Sunday 23 August 2009

Casino Royale

It’s easy to knock Royal Mail, loads of people do, sometimes it’s justified, sometimes not. I’ve always defended them on the grounds that they are a nationalised industry and that you would never get the universal coverage and delivery service for the price from a private company. Unfortunately the Royal Mail and me* have just fallen out of love.

For years now we’ve put up with receiving letters for other houses around us, our mail being delivered to other houses, days when there appears to be no delivery in our street, and expected post never ever arriving. Towards the end of last year tickets to see Tony Benn were, ironically, lost in the post! I’ve taken all this in good humour, until the other day. A week and a half ago there was a card through my door saying that they’d tried to deliver a parcel, no one was at home and it was too big to go through the letter box. This pissed me off because I knew that it wouldn’t be too big! Never the less I gracefully accepted that I would have to collect it and made arrangements to do so, fitting in with the sorting office’s unhelpful opening times. Guess what? They couldn’t find the bloody parcel. The poor postman came back all apologetic suggesting that it might have been sent back and that he would ‘check on the computer’. The speed it took him to do this would suggest that they do only have the one computer, and that it is probably a Commodore 64! By the time he returned a sizeable queue had been building up behind me, moaning, groaning and turning into a ‘lynching mob’. The unfortunate postman suggested that they would hunt for it and deliver it on Saturday. I left in a grumpy mood, never ever expecting to see the aforementioned package. How wrong I was. It arrived on Saturday as promised. Great service! It contained a couple ink cartridges, and yes they would have gone through the letterbox.

I don’t blame the poor old postmen and women for any of this. They are paid a pittance, ever increasing demands are made on them to do more and more, and as a consequence morale is low. The way that Royal Mail is run needs to change radically it’s a public service bozos and not a profit driven company. Trying to turn it into another DHL or UPS will just kill it as the market is saturated enough.

It could be that the universal postal delivery system is an anachronism and that it will fade as digital technology more and more embraces our lives. But it could still have a long life if it were to find out what its customers wanted. Is that too much to ask?

*yes I know it should be ‘the Royal Mail and I’ but I write colloquially!