The web-based company gives operators the opportunity to make money by picking up extra cargo and taking it to a destination they were already either passing or going to anyway.

Surely that’s simply taking business off hard-working couriers who may be struggling in the current economic climate? Not so, claims company founder, Colin Hay; the individuals Stuff2Send targets wouldn’t use couriers anyway because they couldn’t afford to, he contends. Quite often they’re householders who’ve bought bulky items on e-Bay and want an inexpensive way of shipping them.

“Our site can in fact benefit couriers because they can use it as a method of picking up backloads,” he says. It means that once they’ve taken a consignment from, say, London to Manchester for a regular customer, they can then collect cargo sourced through Stuff2Send that needs to go to the capital so they’re not running back empty.

So how does it work? “On our site you’ll find a list of loads along with details of where they’re going from and where they’re going to,” Hay explains. “If you want to bid online to take any of them then you have to pay £10 a year to become a site member. “That increases to £15 if you want to make telephone offers too.” Loads can be placed on the site free-of-charge. “You’ll usually find 20 to 30 live ones there at any one time,” he says.

Payment arrangements are a matter for whoever is dispatching or receiving the consignment and the van’s owner, says Hay. “It may be the case that you’re paid when the item is collected, or when it is delivered,” he says. “It’s entirely up to you.”

Insurance arrangements are a matter for the two parties concerned as well. Established couriers will of course have clear conditions of carriage and insurance arrangements already in place.

So how does the customer know that the van owner isn’t a crook who will steal their goods? “When somebody applies to join our site — they have to pay electronically — then obviously we take their name and address along with their mobile and landline telephone numbers plus their driving licence number,” Hay replies. “We also carry out random checks using the Criminal Records Bureau; something anybody who becomes a site member has to agree to.

“Furthermore, the individual’s performance is rated on the web site by the people who have used them.” A lousy rating is unlikely to result in further work.