UK Royal Mail accused of time 'fiddle'

A director of one of the UK’s largest mailing houses has accused Royal Mail of fiddling the times it receives mail for processing to make it appear to process mail more quickly.

DPS direct mail technical director David Laybourne, who spends in the region of #15m a year with Royal Mail, says that, although mailing houses are contractually obliged to submit mail by 3pm every day, in practice Royal Mail has allowed customers to be as late as 6.30pm.

An internal clampdown means that any mail arriving after 3pm will now be registered as having been delivered the next day.

“I guess Royal Mail did it [allowed extra time] because it was the right thing to do, despite possibly being seen as a ‘Spanish practice’,” says Laybourne. “We do not understand why Royal Mail thinks it is acceptable to effectively lie about the day it receives mail. If we give it to Royal Mail at 3.30pm on May 14, it will now insist on amending a legal document to state that it actually received it on May 15. For some reason, a Royal Mail day now ends at 3pm.”

Laybourne says the move risks mailing houses being blacklisted for not getting their mail in on time, as well as squeezing business into a shorter working day. “Royal Mail is alienating a segment of its best customers, in shortening the working day and effectively falsifying a legal document,” he adds.

A Royal Mail spokesman defended the move, saying that it was part of the ‘super-complaint’ overturned by the Department of Trade & Industry (PM April 14). “We have to treat all our customers fairly and equally, and we cannot make any exceptions,” he says.

Meanwhile, Royal Mail has introduced tariffs that it claims will benefit direct mailers. But a spokesman for WWAV Rapp Collins says the measures do not go far enough. “Costs recently went up by 5 per cent and the reductions do not really cancel this out,” he says. “It will only benefit about 10 per cent of our clients.”

Copyright: Centaur Communications Ltd. and licensors

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