/ Shopping

Stop sending me ‘Sorry, you were out’ cards!

Knowing that a little brown Amazon box is waiting for you when you get home is one of modern-day life’s little pleasures. But what about when you expectantly open the door only to find a little red card of disappointment?

My latest ‘Sorry, you were out’ card was left on my doorstep because the two standard-sized road maps I had ordered were ‘too big’ for my letterbox. Using Rhod Gilbert’s anger scale of 0 being somewhat angry to 10 being as angry as Tom Cruise at Alton Towers, I was at about a 4.

Not receiving two road maps when I had expected to was not the end of the world. But the effort to get them in my possession was, well, still not the end of the world, but an inconvenience nonetheless. In fact, the insignificance of these maps only magnified the annoyance.

A Saturday morning stroll

So my relaxed Saturday morning in the sun turned into a Saturday morning trek to an industrial estate on the other side of town and a twenty minute queue with other disgruntled customers waiting for their non-letterbox-sized parcels. Tom Cruise at Alton Towers scale 6.

I now felt a bit of resentment towards these two innocent road maps, but at least they were in my possession.

Having trudged back, I approached my door and sized up the letterbox deemed too small to fit two road maps. I wonder… yes, the parcel easily fits through my letterbox. Call me Tom Cruise.

Do parcels leave the delivery office?

We’ve had a Conversation about ‘Sorry, you were out’ cards before and there are clearly some contradicting opinions as to whether it’s the parcels or just the red cards that actually leave the delivery office. Russell thinks it depends on the size of the package:

‘If the postman has a number of items which won’t go through the letterbox and he knows there is usually nobody home, he may well leave them behind and just deliver a ‘Sorry, you were out’ card. The recipient then knows the item is available and can collect it or agree a time when there will be somebody available to take delivery.’

Our survey in 2010 found that a third had received a ‘you were out’ card through their letterbox from Royal Mail or Parcelforce when they were actually in. And it was recently reported that Royal Mail had received 32,000 complaints in 2011 about the same issue.

Previously I had assumed that I had only ever received a red card after the postman had attempted to deliver my parcel, rang the bell and got no answer. But now I’m not so sure.

So, are you suspicious that sometimes only ‘Sorry, you were out’ cards leave Royal Mail’s delivery office? Have you had a similar experience or gone to inconvenient lengths to collect a parcel that could have easily been delivered?

Disgruntled says:
15 February 2013

My personal experience with Royal Mail is not great, i live in an apartment block of around 250 other residents, in an area with lots of other apartment blocks in manchester. I have only had a package delivered to me by personal courier. I have even let in the royal mail postman into the foyer as i was leaving to see him with a handful of red cards to deliver through peoples letter boxes. I had a cheeky look in the back of his van and lo and behold it was empty. Tom Cruise level 10.
I ask at the delivery office every time i go in whether this is normal and manchester royal mail just do not deliver into apartment blocks but they deny it and insist i must be out when they ring the bell. I do now how this works as they are only given a certain amount of time to deliver in a certain area and as my area is small but relatively has a huge amount of residents instead of getting behind on deliveries they just decide that anyone in my area has to go pick it up from the post office. As a hardcore amazon user (who admittedly could sometimes have bought things more locally at a more expensive price) i might as well just be walking into town to get them.

Vikram says:
21 February 2013

Just complained to royal mail about the same problem. Posties in my area seem to be getting really lazy. They dont bothre buzzing and just leave a card behind. In few cases, they have left the card behind even when the packet fit the mail box easily. Lazy ppl!

Michelle says:
5 March 2013

I have actually had this exact problem today, I have been in all day awaiting a parcel and come 1 o clock still no delivery, which in itself was annoying enough. However as I walk to the kitchen at 2pm I notice the offending red card, I have been in all day waiting for this parcel and the postman hasn’t even rang the bell or knocked the door. Still at least my normal postman is better than the one I had previously who used to leave parcels that should have been signed for in my food recycling bin which was full of food! £200 worth of items one day which I thought was just ridiculous and made a formal complaint, which of course nothing came of. Guess I’d best go get my parcel >.<

Simon W Walker says:
29 March 2013

I have had the card through my door trick done to me time and time again. The postman does not knock on the door just sticks a card through the door which I can hear them do , I then catch up with them up the street and ask why they say they knocked but obviously if I can hear the card coming through the letter box I could hear them knock. This is so ridiculous now its virtually every time I receive an item that needs signing for and sending anything with them via any of their signed for (totally overpriced) services is also totally unreliable. Its time the Royal Mail was either abolished (and a reliable replacement company given the tender to do the work) or totally shaken up. Most of their services are nothing short of misleading sales pitch. Over 5,000,000 lost items a year great company clearly not.

