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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?

NeverTooManyCats Tue 14-May-13 11:11:00

you're paying for a service, that service may involve them needing to know what they are delivering for you. If you don't like it, don't use it.

THERhubarb Tue 14-May-13 11:12:31

Morloth, I feel that if enough customers reacted with indignation over her interrogation then she might feedback to Royal Mail that actually, most people don't like being asked such pertinent questions. They just want to post their item and be on their way. They don't want to have to reveal to her (and anyone listening) what is in the parcel. They don't want to be sold insurance. They have better things to do with their time. They just want to pay for the PO to post the parcel.

If the PO actually did their job and didn't arse about asking questions and selling insurance then queues would be shorter and everyone would be happier - no?

If you don't make a point, how do you ever improve things?

Do you never complain about service you receive?

Morloth Tue 14-May-13 11:14:25

I do complain, but I don't care if the woman at the post office knows I have a mug in my parcel.

There are things to care about and this doesn't rate for me.

THERhubarb Tue 14-May-13 11:14:29

Next time I will actually say in a very loud voice "Yes it's a huge black dildo for my granny, she's not getting enough apparently."

Then I'd probably be told that I needed to remove the batteries in case they leaked and the whole of the Post Office exploded.

THERhubarb Tue 14-May-13 11:16:46

Fair enough Morloth. I do care however as I feel it is an invasion of my privacy. I also feel that I pay the Post Office to post my parcels. I do not pay them to try and sell me insurance or to interrogate me.

Most people who make up the queues at the PO want to just get on with it and go. Most are in a hurry. This just delays everyone.

Tell me, if you were to send something that was worth over £25 would they refuse to post it unless you paid to have it insured?

littlecrocodile Tue 14-May-13 11:18:58

A little annoying, maybe. " Gross invasion of privacy" - really??

Morloth Tue 14-May-13 11:19:00

I dunno, I don't know what the Royal Mail policies are.

Don't particularly care - I don't actually use the post very much. If I have something I need to get sent somewhere and I want to make sure it gets there I courier it.

For gifts I tend to buy online in whichever country the recipient is in and just have it delivered to them - have never been asked for insurance.

CajaDeLaMemoria Tue 14-May-13 11:21:58


It's so that you send things by the correct service.

THERhubarb Tue 14-May-13 11:27:21

That's what makes me annoyed Morloth. If I sent a gift worth over £25 via Amazon, it's not an issue. I can send a huge bottle of whiskey and it's fine.

Yet if I try to go to the Post Office direct, not only will they tell me that I need insurance for the parcel but they will most likely refuse to send it because it's a spirit and spirits are apparently prohibited.

I get the feeling that the Post Office is trying to run itself down. Is the postage side of the business not paying as much as the other side?

And yes littlecrocodile it is. I don't want to have to explain what gift I have bought my brother to some strange woman who has quite rudely demanded to know for no reason that I can fathom. She only told me about the prohibited items when I asked.

This was the conversation:

"Can I post this please?"
"What's in it?"
<stunned silence>
"I have to ask what you have in your parcel."
She then explains about prohibited items. So yes, in this instance she was rude and it was a gross invasion of privacy.

THERhubarb Tue 14-May-13 11:27:57

That's not what she said Caja

THERhubarb Tue 14-May-13 11:28:56

What service anyway? The sending a parcel to a UK address service?

Morloth Tue 14-May-13 11:29:03

So don't use the post office, take your business elsewhere, there are options.

DeepPurple Tue 14-May-13 11:30:14

They ask at my post office. I can't say it's ever bothered me.

Loa Tue 14-May-13 11:32:04

Increasingly with gifts I shop on-line and get these sent directly avoid the whole post office situation entirely.

Alternatively you could do what my village relatives do and drive to other near by post offices and post thing from there. They are not the only village residents who do this despite still having a Post office.

As for should you write a letter - well if it makes you feel better then do so.

CajaDeLaMemoria Tue 14-May-13 11:32:27

But you were rude too. I shouldn't think that anyone has ever ignored her, before, or acted so shiftily about what was in the parcel.

Honestly, you don't need to go into specifics, so it's not an invasion of privacy. But if it had been something that wasn't covered by the postal service you opted for, you'd have expected her to tell you. So she needs to know what it is.

