Thursday, 27 February 2014

How NOT to Resolve a Complaint (aka: A Letter to the Royal Mail)

This is an email I sent to in regards to an ongoing complaint I have wth them:

Wednesday 19 February 2014

To Whom It May Concern,

My name is Wondra Vanian and I live at <address removed> NP11 7GH. I am sending you this email because I have a serious complaint to make and @RoyalMail on Twitter have advised me to use this email to do it.

For many months now, our post has been mistreated by our local postman and/or delivery office. It has frequently been left out in the porch, where it has been subjected to the adverse weather conditions Wales is known for. If we're lucky, we find it in time and this is the only amount of damage it has suffered:

As I said, that is the condition we can expect to find our post in if we're lucky. If we haven't found it in time – which is more often than not because I work evenings and, as a result, sleep later than most in the mornings – we can expect to find our post as thus:

Even when the weather is not inclement – a rare thing in South Wales! - leaving post outside our door, instead of delivering it properly, is unacceptable. Leaving it outside the door when it clearly says that it should be signed for, is simply rude:

I'm sure you can understand why I feel the level of service I have received is unacceptable?

I did endure this for several months before I finally broke down and made a formal complaint. This was made on 20 December 2013 15:38:12 (GMT Standard Time) and read as follows:

Today two Christmas presents, totaling £65 in value, were left in the porch, which is open to the weather. Both packages were "Signed For" but no attempt was made to obtain signature and both still have their "Signed For" barcodes attached. One package was labelled "!!Fragile!!" by sender (and was face down on the wet ground.) This is a recurring problem. Many of our letters are unreadable by the time we see them because they are left in the porch in the rain.

A response was received on 27 December 2013:

Dear Mrs Vanian

Thank you for contacting Royal Mail.

I'm sorry to hear about the problem you have experienced with two items of mail delivered to you recently. I can fully understand your concerns regarding this. Of the huge volumes of letters and packets we handle, very few encounter a problem along their way - but we take every single failure seriously, so I'm sorry that you've had cause to contact us.

I fully appreciate the risk to the security of your mail if our postmen and women do not follow our procedures and instead leave items exposed on doorsteps or in porches. It's important that our customers have confidence in us to always deliver their mail securely and to a high standard, so I apologise again that we have let you down.

With regards to your items being delivered, however the Delivery Officer not obtaining a signature, please accept my sincere apologies on behalf of Royal Mail for this error. I am very sorry that no signature was obtained - please be assured that we take letting our customers down seriously and will use this information to make further improvements.

To deal with this problem, and based on the information you've provided, I have been able to take the following action:

• Logged and reported the full details of your complaint
• Passed these details to the manager of the Delivery Office.

The Delivery Office Manager will speak to the Delivery Officer concerned and do all that is required to ensure you receive the quality of service you should expect in future.

Once again, please accept my sincere apologies on behalf of Royal Mail for the problem you've had, and our thanks for taking the time to make us aware of this.

Thanks for taking the time to contact us and once again, please accept my apologies for any inconvenience and annoyance we've caused. In the unlikely event that you experience any further problems of this nature, please don't hesitate to contact us again by emailing direct to quoting 1-2801396329.


Annaliese Dove
Customer Service Advisor

I had hoped that, by raising a complaint through the online form available on your website (, my problem would be resolved. I was wrong. We continued to experience the same problem, forcing me to raise a second complaint on 18 January 2014 12:12:09 (GMT Standard Time):

After making a complaint about post being left out in rain instead of being delivered through letter box, we have had this happen three more times: on 08/01/14 a bill was ruined by being left out in the rain, on 10/01/14 a collectable book worth £40 was left out in the rain and received minor damage, on 18/01/14 a application from the DVLA was left out in the rain. Considering the high winds we have been having it is impossible to say if anything has or has not blown away. Can you please let us know what we need to do to stop our mail from being damaged and/or lost?

The reply, which was received 27 January 2014, was much the same as the first:

Dear Mrs Vanian

Thank you for your further contact with Royal Mail.

I was very sorry to hear that you've experienced further problems with the delivery of your mail and apologise that you have had to raise this matter with us again, despite the corrective measures we've already taken.

To try and resolve the issue, I have now taken the following action:

• Logged and reported the full details of your repeat complaint
• Passed these details to the Manager of your local Delivery Office
• Escalated your complaint to the Delivery Sector Manager

Any potential risk to the security of your mail, as a direct result of the actions of our postmen and women is unacceptable and will be dealt with accordingly.