Simon W Walker says:
29 March 2013

To add to that I just sent them an email asking the Royal Mail if it was actually really run by the Chuckle Brothers 🙂 and told them I demanded the service I had paid for and a 100% reliable one. Fair enough a mistake is a mistake and everyone makes them now and again but not every time its a signed for item it clearly is not a mistake its deliberate .

Simon W Walker says:
29 March 2013

Best solution to deal with idiotic companies like the Royal Mail is for lots of people to start pursueing them with a small claim. When it starts to cost them money they will soon buck their ideas up If you wait around allday to get an item that should be delivered that day and you have paid for it then its fair enough to claim for your time whatever that may be (£100 – £150 a day minimum) they have wasted plus any additional costs you incur such as travelling to get the parcel and so fourth as they are clearly in breach of contract and have obtained money as a company by deception. As I said we all make mistakes but given the amount of exactly the same tactics used by the Royal Mail on this thread alone it can hardly be a simple mistake.

I completely agree in principle, but in practice it is not so easy. You would have to be able to prove that the postman didn’t ring the bell or knock at the door and, of course, their response would be that they did.
I believe the only way to achieve this is for Which? or a TV consumer protection programme to set up video cameras and collect indisputable evidence that way. Unfortunately, that is unlikely to happen as it would be expensive and time consuming.
I am sure that Royal Mail are not in the slightest bit interested in dealing with complaints about their poor service. The normal response, in my experience, is to send you a book of stamps. The sooner they go out of business, the better as far as I’m concerned.

Resident says:
14 June 2014

There are times when you don’t receive a red card at all and if your item isn’t tracked, it goes missing altogether. I found out that I had an item waiting for me because my item was being tracked, and I just happened to check up on it’s progress one day.

I had to go a very long way for it as my local post office had already sent it back to the main delivery centre. They almost didn’t release it because I had no red card, (but apparently they had their copy which was ‘interesting’) even though I had photo ID. Because of what the parcel was… it made me wonder.

But they were very professional about it, they were trying to be helpful but of course they have their security procedures and everything, fair play.

Peter says:
5 July 2014

I am never in when the parcel man comes and get one of those “sorry..” cards most weeks. What puzzles me is why Royal Mail don’t offer a slimmed down delivery service for people like me who want to save the post people time and money by removing this “trying to deliver the parcel but finding person not in” step and simply have the parcel taken to the Delivery Office straight away and just have them send out a “parcel for you ducky” card and/or text. It does seem pointless for them to HAVE to try to deliver stuff when they know it ain’t gonna fit and I won’t be in.

steve says:
7 August 2014

I think you have an absolute cheek thinking that posties leave the mail behind because you are probably not in! Total and utter nonsense! If you order something that maybe too big to get through your letterbox , make suitable arrangments, maybe with a neighbour (who will be in) and leave a note on the door. You people make me laugh, you order the stuff but you are never in!!! What do you want us to do, leave it on your doorstep so it gets pinched and you can have your silly little rant again? Do you know how much hassle and time it takes to write out a docket when you are standing in the p*ssing rain waiting for somebody like you to answer the door? I think you will find every postie would rather there be somebody in when deliving so before you moan , look at the bigger picture.Oh and Tom Criuse? , no, he’s not that dumb!

Kess says:
8 August 2014

That’s no excuse to be honest. It’s a hard job but it’s what you are paid to do. Having said that and getting chatting to my old local postie, it seems that as usual Managers are expecting too much in too little time and less and less pay. However, that’s still no excuse and to state that people should make arrangements with neighbours is not only ignorant but clearly not the point and nor should it be.
I feel sorry for some posties who work very hard indeed. Many people cannot possibly get to know their local or regular stand ins so it does make it hard for both customer and worker.
I do understand the concept of more work in less time pressure but your attitude stinks frankly and if you can’t stand the heat get out of the kitchen. I did! The truth is, no matter how low your pay is, no matter the pressure at work, you cannot take it out on customers and blame them by putting on an *attitude*
Yes, customers can be total so and so’s ( I have been one myself and have served many) But you get to work, slap a smile on your face and do your job. If it means standing writing out a docket in the rain, then so be it.
I am disgusted time and time again by bad faces and attitude problems by staff. As someone who has been both front line and back office as well as a customer, I don’t care how nasty customers can be, you do NOT put that attitude on your face!
This country seems to accept *attitude* routinely. I hate to sound like an American obsessing about attitood but the truth is it’s here and it’s vile.
I have done min wage jobs and no matter what job it has been, regardless of if you are cleaning out toilets, you put a smile on your face and you do the work!

