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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?

ArbitraryUsername Tue 14-May-13 13:23:59

Then there's the old pre-preparing an 'oh dear you were out when we tried to deliver' card and not even trying to see if you're in trick. I usually work at home. I would hear the door. Indeed, I hear the mail being delivered. But they often don't knock. They just slip the card through the door and go off on their merry way, so I have to trek down to the depo.

Binkybix Tue 14-May-13 13:29:15

I was chased after a Royal Mail (not post office) worker after he'd left a 'wearied to deliver' card. The fecker didn't even have it on him!

Binkybix Tue 14-May-13 13:29:33

* we tried. Not wearied!

ArbitraryUsername Tue 14-May-13 13:31:48

Yes. Why carry all those bulky packages when you can just post a card and make the buggers wait 48 hours to collect?

BlueSkySunnyDay Tue 14-May-13 13:44:28

Our local postmen are brilliant, we were disappointed when our regular moved rounds but our new one is equally good.

Our post office on the other hand often "miscount" the money when I do a withdrawal, I watch so I have never been shortchanged but its happened enough times to make me wonder, I have taken to driving to the next village to use a different post office.

I get that its not really on to have to say what is in the parcel - i'd have said "gift" then if they had pushed it I would possibly have been tempted to say "sex toy" for a laugh.

nipersvest Tue 14-May-13 13:52:08

i don't have a lot of time for post office staff. the post mistress at our local gave me awful advice when sending a box of very important items to my publisher in america, same lady has just gone to prison for embezzling over 100k out of the business!

Chigertick Tue 14-May-13 14:00:09

I agree with you - the list of items is fairly ridiculous too - especially as they have no means of checking (ie X-ray machine).
I have ishoos with the post office/ Royal Mail since we moved and my parents ( who had been staying with us) moved and all our redirected post was going everywhere over than where it should.
They have lost cards and other items that I cannot prove I sent or had them sent to me.
With regards to ID to collect a parcel we had one real "jobs worth" who wouldn't even tell me who it was for. As they'd only put the address and not for whom. I showed up with mine and DHs ID - he wouldn't say who it was for and made me give him only one set. Then he said it was wrong - it was like a bloody comedy sketch confused
Our local postman is lovely though - he stops me if he has a parcel for me when I'm going past and he thinks he'll miss me later smile

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

If Royal Mail paid their workers more and treated them with respect they might actually get a better service as a result. But in my eyes they are only interested in making a profit now with raised postage prices which are not competitive when compared to other courier services, the hard sell when you post a parcel, the closure of small village Post Offices and the reduction of the amount it is willing to insure.

It will be run down into the ground and sold off to various private sectors bit by bit so that one company will send parcels, another will be responsible for letters, another will deal with insurance and so on.

StuntGirl Tue 14-May-13 15:27:39

Rhubarb, have you ever worked in retail or customer service? Consistent complaining to the poor sod on the front desk will not achieve any results. Change only happens when enough of those complaints are landed on the desk of those high enouh to enforce change - regional and divisional managers, CEO's, etc. Complaining to the front line staff will achieve as much as complaining on here will.

I would only use My Hermes if you don't mind the parcel never arriving.

THERhubarb Tue 14-May-13 15:32:18

Which is why I have written a polite letter to customer services at Royal Mail smile

and yes, I have.

GreenEggsAndNichts Tue 14-May-13 15:37:57

Didn't get past Bricklesticks's Hermes observation on the first page. arf. grin

OP- Complain if you can. I attempted a complaint process with the Post Office, once. I just wanted to inform them that the hours on the website for my local one was incorrect (I'd tried to tell the manager at the actual PO but he said he couldn't do anything about it). I figured in the age where we're all being told on the news that we should use our local PO more often, they should stop telling people the place is closed on Weds when it's actually open.

Nope. My email was passed through three different departments, never resolved, and the hours are still incorrect on the website, over a year later. whatever.

(My father is a retired postman, I hold no animosity towards postal workers. But my god what failed processes they have.)

allmycats Tue 14-May-13 15:42:00

My recent experience with local post office
Took parcel to post office with a BFPO number on it.
Postmaster - 'What's in it'
Me - 'sorry not allowed to say'
Postmaster - 'this number is not my list of BFPO numbers'
Me ' i know they told me to tell you just to put it in the bag and it will be sent via diplomatic service at other end'
Postmaster ' i can't put it in the bag without knowing where it is going'
Me - 'it is going to a classified destination'
Postmaster - ' i don't care, it's not going anywhere through this post office if you don't tell me what's in it and where it is going'
Me ' give me it back then and i will take it away'
Post Office in next village - Postmaster 'Thank You will send this right away'

Just goes to show some people are helpful some are just not.
However, it was only a mug in your case and she was probably just doing her job, unlike my ppstmaster No1 who was just a nosey bastard !

