Hall of Shame: Royal Mail

I suppose it was only a matter of time before the atrociously managed Royal Mail finally drove me to make a Hall of Shame entry.  This is the organisation that charges enormous fees for us to use “their” postcode database – something that is free in almost every other country because the data is considered a public asset – thus hampering use of geo-location and innovation on websites and other online channels in the UK . This is the organisation that makes it impossible to check online the last collection times from boxes, post offices and sorting centres in your locality. This is  the organisation that seems to have abandoned the practice of updating the indicator on postboxes so you could tell whether you’re in time to catch the latest collection. For a while, they reintroduced Sunday collection, but then dropped that again, presumably on  the grounds that it was actually something quite good. Let’s not even mention the apparently botched reorganisation of sorting and delivery following the closure of our local sorting office at Crewe (I’d hate to distract them from catching up on the enormous backlog of undelivered mail which, anyway, they say is actually because of the weather).  I could go on, but am already starting to sound like the guy you don’t want to sit next to on the bus.

No, the thing currently driving me to despair is their rubbish redirection service.  By which I mean, their mail redirection service which is rubbish, just in case you thought I was unreasonably trying to get them to handle our waste. As Kent House (digital marketing consultants, since you ask) relocated in January from Keele to Stoke-on-Trent, we needed mail redirection.  Having filled in the form and handed it over the post office counter and made payment some weeks in advance, we waited. A long time later (in fact, some days after the service was supposed to have started), we got a letter from them saying that the signature of the managing director wasn’t sufficient and that they’d need something more, specifically an additional signature from someone ‘important’ within the company. Swallowing my bile, I did as requested and sent that.  Many days later, we got another letter from them saying that they hadn’t received the updated mandate and so still hadn’t started the service. Apparently, according to this communication, we didn’t have to worry if we had already sent the new mandate as they would eventually get around to actioning it. I made the mistake of trying to ring them on the advertised phone number to check what was actually happening. This is one of those automated systems designed by Lucifer himself to torture humanity.  Gave that up after several attempts, each time keying in reference codes and selecting from streams of options – none of it was right and none of it would get me through to a human being or to any kind of resolution. As we didn’t know whether they had lost the mandate in the 3 mile journey from our pillar box to their redirection centre, we had to assume that was the case and sent another mandate. Some days later, we got another letter from them, saying the service would start 6 days later (it seems that they had in fact received the original new mandate, but just hadn’t got around to it). Apparently, it took them 4 days to post and deliver that letter to us 3 miles away so the good news was that the start date of 26 Jan was now only a couple of days away.

Well, here we are some two weeks after the start date (and a month after we relocated). Some 60 items of post have, in that time, been delivered to our old address. Can you guess how many Royal Mail have intercepted and redirected? I bet you can. Luckily, our old landlord has very kindly been forwarding the misdelivered mail. If they hadn’t been willing to do that, we would have been suffering serious business interruption thanks to Royal Mail’s incompetence and indifference. We’ve now made some suggestions as to what they might do do with their fabulous redirection service and asked for a refund.

On the basis of our experience, my advice to any business relocating would be to do everything possible to avoid having to rely on Royal Mail redirection if you want to stay in business.

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