Monday, 23 January 2012

The milk of human bickering

A war has been going on under my very nose and for a week, I knew only that things were not quite right on my doorstep.

It all started with a two litre plastic container of semi-skimmed. It appeared outside our front door and although we should have recieved a pint of semi-skimmed in a glass bottle, we thought little of it. A simple mistake perhaps, or some temporary shortage of our usual delivery leading to the milkman providing an alternative.

But the same thing happened the next day.

The day after this, we should have got 2 pints. Instead we got 4 litres. Our fridge was becoming crammed with plastic bottles of milk, much of which was beginning to turn.

The next day was Sunday. No milk. On Sunday night, I put a glass bottle out with a note asking what was going on, stating clearly what our requirements were, and stating that we were not prepared to pay for all this unwanted dairy produce.

The note disappeared along with the bottle. In it's place on Monday morning, there was a two litre plastic bottle of milk.

On Tuesday morning, around 9am, I was awakened by a phone call. The caller rang off before I could answer but I pressed 1471 and got a local number, which I then googled. This number belonged to the Dairy Crest Dairy in Saughall Massie. I gave them a call and was informed (by someone who I think was the dairy manager, or possibly the replacement milkman) that my milkman no longer worked for Dairy Crest, and the deliveries were probably a mistake, and that the manager had recieved my letter. He asked what it said on the plastic bottles, and I dug one out and told him.And he told me not to worry, since the milk was free.

This seemed odd, but I assumed he meant that my old milkman had been replaced, that the new milkman was leaving the wrong amount by mistake, and that because it was the fault of the dairy, we would not be charged for this unordered milk.

The day after, (tuesday) we got yet another 2 litre plastic bottle of milk. This was a surprise. I assumed that since the dairy had taken my note, they would make sure their new and inept milkman got the message, but no. Seemingly not.

And then on Thursday, our old milkman knocked on the door asking for payment.

This too was a surprise, because we'd got it sorted so that it was all done online, with payments by direct debit. Bren refused to pay and demanded an explanation for what had been going on.

So here, as far as I can tell, is what happened...

Milkmen, like so many working people these days, are self employed. They have a franchise. A dairy supplies them with customers and produce, takes care of some of the admin, such as collecting payment and advertising etc. The milkman either pays the dairy a certain fixed amount or percentage of his takings, or buys the milk at a price that is profitable to the dairy. It appears that this last arrangement existed between our milkman and Dairy Crest increased the price the milkman was having to pay them for his milk.

Since he was no longer buying his milk from Dairy Crest, our milkman was sourcing his milk from a different dairy. Why he was leaving us with the two litre plastic bottles rather than 1 pint glass bottles is unclear. Why we weren't being left milk by both the old milkman and the new is also unclear right now.

Our old milkman (who is actually our current milkman - we've chosen to stay with him rather than continue to get our doorstep delivery from that particular dairy) never recieved the note I left, because someone from the dairy, possibly the same person I spoke to on the phone, took it.

This seems bizarre. Was this guy trawling up and down the streets of Wallasey looking for notes in milk bottles, in order to fuck over our milkman? He could have explained things better over the phone. Instead he gave me the impression that our old milkman was no longer doing the job, and that we could have the milk that had been delivered for free. Generous of him, since it wasn't him or his dairy that had left it.

Dairy Crest come across as a right old bunch of snide tossers, and I'm glad Bren chose to stick with our old milkman.

Our old milkman could have handled it better though. A simple note left with the delivery, explaining what was going on would have been useful.

driving lessons in Wallasey?


Pete said...

There are 2 sides to every story. Maybe your current/old milkman is not indeed "the milkman of human kindness" but a canny twister forcing you to accept excess produce. There'll be a cow there next week. Actually no there won't 'cos then you wouldn't need any more milk. There are many unanswered questions here:- the note, the 2-litre plastic containers. I think you might need a government ombudsman, really

Paul said...

an ombudsmilkman even.