In the circumstances, the Delivery Office Manager has also placed a Special Instruction card in the area where your mail is sorted and prepared for delivery. This will act as a constant reminder to our postmen and women of the problems being experienced and ensure that they all take extra care whilst handling and delivering the mail from now on.
Moving onto the item that was damaged, unfortunately, I cannot process claims of this nature via email; this is due to the specialised investigation required that may involve the provision of supporting information. To progress your enquiry you will need to complete one of our claim forms, known as 'P58 Inland Lost, Damaged or Delayed Mail form'. These forms can be submitted online at:

Once again, please accept my sincere apologies on behalf of Royal Mail for the problem you've had, and our thanks for taking the time to make us aware of this. Please be assured that we take letting our customers down seriously and will use this information to make further improvements.

I hope you have found this information useful and that this explanation resolves your enquiry and concludes this matter for you. However if you are unhappy with my response you can contact the Escalated Customer Resolution Team who will re-investigate your complaint. They can be contacted by emailing:

Alternatively you can write to: Escalated Customer Resolution Team, Royal Mail, PO Box 466, Plymouth, PL9 7HJ. If you do contact the team please can I ask you to quote your reference number 1-2833307387.


Liz Byrne
Customer Service Advisor

I did not bother to seek compensation for the damage received to that item. As I said, it was minor and, at the time, I just wanted the situation resolved.

Something did happen as a result of this second complaint (again, raised through the proper channel): we stopped receiving post on days that it rained. Not exactly the result I had hoped for.

My suspicions were raised. Personally, I thought we were being punished for having the audacity to raise a complaint but my husband, being both reasonable and trusting, said, “Don't be stupid. They can't do that. It's not legal.” I wanted to believe him but the situation only got worse. (From Monday 10 February 2014 to today (Wednesday 19 February 2014), we have received post only twice.)

I had been expecting six packages and only one had arrived. Two of the packages that had not arrived were Valentine's Day presents for my husband. Can you imagine my dismay and chagrin when I had to explain to my husband on Valentine's Day that he did have presents, they just hadn't arrived? He was disappointed. I was humiliated.

I will say at this point that I suffer from severe Depression and Anxiety and that my symptoms have been much worse lately. All of the stress and hassle that your agency has forced me to endure has not helped matters one bit. A close friend was concerned about my welfare and send an Amazon gift card so that I might treat myself. The two items I ordered were among the five packages that were expected but had not arrived:

The final package was a set of photo books from Photobox:

I draw your attention to the estimated delivery dates. We went to the delivery office on Monday 17 February 2014, which was when we finally received them.

On Saturday 15 February 2014, we received this letter:

In case you have any problem reading it, it says:

Can you please contact Royal Mail on the above number or call into the office please to discuss your footpath.

As your footpath is causing concerns to our delivery staff.

I'll not mince words: there is nothing wrong with our garden path. Nothing.

We tried calling the number provided on the letter several times on Saturday 15 February 2014 but received no reply. We tried several more times on Monday 17 February 2014 and, again, received no reply. At this point, even my husband had to admit that something was not quite right. We went to the Abercarn delivery office (the office stated on the letter), wasting our time and petrol.

When we explained the situation to the gentleman behind the counter, he told us that he couldn't help and advised us to call the number on the letter. Understandably, we were unwilling to go down that route again.

When I elaborated on the situation, explaining that we had made two formal complaints and felt that we have been singled out as a result, the gentleman behind the counter offered to check to see if there was anything waiting for us. There was.

I am not concerned about the letters that were there (though I should be – what if one of them was time sensitive or important?) - but all of the packages that I had been expecting were obviously being held with no attempt at delivery and no attempt made to tell us that they were being held. Unacceptable.

My husband could only say that he was in shock; he couldn't believe that a postman (a member of the public service sector!) would engage in “tit for tat” behaviour. He and I both remain disgusted by this revelation. Is it Royal Mail policy to punish customers for complaining about bad service or is this petty vindictiveness on the part of one postman and/or delivery office?

The gentleman behind the counter offered to have someone call us back and tried to keep the letter. I had to ask him to make a copy of the letter for himself as I intended to keep the original for my own records. He wrote our telephone number on the letter and assured us that someone would call us back. I had to press the issue three times before he would agree to a time for that telephone call (the next day, after 12pm).

