Saturday, 27 June 2009

Royal Mail

Update: 7 July 09, Royal Mail refunded £10 of the £20 parcel they lost. CCS still counts this as a victory. Royal Mail said: "This payment is made without prejudice as an exceptional, one off, goodwill gesture." Victory for CCS!

Our first featured company is - Royal Mail!

We were made aware of the site 'Royal Mail ripoff' [since removed] by the person who set it up, and after some communication we have verified what they say so will be featuring Royal Mail here. They set up their site because they had attempted every other means of redress for their grievance with Royal Mail and got no satisfaction, which understandably left them frustrated and wanting to share their experience. We will hand over to them now, to explain things in their own words (the text in dark blue).


Parcel lost...

See the image below (click to enlarge) - a parcel posted to my nephew on 8th December 2008.

He did not receive it when Royal Mail tried to deliver it because he and his family went away for Christmas. When they got back we tried to trace where the parcel was to get it redelivered.

We got nowhere with phonecalls to Royal Mail, so I emailed them on Sunday, January 11, 2009.

The same day I got an email back from, saying:
Dear Customer,

Thank you for your enquiry, which will be reviewed by one of our Customer Service Advisors.

We aim to respond to enquiries within 5 working days. Please note, if your enquiry is complex and further investigation is required it may take up to 10 working days to respond fully.

For enquiries relating to one of our financial products it may take up to 7 working days to respond fully.

Thank you for contacting Post Office Ltd.

Kind Regards,

Customer Services
So I waited. Until 18th January. I had still heard nothing so replied, saying:
I have still had no reply to this. There have been no updates, and I am very concerned that my parcel has still not been delivered. Surely it is straightforward to trace the parcel from the details I gave, to whichever office has it, then confirm they still have it and ask for it to be redelivered?
How naive I was!

I used the Royal Mail main contacts address a number of times trying to get a response. However I kept getting emails back telling me to claim for a lost item - but my query was for them to just track down where it was (possibly still nearby) and re-deliver it, not to claim. The long letter I had written to my nephew would not be replaceable.

A further annoyance is that Royal Mail uses ‘noreply’ email addresses - there is no way of getting back in touch with the person who emailed you with further details. That is ridiculous. It leaves the customer angry at having the only alternative of starting a whole new email or complaint, which will be seen by a different person - back to square one. Any decent company that cares about customer services assigns responsibility for a query to an individual member of staff, and would not use ‘do not reply’ addresses at all. It should be possible to reply with further information, and for that single member of staff to resolve the query then sign it off. The current Royal Mail system is like a bureaucratic nightmare of anonymous or automated responses with no chance to respond, and with black holes where communications disappear forever. I can understand why many people just give up rather than go through all this.

I tried ringing Royal Mail customer services, and it took minutes of irritating voice menus before I even got put into a queue, and I gave up waiting after five minutes of irritating music. Then I tried to get the phone number of a post office near my nephew to ring them, but the Post Office website only gives addresses and opening times, not phone numbers.

I emailed them again 23 January 2009, and again got a standard reply telling me to fill in a claims form. I wanted my parcel (in Royal Mail's possession) delivered, not to try and claim its cost back!

On Tuesday, 27 January 2009 I wrote a letter to the Customer Services Director’s Office, pointing out all these problems and saying that I did not want to claim for a missing parcel - all along I had made it clear I wanted someone in Royal Mail to contact the depot that had the parcel, then confirm they still have it and ask for it to be redelivered - which one would expect would be a straightforward task. If it had been done when I first contacted Royal Mail the parcel could have quickly been redelivered. However Royal Mail had failed to do anything about getting the parcel redelivered.

Further, if the parcel really had gone missing by that point due to Royal Mail failing to act on my communications, then it was ridiculous that on top of everything else Royal Mail would resort to pointless bureaucracy telling me to download and fill in more forms, when I had already given all the relevant information a number of times via email and the online form. That smacks of penalizing the victim of ineptitude. I had included in every single communication all the relevant details.

