alea iacta esto

The Royal Mail’s royal fail

It is customary in the UK for important letters or packages to be delivered by Recorded Delivery. This requires someone at the address to sign for the letter or package as proof of delivery. Here’s how it works. When the postman knocks on the door, anyone who opens the door (resident, visitor or thief) can sign for and take delivery. No questions asked, no IDs requested, just a signature required.

But if no one is at home then the delivery goes back to the Royal Mail centre and is kept for a short while so the owner can pick it up later. Great. But what if the owner is not in town (say travelling or working in another country) and their partner or flatmate is asked to pick up the letter? According to the Royal Mail, the same anybody who could have signed for and taken delivery on the day the postman knocked on the door can now only pick up the letter with an ID of the addressee in hand. Even if you go with all the proof in the world of who you are and that you live in the very same address, oops no can do.

What, I ask, is the point of that? The Royal Mail pays out £100,000 a week in compensation for lost letters (yes, it’s a mystery where they go) but won’t hand over letters they still have in their possession to people who have business collecting them. Royal Mail, do not wonder for whom the bell tolls. The bell tolls for thee.


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