Tag Archives: sorting office

Now Royal Mail can’t even deliver letters to itself!

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ceramic milk carton money box actually!

Yesterday morning, early, I’d run out of milk.  Exciting yes?  I’d got up about 4 am, thinking, ” I can’t write all these blogs without letting the local sorting office know”.   So I printed off copies of all the posts – yes printed them – and on my way to the newsagent,  (who still opens at 5 am, and somehow always manages to dress immaculately at that hour),  I posted the letter. It was a wad of pages in a white C5 envelope, on which I had scrawled, “TO ALL THE STAFF AT P……….SORTING OFFICE – hope you like this!”.  I also scrawled in the top right hand corner a little square and wrote “NO STAMP BECAUSE IT DOESN’T NEED ONE” (I’ve done that before, and its fine).   And  “What time is the collection from this box?” 

my nearest post box - says 7 am on saturdays

my nearest post box –says 7 am on saturdays

The only flaw in this plan was that there are roadworks in front of the local box I am on about (see pic – if you click on the caption, it will take you to the first blog) – the one with the notice that says, “Last collection – 9 am Mon – Fri – 7 am Saturday” and I doubted anyone would be collecting from it this week,  so I took the envelope down to the very reliable post box outside the Post Office, which is emptied several times a day.  It should have got to its destination before lunchtime, especially as that’s where the van goes with all the post that’s collected – to the SORTING OFFICE!

Later in the day, I got the email from Customers Services,  and,  because I felt I’d kept everyone informed, I didn’t worry about publishing it.  And despite having put some considerable time into this innocent query – it takes me ages to write and edit a long blog – I fully intended not to bother wasting any more time on it.  It is, on the face of it,  a very small concern.

And I certainly wasn’t going to contact The Escalated Complaints Resolution Team (what a name!), and play their game for months on end.  I was never after compensation, I just wanted to know whether, if I didn’t feel like getting dressed on a lazy Saturday morning, I could put a coat over my pyjamas, and slip down to the local postbox, with the large letter envelopes, and not have to bother going to the Post Office.  Hope that made you laugh!   The Post Office, and its post box, are a drive away.  The local postbox I can sometimes manage to get to without petrol – smile.

By an odd twist of fate ….. there was a failed parcel delivery.  The postman knocked when I was in the garden.  I didn’t hear him, and, several hours later, I found the red bordered notice on the floor, saying I’d have to go down to the Sorting Office, several miles away, to collect it.  I tut-tutted, and was annoyed he hadn’t delivered it to the designated neighbour.double new postbox pm_Fotor I went down to the Sorting Office this morning, having printed off a copy of the last blog for them, to pick up my parcel.  It’ll give me a chance, I thought, to ask them what time the collections ARE!

As I pulled the form from my sodden jacket, (there was a ferocious storm last night) so that he could find the parcel, I saw that the postman had put a note on the back, that the neighbours hadn’t answered the door.  I was inordinately pleased he’d tried, whoever he is.

I used know who delivered my post, and what time it came, and over the years there had been many friendly conversations.  The sorting office used to be down the road, and I was a frequent early morning visitor!  These days, you never know who’s doing the round, or when.

When I’d got my parcel, I casually pulled out the piece of paper in my pocket and put it down on the hatch top, and asked if the had got my letter yesterday.

What letter?  I described the letter as above.  No, I haven’t seen it? I think I was talking to the manager/supervisor because he had that attitude.  Who did you address it to?  To ‘all the Staff.’ Oddly he didn’t turn round and ask the lads sorting the mail behind him if they’d received it, and I know  they’d heard me, and no one came out to say, Oh yes, THAT LETTER! So I had to explain what was in it,  and that I’d brought the last instalment of the blog with me, and he looked at me in amazement. What post box are you talking about ?– I told him, and he immediately said

“Oh the last collection is after 5 pm”

close up of notice - last collection on saturday - 7 am, weekdays - 9 am!

close up of notice – last collection on saturday – 7 am, weekdays – 9 am!

