Hermes has come out fighting after a video, secretly filmed by an undercover reporter in the run-up to Christmas, showed workers at its High Wycombe sorting centre throwing parcels and insulting customers.

The Times reporter also claimed the company routinely failed to deliver next-day orders on time and that he was told by a manager to pose as a new recruit and “act stupid” if customers complained. One driver was caught on film describing customers as “c***s”, according to the report.

One manager, who described the peak season as “horrendous” and “chaotic”, said next-day deliveries were unlikely to be fulfilled adding that a corner of the depot that is supposed to be emptied every day before Christmas never is.

In a statement Hermes said that The Times reporter “only spent a couple of hours in one of our delivery units - we have over 650 - and our local teams strongly refute his version of events”.

It added that it remains “confident that the vast majority of these allegations are unfounded and do not reflect our business and the standards we deliver”.

The statement dismissed the reporter’s allegations of delayed delivery as “anecdotal” adding that the company delivers 99% of all parcels within 3 days and 98% of next-day deliveries on time.

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It pointed to the company’s Trust pilot score of 4.4 which is rated as excellent and its 2.5 million reviews as evidence of its performance which it said is “in line with or better than our competitors”.

Nonetheless the company said senior teams at Hermes are carrying out an “urgent investigation”, at the High Wycombe depot, adding: “This unit is performing well and there are no issues regarding service or damage.”

The parcel company said that since the start of the pandemic it has “successfully delivered over two million parcels each day as people increasingly turned to online shopping”.

It pointed to the difficulties the sector faces, including labour shortages and the impact of Covid on its staff and operating procedures, as well as the challenge of the Omicron outbreak.

It added: “Despite this our service remains strong and our people committed to high levels of service. We do not claim to be perfect and are aware that in an operation of our size there will be individual issues that we need to improve,” adding that the company is “determined to do this”.

Meanwhile clients reacted with concern at the report this week. Marks & Spencer said it is taking the allegations “very seriously”, whilst Next and H&M said they were in discussions with Hermes about the findings.

Asos said in a statement: “Our customers are at the heart of what we do, and we expect all of our partners to reflect this.”