I wanted my parcel to be redelivered, as I did when I first contacted Royal Mail. Something that should have been extremely straightforward had turned into a massive waste of my time, and what started out as just a parcel needing redelivery had possibly become one that was missing completely.

The will drains away...

I received a reply dated 9 February 09 from Mike Griffiths, of Royal Mail Headquarters.

I was a bit irritated by one section:

So basically I shouldn't have used an email address Royal Mail were unaware of - so it was my fault! However as I have shown above, it was the address Royal Mail used to contact me, and didn't say anywhere not to reply to it. So Royal Mail has official addresses that their own staff don't know about!

The gist of the letter was to fill in a claim form and accept that they had lost my parcel.

By then I was so worn down I capitulated and filled it in with the details of what I had sent my nephew, which came to £20 (obviously not counting things such as the letter). I thought 'at least I can claim back the cost of the computer magazines and buy new ones for my nephew'. Yes, I had wasted lots of my time on Royal Mail customer services with letters, emails and phonecalls. Yes, they had lost my parcel. Yes, the letter was irreplaceable. Still, I would get refunded.

The last kick in the teeth

I received a letter dated 2nd March 09 from Gwen Barry, the Customer Service Adviser.

It was full of negatives:

I looked at the stamps. The parcel was gone, and I had wasted all that time for a few stamps. I should have just done what most people do and given up at the start rather than try to achieve any kind of satisfactory outcome from Royal Mail.

Royal Mail were basically saying they didn't believe me about the contents, therefore I was a liar. How on Earth would anyone prove what was in a parcel they sent three months ago? Are you meant to take photographs of everything you send 'just in case'? Are you meant to keep receipts for magazines bought months ago? Even if I had sent photographs of computer magazines, would they have believed they were from a date prior to posting the items, and weren't just new photographs in order to claim money? (I doubt it). Therefore there seems to be no reasonable way that you can receive compensation. And bear in mind that the compensation is being sought not for your own failure - but for Royal Mail's failure. It seems unfair that Royal Mail can decide the compensation for their own mistakes - they are bound to try and get out of it.

The six petty stamps were almost an insult - as if I would want to use Royal Mail again after all that hassle. "Here, try again, you might get lucky this time..."

Customer services failures

I should add here that I have encountered these failures in the past - between 11 February 2007 and 16 July 2008 I had to raise formal complaints with Postwatch (Ref:464042) a number of times because Royal Mail continued to post unsolicited junkmail through my door, despite the fact that I had registered not to receive it. Since then I have still had unaddressed junkmail delivered by Royal Mail on a few occasions (I have dated photographs as evidence). My other complaint was that Royal Mail ignored a number of communications on this issue. Nothing has changed there. Note that Royal Mail's policy is that everyone gets unsolicited junkmail from them by default, even though society should be reducing its use of resources, not pushing yet more through the door that inevitably ends up in landfill sites unless people go out of their way to recycle it. I suppose this is the kind of thing that can happen when a company has a monopoly, as Royal Mail does.

More communications

I also emailed Mike Griffiths, of Royal Mail Headquarters. He gave no email address so the email was sent via Royal Mail's general address, as follows:
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Saturday, March 07, 2009 5:31 PM
Subject: FAO Mike Griffiths, Royal Mail Headquarters, 5th Floor, 148 Old Street, London EC1V 9HQ, Ref 1-938685718

FAO Mike Griffiths, Royal Mail Headquarters, 5th Floor, 148 Old Street, London EC1V 9HQ

Your Ref 1-938685718

Dear Mike,

With reference to your letter dated 9 February 2009, I have been extremely unhappy with Royal Mail's actions. As a warning to others I have made my experiences available at and have started to register the site with search engines and social bookmarking services, and post its address on consumer fora.