I said, (this account is not verbatim),  then why has there been a notice on it for over a month,  saying that the last collection is 9 am on weekdays.  “Oh well.”

So I told him the story, that you can read here  in the earlier posts, about touring the area and looking at the notices on the boxes, and photographing them, because I was so bemused.  And he laughed.  And said, well you could have gone to the post office.  (But I was going to Asda’s, and that’s the other way – was what I wanted to say, but didn’t – and I hadn’t read the notice properly anyway.  Just seen 7 am last collection on Saturday!)

And then I told him I had gone to the Post Office afterwards and asked what this change in time was about, and they didn’t know, and I’d phoned up the Sorting Office and he or his colleagues didn’t know, so I wrote the blog, cos I thought it was ridiculous. And he laughed.  So I said: well are they going to switch over to the new times or not?   Ah well, we haven’t been told yet. And I said: well how will I know?  Er well, its on the box. No it isn’t: (no one has put another notice up to say its “business as usual”,  was what I’d meant to say.) Er well, it will be happening, cos they want to save money, Well I know that, I said.  But they’re not going to save any money because the two boxes with the 7 am notices on them, are on the van’s route anyway, he goes from – to, and I named the boxes – and the route. (I actually said what I wanted to say this time!)

Ah well, there are rural places where it would save money.doubledx4   Yes but they won’t save on this route so why change it?    They’re cutting back and this will save salaries –  two of the four vans,  and their drivers will be going.    (That means that two men were going to lose their jobs, don’t you care, was what I wanted to say.)

I was going to ask him to explain to me about the changes, but he was laughing at me. Instead I said, well that’s obvious, and I know that, but why can’t Customer Service people tell me when its going to change?    I did say. (…….   Or if its not happening soon, why don’t they tell me, and change the notice.)  Well that’s what I meant to say, but by this time the guy was looking at me as if I was an alien.)  He just stood there watching me without bothering to ……..

answer

apologise

say he’d phone up head office and find out

take my number and let me know

he just laughed at me……. My image of this encounter had been a cosy chat commiserating about the idiotic changes and asking them all to “Like” the blog, and pass it around so that it looked like there was loads of support for my little campaign.  

(which is not really about the postbox, I hope you’ve realised that by now!)

  Nor did he seem that bothered about the cuts.  His job was obviously safe.  So I ended up repeating several times “then why don’t head office tell me” and pushed the piece of printed paper towards him and said READ IT – JUST READ IT and walked out! It took me quite a while, and a walk round Tesco’s buying extra print cartridges for my printer, to calm down. But it still begs the question – why did an unusually addressed envelope, with no stamp, not arrive in the hands of the staff that were sorting it, and if it was addressed to them, why did no one open it, talk about it, and pass the information around?

Or is my title true, and Royal Mail can’t even deliver letters to themselves???

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Postscript:  

Later today,  I got another of the red bordered notices, and unlike last time, I actually looked at it. I couldn’t face going back to the sorting office, so I thought I’d phone and ask for it to be put on the van for Monday.  I phoned the number on the card and found it was an automated message –  a long introduction and: press 1 for….: press 2  for ……etc What amazed me was that it told me that I had to wait 48 hours before I could collect a parcel from the Sorting Office, and could only book a redelivery thro the website.  “Or you can have your item taken to a local Post Office branch for a small fee for you to pick up using our Local Collect service”.

if you look hard you can just about read this and decipher the 48 hrs inserted in the 1st paragraph, and the instructions I mentioned opposit.

if you look hard you can just about read this and decipher the 48 hrs inserted in the 1st paragraph, and the instructions I mentioned above.

I don’t belieeeve it – as Victor Meldrew used to say!

I wasn’t going to stand for this, so I tried looking up sorting office phone number in the directory: I couldn’t find it.  It was just after noon, and they closed at 1 pm – the parcel wouldn’t be available, but if I could phone, AND I could by-pass the arrangements above.

