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Is Royal Mail’s parcel pick-up service a good idea?

As the pandemic sees online shopping surge, Royal Mail is rolling out its own parcel pick-up service on Wednesday. Will you be making use of it?

Royal Mail has decided to move to collecting parcels with its new Parcel Collect service. You’ll be able to use it Monday to Saturday at charge of 72p, plus any extra postage costs.

It says it’s one of the biggest changes to its daily delivery service since the postbox launched in 1852 – but will it be successful?

Nick Landon, Royal Mail’s Chief Commercial Officer, said:

“Royal Mail Parcel Collect is a fantastic step forward for all of our customers. It makes it easier to use our services than ever before.

Whether you’re up against time and working from home, making a return, selling online or sending a gift to make someone’s day, Royal Mail Parcel Collect is here to help.

The launch of Parcel Collect is part of our commitment to continuously make our services better and more convenient”

Royal Mail is clearly keen to push the benefits, and the feedback we’ve had so far generally looks positive, but there have been a few concerns raised that could impact on the service running smoothly.

What are your thoughts on the Royal Mail's new parcel pick-up service? Will you be trying it out?

Posted by Which? on Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Royal Mail Parcel Collect: your views

Our own Adam Gillett doesn’t want to see those who don’t own a printer excluded from the service:

While we’ve seen a number of others raising concerns over the impact on the posties themselves, From current workload to physically carrying the parcels away from your door (Royal Mail says it can collect up to five parcels per address), will they be able to cope?

On the other hand, there are plenty of upsides. We’ve been told that the service will eliminate the need to drive to a post office, saving time and money, while others have pointed to benefits for older customers; not having to carry heavy parcels or travel to post offices.

John’s mention of safety and security is a good one. As always, we’ll be keeping an eye out for any reports of criminals impersonating the service or trying to take advantage.

What are your thoughts on the new service? Will you be making use of it? Or do you share some of the concerns that have been raised by others?

Let us know what you think in the comments.

Will you be using the Royal Mail's Parcel Collect service?
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Comments
Sheila I says:
29 October 2020

Seems to me another added burden for our already stretched posties. Also, how does it impact on our local sub Post Offices? They are already under threat, yet have been a lifeline during these recent times!

Sheila – Delivering hundreds of letters, bundles and packets and picking up a few items in exchange is unlikely to be much of a burden. Each collection is another postie’s delivery .

That’s all very well – but posties and Royal Mail actually have less work these days because we use email rather than send letters and postcards. So using more postal services will help keep their jobs.

Mark says:
30 October 2020

This would be true if there was a limit to how many posties can be employed.

I have to wonder if the old nationalised industry mentality is still affecting the staff of the Royal Mail – now a private company. Shades of “This would be a great job if people didn’t expect us to collect and deliver their letters”. I suppose that’s OK now because there are plenty of other firms willing and able to do it.

If younger employees are leaving RM shortly after joining because of the workload and distances to walk, as has been claimed earlier here, that is more a commentary on the attitudes and work ethic of a younger generation than on the productivity demands of the service. Many of us still see it as a good job for life with excellent conditions of service compared to the terms with alternative employers in a similar line of business. Maybe things have moved on a bit since Alan Johnson’s memoirs, Please, Mister Postman, but his recollections confirm that.

My (rural) postman has always taken any correctly-stamped mail I give him. Why should I now have to pay for this?

JamesBryant: you were lucky to have a postman who would do you a personal favour! (And if you’re rural, 70p is probably cheaper than you driving to a post box [for a letter] let alone a post office [for a parcel] )

Bill says:
29 October 2020

Does that mean that they will actually wait for the door to be answered ? Parcelforce certainly dont ….they normally play chap the door and run away !

A Post…person is for delivering letters and very small packets and that’s it , should not even be the leaflets and junk mail they have to shove through your door, for most of it to go in the bin !
Parcels are for Parcelforce to deal with. How on earth can a Postie wonder about their round with umpteen Parcels on the trolley thingy !?

That is one of my concerns. Our postman invariably has a two-wheeled trolley and that works fine for daily deliveries. What will happen if he is handed large packages such as online shopping returns? If I see him I will ask.

I presume that Royal Mail are paid to deliver the junk that arrives with the post.

Yes, the benefit to the advertisers is that delivery is much more reliable than with the casual door-to-door deliverers. For the Royal Mail it is an additional income stream.