If I had received a swift and satisfactory outcome from Royal Mail this would not have been necessary, but I have been left extremely frustrated.
On 29 March 2009 I finally got a reply to my email from Mike Griffiths (Assistant to Board Members, whatever that is) - so only 19 days later. However the reply just reiterated the fact that Royal Mail were going to do nothing except threaten me with legal action! If that happens then I shall certainly seek as much publicity as possible to show how the Royal Mail monopoly treats its customers. There is nothing on this site which is untrue.

Extract from the Royal Mail letter of 26 March 2009. NB the irony of hoping I will find it helpful to be told that it was tough that my parcel was lost, I wouldn't be refunded, but maybe Royal Mail will take legal action against me. Is it their standard practice to persecute victims?

They pointed out that they would not refund me because I 'did not provide evidence of value'. As stated below, I did include the cost of the magazines, but Royal Mail require 'evidence' and otherwise are unwilling to believe their customers, taking the default view that they are liars and cannot be trusted. However Mike Griffiths' letter again asked me for 'evidence' - are Royal Mail saying it should be standard practice for anyone posting things to take photographs of the contents? What a ridiculous system. Or maybe you should keep receipts for everything in case Royal Mail lose your parcel? Even then they could argue that the receipt doesn't prove that you sent that item. It is impossible to win against their unfair policies.

Recently I complained to two different companies about some failure in their service. Both of those responded quickly and resolved things to my satisfaction. Whereas Royal Mail lost my parcel, called me a liar by refusing to believe me about what I said was in it, then threatened me with legal action when I complained.

I have had a number of emails of support from the community out there, and since Royal Mail have had every chance to resolve things and refused to do so, I will be taking some of you up on your offers to publicise this further. Many thanks to those that have already linked to my site; now that Royal Mail are trying to silence me with threats of legal action let's see if we can take this further. Please keep the emails coming in, and mark them with whether you will allow me to include (anonymous or named) quotes on the site.

Alone? I think not.

Since Royal Mail did not resolve my query I have registered this site in many places and dug around for other people who have had poor service from Royal Mail. If Royal Mail had resolved my query originally it wouldn't have come to this. So, on to some other people who aren't happy, showing that Royal Mail don't just give me a headache and poor service! Please note - this is not comprehensive, or the page would go on forever! I will keep registering this site and those below until Royal Mail refund me for their incompetence and their refusal to believe their customers (thereby impugning that the customers are dishonest).


The author of all that set up their site to warn people about potential problems with Royal Mail, and the dangers of trying to seek redress for any problems. They also wrote to Consumer Direct and the Post Review Panel, who both work to protect consumers. To round it off, Royal Mail have been heavily criticised for their staff littering our streets with their red elastic bands. See this blog post from an environmental blog to find out more. That earns them another crap mark.

Feel free to post your comments on Royal Mail. We can also pass on messages to the person who originally had this prime example of poor customer service.

Royal Mail get 1 crap for losing the parcel; 1 for failing to resolve things; 1 for implying their customer was dishonest and refusing to believe that he had posted the items; and 1 for threatening legal action. With the one for the elastic bands above they have launched our blog with a 5-crap whiff! Way to go! And that is after we let them off for posting unsolicited junkwail! If they don't resolve things after that we will be forced to invent a new category specifically for Royal Mail.

Royal Mail have been informed that their poor treatment of this customer hasn't been brushed under the carpet, and we will report back later on whether they continue to ignore people who are victims of them losing post.

Royal Mail's current score:

Additional updates 25 September 09:

Thanks for the comments added below this post - it is a combination of heartening (at the agreement) and saddening (that people have to put up with this poor service).

I keep hearing of new problems. Recently a friend had a parcel held back by Royal Mail, even though it was within the correct size and weight for the postage applied. He paid it in order to get his parcel. However it happened again a week later with a different parcel! He got another card from Royal Mail saying that he had another parcel which hadn't got enough postage.

This time he went to the sorting office and questioned the postage, taking a ruler and scales with him. The lady behind the desk didn't understand why it had the sticker on and checked everything for him. She said that she couldn't sort it out there as it happens once it goes through one of the main sorting depots. So the parcel got sent back to be reposted - he will have to wait at least another week for the parcel. The danger is that by sending it back to the central sorting office Royal Mail might muck it up again and claim the postage is insufficient. Can my friend charge them £1 for his admin time in going back and forth?