AlvinHallsGroupie Tue 14-May-13 15:44:00

Baffled as to why you are complaining confused

Im going to complain next time I get asked whether Im wanting it sent first or second class. How bloody dare they? <rages>

TheseFoolishThings Tue 14-May-13 15:50:01

"I would only use My Hermes if you don't mind the parcel never arriving"

Sent upwards of 30 parcels in the last 3 weeks. Every single one has arrived exactly when they said it would. Delighted buyers.

Royal Mail, on the other hand - 2 disputes ongoing, another one waiting for the 15 days to be up before they consider it 'lost', prices through the roof and me having to pay a premium for them to try a little harder to do what they're paid to do in the first place.


McKayz Tue 14-May-13 16:00:12

You must be lucky then TheseFoolishThings.

I was sat in my friends front room and watched the MyHermes driver open the door, fling her parcel out into her garden and then drive off. Luckily it was just a pair of jeans.

I don't know anyone who thinks they are any good.

ArbitraryUsername Tue 14-May-13 16:05:50

GreenEggs: I bet being a postie was a much better job when your dad started doing it. Given how poorly Royal Mail treat their customers, I dread to think how they treat their staff.

In the past, just about everyone would have been talking about how brilliant their postie was (as a couple of posters have done). It's sad now that most of us experience Royal Mail as paying loads to have stuff not arrive at all.

The staff in our local depo never ask for ID. You hand over the we missed you slip and they present you with a package (after rummaging about in the back a bit).

VivaLeBeaver Tue 14-May-13 16:07:48

Post office , Royal Mail are twats.

I have been arguing with them for a year over a missing parcel that I sent to Joules. Parcel went missing so I claimed. They refused my claim as apparently Joules address and postcode doesn't exist. grin

Joules are adamant it does exist and has done for years. Of course it's not their fault and they tell me to take it up with Royal Mail. Royal Mail = computer says no, therefore no discussion, no common sense.

The fact it's a massive company with loads of parcels every day isn't considered. The address I used was one of their return labels! But no, no such address.

THERhubarb Tue 14-May-13 16:11:50

You see, right here is the reason why privatisation does not work. Workers do not get a fair deal from bosses who are more interested in meeting targets and making profits. The company is split into two and communication across the board is poor.

Everyone knows that if you don't treat staff fairly, you get poor workers as a result. Morale is so low at Royal Mail and staff turnover so high that it's a miracle we still have any level of service at all.

StuntGirl Tue 14-May-13 16:13:13

I'm glad you've had good service from them foolish. Many people find they either give substandard service - damaging parcels or leaving them in unsecure locations, or just simply don't deliver at all. I refuse to use them for my business due to this.

StuntGirl Tue 14-May-13 16:13:56

Rhubarb, you obviously had beef with Royal Mail before this incident, this has just given you an excuse to rant!

sarahtigh Tue 14-May-13 16:14:34

no-one has to buy extra insurance it is just if you don't compensation is limited to £20 for normal mail, £50 for signed for everything else is special delivery, it is perfectly legal to send a £45 item normal post but you will only get £20 if it gets lost

all breakables like ceramics glass are only covered for damage if sent special delivery, however even with special delivery they will not pay unless outer packaging is damaged as they will simply say it was inadequately packed

as an ebay business seller selling mostly collectable ceramic I just pack on the basis that it will be dropped on pavement so if box drops it must have enough packaging inside to survive, generally for ceramics I would advise working on assumption that you will not get compensation if it breaks from either RM or any courier you would have to use a specialist art/antique courier for that, my experience is that about 1 in 70 parcels of ceramics
gets damaged paying extra achieves no greater care so I send cheapest method

I do not buy extra insurance for anything above the value so a £8 item would go normal mail £25 signed for £75 special delivery, I only use royal mail for small parcels and send everything else either myhermes or collectplus I have had no problems with either

our local ladies in PO are really helpful and nice they know I only post small parcels so if it does not go in small parcel slot i will take it home and send by courier, they do not try and upsell as they know everything goes cheapest way possible, they get paid per parcel so there is actually nothing in it for them if they say medium as opposed to small parcel

only customs labels require declaration of contents whether something is a gift or business makes no difference in UK but it does on customs sticker

THERhubarb Tue 14-May-13 16:15:24

StuntGirl oh yeah and do I feel better for it! grin

THERhubarb Tue 14-May-13 16:19:21

sarahtigh that's helpful, thank you. You see I knew I wasn't being unreasonable in feeling peeved that they insisted on knowing what was in a parcel that was being sent to a UK destination.

I do think the woman was being a total jobsworth in this instance.

If my brother doesn't get his birthday mug (MUG not cup) then I'll send a load of aerosol cans and vibrators through sheer spite!

Jengnr Tue 14-May-13 19:51:46

Cheeky bitch, I'd be fucked off too.

It's none of her beeswax.

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