Then I remembered that the guy at the Post Office had written their number on a scrap of paper for me, when he had advised me to call them on 6 December – I thought I’d thrown it away, but after rummaging through some paperwork – I found it!

And I rang, and I’m sure it was the same man I’d spoken to earlier, but he wouldn’t acknowledge it.  He did, however, take my name & address and promise it would go out on Monday – hope I don’t miss it this time!

Royal Mail has finally replied to my query about collection times ……..

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If you have been reading my blog recently, you may have noticed that I have been “having a go” at the Royal Mail!

close up of notice - last collection on saturday - 7 am, weekdays - 9 am!

close up of notice – last collection on saturday – 7 am, weekdays – 9 am!

It all started with a small normal, everyday incident – I went to post some letters in my nearest post box, at 8am on Saturday 6 December, expecting them to be collected at noon, as usual.  First Class letters would then have reached my customers by Monday morning – probably (smile).

Before you stop reading this, thinking its a yawn, there was a point to my making a fuss.  I feared that local post boxes, with low volume use, would be withdrawn, after a “reasonable period”, by which time, no one would be using them because of the change in the collection policy.

The sorting office told me that the postmen & postwomen were losing hours and thus pay, because of the changes to collections, and delivery rounds ….. AND,  in the UK, people have always supported the Royal Mail, because until recently it was publicly owned.  It is now part-privatised, ie the government, and therefore you & me, still own some of the shares, which many of us will say, were sold too cheaply in the rush to Privatise.

Needless to say, it was a Conservative Policy, and they rushed it because they were afraid that the next government, should it be Labour, would not allow Privatisation.  Who knows, these days, what kind of government we will get in May 2015 ?

The result is unsatisfactory to both parties.  The government is still being asked to subsidise the service, whilst severe cuts are being made to it, and in my opinion, the promised investment in the service is NOT taking place.  It also seems to me, that by bringing in a total newcomer to the Royal Mail to run it, something called “experience” has been lost.  I’ve no knowledge of what its like working in Head Office, or on the “front line”, but I am assuming there is resentment on both sides within the service.

The new management have been tinkering with the postal rates, which are of course going up, but in particular the parcel rates have become a mess!

If, by any chance, you agree with me, could you please click the “LIKE’ button at the end of this blog, because, you will see below, that I have told them that I will be publishing their reply, and I am hoping they will actually see this blog!  It doesn’t matter whether you live in the UK or not, “LIKES” are relevant to the Royal Mail, because they have a reputation abroad too.  I will also be sending links to my MP and others.

post box outside the post office - says 12 noon

post box outside the post office – says 12 noon

This is a list of the blogs that particularly relate to this issue, in date order, just so you know what I’m talking about, you don’t need to read all of them, but I do recommend the first 2 if you want a laugh!

DOES ANYONE KNOW WHAT ROYAL MAIL IS DOING? It seems that I missed the 7am collection from my local post box – or did I?

ROYAL MAIL AND THE DISAPPEARING POST BOX – the saga continues …….

ROYAL MAIL – they REALLY don’t know what they are doing ……see previous 2 posts to make sense of this one!
WHY ROYAL MAIL IS LOSING OUT TO THE COMPETITION …..(£2.78 versus £11.99)

I didn’t get a reply to the query I emailed to the Royal Mail’s Customer Service on 6 December until the 7th of January, and just for the record, I hadn’t actually got it when I added the postscript to blog No 2 above.

I thought, that since I have been moaning about them, I should also put up their reply on this blog, together with my reply to them.  For the sake of easy reading I have put their reply first and mine follows, thus when I say “document below” it is now “document above”.  I have, again, “redacted” any personal information or names of customer service representatives.

Dear Ms B…….THEIR REPLY….double new postbox pm_Fotor

Thank you for contacting us about the changes we have announced in relation to our post-box network.