The whole thing is a frustrating rigmarole. The modern experience is as follows:
  • Nationally, Post Offices shut (most of the 14,000 we used to have in the UK are closed or slated for closure), so nowadays there are no local ones. Despite the environmental damage of increased travel, it is the reality that you will have to travel to one.
  • So people travel and go to their nearest one a few miles away- and find huge queues and delays because all the small post offices have shut.
  • On top of that Royal Mail changes the system so that posting things is much more complex - you now have to measure and weigh a parcel, AND check it is not too deep. The chances of mistakes increase. Especially if you measure things yourself, in order to avoid travelling miles in order to queue up.
  • Royal Mail decide a parcel is a 100th of a gramme or millimetre over, so hold the parcel back until the person it is sent to is willing to pay for their parcel.
  • That person then has to collect it from the depot and pay extra - but then they find out that Royal Mail has also shut many of the depots, and they now have to go to an out-of-town site to collect it (as happened in my area). Oh, and there are no bus services to that location...
  • = Why we hate Royal Fail.


Alan Leighton said...

There is simply not enough crap in the world to award to Royal Mail's "customer service".

Today I received the fourth of 5 identical parcels containing play station games posted on Thursday. Two arrived on Friday. One arrived today (Monday) and one was held up with a 1.65 overcharge including a £1.00 admin fee. I drove 5 miles to collect it and handed over a £10 note only to be gleefully told by the surly man on the counter that he didn't have any change soi I couldn't have my parcel.

I told him I'd just take the parcel and they could call for the money when they had change, at which point he threatened to call the police! I then had to go to the post office to buy £1.68 worth of stamps so I could ransom my post.

On getting it home and checking the GPO site it seems like it's incredibly marginal whether it should have been overcharged at all (based on the height of the letter) I would say no, but as the "customer services" girl's only offer was for me to send the parcel back to them and if it was too small they would refund the £1.68 (no admin fee allowed for my waste of time eh?) I decided to get on with my life.

I asked her to log a complaint about the lack of change at the sorting office (they can be trusted with our parcels but not much petty cash obviously). However, as she told me there was no system in place to let me now the outcome I gave up.

The sooner Royal Mail goes bust the better.


Anonymous said...

Try phoning the customer services line to make a complaint. You will be on the phone pressing various options and listening to the longest messages in history only to be told at the end of it that they are too busy and you should phone again tomorrow.

The Royal Mail's motto should be;

'Making customer service a thing of the past..."

Anonymous said...

It is sad. The compnay is utter uselss comapny now. It has lost what it use to have. I have lost £1000s this year alone. They have lost items all over the country and Europe and elsewhere. I have gone through several compensation procedures and I was unsuccessful. They have ignored all the facts and never gave any satisfactorily answers. My colleagues were also in the same boat as I with the company. We now have moved elsewhere. I used the company quite a lot and so did my friends. My spending with them was about £30000 a year and a little more with four of my friends. They have lost in this instance nearly £200k per year for not paying out several hundred pounds of compensation. Serves them right. They have robots, imbeciles and ignorant working at the customer services and director's offices. I wonder how many others in the UK are in the same situation and have moved elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

Royal Mail are an utter disgrace. How the Sales of Goods Act doesn't apply to them is beyond me. If the law was changed so that they would be liable under the SOG Act then customers would have much greater leverage in getting the deserved compensation and Royal Mail would have to pull their heads out of their backsides and actually improve their service.

