Cards, letters, and hospital appointments were put on hold in the post-cumulative period

Royal Mail’s CEO discusses the strike

Of the 120 second class letters posted, ten were delivered within the Royal Mail’s official target of two to three working days. After nearly two weeks, more than half (57 percent) of the first-class letters and 64 percent of the second-class letters we’ve posted have never been delivered.

The performance would be funny if the failure were not so serious. People and businesses rely on Royal Mail for the timely delivery of everything from Christmas cards to hospital appointments and legal documents.

Consumer expert Jane Hawkes blamed the service for “ruining Christmas” as customers across the UK were left without cards and gifts for loved ones this year.

Speaking to The Express, she said: “Royal Mail’s delays could not have come at a worse time and now they risk ruining Christmas.

“People are becoming increasingly concerned that cards for their loved ones will not arrive in time for the big day or worse, get lost in a backlog. For many, this may be a Christmas to remember for the wrong reasons.”

The figures come after the head of Royal Mail warned that first-class stamps must rise to more than £1 unless the company can cancel Saturday deliveries.

Business Secretary Grant Shapps was urged by Keith Williams to allow the company to operate a five-day service to avoid a “significant” cost increase.

Royal Mail’s management appears to have utterly failed to run a postal service riven by strike and under competitive pressure from the likes of DHL and Amazon.

Royal Mail failed to deliver first and second class mail (Photo: Tom Wren/SWNS)

The company is in a desperate spot with reports earlier this year that it was losing £1m every day.

It is now grappling with a wave of strikes over working conditions and wages, which saw more than 115,000 Royal Mail workers strike last week. The industrial strike is expected to continue on Friday and Saturday this week.

After months of frustration with Royal Mail customers being left waiting weeks, sometimes months, for their post, we decided to put the postal service to the test.

We sent 240 letters, 120 first-class and 120 second-class, through three days’ mailboxes at London, Peterborough, Surrey, Manchester, Leeds, and Bedfordshire.

On Thursday, December 8, 120 letters were sent, on Friday, December 9, 100 letters were sent, and on December 12, 20 letters were sent. The experiment is designed to recreate the experience of an ordinary user of the postal service.

It’s been nearly two weeks since the first 145 messages were posted, 60 percent of the total, and they didn’t arrive until Monday of this week.

The missing post rate was 57 percent (68) of first-class letters sent, and 64 percent (77) of second-class letters sent.

Royal Mail declares that first class letters with a 95p postmark, should arrive the next working day.

Second-class mail with a 68px stamp must arrive within two to three business days to meet official service standards.

The suburbs of southern England seem to have been so badly affected by the royal mail delivery crisis that for a week no letters arrived in Bedfordshire.

These results fall far short of what Royal Mail aims to achieve, or what it has been achieving.

In the second quarter of the year to 25 September, Royal Mail reported that around 90 per cent of first class mail and 91 per cent of second class mail arrived on time.

The regulator told Ofcom Express it was monitoring the situation, which it described as “frustrating” for Postal users.

The strike has hit the company hard, and last month it asked the government to allow it to stop delivering letters on Saturdays, and move to a five-day week.

The Royal Mail workers’ strike was announced yesterday for Friday 23 and Saturday 24 December after the Telecommunications Workers’ union said the company had rejected an offer of negotiations to resolve their dispute over wages, jobs and terms.

The strike hit Royal Mail badly

The strike affected Royal Mail (Photo: Tom Wren/SWNS)

The two strikes would mark the seventeenth and eighteenth days in the increasingly bitter dispute.

Royal Mail has been accused of focusing on parcels rather than letters as it is a more profitable side of the business, with “mountains” of mail being photographed outside Royal Mail centres. Claims have been made that rats eat some of the remaining posts.

Royal Mail has since denied that it prioritizes parcels over letter deliveries, saying that “every item of mail was important” and “does not apply a parcel prioritization policy”.

Royal Mail, which criticized the CWU for causing customers “suffering”, said the company’s leaders were “doing everything we can to bring Christmas to our customers and settle this dispute”.

Union sources recently told The Telegraph that the “catastrophic” impact could see people waiting until February to get their Christmas cards due to a backlog exacerbated by strikes.

