- Ofcom says Royal Mail senior team has not told employees to prioritize parcels
- But we’ve heard from readers and postal workers who say that’s not the case.
- Did you have any problems with your post? Contact email@example.com
Royal Mail has been criticized this year for its woeful performance, and This Is Money has heard from households across the country about delivery delays.
Some have suggested that part of the problem is that local postal workers have prioritized delivering packages on time instead of letters.
But while Ofcom fined Royal Mail for failing to meet its delivery targets this week, the regulator reiterated that no orders to prioritize parcels came from Royal Mail’s senior team.
Although the official line is that Royal Mail’s policy is to treat all mail equally, readers still contact us to let us know that their letters have been delayed.
We’ve also heard postal workers say that, in their local areas, tracked packages and items take priority over standard letters.
Readers have complained that Royal Mail parcels appear to take priority over letters.
Earlier this year, Royal Mail boss Simon Thompson was questioned by senior MPs and denied a policy of delivering more parcels than letters, something that could breach Ofcom rules.
He said that, apart from postal strikes, it was “absolutely untrue” that postal workers were being asked to prioritize parcels.
However, several readers have contacted This Is Money to express their dismay at Royal Mail’s delivery delays in recent weeks.
Some have claimed that first class mail is taking longer than second class, while others are having to pay huge fines as a result of Royal Mail’s delays.
A theme running through the claims is that some feel Royal Mail is prioritizing parcels over letters.
Reader Paul said he hadn’t seen his regular postman for almost a week and bumped into another postman delivering a large package of letters. Paul was told that he was making sure there was a delivery so that the regular postman wouldn’t be too busy when he returned from vacation.
Pressing the postman further, he was told that letters might not be delivered for another five days, but that packages always took priority and were delivered.
Jenny, in Plymouth, had to wait two weeks for the mail, which she says arrives infrequently and in large batches at a time. She asked one of the five Royal Mail vans on her way what was happening and was told they were prioritizing parcels.
Christine and David in Oxford say they too have missed appointments, birthday cards and other mail, while packages and parcels arrive much more frequently.
Royal Mail has always strongly denied that it has a policy of prioritizing parcels. A spokesperson told This Is Money: “We treat every mail shipment with equal importance and do not apply a package prioritization policy.”
Crucially, Ofcom’s investigation into Royal Mail found that it had not identified “any suggestion that senior management at Royal Mail had ordered the prioritization of parcels over letters outside of recognized contingency plans”.
While you might refuse to give up letter deliveries, staffing shortages and increased numbers of packages mean postal workers have to make a decision between the two.
And Ofcom has not completely let Royal Mail off the hook, raising concerns that the company appears to have “insufficient control” over delivery offices with high numbers of no-shows and vacancies, which are being forced to make decisions “on the spot.” day” about what to deliver.
Royal Mail has said that in smaller delivery offices, and at particularly busy times, it “can dispatch parcels first to free up and keep all mail, including letters, moving efficiently across the network”.
Letter volumes are declining (down 9 per cent last year) but still account for 47 per cent of Royal Mail’s revenue.
Posties say some items HAVE priority
This Is Money has also heard directly from Royal Mail employees who confirm that, in their areas, parcels have been given priority over letters.
One mail carrier said staffing shortages have created a huge backlog of mail, meaning postal workers cannot complete their journey in the allotted time.
They said if there is a large amount of mail, only items tracked and marked for special delivery are delivered, while the rest are left at the office.
Another said Royal Mail “don’t care about letters anymore, they only care about parcels” and said rounds are “almost impossible to finish, so mail is returned most days… All parcels must surrender”. No packages are left or lost on any service.
One worker confirmed that mail and certain shipments “can wait up to four days before a letter comes through the door.”