Does this ring any bells?

11 Jan 2004
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United Kingdom
Extracted from here:

Actually, as a side complaint, well, more of a huge, jarring divergence, hence the above line to separate this from the column proper, but staying with the subject of Easter…why is the Post Office crap?

See, our post has been arriving later and later as time has gone on. When we first moved into our current house our Post Person (what is the PC term for them now? Is it Post Person? Have we moved so far down the ludicrously runged political correctness ladder that sex is now completely taboo when describing someone? I know I have to say Police Officer, not Policeman or Policewoman, so am I not allowed to say Postman? or Post Woman? I don’t want to get it wrong) used to arrive at around 10am, which we considered late as at our old house our post arrived well before 8am. But as the months have squeaked by, the prompt delivery of our post has dwindled to such a degree that it rarely appears before 1pm.

However, the Post Office surpassed itself this Easter by miles. It out did itself by such a margin that its previous record of 1pm delivery is but a hastily waving figure on the horizon, crying out to us that we’ve walked off with its car keys. Why? Because on Easter Saturday, our post arrived at 5.30pm. That’s tea-time (no, not Teh-ah-tim-eh. Sorry, Discworld joke)!! It wouldn’t be so bad if we lived out on the moors or on one side of a motorway, meaning that postal delivery required a quadbike or Subaru Impreza, but we live just off a main road. THE main road, in fact.

And, if that wasn’t enough to shake my, already dodgy, faith in the Post Office, my recent experience in trying to take receipt of my new mobile was such a debacle that now I’d rather strap important documents to the leg of a wild bird and release said bird from my office window than trust the Royal Mail with it.

Basically, I took out a new contract with a mobile operator, and ordered a shiny new mobile phone (it’s very pretty, and it works and everything), and, according to the blurb on their website, they promised to deliver the phone within 24hrs, provided I place my order before 6pm, which I did. The confirmation e-mail I receive from them a couple of hours later, explains that my phone is winging its way to me and will be with me before 1pm on Wednesday (which is actually more like 36hrs, but I don’t complain too much as I’m getting free delivery. Obviously, I complain a bit, but I keep it too a minimum….just a couple of derisive sentences regarding the parentage of the person who’d created the webpage, that sort of thing).

I wait, my hands clammy with excitement (this may seem sad, and I’ll admit it is, but if you’ve been paying attention to me over the past few months you’ll know that my old phone was about as useful as Jamie Oliver in a McDonalds kitchen…..****! I shouldn’t give them ideas).

By 1.30pm on Wednesday my eager anticipation had become mild disappointment and, after a phone call to my mobile operator who told me my phone had definitely been despatched, was fast sliding down a slippery slope into bitter discontent. However, the helpful guy on the other end of the phone (who I like to think was a real person and not a call centre automaton) did give me an item tracking reference number that I could enter onto the Royal Mail webpage to keep an eye on my order.

I do so. Item in transit. Fair enough.

I wait an hour or so and check again as, by this time, my wife has had to leave the house and wouldn’t be there to take collection of the parcel should it, by some form of miracle, arrive. The item, it says, has been delivered.

Huzzah!! Although it won’t actually be at my house as they would be no-one there to take it, I will have a little red card saying that I can pick it up at the sorting office. I text my wife and tell her the good news (because that’s the kind of person I am), and suggest, hopefully, that maybe the resourceful postal person will have left it with a neighbour, rather than taking it away with them.

My fleet-footed jig of wonderment comes to a squealing, smoking halt when she texts me back to say that she didn’t, in the end, have to go out, and nothing’s arrived. Not even a little red card.

I re-check the website. Item has been delivered.


Being the helpful, friendly company that they are, Royal Mail have on their website a number that you can ring if you need to find out whereabouts in the country they’ve managed to lose your f*cking valuables (it doesn’t actually use the word ‘f*cking’ on the website, I’ve added that for effect, but I feel that if they were more honest about their ineptitude and sheer idiocy, they’d get more respect from the public. If their ‘item tracking’ page said something along the lines of ‘Enter your tracking number here, though don’t be surprised if it’s fallen out of the back of a van onto the fast lane of the M5 because we’re ineffectual cretins who couldn’t keep track of a tortoise in a milk bottle’ I’d be more inclined to cut them some slack.

I ring the number.

753 menu choices later I am treated to a friendly female voice informing me that my parcel has been delivered and that if I wanted to track another parcel, I could enter the code now. Instead I pound the edge of my desk with the receiver and slam it back ont the base in, what some might describe as, mild frustration.

I ring the number again, making different choices this time, (why do companies think that automated systems are a good idea? All they do is make me want to do is march down to Royal Mail Head Office and **** in their foyer. Not that I would, but it wouldn’t take too many more calls to their ‘helpline’ before the grating recordings forced me into such a decision) and by some biblical miracle actually get through to a person. Through a veritable waterfall of grateful tears I explain my situation to the girl on the end of the line who calmly informs me that, yes, my parcel has been delivered.

I say it hasn’t. She says it has. I say it hasn’t. She says it has. I say ‘Liar, liar pants on fire’, and she says that delivered was confirmed with a signature that was given by the recipient. Incredulous, I mention that neither me nor my wife, who’d actually been in all day, had taken receipt of a parcel and definitely hadn’t given a signature.

Now, apparently, the Royal Mail have this brilliant system. It’s brilliant. It’s light years ahead of anything NASA or Homeland Security can boast. What happens is that, if a parcel has been sent to a wrong address and signed for by theperson at that wrong address then, regardless of how many times I scream down the phone that I haven’t received my parcel, Royal Mail won’t do anything until a copy of the signature is uploaded to their system, a process which, in the 21st century, takes 72hrs. After that time, I am quite welcome to call them up and say “That isn’t my signature”, after which they’ll take action. And by ‘action’ I presume they mean lose more parcels and stick their thumbs up their arses.

Anyway, I’m getting vitriolic.

Just to ensure that we’re not being complete idiots, my wife pops to both our neighbours to ask them if they’ve taken receipt of my parcel. They hadn’t. So I call my mobile operator up again, and explain my situation to them. A different, but still helpful, guy puts me on hold and goes off to speak to the Post Office to see if he can get any more out of them.

He can’t. They say that it was delivered at 1.15pm (which was, just to demonstrate that they have no shame whatsoever, 15minutes after it should have been delivered) and at that time a signature was taken, but we’d still have to wait 72hrs for it to be uploaded onto the system.

I don’t have a parcel. I haven’t signed for a parcel. But the Post Office won’t do anything because I need to verify that the signature they have isn’t mine. As if I might have signed for the parcel and forgotten about it.

I hang up and do various mean things to my computer.

When I arrive home at 5.30pm, our nextdoor neighbour pops out with a parcel in her hand, asking if this is what we were asking about earlier, only it had been delivered about 10minutes before I’d arrived.

So, and I’ll go through this slowly so I don’t wind myself up again and break stuff; the Post Office website claimed the parcel had been delivered, 2 separate people at the Post Office (which I think is the entire human workforce for Royal Mail) verified, to me and my mobile operator that the parcel had been delivered at 1.15pm and a signature had been taken at that time, yet my neighbour, who isn’t prone to lying, says that the parcel arrived at 5.20pm.

So what’s the dealio?

Oh, and the helpful Post Person, upon leaving the parcel with our neighbour, didn’t think it prudent to leave one of those little red cards telling us so.

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