We are reaffirming our commitment to maintain our provision of post-boxes under the universal service. We are improving the level of public access to post-boxes in areas of under-provision, by adding around 2,000 boxes to the 115,000 we currently have. The new boxes will be targeted at rural areas, in particular in Scotland and Northern Ireland, as well as areas of new development not currently served by a post-box. Some will be added in high footfall areas such as railway stations and shopping centres.

In addition to this, low-volume post-boxes will move to ‘collection on delivery’ with the postman or woman emptying the box on their round, rather than providing a dedicated collection by van. Please be assured however that no post-boxes will be removed from service as a result of this initiative.

With regards to your specific query about the collection times of your local post-box being changed, I would like to explain that there has been a significant fall in the number of items posted in post-boxes, leaving many now not covering their costs. Rather than decommission uneconomic ones, we’re improving the cost effectiveness of collections. Emptying these low-use boxes on delivery enables us to be much more efficient going forward.

To elaborate, this means the post-box will be cleared earlier in the day. Please be assured that there will be no change to the ultimate delivery of the items you post because they will go through our system in exactly the same way. There should also be a later collection from another nearby post-box, typically in the late afternoon.

We have communicated our plans to Ofcom, Citizen’s Advice, Citizen’s Advice Scotland and Consumer Council Northern Ireland. Research shows that postal users are positive about the idea of moving collections, particularly from low-use boxes, to link with delivery. 91% of users did not choose their box based on collection time. Users understand this approach is more efficient and fitted with their desire for a more efficient postal service.

A notice is placed on every affected post-box four weeks ahead of the change to collection times. There will also be clear sign-posting for customers on the relevant post-boxes as to where their nearest late posting box is. I am sorry if this was still not in place at the time you were at the Post Box.

I hope you have found this information useful and that this explanation resolves your enquiry and concludes this matter for you. If there is anything else we can help you with though, please let us know.

Regards

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MY REPLY to their reply …..

Dear …..

Thank you for your reply, please note the following points:
1    This is a standard reply, that must have been formatted some time ago, why did you not send it to me at the beginning of December,  when it would have made a lot more sense to me and saved me the bother of having to investigate this myself.
2    Whilst I happen to have noticed the new collection times on the local post box on 6 December, I have no idea how long it had been  there.  During the next few days, I mentioned it to several of my neighbours, and no one else had noticed the new notice.  In fact  I happened to be in the pet shop, which is just beside another of the postboxes with the new collection times, two weeks later, when people were posting their Christmas cards, and none of them even checked, or looked, at the notice area.
3     Can I suggest that you put some short term stickers on the boxes affected, so people ARE aware of the changes.
4     It made a big difference to me that morning, because, as I told you earlier, I toured the area trying to find a postbox that would be emptied later, but as some said 12 noon and some said 7 am, it seemed that I couldn’t trust any of them.  So I ended up going into Asda, and posting my letters there, because to box said 9.30 am and the customer service desk told me that it was probably accurate! (I FORGOT TO ADD THAT, AT THE TIME,  I’D ONLY REALLY NOTICED THE 7 AM BIT ON THE NOTICE AND NOT SEEN THE INFORMATION ABOUT THE POST OFFICE BOX)
5     I also took photographs of all of the local boxes, and posted a blog about this, because there seemed no rhyme or reason to the  different times for collections, and it was only when I finally managed to visit the sorting office in P…….., again about 2  weeks later that I found out the reason.  For all that time, I avoided posting anything in my local post box, because I couldn’t  trust that anything would be collected, and if it was, I had no idea when it would be delivered.
6     Having not used that post box, which I assume you finally found in your records, I then found out that the changes were NOT coming  into effect immediately,  The assumption was that they would start this month.  Have they started yet?
7      Please be aware that I have now posted several posts on my blog – julzcrafts.wordpress.com – and they have been seen worldwide by  many people, especially as I have been doing a blogging course this week, and that has increased to followers of this blog a great deal.  I have also written to my MP about this, because I disagree with your policies – however reasonable your PR department has  made them seem in the document below.
8     I will, of course, be posting the document below, and this reply, on the blog in the next day or so, to keep my readers informed.
9      However, I only took these actions because I didn’t know the answers, and actually, still don’t, to my questions, and was very irritated  by the responses I got from you, and the delay in getting back to me.  I do understand that xmas and new year have contributed  to the delay, but a reasonable answer could certainly have been given to me when I first got in touch with you.
10    I have had some real inconvenience because of the way you have handled the change, and I would expect something more than a weak  apology.
Yours etc ….

