The UK’s leading third-party logistics providers (3PLs) have refused to provide any details on the roles they play in the administration of penalties levied by retailers at DCs for non-compliant deliveries.

The penalties – typically £500 or £1,000 per delivery but reportedly ranging up to £3,000 at some sites – are being imposed by an increasing number of retailers on suppliers whose deliveries are deemed to fall outside of fixed delivery windows or are uncompliant in other ways. Suppliers subsequently attempt to pass on such costs to their transport providers.

Although 3PLs running retailers’ DCs are inevitably involved in the provision of delivery compliance information to their clients in such instances, none of those MT approached were willing to tell us more about how the practice works, the key performance indicators they are given, the way non-compliance is determined, or the true level of disruption DCs face from non-compliant deliveries. Neither would any of them comment on the appropriateness of the penalties levied.

Ceva, DHL Supply Chain, Kuehne + Nagel, Norbert Dentressangle UK, Unipart and Wincanton have all declined to provide full responses to a list of questions put to them by MT over the past few weeks.

3PL trade body the UK Warehousing Association (UKWA) also declined to answer specific questions about how widespread the practice is or what disruption non-compliant deliveries cause. In a written statement, however, CEO Roger Williams said: “The answer lies in whatever the contract says. And in that regard, the retailer has always had the whip hand.

“Historically, companies have been reluctant to cry foul, at least in public, but there is no doubt retailers have been unsympathetic in situations where trucks arrive at a time different to what it says in the contract,” he added.

Miniclipper Logistics sales director Jayne Masters, who first highlighted the magnitude of fines being levied to MT, said she wasn’t surprised by the 3PLs’ silence. “It tells a story: they don’t want to change the way it is for commercial reasons.”