Sunday, September 02, 2007


A Totla Cnut

Yes, I promised a whinge.

See that smug git? He's called Adam Crozier. Since 2003 he has been running what used to be the world's best mail service. Last year he was paid around £1 million, including a bonus of around 15 times what the average worker takes home in this country. Before he took over it was pretty much a given that one could put a first class stamp on a letter or card, put it in a pillar box before last collection and it would get to the addressee first post next morning, virtually anywhere in the 100,000 sq miles or so of these islands. It was almost certainly the cheapest and most efficient mail service in the world. Inevitably it had problems and the odd strike but I can't ever remember a time when it actually let me down (even if I have occasionally lied said it has).

Yesterday it was a special person's birthday. Under normal circumstances I wouldn't have needed the services of the Royal Mail to deliver a card to her but things have been different this year. On Tuesday, I posted two letters in the same letter box at exactly the same time. Both with first class stamps on. One was a card to Sharon, the other was a note to her daughter so, both were sent to the same address. I missed the last post so I assumed they would arrive on Thursday. I was right, in part. The note did, the card didn't. As I write this the card still hasn't arrived. Sharon's birthday has been and gone.

Why hasn't it arrived? I can only assume it was too big. Nobody knows yet, as far as we know it's been lost as there's been nothing to suggest otherwise. About a year ago, in their infinite wisdom the Royal Mail decided to introduce two different letter sizes for first class, large and small. There is also a thickness limit. Common sense? Well, yes. In theory. In practice, it stinks. The sizes are ridiculous, they're not easy to remember and anyway, the prices only differ by a few pence. The inconvenience is pathetic. It's short-sighted and also grossly environmentally unfriendly. It's totally counter to everything espoused in this, their Corporate Social Responsibility Report.

A couple of weeks ago I received a "slip" from the postman telling me I had £1.26 to pay on something. I would also have to collect it from the sorting office in town, fully four miles away. It turned out to be my son Dan's school report, sent by my ex-wife. She'd put it in an A4 envelope and put a first class stamp on it, probably without thinking. When I told her she told me that the same £1.26 charge had happened to her when my Mum sent Dan a birthday card containing a badge. It was too thick by a couple of millimetres. The envelope had also been ripped open by the sorting machinery but luckily the tenners hadn't fallen out. It was also two weeks late. How many of you, my massive readership, actually take the trouble to measure the size of your letters? How many of you realise that a large letter isn't actually that big? How many of you have a large letter stamp on you? Did you realise that some card companies (Carlton particularly) print a symbol on the back of the card denoting its postage rate? You can't actually buy single large letter stamps where I bought the card in Tescos and I don't want to spend a fortune buying half a dozen when I know I'm going to lose 5 before I need another one. I don't mind buying a book of standard 1st class stamps because I know I'll use them all. What really irks me is that I have to get these single stamps at the post office and that's miles away in a pedestrianised area of town so not only do I have to drive, I've got to pay an extortionate rate for parking. There used to be two Post Offices near here within walking distance. Not now. OK, that's a bit disingenuous because they were closed down by the time I was in my mid-teens but with 2500 post office closures in the pipeline I'm sure you get my point. Sharon will have now to drive to the sorting office to pick up her card as it's right across the other side of Crewe and it would take her a couple of hours by bus and as she has a few mobility issues, the journey would exhaust her. As she would say, it's a take-on.

There are actually two stupid ironies in this. Earlier today I found the cellophane sleeve wrap from the card and compared it to the size chart that my mum has bothered to keep. The card was too long by less than three-quarters of an inch. But it was far narrower than the width limit.I could argue that that's just as much a pass as a fail. Also yesterday I posted a parcel off to Sharon. It was quite large, about the size of half a dozen DVD cases and wrapped in a Jiffy bag. Weighed about a pound. It went first class LETTER post even though it was quite obviously a parcel. The Royal Mail introduced the size thing for first class letters because they thought "customers" were taking the piss. Oh, come on.

Crozier's idea of an efficient company is one that makes a profit and he doesn't give a shit how he makes that profit hence the closures. He'll strip out the bits that don't produce a profit (the Post Offices (yes, the are still owned by Royal Mail) ) even though their worth cannot be measured in financial terms. He came to the Royal Mail from the Football Association. Unbelievably, people say he turned that organisation around. He actually turned it into a vast money-making industry but has ripped the guts out of the game. His actions helped to produce anodyne and soulless teams with interchangeable players whining every time they stub their toes. Football is boring. But it makes loads of money. Before that he was with Saatchi and Saatchi. Advertising. Enough said. He was brought in to make the Royal Mail more competitive in the face of privately owned competition (the same kind of competition that delivers one concert ticket to one house in a street using a van). The government has allowed private companies to compete with a state owned monopoly that actually worked well even though it may not have always turned a profit. If the Royal Mail can't then it stands to reason that the competitors won't be able to either (competitors that bizarrely sub contract to the Royal Mail to deliver some of their post. Work that one out). It's state owned, its value is in customer satisfaction, not profit. We all still need mail delivered, it's not hard. I'm a tax-payer so, Crozier, you work for me. I'm a "stakeholder" because I use your services and I want satisfaction, not profit.

15 Vegetable peelings:

Blogger Rol Hirst said...

