April 18th, 2015

The UK's national postal service comes through again. Not.

I decided to participate in a Reddit snack exchange, and on Wednesday this week I shipped two boxes of goodies to the US via Royal Mail. I've posted stuff overseas many times, so the boxes were correctly addressed and had their Customs stickers; I also paid extra for tracking, not only to give myself peace of mind but because in Reddit exchanges you're supposed to prove that you actually shipped something.

Cut to this morning, when I decided to check the tracking - and discovered that while one of the boxes is already in the States, the other one is in India. Yes, India, you read it correctly. I rang Royal Mail's customer "help" line as soon as it opened this morning, and was once again stunned by the sheer awfulness of their service. First of all, they won't even let me fill out a form reporting a problem until twenty working days have elapsed, although they could tell by checking the tracking number that the parcel is currently on a completely different CONTINENT than it ought to be, which takes me through to the third week in May - by which time there will be absolutely no chance of finding out what's happened to it. The dimwit at the other end of the line told me that it was "entirely possible" that the box would be sent on to its correct destination, but I told them that given that the British postal service had not been able to handle the parcel correctly I had no confidence in the postal service of a country where English is the third language at best being able to do any better. What I think IS "entirely possible" is that some thieving postal employee in Delhi or Mumbai is already tucking into two kilos of British snacks and washing them down with some of the Irish Breakfast Tea that my snack recipient had specifically requested - yes, you guessed it, the box that has gone astray is the one that had the bulk of the goodies in it. So despite having sent me a wonderful assortment of American treats, what my exchange partner will receive in return is a small box containing the six bags of crisps which wouldn't fit into the other box without putting it over the weight limit.

I am now going to have to wait a month to even fill out a form reporting the parcel missing, following which there will be an investigation by Royal Mail that will be spun out in the hopes of me giving up in frustration and abandoning my claim so they don't have to pay out. If it sounds to you as though I've been through this before, you're right; I had hoped that privatisation would improve Royal Mail's performance, but I was wrong.