Just some of my headaches - 2 parcels sent via Recorded Delivery 'lost' in a matter of weeks. Coincidence? I don't think so. How can the 'lose' a box?? It has to actually BE somewher Of course I have been able to receive full refunds from the sellers but it's not much help for them is it, receiving only the amount equivalent of 100 stamps? What an insult! Add to that ouir postman turning up at whatever time of the day/afternoon/evening that suits him, signing for Recorded Delivery items HIMSELF and then leaving them sticking out of the letterbox or on the doorstep for all to see or throwing parcels clearly marked as "Fragile" over our back fence and onto the concrete rather than taking them away and attempting redelivery with 2nd post later in the day... wooops, I forgot, there is no 2nd post now is there? It's now 'it-will-turn-up-whenever-and-if-ever-we-damn-well-see-fit-despite-the-fact-that-you-have-paid-for-1st-class-post' isn't it? In future, if I have the option to have something delivered by courier or to send something by courier then I will rather pay the extra and do that instead of leaving my post in the *cough* 'care' of these imbeciles

Anonymous said...

I have similar poor peformance from the royal mail. I arranged for the redelivery of a recorded item and waited in all day - no parcel. On contacting the customer service helpline they said it had been delivered and someone called Foster had signed for it. There is no-one of that name at this address or any other address in a 1/2 mile radius. The signature looked like a geometric shape. They started an investigation and the outcome was the sorting office manager (Alder Hills Office Bournemouth) stated that it had been delivered to me as addressed and basically inferred that I am a liar. The whole story does not add up - some non existent person signing for a parcel not addressed to them. They really do need to privitise this shower and perhaps then it will be run by professional managers instead of jumped up idiots with manager written on their back (Honestly the managers at the sorting offices have coats with manager written across the back!!!!). My next course of action - I am going to report it as theft and suspicion of tampering with the Royal Mail at my local police station. I don't believe these things just "go missing" by accident. Someone needs to really investigate what goes on - if you and I were this incompetent in our workplace we wouldn't have a job for long. The government needs to act and act now rather than be bullied by a bunch of work shy prats who seem to find any excuse to strike and cause further inconvenience to the general public.

Anonymous said...

Having not had a 'signed for' letter (important doc to DVLA)delivered I tried to chase down the issue and found it impossible to speak to a person. Even after eventually navigating my way through the options menu and waiting several minutes for a real person I had to give up, I simply cannot waste half a day on the phone.
Following that I thought I would send a quick note to 'Sarah' as below;

Your answering service must surely be a joke! This cannot be viewed as an acceptable interface to customers by even the most hard-line bean counter. The options menus are simply a looped continuous diatribe of nonsense and apologies.
Your view 'Sarah'?

The reply from *'Sarah' was;

*Do you mean:
Can you hold my mail so I can collect it myself?

*My answer is:
The Mail Collect service is for customers who want their mail held at their local Delivery Office, rather than have their mail delivered.

Well, that is the icing on the cake, thanks for that valuable input 'Sarah'.

The 'Royal' should be stripped from the name without delay, as a national service this is a disgrace. Bring on the competition.

Suzanne said...

After a frustrating 'there's nothing we can do' phonecall with a Royal Mail Customer Service representative (following 5 minutes of 'Sarah''s helpful pre-recorded hints of everything that can be found on the website) - I felt compelled to vent my frustration somewhere. So, here I am. Nothing new - my parcel never arrived - but none the less, is it so much to ask that a 1st class parcel be delivered? Is this some sort of scam to deliberately lose mail to make us all opt for special delivery, and pull them out of the red through higer prices?


Thanks for taking the time to make your blog - it has helped calm my frustration.

Anonymous said...

Royal Mail service still rubbish in August...
I'm a music journalist working from home, and I get about five CDs a day going missing. It's basically obvious that someone somewhere has worked out I get nice CDs to help themselves to, but they're sensible enough not to target the recorded/special delivery ones.
As the elusive Mike Griffiths has informed me, the Royal Mail can only chase up items that have proof of postage. As the thief concerned only tracks regular post, I'm stuck.
Mike says the RM can only get their security teams to investigate with the proof of postage items, so anyone sending items by first class post may as well throw their parcel out of the nearest window and hope it gets there.
I posted copies of half-a-dozen e-mails from contacts saying "Did album x turn up?", me repyling "No", but that's not "proof" that it was posted...

