wine Society

    Anthony Corcoran (Member 2204)

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