PLEASE CLICK THE “LIKE” BUTTON NOW!……AND leave a comment.

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ROYAL MAIL – they REALLY don’t know what they are doing ……see previous 2 posts to make sense of this one!

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I finally got around to popping into the area Sorting Office, because I also went to the Library yesterday.  (Our local library closed earlier this year – another of the cuts forced on us unwillingly)

After my phone call to the office on 6 December, I had meant to phone back for more information, but I got busy that week, and didn’t have a great deal of faith that I’d get any answers.  I also hoped that I’d catch my local postie and ask what was happening – AND that Royal Mail “customers services” would reply with more than repeated requests for the post box number – no update on that conversation is yet available!

So I was in the area, and felt I really should make the effort.  Glad I did.  The guy on duty told me why they didn’t know anything about the change in the collection times, because ……

THEY HADN’T BEEN TOLD!

Nor had they been the ones that changed the notices on the post boxes, he only found out about it when he was on his rounds,  and met the guy from Merthyr Tydfil who was touring the post boxes on the instructions of Head Office.  (I forgot to ask him how many boxes in what areas were involved – but he was busy and people were coming in to collect parcels.)

EVEN MORE INTERESTING …..

was the fact that having put up the notices, apparently Head Office changed their minds and realised that Christmas was on the way, and that any disruption to collections might affect the public – so in fact, normal collections are continuing.

Which explains why, when I was in the pet shop the other day, watching people blithely posting their letters without a glance at the 7am last collection notice, the guy who runs the shop told me that in fact he’d seen collections at all times of the day, including the old 5pm van collection.  (See the picture in the 6 December blog of the notice on this box)

UNFORTUNATELY FOR ME …..

I believed what I saw on my local box, and if I’d known that I DIDN’T NEED TO  believe what the notice said,  I would have posted my letters there, with the stamps on, got my paper and gone home.  Until yesterday, I still believed what the notices said, so have avoided posting anything in my local box, and told many of my neighbours not to post anything there either, as their letters would be delayed.

HOWEVER – BEGINNING IN JANUARY  THESE CHANGES WILL APPLY……

And no doubt unless someone from Head Office reads this blog, no one will either apologise for putting up the notices early, or think that maybe it would be a good idea to put a sticker on the boxes affected to alert people to the changes.

The reason the changes are being made is – wait for it – you really couldn’t guess, could you –

TO SAVE MONEY…..

Apparently they are cutting the hours and the less hours –  the less pay ……so the idea is that Post Boxes with low volumes are to be collected by the local postie during their delivery round, and so the last collection times from those boxes will be early in the morning.

Post Boxes with larger volumes will still be collected later in the day by the usual van,  which will actually pass by these low volume boxes on their round, but miss them out!  A great saving of time and petrol eh!

And what do you bet, that by the time this scheme has been running for a while, almost no one will post any letters in the low volume post boxes, so Royal Mail will have a perfect excuse …….

for getting rid of hundreds of Post Boxes!

If any ROYAL MAIL SHAREHOLDERS are reading this, this is the kind of privatisation you invested in – do you agree with it?  Are you happy to take your dividends and watch our beloved national service be decimated by an ineffective private management, who goes whinging to the government that they can’t cope with competition,  and will need more money to keep the service going, whilst making sneaky cuts, and not telling anyone about them?