steve says:
8 August 2014

the pay is fine thanks (did i complain?) . I haven’t got an attitude either , answer the question then. What are we expected to do with oversize parcels? If you are expecting one and you are not in, we are told to leave a card. I always try the immediate neighbours first if no answer. I was explaining that writing out a card is NOT quicker than knocking the door rain OR shine! Most customers are good as gold and i have no gripes apart from brainless so and so’s who spiel their guts on here!

I think this post by ‘Steve’ explains a lot about Royal Mail’s problems. How are we supposed to know whether we’ll be in when we don’t know when the parcel is due to be delivered? And he has completely failed to address (or perhaps even understand) the problem of postmen leaving a ‘you were out’ card when the customer is in (see my post below).
Moreover, others have stated that they have experienced these cards being left, and when the postman was challenged it appears they haven’t even brought the parcels with them.
Pure laziness. These postmen should be sacked.

Mark says:
8 August 2014

Well if you’re a postie then maybe you oughta try knocking (or in the case of my place use the f*****g doorbell so it can be heard) and waiting for someone to answer the bloody door. As I’ve said before we’ve seen them come up the path and just post the slip through the door and in the last week I’ve had 2 items handed over to neighbours whilst someones been at home, which I dont bloody understand as when I’ve stood outside my own house the postie wouldn’t hand over my mail without me proving I lived there

My regular postman delivered a small package (along with the usual junk mail) at 1045 this morning, and informed me that ‘his mate’ would be along with a Special Delivery Guaranteed package in around half-an-hour, and would I be in? I assured him I would be here.

At 1105 I heard a faint noise at the front door and went to investigate. There was a red card protruding from my letterbox informing me that a package couldn’t be delivered because it needed to be signed for. The doorball had not rung (as it had twenty minutes earlier), nor was there any knock on the door. I could see the lazy b*****r scurrying back to his van, but was unable to attract his attention.

There was no number on the card. Presumably the postman was too lazy to write that down as well.

I have complained, of course, as this was not the first time it has happened, but I have a feeling that nothing will be done.

Lesson to be learnt: when ordering items online, always go with a company that uses couriers if possible. Little wonder that they are taking over the parcels sector, leaving the RM with the less-profitable letters.

John says:
18 April 2015

This grey practice happens to me on a sunny Saturday when the postman wants to finish early and get away home, it happened last week and again today. My wife had just gone out and saw the postman park his van round the corner. The additional stress is that I cannot collect my parcel until Monday as the sorting office always say the parcel is not back at the depot yet, it closes at 11am on a Saturday, so I am stuffed. I phoned and complained to royal Mail who said they could rearrange delivery for Tuesday. This has happened before and when I collected the parcel lots of people in the queue also said they were at home and did not hear the door bell. Royal Mail are normally superb but this Saturday morning routine gets me down.

MR CLEGG says:
7 June 2019

This happened to me I heard the letterbox go and my post land on the floor I went down to see the red “sorry you were out” card lying there, so I was straight through the front door and caught up with the postman. I told him I was indeed in and could I have my parcel to which he replied well it’s a bit embarrassing really as I don’t have your parcel it’s still at the depot and you will have to pick it up tomorrow. In disbelief
I asked why on earth have you put a red “sorry you were out” card when actually knowing you hadn’t even got my parcel in your possession? His reply was it’s standard practice as we know alot of people are out at work during the day so it’s a waste of time carrying parcels we can’t deliver. How presumptuous can you get. Wow our wonderful Royal Mail. NOT.

Just happened to me today, I checked the night before that the parcel was due for delivery before 11am, so I waited in (much to the chagrin of my dog eagerly awaiting the now delayed walkies) i happened to look out of the window and saw my usual postie and his van just outside my door. An hour later the doorbell still hadn’t rung, so I went down to the main door of my building to find a ‘red card of sadness’. Having read online that there is a pattern of this behavior and I’ve experienced it many times before, i went to the depot a few hours later and the package was not there ‘yet’. I don’t want to punish my usual postie by complaining if it’s a case of institutionalized bad practice and over working staff and demanding too much of them, but how else to I make my voice heard as this is a regular occurence at numerous addresses.