How To Complain To Royal Mail

On the day that the Daily Telegraph is reporting that over 120,000 complaints have been lodged with Royal Mail in the first 3 months of the year, we thought you might be interested in the story of just one of these complaints, as one of our contributors has recently followed Royal Mail’s tortuous complaints procedure.

Step One – Complain to Customer Services

Royal Mail Letter HeadWhen I discovered that a Royal Mail redirection service had stopped working, I phoned Customer Services. The team that answer the phone seem very helpful, but don’t seem to be the people who solve the problems. My complaint was logged into a system called CLEO.  Complaints logged in this way then get followed up with a letter. Mine was largely cut-and-paste affair that failed to address the problem.

After a few calls, I realised that phoning doesn’t work. Calls seem to result in a one-line entry into CLEO, and it’s someone else who follows up, often missing the point.

The trick is to write to them at: Customer Services, PO Box 740, Plymouth PL9 7YB (Or Customer Services, FREEPOST, Plymouth PL9 7YB)

This will get you a more detailed reply than a phone call.In my case, I ended up with a “we’re taking no further action”, go-away letter.

 

Step 2: Customer Services Manager

If you’re not happy with what the Customer Service Advisor has to say, write again, this time addressing your letter to a manager (address as above)

In my case, this got Royal Mail to reconsider my complaint, and offer a Gesture of Goodwill payment, which didn’t cover costs, so was refused.

Once you’ve done this and got nowhere, you can proceed to the next step:

 

Step 3: The Postal Review Panel

Postal Review Panel LetterheadThis apparently is a ring-fenced part of Royal Mail who’ll look at escalated complaints in an “unpredudiced and impartial” way. You can complain online: Postal Review Panel, or by writing to FREEPOST, Postal Review Panel (there’s no postcode)

I tried this online, and got an acknowledgement that I’d get a response within 30 days. After 30 days, I’d heard nothing, and chased them. Apparently the person was on holiday and no-one else could help. I gave up on Step 3, and went on the next one…

Step 4: The Regulator

Royal Mail’s regulator Postcomm uses an Ombudsman-like service operated by IDRS Ltd. This is called the Postal Redress Service (or POSTRS for short). You can only go to them if you get a ‘deadlock’ letter from Royal Mail, or if Royal Mail fails to follow its complaints process (e.g. they fail to reply because they’re on holiday)

Postal Redress Service LetterheadYou can raise a Case with POSTRS online here: POSTRS complaints. In my case, I had to fax over copies of all correspondence for them to review.

This at least gets Royal Mail’s attention. It prompted the Postal Review Panel to reply, although their letter said nothing that I hadn’t already heard from Customer Services, so seemed to be a waste of time.

Their response to POSTRS was better. A formal six-page “Defence from Royal Mail”, with lots of  information. The root of their defence relates to Section 90 of the Postal Services Act. This is unofficially known as the “Royal Mail immunity clause”. You have no “claim in tort” against Royal Mail for compensation regarding loss or damages if Royal Mail messes up.

POSTRS send out a copy of Royal Mail’s response, and you have the option to respond to their defence. Next, POSTRS send a letter telling you who the Adjucator is. It then took around a month for the “Decision” to come through. For me, this was a sturdy 12 page document  that: a) confirmed everything I’d told them, b) confirmed everything that Royal Mail had told them, c) commented on each issue (“I note that xxx said”, “I acknowledge receipt of”). The POSTRS  findings agreed that Royal Mail had messed up, but that the “immunity clause” applied, and a refund was outside of the scope of POSTRS. They did agree that Royal Mail had “failed to address the Customer’s complain appropriately on a number of occasions”, and mandate that Royal Mail apologise in writing, and pay compensation over its handling of the complaint (in my case £20 for the stress and inconvenience)

Step 5: Take Royal Mail to Court

Small Claims Court LettersThis may seem drastic, but if you have a strong case, and you’ve tried POSTRS, then take Royal Mail to court. You can file papers against Royal Mail through the Government’s online court service at  Money Claim Online. Costs depend on how much you’re suing Royal Mail for, but for less than £300, it’s £25 (at the time of writing). Issuing a claim only takes a few minutes, and initially, you don’t need to submit all of your paperwork, just an overview of the “Particulars of the Claim”, plus the amount you’re claiming. Note that you can also claim interest (8%, under Section 69 of the County Courts Act 1984)

The address to serve papers to is: Legal Team, Royal Mail Group Ltd, 100 Victoria Embankment, London EC4Y 0HQ

Once you’ve done this, Royal Mail gets a copy and has 28 days to file their defence (or pay up).

