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Wednesday, April 25th, 2012, 1:33 pm

The Mail Services Deserve to be Out of Service

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THE SNAIL MAIL services are having a hard time. They are becoming obsolete and rather than improve in order to compete they have only become overpriced and they always underperform. It’s not just Royal Mail, this is a universal problem. Breaking up with the mail system altogether is hard for obvious reasons; quiting E-mail because it is not so reliable [1, 2] has the same issues because particular companies, utilities for example, insist on using postboxes (although some are moving towards E-mail, which isn’t much better).

The mail services are not trying to deliver as they should, so essentially they quit even showing what makes them more reliable than their competition. Why even bother with them? A lot of stuff can be shipped in alternative, more reliable means, even reproduced by printing (notably in forms that can be dealt with digitally or maybe scanned after a manual process).

The level of disturbance or even agony due to lost/missing mail is very high. In the majority of cases it seems to be happening or seems to be ending up as a failure. It doesn’t have to be like this. I am a resident at a place near the Town Hall/Centre (nothing difficult to find or reach) and I found it nearly impossible to receive packages, even when I am at home waiting by the intercom. Over the past year or so only 2 out of about 8 registered parcels sent to this address actually reached me. The post people don’t buzz me (I work at home) and eventually they return important packages to the sender or keep them at the warehouse. It is not possible to contact the post office to get the packages in alternative means, not even a note is left to suggest one does this. This is becoming a systematic and very serious issue and attempts to reach Royal Mail by phone are pretty pointless; it is exceedingly hard to find the phone numbers (they hide those) and once a number is finally dialed a person is hard to reach; they try to just automate an already-defunct system. Over the phone, one needs make sure s/he got the number/s and code/s right because their voice recognition is terrible, leaving one just wasting time talking to a robot and navigating through voice menus.

After a lot of struggle, I did mange to actually speak to a person from the post office (yes, they exist! And it’s not outsourced!). I spoke to an agent at Royal Mail, the national (British) mail service, who also kindly checked the Parcel Force tracker just in case. She insisted that we must speak to another post office, so it’s obviously becoming a game of ping-pong for them, which means to the client that s/he will have to spend dozens of hours of work trying to restore ‘justice’. I spoke to them for 10 minutes with a clear need to insist very strongly that they take action immediately, as their excuses are bad. They claim that the Office has no record of the package which is supposed to be track-able (registered mail), so they must urgently do something, right? But no. In a perfect (or better) world, they would look into it and issue compensation, but when there’s a monopoly on the mail system and the customers are assumed not to be right, no wonder the service is terrible. Time after time they get away with the same excuses, the same terrible service, and the same reduced productivity to everyone around.

People may be losing their jobs as the mail services implode, but society will have better services — i.e. ones that actually work and put the customer first — replace those. For me, the mail is service is something to avoid by all means possible. It’s just trouble. I would rather send and receive no parcel than deal with this ‘random delivery’ mode.

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