I was pleasantly surprised to actually receive a phone call when I was promised one (you'll understand that my recent experiences with the Royal Mail had not inspired faith in their ability to do what they promised). The gentleman that called, however, had no idea of what the problem actually was. I was forced to explain the situation yet again. He then told me that the reason that we received a letter was that our postman had made a delivery on Saturday 15 February 2014 and found our path “slippery”. If you care to cast your mind back to that morning, you'll remember that we were still suffering the effects of a three-day-long gale that day. I'm not surprised he found it a bit slippery! I am surprised, however, that he and/or the delivery office think that I have any power over the wind and rain! Which is essentially what I told the gentleman who called from the delivery office on Tuesday 18 February 2014.

I pointed out, as well, that no attempt had been made to inform us that our post was being held. The gentleman actually told me that it said so on the letter that was sent to us. Luckily, I had kept the letter and had proof that this was a blatant lie. It is shocking though, isn't it, that one of your employees would resort to flat out fibbing to avoid having to own up to his (or his colleague's) behaviour? I hope you find this as unacceptable as I do.

I was told that our garden path was a “health and safety risk”. This surprised me – not only because it is clearly not a health and safety risk – but also because I have, on more than one occasion, watched our postman climbing over my neighbours' garden fences so that he did not have to walk up their garden paths. As I said to the gentleman on the phone, if climbing over my neighbours' garden fences is not a health and safety risk but walking up mine is, we have a serious problem!

I said to my husband that it's more likely that he is just angry that he actually has to walk up our garden path (because he cannot climb over our fence) and my husband suggested that might very well be why our post is often left outside our door. Could it be that our postman is simply standing on our neighbour's porch and tossing our mail in the direction of our porch? Does the Royal Mail condone that delivery method?

The gentleman on the phone then said that he was told (he was really very vague and genuinely had no idea of the situation – which makes me wonder why he would make a call he was obviously not prepared for) that there was moss growing up the path. Another blatant lie. I can assure you that there is no moss growing up the path. There is, however, moss growing up the wall – which I will assume is not a problem since we do not make a habit of walking there.

In case there is any doubt on the matter, please feel free to visit and assess the situation for yourself - which is exactly what I told the gentleman on the phone. To save you time, however, I have provided a photo of the path on both a wet & windy day and a nearly dry day:

I will concede that there was a broken ornament that had fallen off our neighbour's wall and shattered in the wind. As I said, my Depression has been very bad of late and I had not left the house in a few days so was unaware of the broken ornament (the white shapes you can see in the first picture). I did pick up the pieces as soon as I became aware of their presence. I apologize for the gale force winds we have experienced but, again, I am regrettably not in a position to alter them.

What the gentleman on the phone said next showed a surprising amount of igorance. He told me to remove the non-existent moss. The method he suggested? “Go out and toss a bucket of bleach down there.” GO OUT AND TOSS A BUCKET OF BLEACH DOWN THERE?! I'm sorry if I sound incredulous but I am. Who would suggest such a thing? Do you know what the symptoms of bleach poisoning are? If not, please let me enlighten you:
  • Drooling
  • Pawing at mouth
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Ulcerations in the mouth
  • Squinting
  • Redness of the exposed area
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
(This information is also available at

Bleach poisoning can result in death in both cats and dogs. As I have a cat and two dogs, you can see why I refuse to follow that gentleman's well-meaning but ignorant suggestion of tossing a bucket of bleach down my garden path. Can you imagine what would have happened if I had been dumb enough to follow his suggestions?! I could have had enormous vet bills and could have even lost one of my cherished family pets! And, if not me, one of my neighbours (as many of them also have cats and dogs). Perhaps that gentleman simply did not know the dangers of what he was advising – or is “toss a bucket of bleach down there” something all Royal Mail employees are trained to tell people?

I digress. The result of the conversation? “I'll look into it.” I'll look into it was the only reply I could get off of the gentleman that I spoke to on Tuesday 18 2014. I might wonder why, if he had not already looked into it, he was wasting my time by calling at all. Regardless, he has promised that he will look into it, visit our premises to assess the situation, and call me back in a week. I'm sure you'll forgive me for saying that, at this point, that is just not good enough. I expect this to be taken further.

