To complain to the Post Office or just accept that this is their policy?

(99 Posts)
THERhubarb Tue 14-May-13 10:29:10

I've bought a nice Sherlock Holmes mug for my brother for his birthday. It's not the full cape he wanted but then those things are expensive and he'd only wear it in public, making a spectacle of himself, so I settled for a mug.

I wrapped it up nicely, labelled it correctly and went to post it.

The woman behind the counter asked me what was in my parcel. Now normally, I post things at the village post office and I've never been asked to reveal what I'm posting before. This was the large town PO and when she asked, for a moment I just stood blinking, not sure how to answer.

She asked me again to tell her what was in the parcel so I refused. I said it was a gift and I didn't really think I wanted this invasion of privacy. She then explained that she needed to check that it wasn't a prohibited item. I assured her that it wasn't. She then asked if it was silver or gold as that would need to be insured.

Now I feel actually quite annoyed by this. I've looked at the prohibited list and it's fairly obvious; weapons, drugs, fake money, ice (!), animals, explosives, etc. I am guessing that if anyone was sending, say a loaded gun to someone, they wouldn't reveal that to the PO clerk. Yes you might get someone who really does think that they can send an ice pack to their cousins in the Bahamas and it would arrive in one piece, but these people but surely be in a minority? Is it really necessary for them to ask us to explain exactly what is in our parcels that we are posting?

As for insurance, well don't get me started! Prices have gone up yet again so not only do we have to pay the PO for a service but we have to pay again just in case they don't provide that service. What a con!

I can only imagine that being asked to explain what customers are sending is very time consuming (esp at Christmas) and a gross invasion of privacy - what if it's something private and sentimental? Why should you tell a stranger that? What if it's a dildo? (These are not listed as prohibited items)

I feel a strongly worded letter of complaint coming on from Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells. Really though, should I accept that this is just PO policy and get over it or should I stand up for the privacy of customers who already pay over the odds to the Post Office to deliver their mail and parcels?

Morloth Tue 14-May-13 10:31:31

Why didn't you just tell her it was a cup and save everyone the hassle?

ThingummyBob Tue 14-May-13 10:34:15

I have been asked before and I just say 'gift' which seems to keep them happy.

Your PO assistant was probably just vair nosy wink Weren't you tempted to say sex toys if you had considered this...? I might next time grin

squeakytoy Tue 14-May-13 10:35:10

where was the item being sent to?

TheseFoolishThings Tue 14-May-13 10:35:11

None of her damned business! Mine never ask and I'm a daily poster of parcels of all sizes and values. Or was - until the ludicrous price increases. OP - try MyHermes - cheaper, collect from your door and no stupid nosey questions!

KansasCityOctopus Tue 14-May-13 10:37:06

im always asked wether its a gift and if its worth more than 20 quid, in which case i would i like insurance.

i've never been asked to specify whats in it.

NeverTooManyCats Tue 14-May-13 10:42:16

Post office heads are absolute idiots, so If you're going to complain please do it to higher ups rather than get the staff into trouble. The amount of selling and almost hassling the customers that the staff have to do is unreal, and the staff do get into a lot of trouble if they don't comply with all these rules. She may have been a jobsworth, but it is more than likely that it has been drilled into them that they must do this.

landofsoapandglory Tue 14-May-13 10:43:55

What Morloth said!

Alibabaandthe40nappies Tue 14-May-13 10:45:51

They are trying to sell you the insurance. Which is now even more expensive and is apparently needed at a parcel value of about £25 rather than the £50 it was previously.

The Royal Mail is a bloody rip off these days.

Mandy2003 Tue 14-May-13 10:46:50

The post office has recently tightened up on prohibited items. I think fragrances and lighters are prohibited now, for example. So staff probably have to make sure that when you say "gift" that it's not the previously innocent bottle of aftershave.

As for a dildo, you could probably describe it as a "medical device" grin

It depends where its going to. If its overseas, if the declaration doesn't match the xray of the parcel it'll get opened up and delayed for a bit.
If it's a sex toy you could probably put "intimate medical aid" as a declaration....

THERhubarb Tue 14-May-13 10:50:55

I was posting it within the UK.

Yes I could have told her but why should I? It's none of her business! Sometimes I sell stuff on ebay, do I have to tell them what I'm selling every time I post it off?

I don't even think I should have to specify that it's a gift as this only encourages them to try and sell insurance just in case they fail to offer the service I am paying them for!

I think I might start using Hermes as they look so much cheaper and they take the item straight from your door.

They could just have signs in the Post Office with a list of prohibited items on there.

So should I complain about this nosy employee who TWICE asked me to tell her what was in my parcel? Or is this really Post Office policy? If so perhaps I should complain anyway as it's damned cheeky!

Bricklestick Tue 14-May-13 10:52:59

You should have just told her it was a mug. The list of prohibited items has just been extended, btw, and now includes things like perfume and nail varnish, which are quite often "gifts" too. They have to check, and yes, it's infuriating, but you could have saved yourself the trouble, really.