She was probably concerned that you had a prohibited item because of your reaction. To be honest, I'm surprised that she let you post it. You may well find that it's delivered to your brother opened, in a sealed bag, so that they can confirm the contents.

But complain, by all means, if it makes you feel better. They'll tell you exactly what I am telling you. They are legally obligated to ensure that no prohibited items enter the postal service, and their own T&Cs state that they will enquire as to the contents of parcels in order to offer the correct service. It's been happening for years. You may get an apology for her tone (not from her), but you won't change it, because there is no suitable alternative.

Binkybix Tue 14-May-13 11:32:30

I'm pretty sure you don't have to take out insurance for anything, so that's being sold a product. Not sure re prohibited items.

As an aside it will be the Royal Mail that's losin the items, not the post office - they're different companies.

Floggingmolly Tue 14-May-13 11:33:50

Did you imagine she'd think you were a bit peculiar for sending a mug in the post? She wouldn't have, but I bet she thinks you're bloody odd now.
What a fuss about nothing.

THERhubarb Tue 14-May-13 11:40:12

I don't think I was rude Caja actually. I was taken aback by being asked what was in my parcel quite so bluntly and then I politely asked why she needed to know. I then confirmed that it was not a prohibited item without telling her what it was.

And actually, if someone is asking you to tell them what is in the parcel, how is that not them expecting you to go into specifics?

"acting shifty" my arse! Acting offended more like!

If it is delivered in a sealed bag then trust me, I will be complaining once again.

I am quite fed up of the Post Office/Royal Mail (bloody privatisation!). I hate them trying to sell me insurance just in case they lose my item. I have seen first hand evidence of light fingers at Royal Mail and as a charity, when we informed them they refused to take any action.

I have seen the distress they have caused Mumsnetter recipients of Secret Santa parcels by their bloody minded attitude and refusal to accept that "Mumsnetter" is not a name.

I have had items "lost" in the post that have been well wrapped, with both my and the recipient's address not only written on the parcel but attached to the item and no, compensation does not always make up for lost birthday gifts or sentimental and personal Christmas gifts.

I am favouring the idea of a courier from now on.

THERhubarb Tue 14-May-13 11:44:26

Oh well, surprised at how many posters would think nothing of being asked to explain what is in their parcels.

Not so surprised at having a few judgemental comments telling me that I'm odd and shifty and rude myself.

If you think it's a big deal about nothing then why bother posting a reply? I am because I've some spare time on my hands and I enjoy having a Mumsnet rant every now and then. I do laugh though at the irony of posters making the effort to argue with me and telling me what a fuss I'm making about nothing. grin

I think she was rude. I think Royal Mail are shit. This was just one more reason that has convinced me to go elsewhere in future and I don't care who agrees with me or not.

I declare myself not unreasonable. Wahey! smile

LadyClariceCannockMonty Tue 14-May-13 11:50:13

I've been both the sender and the intended recipient of Royal Mail parcels that haven't turned up. Always around Christmas. Funny that.

There was also a period of about four months when I didn't get any post at all. When I finally twigged and asked, it turned out that my postal delivery person had been stashing it all in their work locker. There had been scaffolding on my outside steps and they were too fat unable to get up and down the steps and too stupid or uncaring unable to try to find another letterbox (there was one) or inform anyone of this.

I hate them. I am actually going to use other services from now on.

Rhubarb, I'm totally with you.

THERhubarb Tue 14-May-13 11:51:30

Right on fellow complainer!

McKayz Tue 14-May-13 11:54:09

Whatever you do DO NOT use Hermes. The biggest pile of crap I have ever experienced in my life!!!!

THERhubarb Tue 14-May-13 11:57:15

Even worse than Royal Mail?

So which courier service is most recommended then?

I wonder if MNHQ will, in light of the recent problems caused by bloody minded Royal Mail jobsworth, use a courier service for Secret Santa deliveries from now on? I should imagine that for the publicity and extra custom most courier services would be willing to do special deals?

McKayz Tue 14-May-13 12:00:29

I use Collect plus for parcels. You just print of a label at home and usually drop it of at a local shop. It's costcutters here. No hassle or anything.

THERhubarb Tue 14-May-13 12:02:55

Thanks McKayz, will look into them.

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