It is possible to opt out of the junk mail deliveries as we did at our previous address, but the Royal Mail does not exactly encourage it and issues dire warnings that you might miss essential public service information from your local council, etc, etc. In five years of living where we are now there has not been a single piece of public service information as anything important is enveloped and addressed for a paid-for specific delivery.

Michael Caudwell says:
29 October 2020

Is there a standard postage charge regardless of size, weight, distance and urgency ? Also, what about custom declarations for abroad, especially post Brexit ?

The proper postage is payable on the item according to its size, weight, destination and class, plus a standard 72p surcharge for collection. I presume the postman or postwoman will not check these points and the recipient would have to make up any shortfall on delivery. Any relevant customs declarations would have to be attached to the parcel.

It’s about time this service was added. America has been collecting letters and small parcels from personal letter boxes for years.

JohnC says:
30 October 2020

Interested how some people feel the need to comment but do not understand the difference between Royal Mail, the Post Office and Parcel Force. Without this basic understanding, their comments are often confused and do not make sense.

I don’t think the contributors should be criticised for that, John. The system itself is confusing with the Post Office being a government-owned company, Royal Mail Group being an independent public limited company, and Parcelforce Worldwide being a subsidiary of Royal Mail Group. There are also a number of linkages between the three organisations.

A lot of people don’t know the technical details of the differences between similar or related organisations; for most everyday purposes, including posting here, the differences do not matter very much.

This service is only available for those with access to a printer and presumably all the different postal rates across weight and size, first and second etc., How will that benefit elderly people?

Bill – It will help more elderly people, many of whom do have printers or relatives or friends who can help, than the present lack of a convenient parcel collection service.

People feel more comfortable using a service provided by the Royal Mail than by one of the other carriers so I think Parcel Collect will, overall, have a positive outcome.

It never ceases to amaze me how practical and capable those categorised as “elderly” actually are. I don’t know where we’d be without them sometimes.

Why do we assume that when anyone passes the age of 70 (if that is what “elderly” means) they have lost all ability to do normal tasks?

I wonder how many elderly people put on fancy dress and paraded in Nottingham to celebrate the end of freedom to go to pubs, now they are entering more restrictions? I would expect that elderly people would have the sense to see the stupidity of that sort of action by people who appear quite uncaring about their own actions and passing the virus around – more likely to decimate the sensible elderly than anyone else.

My definition of the elderly is that they are people older than me. Being in my eighties, I find the the number of elderly people is, unfortunately, decreasing.

Not so many to remember, though, AnthonyP. 🙁 I wonder how many people do not feel “elderly”. What age do they actually feel – where did they stop aging? I think I’m around 30.

I never understood why some people are reluctant to reveal their age. A few years ago I asked all the new trustees of a small charity to let me have their date of birth to pass on to the Charity Commission. One was very reluctant to reveal the fact that he was 78 and made me promise not to tell the other trustees. I’m 69 and hope I make it into my 80s.

Going back to Bill’s comment about the need to print labels…. Bill obviously has a computer, so the obvious solution would be to buy a printer, which could have many uses. Inexpensive models are available. Neighbours might help by printing a label if asked. If there is a sufficient demand from those without printers or even computers, perhaps Royal Mail could deliver a return label by post.

Mentally, I still think I am in my 30s. My knees, though, tell a quite different story. It’s just as well that there are fewer to remember since my ability to remember them is limited!

I also seem to have forgotten to check the status of the Caps Lock key, perhaps I am getting old.

@gmartin, George, I have another comment posted here on 30/10 labelled as “awaiting moderation”. I can see no reason why it should be; perhaps you would email me if I have inadvertently transgressed. The comment was not a serious contribution to this Convo but a diversion so, if you didn’t find it appropriate, deleting it would be no loss. It is probably past any relevance anyway.

@gmartin, still in moderation, George. Is it a gliche?

I had to take a pre-paid parcel to a Royal Mail collection office recently. Because “of the pandemic” they are currently open only up to 10:00am Mon-Fri, and they are not very widely available anyway. So this service would have saved me a lot of hassle. I use the similar service from Hermes and it works fine!

Hermes already does this and at very competitive prices. £2.79 for a 2 kg parcel collected – 3 day delivery.
Royal Mail has to compete especially where they have an advantage of an already established robust network. Imagine all the car journeys saved going to the post office just to drop a parcel. If they can’t cope, they can hire more posties, which means more jobs.

