The Mystery of the £1.09 Christmas Card
I’ll be honest with you: I like the Royal Mail. Despite its flaws – and they are manifold – I think it’s one of the services left in the UK which is actually pretty good. Whenever I order a parcel, I’m always pleased if I find that it’s being delivered by the Royal Mail (unlike some of the other delivery networks out there…) A few years ago, Top Gear did a race to see what would get from Lands End to John O’Groats the fastest – a fast car, or a first-class letter. Surprisingly, the letter actually won! It was pretty impressive to see how the Royal Mail operation actually works, and I think as a general rule it works pretty well.
That said, you do get some … odd decisions made. On Saturday we had a card through our letterbox saying ‘We couldn’t deliver a letter because… it doesn’t have enough postage.’ Or something like that. We were apparently owing £1.09 in postage. We went down to the collection office on Saturday afternoon, only to find out that they close at 1PM (our fault, we should have checked the card; just assumed they were open on Saturday afternoons!)
So, this evening, I decided to pop down to the collection office to fetch it. I honestly thought it was a parcel someone had sent us recently (we are due one). It turned out to be a Christmas card. You can see the picture above – I’ve edited out the address, but apart from that it’s as it was when we received it.
Apparently the letter was less 9p in postage (that’s right, £0.09) – and we had a £1.00 “handling charge”. That’s right, they charged us a whole pound for the privilege of holding the letter back for us to recoup their 9p. Now, I know that rules are rules, but… 9p? Really? And a whole £1 ‘handling charge’ for that much? Crazy.
But it’s not just that: there appears to be a valid, first-class stamp attached to the letter. The only thing which could possibly have put the card over was that the card was slightly folded over inside, i.e. it was a tiny bit wider than your average card. But not by much, and not in a parcel kind of way.
I simply can’t understand what could possibly have made the Royal Mail charge us extra in this way! Not good, Royal Mail, not good. (Even if there’s a perfectly good explanation for why the postage was 9p under, charging £1.09 and the inconvenience of picking it up is not good).