I had a parcel destroyed recently, because I didn't know about the new regulations - the guy had asked me if it was perfume in the package, because you can't post that to Europe now. It was nail varnish. £100 worth. So annoying.

Bricklestick Tue 14-May-13 10:53:47

incidentally, Hermes are cheap because they NEVER FUCKING DELIVER ANYTHING.

CajaDeLaMemoria Tue 14-May-13 10:54:51

They are supposed to always ask this.

It's so that if it's something valuable, they can offer the appropriate postal services. Money, for example, or tickets to an event, have to be posted special delivery to be covered. Anything worth over £40 has to go special, too.

She can either go through a whole list of things asking if it is one of them, or she can say, "what is it?". You say, "a mug", and it's done. I've never, ever heard anyone refuse to say.

Your village post office will be the one that gets into trouble, for not doing what they are contracted to do. Yes, if you sell on ebay, or anywhere else, you should be asked what you are posting. You just need to say clothes, or jewellery, or documents. That's all.

I really can't understand why you are so upset.

Morloth Tue 14-May-13 10:57:32

It was a bloody cup.

She says: What is in the parcel please?
You say: A cup
She says: No worries.

Everyone goes about their day.

See how easy that was?

NeverTooManyCats Tue 14-May-13 10:59:45

The woman was just doing her job, as i said up post, the staff there are meant to ask you. I have no problem saying what I'm posting, and tbh unless it is something dangerous why would you have any reason to keep it a secret.

If they don't do their job, they get in trouble, and they HAVE to ask. i think you need to calm down about this

anonpost Tue 14-May-13 11:02:01

What's the problem? Should have just said it was a mug and be done with it.

THERhubarb Tue 14-May-13 11:02:11

This was posted from the UK to a UK address.

The list of prohibited items is on their website and is not that restrictive. Aerosols you cannot send or anything flammable which would include your perfume, although I should imagine many people flout this. For instance at Christmas I sent lots of gifts which included little bottles of nail polish and make-up, deodorants, etc. I was never asked then what was in my parcel and for some parcels I would have had to come up with a long list as I put lots of different little items in there.

Seriously - you cannot send nail varnish? Do they really think that the nail varnish will catch fire in their depot and explode? Or to be used for making a bomb?

I still say that a sign, such as those in airports, would be sufficient. I refuse to tell a stranger what item I am posting to friends and relatives. That's going too far.

I didn't know that about Hermes, I've had stuff delivered by them and they've been ok. I could equally slag off the PO (as I am doing) for losing perfectly packaged, well addressed parcels that had the sender's info included. Or I could mention the time when I worked for the British Red Cross and we ran a competition with primary schools for the children to design a poster for us for a £2 entry fee and many of the forms came with little slits at the top and minus the £2.

Accident my arse. Not when it happened over a dozen times.

TwistTee Tue 14-May-13 11:02:39

I also think this is an attempt to sell insurance. And while on this topic, why do you need ID for each member of the household when picking up a package?
I got told I needed ID for my dd after Grandma addressed a package to her. She doesn't have any and the fact that we have the same surname was not enough, although he'd let me have the package just this once, but I must get her ID hmm

Morloth Tue 14-May-13 11:03:32

Shrug so don't post stuff then.

Shorter lines for the rest of us who just want to send our cups and forget about it.

THERhubarb Tue 14-May-13 11:03:35

Sorry, call me stubborn but why should I tell them?

I was sending a cup today (technically a mug by the way) but on other days it could have been something more personal. Why should I tell a stranger?

I'm sure there are better ways the PO can ensure you are not sending prohibited items.

THERhubarb Tue 14-May-13 11:05:53

TwistTee during the MN Secret Santa a few Mumsnetters were refused their parcels by the Post Office because they did not have ID which proved that their names were "The Mumsnetter of the household".

One Mumsnetter had a get Justine to intervene on her behalf because the arsehole postman wouldn't give her the parcel even though she could prove that she lived at that address. She couldn't prove her name was "Mumsnetter" though.

Sorry but if they can be that bloodyminded and stubborn then I fail to see why I should tell them what is in my parcel. It is none of their sodding business.

Morloth Tue 14-May-13 11:07:17

Because it doesn't matter does it?

What bad thing will actually happen to you if you tell the woman it is a cup.

On the other hand, you wasted your and her time and created a situation over a cup.

If it is more personal then have the argument by all means (but I would assume they have the right to refuse carriage), but not over a piece of crockery.

LadyClariceCannockMonty Tue 14-May-13 11:08:46

Oh, please do a Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells letter! I bloody hate the Post Office (they and I have History involving them messing up and costing me time and money, and then refusing to acknowledge that they'd messed up, much less give me compensation); their so-called customer service is dire and their policies the exact opposite of customer-friendly/helpful. If they had to compete seriously with other companies they'd be screwed.

I find that saying 'It's a gift and it doesn't need insuring' usually shuts the nosy money-grubbing feckers up suffices. Or just say 'It's a strap-on' while maintaining friendly but firm eye contact.

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