Let me be very clear about exactly what I expect:

  1. I expect to receive a letter of apology – a letter through my front door, not an email – from yourselves for failing to resolve this issue for me satisfactorily after receiving two complaints about the matter.
  2. I expect to receive a letter of apology from my postman and local sorting office (Abercarn), also through the mail, not by email.
  3. I expect that all my mail in the future will be delivered directly to me or my husband at number 11 Mount Pleasant Terrace. My house, not a neighbour's house.
  4. If the mail cannot be put through my front door for any reason, or handed directly to myself our my spouse, I expect a missed delivery card to be put through the front door instead.
  5. I do not expect any mail to be left in the porch. I do not expect to find a missed delivery card halfway down my garden path, which has happened in the past.
  6. I expect my local sorting office and the postman who has caused this complaint to be properly reprimanded – and I expect proof that this has been done. Just telling me that you have spoken to them is not acceptable. I expect proof in writing that they have been brought to justice for this breach in policy and the destruction of my trust in the Royal Mail.
  7. I do not expect to be fobbed off. This entire trial has been well documented online, as will this email, and your response. People have a right to know the sort of service their (and my!) taxes are paying for. I expect the level of service I deserve as a taxpayer – something I am not currently receiving.
  8. I do not expect you to have the decency to compensate me for my distress and inconvenience - though I do believe it would be more than appropriate in this instance. It is your employee and/or delivery office that have been to blame. They have made my Depression and Anxiety worse. They have wasted my time and money. They have destroyed my faith in the Royal Mail. As your employee(s) are responsible, it is not out of the question to ask you to take financial responsibility for their behaviour.
  9. I do, however, expect to be reimbursed for the cost of my shipping prices on the five aforementioned packages because the delay in their arrival (in fact, they never arrived at all) was a direct result of either negligence or malignance on the part of one or more of your operatives. This is a total of £17.68 and the invoices showing shipping costs are attached.
  10. I expect a timely resolution. I believe that, given the months of stress and hassle you have put me through, a time frame of 5-10 days is more than generous. I do not expect you to waste any more of my time. I expect you to deal with this and I expect you to deal with this now.

Let me be clear on one other thing: I am sending you this email as a courtesy. I will not waste any more of my time contacting you again; I will contact The Ferret and Watchdog instead. I have given you more than enough opportunity to fix this yourselves and have been severely disappointed.

I await your speedy reply,

Wondra Vanian

<telephone number removed>

And this is the response I received:


Hi Wondra
Thanks for allowing me the time to look into this; I’m sorry my enquiries have taken longer than expected.
The local manager has agreed that there are no concerns with regards to your footpath and that deliveries to your address have been reinstated.
If I can help you any further then please don’t hesitate to contact me.
Kind regards
Royal Mail Twitter Team

Clearly, this is not acceptable. This, therefore, is my reply (made via the Royal Mail online complaint form, since the Twitter account had not suceeded in accomplishing anything):

 The reply that I have received from your Twitter team in regards to this complaint is unacceptable. If 'The local manager has agreed that there are no concerns with regards to your footpath and that deliveries to your address have been reinstated.' was enough to resolve my complaint, I would not have had to make a second or a third (and now a fourth) complaint. Please re-read all three complaints to familiarize yourselves with the situation and please note what my acceptable solutions to this problem are and what your response has been.

To further expand on these complaints, I would like to point out that my husband and I left our house at 12pm yesterday (26/02/2014) and got to the end of our garden path to find that someone had kicked moss off our garage wall and scrapped it off our garage roof so that it lay in clumps on our garden path (moss growing on the path was the supposed reasons for our local delivery office and/or postman refusing to deliver). This is highly suspicious since, upon my husband's return to the house, he found a delivery card saying that our post had been attmepted to be delivered at 12:20pm but that we had not been there. Could it be that our local postman was trying to make a case for yet again not delivering by putting moss in our path? It seems that way to me. I have photos of this and am happy to share them with you as proof.

This complaint has not been resolved, as far as I am concerned. I will now be contacting both The Ferret and Watchdog. I will also be contacting Citizens Advice Bureau about taking further legal action. 

Here are the photos from yesterday, showing that the rest of the path is clear, but that moss had been kicked off the garage wall and scraped off the garage roof:


 After I had pushed the moss to the side so my husband could go through: (You can clearly see where someone has put their foot to it)

The roof: (You can see where some of the moss had been flipped upside down, where someone had been handling it)

Also, since February 10, 2014, we have received post just four times: on 12/02/14, 15/02/14, 21/02/14, and 26/02/14 - so IN WHAT WORLD has normal service been resumed?? 

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