Small businesses have also been hit hard. Some have even been forced to close stores due to a raft of complaints from angry customers who have not received their orders.

Postal strikes are causing “serious headaches” for many small businesses, said Tina McKenzie, head of policy, Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), at a time when the industry is supposed to be recovering after two years of Covid disruption.

She said: “At a time when bags of mail are much heavier than usual of the year, postal strikes are causing serious headaches for many small businesses.

“Delivery delays are very frustrating for small businesses and have an impact on their margins if customers return items that arrive too late for a special occasion, if sellers have to pay more for guaranteed delivery, or if customers decide to shop elsewhere due to concerns about arrival delays.”

This was supposed to be a recovery from the traditional Christmas trading peak period, especially after two years of Covid disruption.

We urge all parties to come back together, with Acas if necessary, to find a solution.

“Moving the job back again would be a huge relief for small businesses in the busiest part of the year for many.”

The blows cause serious headaches

The blows cause serious headaches (Photo: Tom Wren/SWNS)

A Royal Mail spokesperson said: “We do everything we can to deliver Christmas to our customers and would like to thank the increasing number of mail returning to work each strike day, and the temporary workers and managers from across the company who help keep mail moving.

“We are sorry if customers experience delays in getting their flyers due to industry action by the CWU, and we realize it is particularly concerning to people at this time of year.

“The CWU is hitting at our busiest time, intentionally holding Christmas to ransom for our customers, businesses and families across the country.

“The dates of publication of these letters fell in the middle of a number of strike days called by the PKK.”

Lisa Webb, which one? The consumer law expert said: “It’s important to remember that if something goes wrong with your package delivery this Christmas, you need to ask the retailer to fix the problem, not the delivery company.

In the event that a delivery does not arrive, customers should immediately contact the retailer, who should either assist in tracing their order or send a replacement.

“Unfortunately, you may not be able to claim any compensation for items or letters that have been delayed as a result of strikes. This is because the majority of Royal Mail services are not guaranteed daily services.”

Susannah Streeter, chief investment and market analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: ‘The share price has been hit by this round of industry strike, which has put the company in the precarious position of being stuck in a vicious circle of declining trading volumes and an exodus of clients.

“Royal Mail is trying to turn the volume of operations as letter dispatches drop and parcel deliveries drop from pandemic high levels, but every day of business sees volumes rise, worsening the company’s prospects.

Even if performance continues at GLS, the group’s most profitable international arm, it seems likely that the company will be below its cash flow level even for the current fiscal year.

“The company had already warned that all options were on the table, including separating Royal Mail from GLS and it is very likely that this possibility is being investigated and how it will be implemented in practice.”

CWU has been contacted for comment.

Comment from Scott Dixon

This is shocking and disappointing for consumers everywhere who rely on Royal Mail to deliver cards, letters and parcels.

I know from my own experience that first-class mail took up to four days to arrive and second-class mail took nearly two weeks. Meanwhile, the almanac sent from Sydney in Australia took only eight days to reach Edinburgh.

This could lead to the collapse of Royal Mail, with companies suspending contracts for next day delivery services and smaller businesses seeking alternative options due to the delay.

Royal Mail is quoted on its website:

1. “Get the right delivery promise and keep your customers happy.”

2. “Follow our simple tips to build customer confidence.”

3. “Delivery is a top concern for your customers, and getting this right is a sure way to earn customer satisfaction and repeat business.”

Not only is this deceptive, but it is a clear violation of the Consumer Rights Act 2015,
which states that the goods and services shall be fit for purpose, as described, of satisfactory quality and carried out with due care and skill.

Small businesses are angry that they have had to close shop to avoid allegations of non-delivery and loss of cost of products sold.

Consumers have been asking for refunds for undelivered items and holding for late deliveries, which is grossly unfair and a double whammy for small businesses grappling with the cost-of-living crisis like everyone else.

Confidence is everything. Once it is lost, it is difficult to recover it. This has an impact on businesses small and large that rely on Royal Mail as affordable and
Reliable service.

Royal Mail faces stiff competition in the private sector, who will be keen to capitalize on the chaos of this ongoing dispute.

These results will only reinforce the fears of consumers and businesses and will ultimately lead to the demise of Royal Mail as a service we know and trust.

  • Comment by Scott Dixon, consumer expert


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