Anonymous said...

I am a postman. Colleagues regularly 'doorstep' parcels, rip recorded stickers off parcels & basically don't give a shit about their customers. This stems from the fact management are even worse at their jobs, encourage rule breaking & are pushing more & more work on the postmen, who do not have time to complete their job within the paid hours, so feel they have to cut corners. Royal Mail is a pathetic company & I can't wait to leave!!

Anonymous said...

Recently royal mail staff forged my signature twice for parcels and i have proof that the signatures are not mine: i have had many problems with royal mail delivery staff not obtaining my signature for recorded items and was told when i asked one of them at my door why he wasn,t obtaining my signature he became abusive,swearing saying he didn,t have time ( royal mail heard the abuse as i was actually on the phone to them at the same time). When i complained about this, the local delivery office obviously thought the best way to resolve this was for them to forge my signature and since complaining about this i,ve had nothing but stress and upset despite being assured by a senior staff member at Plymouth the matter would be investigated and appropriate action taken : i felt relieved initially when the staff member contacted me as at last this matter was being taken seriously but i now feel it,s not as she is now saying i will have to go and collect my mail so that royal mail staff won,t have to obtain my signature in future for items ? surely it is their job to deliver my mail and to be trusted to do so? I was challenged by the local delivery office manager and accused of lying whilst at the delivery office collecting items when a card was left while i was out: the guy accosted me telling me to get proof of the forgery which i had as did Plymouth and he implied that i was lying about the forgery which left me extremely upset and shaken : i noticed he hid his name badge and when i contacted the woman at Plymouth who is meant to be handling the matter she emailed back saying the manager at my local delivery office denied accosting me : of course he would!. It is really unacceptable that the soloution to the matter of royal mail staff forging my signature is for me to travel elsewhere to "Call and Collect " my mail : i don,t even know exactly what this Call and Collect is but assume it means i need to travel to go and collect my mail miles away as they are not going to deliver it ? which is just not right.The woman at Plymouth has also said (all via email as when i try to phone to speak with her she is either on a day off or the staff at customer services don,t know who she is!) and she has not had the decency to return my calls nor phone despite having my number.I am so tired,exhausted and distressed with it all now as well as very disappointed at the way i,ve been treated. This senior staff complaints manager has also said she is not allowing items to be left with my neighbour should i be out when a delivery is attempted yet surely that is my choice ? I feel as if i,m the one being punished for making a complaint and yet this senior staff complaints manager not only assured me not to worry and the matter would be invesigated thoroughly,etc but also told me this happens all the time and staff get away with it!i.e. forging signatures. It is a criminal offence to commit fraud and it,s about time royal mail realised this and not punish customers who speak up and want it stopped.

Anonymous said...

took a parcel to the post office which they weighed and charged £18.32 postage, fair enough.
a week later postman knocked on door with returning this parcel unless you pay another £14.18 more to deliver it! why did they charge the original price at the post office? i now have the parcel back,and they will not refund the original cost. (city link will deliver for £7.99 + vat) wont ever use the post office again for parcels.

Anonymous said...

package sent from the post office by my brother first class, 3 weeks pass and I presume it has been lost in the post. I then receive a card saying it cant be delivered as there is a fee to pay, so first complaint is it takes roayal mail 3 weeks to write the date,my name and address on a card and post it through my letterbox. Second complaint is the post office dont realise when something breaches their own guidelines and thirdly and the main complaint, the underpayment....5p!!!! yes a whole 5 pence! It must have cost royal mail more than that to have someone write me a card and have it delivered! No wonder they are failing.

Anonymous said...


What a relief to find this website even though my complaint isnt about there delivery service. My partner and I were assault by one of their employees (Postman) Luckily caught on CCTV. And eventually charged. Since then this employee has now started to post at the address (my family) where we were assaulted. We cannot stop this as apparently he assaulted us while he wasn't in work. I am also a carer and I am at this address most days and I cannot stop him from posting there. Sorry is all I get from Royal Mail!!!!