Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Rubbish Mail

So I've been having a pretty frustrating time with the Post Office lately. The whole system for getting parcels delivered seems pretty inflexible given that most people are going to be out of their homes during working hours. Every time I order something online, I put in my address in the almost certain knowledge that someone will try to deliver the parcel when I'm not there, and that seems crazy. Every time I order something, I know I'm going to have to get up early and go to the depot before work. And so will everyone else, so there will be ten people there before the depot is even open.

So everyone who works standard hours ends up standing in a queue in the freezing cold for an hour to get their parcels. That's not delivery, that's collection, and given how big of an issue it must be, it seems very strange that there is no alternative.

For some people, getting the delivery at their work is an option, but for others it is not. My workplace doesn't have a post room, and large volumes of employee mail can be frustrating for the administrative staff to deal with, so we are asked to avoid doing it if possible. This leaves me with no option but to pay for Saturday delivery (and many sites don't even have that option) if I want to ensure I'm at home when a package arrives, and that seems like an unacceptable solution for something that must be a common problem.

I'd love to see some way of registering with Royal mail that I am out during the day. If enough people signed up (and surely there are enough people to make it worthwhile doing), alternative deliveries could be made to those addresses in the evenings or early mornings, at a time better suited for all.

If someone still wasn't home, then the parcel could be returned to the depot for collection or redelivery as standard. Even at the depot, though, things seem archaic. There is no computer system in place, and no package tracking, in any Royal Mail depot I've been to - the parcels are piled in a back room ordered (as far as I can tell) by postcode and size, and then when someone requests their package, the attendant has to search (occasionally unsuccessfully) to find it. Even if a fully computerised system is not possible, at the very least, there should be a better way of tracking down a particular package than sifting through stacks of them in a room. Some sort of unique code on each card that could be copied onto the parcel, allowing it to be filed in an exact location in the storage area, for example. Anything to avoid turning up and being told "Sorry, mate, I don't know where your parcel is - try again later in the week". That's not the way to run a public service, or at least not one that is concerned with customer satisfaction.

Striking postmen may be a major issue in the news at the moment, but in terms of getting hold of parcels, I'm not sure my experience will change that much if they do stop working.

Anyway, if I really want to get my post delivered at a particular time, I can always pay 3 grand a year for the privilege.

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