The freedom and flexibility of finding work as a courier driver offers considerable benefits, but there are several traps and pitfalls that drivers need to look out for. The nature of the business and the amount of new customers that need to be taken on by couriers mean that there is particular scope for them being unwittingly involved in nefarious activities.
One of the common scams for freelance drivers involves them being asked to deliver something from a builders’ merchants that has been ordered on account for a company. The courier driver will deliver the goods, but then receive a call much later from the company saying that they neither ordered nor received the goods they are being asked to pay for. This scam involves people using a well-known company’s name – they will almost certainly have an account with a large builders’ merchants. They place an order on account, get the goods delivered to a non-descript location, and then make off with the goods. Although the courier driver isn’t at fault here, it is good practice for them to double check orders that have been made on account, as this is considered to be quite a common scam.
High street chain pick-up
Another scam that courier drivers should look out for is one that became known as the Hendon scam on courier message boards. The scam involved a phone call purported to be from the transport manager from a major high-street company, saying that they need a package delivering urgently from store A. They need goods to be picked up at store A and taken to store B – apparently they have an account with a major courier company that has ‘let them down, again’. The so-called transport manager offers to pay in cash if the job can be done straight away. On the way to the pick up, the transport manager will call again and apologise that the credit card machine is down at store A, ask if the driver can pay cash for the delivery (usually well over £100) and promise to pay an extra cash tip upon the item being delivered at store B.
Unfortunately, at store B the courier driver will find that there was no such order, that they have been conned and the envelope they have delivered contains a blank CD. The particular cruelty to this scam is that it involves so much work, time and money for the courier driver. In harsh economic times, courier drivers need to be extra vigilant.
With the economy taking a dive and an influx of novice courier drivers on the market, there has been a rise in the more basic kinds of scams. Relying on the naivety and eagerness of new drivers, this scam involves disreputable courier agencies offering to agree deals with freelance courier drivers to be their only driver in a geographical region – with excellent set rates and guaranteed work, all for just a one-off payment of £100 or so. It sounds too good to be true, because it is. Always use a search engine to research this kind of company, and sign up to courier driver forums where these scams are highlighted.