/ Money, Travel & Leisure

Royal Mail’s £15m Christmas spend – will post arrive on time?

Santa dropping lots of post

We know there’s widespread dissatisfaction with our postal service. So is the news that Royal Mail’s investing £15 million in improving festive deliveries making you feel like all your Christmases have come at once?

Just a few days ago we asked whether you’ve started your Christmas shopping yet. While this may have seemed premature, it won’t be long before we’re grappling with packages and those dreaded ‘last posting dates before Christmas’.

So, did the announcement that Royal Mail will inject an additional £15 million into its Christmas operations give you a warm, festive glow?

Make way for a nationwide packet network

If you haven’t heard the news, here’s the deal. Royal Mail is opening a dedicated nationwide packet network. This will include ‘packet hubs’ in nine areas, including Glasgow, Edinburgh, Swansea, Bristol, Manchester and Watford, to help sort packages before they’re delivered to your door.

Not only that, but an additional 73,000 containers and one million trays will be purchased to help transport our post.

Is Royal Mail living up to your expectations?

Having published many a Conversation about Royal Mail in the past, we know that lots of you are dissatisfied with the service you’re receiving and feel that prices are going up while standards go down. Tosca’s comments summed up the feeling well:

‘A 5p increase is steep if you take into account that the service is getting worse every year. We now have one delivery a day, which can arrive anytime between 11am and 5pm and on one or two days a week doesn’t materialize at all. No one minds paying more for good service but I fail to see why we should be asked to pay more for one you cannot rely on.’

So is this latest move enough to restore your faith in our postal service? Does it go far enough in addressing a declining service? Rachel’s experience on Father’s Day is certainly one we could all do without at Christmas:

‘This year, I have a very unhappy father who lives miles away from me, who failed to get a Father’s Day card on time. I posted the card on Thursday, in plenty of time before the postman should have made the collection. It had a first class stamp on it which I was happy to pay for, and therefore I am totally outraged that when I called my dad, he was angry at me because he hadn’t received his card on time.’

Will this Christmas be different?

And what about the fact that there’s apparently no difference between sending your post first or second class between 6 December and 1 January? We raised this issue last Christmas, pointing out that sending your cards second class would save you 9p a card – a figure that will save you an extra 10p this year.

Will this £15 million investment in ‘Christmas operations’ extend to guaranteeing a first class service as normal – in other words, will a first class stamp ensure next day delivery? That’s a question I put to Royal Mail on the phone, but I’m still waiting for them to get back to me with an answer. I’ll keep you posted (sorry).

Perhaps more importantly, will this extra investment give you peace of mind as you post your Christmas cards and packages – or will you avoid leaving it to chance and post early as always? And is this even the right way for Royal Mail to be spending £15 million – maybe the investment should be made elsewhere?

Vonph says:
9 November 2011

For years I had been saying the Royal Mail needed some competition in the general letter mailing system. I don’t mean courier companies, but a different post box system throughout the country to compete with price and service, that in my opinion, agreed with the above that prices were rising and services were falling.

However, this past year I have been very happy with the service I have received from Royal Mail…sometimes even surprised! Add to that some very poor courier service, my faith in Royal Mail has been restored and this news a good thing. Christmas is obviously a time of increased posting and by actively putting money in to getting ready for the influx, it shows commitment to improving services.

Thumbs up from me. Hope it all goes well and everyone gets their Christmas cards/parcels on time.

£15M , I bet I still end up with my post folded in half. Maybe they should be spending £30 M.

Like Vonph [above] I am more satisfied with the Royal Mail now than a year ago, especially in view of the declining standards of the alternative carriers. Unless you’ve left posting them to the last opportunity [which shows no consideration for the recipient], there should be no need to use first class postage on Christmas cards. People mostly like to put the cards they’ve received on display at the same time as they are entertaining friends and relations and in conjunction with the decorations. To expect the Royal Mail to make special efforts to deliver late-posted cards seems most unfair. I think the last delivery should be on Friday 23 December this year and then nothing else until Monday 2 January 2012!
I do wish they would go back to printing larger format Christmas stamps. UK stamps are generally so well designed and produced – I like to make sure all my correspondents abroad get one of the recent special issue stamps as well as a Christmas stamp.

Growler says:
11 November 2011

Interesting article , great read and as a postman for the last 24 years I have an observation.
If you don’t want A4 sized items being bent ,you might like to get an A4 sized letterbox. Simples!

If the Post Muppet turned the letters 90 degrees that would also remove the need to fold them in half. And yes I have already paid to have a wider letter box fitted, but alas to no aval.

I especially get annoyed when the letters are from the Royal Mail and marked Do no bend.

From past expereinces of the post office promises, I don’t hold my breath, quite the opposite. I don’t believe them until they come up with the goods.

Gimcrack says:
13 November 2011

Thanks to Royal Mail I nearly lost out on my Christmas presents. The parcel my husband ordered had been placed in the front garden of a house in a nearby street that has a different door number to ours. It has been partially opened, but luckily once the postie realised it was books he or she had obviously decided they weren’t to their taste.

It’s only thanks to the honesty of the homeowner – who knocked on doors to find out who the parcel was for – that we got the package delivered at all.

I was supposed to receive a Special Delivery packet by 13:00 on Tuesday and two hours after the deadline I called a customer services employee who said that I could claim compensation as the deadline had been missed. Throughout the day, the tracking information was showing as still in transit, with a time past the deadline.

The packet finally arrived at eight o’clock yesterday morning. I have just checked the tracking information and it has been backdated to before the delivery deadline.

This means that I cannot claim compensation, as it will be my word against theirs. My only regret is that I did not save any screenshot from when the tracking info was showing the truth.

I am totally fuming over this. Who needs RM when private companies do a better job? I received a package from the same sender via a private carrier, ordered at the same time as the item delivered by RM. The carrier sent me an email first thing in the morning advising of a one hour delivery slot and then their driver turned up on time and within their express delivery deadline.

Yesterday(21st) I recieved a 1st letter postmarked the 13th Dec, no idea were its been for the previous 8 days, and that’s not the first letter to take that long this month.

judy gray says:
23 December 2011

we sent our letters on dec 11th 2011 and havent received a letter back………what a joke…….2 first class stamps on them ….what a waste of money……….children are so dissapointed……..wont use royal mail ever again….disgracefull

Vonph says:
24 December 2011

Another thumbs up for the Royal Mail for me today. I received my graze.com box in this morning’s post. Saturday is the day my box is due each week and I was half expecting a slight delay because of the season and today being Christmas Eve.

I’ve had a great experience with RM this year.

Just spoken with my parents and so far this christmas period and they’ve now had 2 letters delivered to completely the wrong street about a 1 mile away. Luckily the people there have re-posted the letters so again 1st class taking over a week. 15M not well spent in my book. About time someone high up there lost their job, this level of lack of service has been going on fair too long.

I agree Royal Mail have to improve their sercvice. They need to guarantee that first class mail will be delivered next day. I have been very disapointed in the past when its taken up to three days to deliver birthday cards fifty miles from where i live. As for Christmas i post about sixty cards, i can send some e-cards but not to elderly people.