Unfortunately, I've got used to the ridiculous new size & weight rules now... but only because I sell quite a bit of stuff on eBay and have to try to work out what'll cost what. It's all nonsense though, and the old system was a lot easier... though in quite a few cases, I've found the new system actually works out CHEAPER for certain sizes / weights.

I'm sure they must have made a mistake, and they'll up their prices again once they work it out.

I have also noticed an increase in parcels going missing / getting damaged... bastards!

1:23 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

Yes, exactly, far more damaged and missing - something I'd rarely experienced in the past. And it doesn't matter how long they run this system, people will always fall foul of its inconvenience

6:20 pm  
Blogger Robert Swipe said...

And that's before we take into account what he did at the Football Association, Richard. Exactly the same - style over content, profit before all else.

I once saw him in the King's Head pub in Teddington, having a drink with his boyfriend - this is while he was still at the FA. Just think, if only I'd throttled him then when I had the chance, Sharon might have got her birthday card on time.

Ah, "the door we did not open...the path we did not take..."
Life's crap like that, isn't it??

L.U.V. on ya,


p.s. a long time ago you offered to have a look at any serious writing I might do with a view to helping improve it. I wondered if the offer's still open? If so, if you want to take a look at the posts I've put up recently, starting with one called the Road to Moscow, any thoughts or suggetsions would be much appreciated.

1:04 pm  
Anonymous hoosier said...

How does someone turn around a Football Association in the UK? I thought you all lived and breathed it. seems like turning that around would be as difficult as convincing someone that food is good.

I feel for you on the post. There's a reason the mailmen here go off the deep edge, though it would seem the customer has the better excuse to do so.

3:05 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

Update, card arrived today but needs to be picked up with £1 to pay. Sharon can't always get to the door in time, very annoying for her. The parcel - posted 1st class letter post (still don't get that) on Saturday, arrived today.

Bob, the post was already long enough without doing the FA stuff. I don't understand how people think he did a good job there. OK, Sven was a touch inspired and almost worked but in the end he wasn't any better than Tel. So he moved the HQ to Soho. Bugger-all trendies in Lancaster Gate.

Will contact you re the PS, will be a pleasure.

7:38 pm  
Blogger Tennessee Jed said...

I see their slogan says "With us it's personal." Sounds like, "Collecting high fees for poor service." should be the slogan. With the U.S. mail you can add two or three extra stamps if you think it is a little over weight or size if it don't cover it they send it back to you to try again.

They are discussing putting first class stamps on the forever stamp price, whereas now if the price goes up and you are holding old stamps you must add penny stamps to make up the difference. All in all our Postal service is pretty good here. We suffer from some wicked bad health care systems here and all our food is basically poison. Unless of course you have plenty of money then it is all good.

8:35 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

Jed, if you buy a 1st or 2nd class stamp here it's forever. I've got 2nd class Christmas from two or three years ago I fully intend to use this year. It's also common practice here to stick an extra stamp on just in case but to have two 1st class letter rates for common size items is just plain daft.

8:52 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No-one, yet no-one, has yet got to grips with first class - just first class, and first class LARGE!!! and why the Hell should they. Sizeist I call it and it is and outrage.

10:06 pm  
Blogger Robert Swipe said...

Thanks Richard - much appreciated.

What's the betting he'll move on to TFL next?


9:53 am  
Anonymous Sharon J said...

I still haven't got my card. I drove over there yesterday but without being able to find anywhere to park that's within my walking distance, I couldn't actually pick it up. I'm starting to wonder whether I'll ever actually get this card :(

1:19 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Crap, Richard. Even some at the Post Office counters seem unsure when you ask them. They must get some grief from frustrated customer, poor sods. I have posted two identical letters and been told different prices. It's all the additional postal faffing that puts me off using ebay these days!

Hey Sharon, at least the thought was there. And your big day has been blogged about. Happy Birthday.

10:50 pm  
Blogger spentrails said...

Outrageous. I never did understand 2nd class post anyway. What's the point?

I did read a while back that it costs the Post Office more money to hold back the 2nd class post than it does to deliver the 1st class post. Mind you those were pre-Crozier days so anything could have happened by now.

8:56 am  
Blogger I, like the view said...

oh, erm, can I change the subject please?

if you were doing a pass-the-parcel for dave (one of the really over the top ones, with a gift in each layer)(not an over the top dave, obviously, an over the top pass the parcel) what would be in one layer of the wrapping and what would you put in the middle of the parcel?


(sorry to have lowered the tone of your rather serious blog to something so girly and trivial. . .)

5:22 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

I, LTV. This isn't a serious blog at all, look there's a picture of Catweazle on it.

Anyway, it would have to be something to do with cricket from me, wouldn't it. To combine the frivolous with the ecclesiastical, I'm thinking of a gentleman's protector inscribed with some inspirational quotations from John Wesley. My imagination doesn't extend to a second idea I'm afraid.

9:14 pm  
Blogger I, like the view said...

what's a gentleman's protector?

*penny drops*

euuuuw!!! that white thing that boys shove down their crotch?

*scratches head*


John Wesley - now that is a good idea! cheers richard

(who is Catweazle? probably from ITV - we weren't allowed to watch The Other Channel when I was growing up, something about my parents thinking the adverts would drive us to unnecessary consumerism)

please drop into dave's birthday extravaganza when you have spare moment - to be found on my profile page!

5:09 pm  

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