I’m sorry i meant 1KG parcel. 2KG is £4.20 collected.

Patrick McCormick says:
30 October 2020

All this about overburdened posties is misguided. This idea should provide more business for the post office and work for its employees. The volume of ordinary mail is going down due to electronic communication. Any way that can provide more business is worth pursuing. I live in France and we have had this service for sometime and it is very successful in my experience.

Christopher Bowles says:
30 October 2020

I’ve used the service twice now, and once you have got used to the weighing, measuring and online process (which depends on whether your item is prepaid or not) it works fine. The postman tells me he is limited to eight collection items per day and after that a postie from a neighbouring round will help out. I will still use my local post office but as it’s a good distance away this is a valuable service for in between trips out.

The mail delivery service is under-resourced and chaotic enough in my area, without adding to the burden on posties who already look harrassed enough. I’d like to see Royal Mail fix their poor parcel and mail delivery service first before thinking about pick-ups.

DaisyMay says:
30 October 2020

Our Postman, John, comes to our village in a van and to our road, in the afternoon, so I shall ask him what he thinks and depending on what he says, I may try it.

FlyOnTheWall says:
30 October 2020

This is a great idea in theory, but unfortunately this has been poorly thought out by Royal Mail. Posties are being told that they will be expected to collect up to five items from up to 5 addresses (so in theory up to 25 items per day). However, no communication has been provided in the event that more than 5 customers require collections on a single round in one day, what happens then? Also, no extra time allowance has been given so posties are expected to collect all items as part of their normal duty time, when in reality they don’t have time to finish their current duties as it is – bearing in mind that they are already expected to collect post from the smaller postboxes in the area of delivery. Also, no thought has been given as to where these items will be stored in the van – in most offices posties are already expected to fit two rounds’ worth of post, parcels, and packets into the vans, meaning at Christmas they have to return to the office to collect the stuff they couldn’t fit in initially – and now they have to find more space in the van in which to leave the new collection items.

Yes, I agree that there have been a decline in letters over the years, but not in postcards or christmas/birthday cards, and where there is a decline in letters there is a massive jump in parcels and packets – including parcels from other delivery companies that they don’t want to deliver – we’re talking Parcelforce, DHL, Hermes, Yodel, UPS, DPD etc.

As with any new changes Royal Mail want to implement, it all comes from a profit-making place (which is not a problem in principle) but that is where the thought process ends for them. They make no effort to work with their frontline staff to come to a solution that will work. They come up with ideas, roll them out whilst ignoring the warnings the posties provide about the challenges that these new ideas will present, and then wonder why people are going off sick or are not able to cope with the workload. And when it gets really bad (we’re talking Covid-lockdown bad) they say to leave the post as long as the parcels are done (even though their motto is “every letter every day”) meaning that some people were going days between letter deliveries.

In conclusion, this is a great idea, and a great money-making scheme for Royal Mail, but they definitely need to include the frontline workers in plans to move the company forward to save them wasting so much money, and to enable the posties to complete the job they set out to do.

I have used this service and think it is a real winner. I am avoiding shops – and post offices – during Covid 19 and this is a great way to be able to post parcels. I think the cost is reasonable too – for the added convenience.

Dear Which?
When asking the question at the top of this article, would it be possible to simply ask us to vote yes or no? Do we have to express the view ‘How will they cope’ if we vote no? I really don’t need words putting into my mouth. It is juvenile and condescending and frankly dumbed-down journalism. What is wrong with just voting yes or no. How dare you presume my reason for voting no (or indeed yes).
Kind regards – Mark

Hi @markbuckley,

thanks for your feedback. It’s a fair point, so we’ve amended the options in this case.

I used this service. It worked fine and my parcel was collected by a parcel postman in a van, not collected by the postlady who delivers my letters. Advantages: I avoided the long queues caused by covid in my local post office; I did not have to carry a quite heavy parcel further than my front door. Disadvantages: very small extra charge (which I thought was worth paying).

Have already used the service – excellent. My parcel was picked up from my house Thursday lunch time and my granddaughter received it Friday morning.

Great service. The website is a bit confusing. Seems to imply that you must pay the postage and then go and then set up the collection. Having paid the postage I could not find the code to then book collection. I would recommend that on the email receipt that it explains you can then using the link to the payment confirmation access the collection process and label printing etc.

Our postman was excellent and collected the items even though I had not booked a collection.
I will be using the system regularly.