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How to complain about letters and parcels

Time for a story. Who shall we pick on this time? Let’s have a go at the Post Office and Royal Mail two different businesses in fact. The Post Office offers the Royal Mail services.

Royal Mail lost the parcel

Some time ago I helped someone with their Royal Mail problem. She had bought a bottle of perfume from a private seller on Ebay. The contents turned out to be fake. The seller agreed a full refund including postage. Not surprised given the considerable trouble she could have got into had Sarah simply reported her to certain authorities….

What's in your parcel?
What’s in your parcel?

Now, Royal Mail lost the item. No surprise there then. So, Sarah wrote to the Royal Mail and explained what had happened. Someone from the Royal Mail wrote back and said that she wouldn’t be getting a refund because she had posted a prohibited item. You can find a list of prohibited items here. Call me cynical but apart from some obvious stuff this list includes other toiletries which you may well send as gifts, so check this list before you post liquid gifts. After shaves, perfumes and nail varnishes are allowed but there are restrictions on size etc. Sarah told me that no-one in Royal Mail had asked her what was in the parcel and no reference was made to what wasn’t allowed. How many of you knew you can’t send certain after shave or nail varnish in the post? There is no information on the walls or in leaflets regarding this in the Post Office, so I think this was pretty unfair. I believe that the Post Office has a duty of care to ensure that the public knows Royal Mail policies. You aren’t allowed to send “filth” (that could be very subjective!) and no sending of human or animal remains about the UK either please. Or ice. Anyone ever sent ice? Why should anyone have to check the Internet before they post anything? How about people who don’t have the Internet? So I wrote Sarah’s letter for her, telling them exactly that and that I expected a full refund due to their failing to undertake reasonable skill and care in ensuring the public knew their rules. Matthew at Royal Mail agreed and Sarah got her full refund. Not that I got a thank you. Sarah is no longer my friend.

Other Royal Mail Complaints

Generally of course, it is letters and parcels that are acceptable to Royal Mail that go missing. If you need to complain the contact details are here. The things that are covered here and the levels of compensation here. What problems have you had with the Royal Mail? (Other than it being sold off too cheaply of course).

By Helen Dewdney, The Complaining Cow

Consultant | Author | Speaker | Blogger | Presenter | Journalist
Helping to make, prevent and deal with complaints

6 replies on “How to complain about letters and parcels”

Thanks for that CC! Just had the same sort of problem with the Post Office/Royal Mail, i.e. not being advised, at the counter, that a ‘battery’ should not be enclosed in a parcel. It is, as you say, ultimately the Post Office who is responsible for ensuring that the public is aware – their rules, their responsibility to provide the necessary warnings in a correct manner. I have emailed them twice now and, coincidentally but purposely, used the Duty of Care approach, and they are, at this moment, thinking about it. Not holding my breath but it will be interesting to see what happens.

Hi Angela,

please can I know the outcome of your case above. I am facing a similar issue with getting compensation from Post Office after Royal Mail destroyed my goods.

I’m surprised that people who pay by debit or credit card do not defend their position using the charge back scheme operated by banks for debit cards. Or section 75 under the credit card consumers agreement.
Often business’s will try and fob you off, but as long as you can demonstrate breach or breakdown or frustration of the contract the bank can apply under the merchants contract the bank has more power, some banks try and make it difficult, but if you quote the appropriate contractual terms then they tend to play ball, its often a case of getting the right person to acknowledge your complaint.

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