I’d love to tell you what happens next, but shortly after papers were served to Royal Mail, a lawyer from Royal Mail Legal Services wrote to me. Apparently they had a robust defence to my claim, again citing immunity under Section 90 of the Postal Services Act 2000:

“no proceedings shall lie against a universal service provider in respect of loss or damage suffered by any person in connection with the provision of the universal postal service…”.

Nonetheless, to save the time and expense of going to court, they offered to settle out of court. After some negotiation (by email to save on postage), we agreed an amount, I got a cheque, and cancelled the Small Claims Court claim.

The Result

For me, POSTRS and HM Courts and Tribunals Service were the two bodies that got Royal Mail to listen and respond sensibly, but it takes some effort to get to that stage. Royal Mail seems to make it difficult to complain, presumably hoping that people give up in frustration.

I can only imagine how much time and money it has cost Royal Mail to handle my complaint. The out-of-court settlement, plus compensation far exceeded the original refund I was asking for, and my complaint had bounced around Customer Services, Head Office and the lawyers for six months, which can’t have been cheap. I find it hard to believe that it’s in Royal Mail’s financial interests to expend so much money defending such a small refund. I can only assume it’s a numbers game – if I’d given up earlier, they’d have had to give me nothing, and I’m guessing several thousand people give up along the way. By making the process so complex, do they save more in refunds than they lose in costs and time? Who knows.

Hopefully my story had helped anyone with a genuine complaint. Before I go, some final snippets for those looking to complain:

Don’t: Write to the Chief Executive

Royal Mail Group LetterheadIn our How To Complain guide, we suggest writing to the boss, as this can work wonders. In some cases, writing to the Chief Executive’s office sets someone senior to look at a complaint, and take it seriously. I wrote to Moya Greene’s office, and the letter was forwarded to the Postal Review Panel, the people who failed to respond in Step 3. The CEO, didn’t want to know, so don’t waste a stamp.

Don’t: Try to send anything by Recorded Delivery

The Postal Review Panel’s FREEPOST address doesn’t have a postcode. Post Offices can’t send Recorded to Special Delivery letters without a postcode. After some digging, we’ve found this address, with a postcode: Royal Mail Postal Review Panel, PO Box 644 , Dearne House, BARNSLEY S73 3BJ

 

Do: Consider the Data Protection Act

Royal Mail Call LogIf you’re getting nowhere between Step 2 and Step 3, consider doing what I did. As there was some dispute over a fact in my case, I made a request under the Data Protection Act to get a copy of what Royal Mail held on file about my complaint. It’s free to ask, and you can submit a request in writing or by email. See Royal Mail Freedom of Information:  In my case, this yielded 4 pages of notes from Royal Mail’s Customer Services system, which included notes such as “the error was ours” and “consider goodwill payment”, The reports gave a good insight as to the way things work, and what happens behind the scenes of a complaint.  It would be unfair to suggest that everyone does this, but if your case is likely to go to court, using the Data Protection Act or Freedom of Information Act to get the evidence you need, may be worth considering.

The motto of the story?

The Royal Mail complaints procedure seems designed to make getting a complaint heard both painful and time-consuming, presumably to put you off. Perseverance seems to be the key, as does reading up on the  Royal Mail immunity clause, which they’ll claim prevents you from suing if they’re negligent.

In the first three months of this year, 120,884 people complained. We wish each and every one of you well in your mission, and we hope you have the stomach to go the distance. If you get poor service, complain. If you’re fobbed off, persevere. With luck (and time), you can win. And maybe if more people go through the process, Royal Mail will see sense and try to handle future complaints a little better. It’s got to be cheaper for them in the end!

Any stories? Please comment below.

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16 thoughts on “How To Complain To Royal Mail

  1. I am just entering step 2…! The letter to the “Escalated Customer Resolution”. For a claim worth less than £100. It is ridiculous, as is their phone service, ( nb – DO NOT PRESS ANY KEYS AFTER DIALING AT ALL and it will connect to a human.)

    I will report back at each stage and add to the excellent report already here. Maybe Royal Mail should have been privatized…?

  2. Thanks so much for this article. I’m just about to embark on stage 2 after waiting for 4 months for Royal Mail to do nothing. They’ve now sent me a letter saying that the person my Recorded Signed For item was destined for has not replied to their letter asking if the item was received so they’re closing the case.

    Their own online tracking system still says that the item was received by the post office on 26th April and is being processed, which would seem to indicate it didn’t get delivered. Plus, surely they know whether they have a signature?!

    How can the onus be on me to prove the item didn’t arrive? Especially as they claim they require confirmation from the intended recipient, who has absolutely no reason to waste their time getting involved!

    I was due a £52 refund for the item I was returning. I’ll already lose out as the maximum payable on a RSF item is £46. And they will, no doubt, only refund the value of the item, and not the postage I paid to receive it, (which the company would have refunded had they received the parcel). It’s not a huge amount of money, but time’s are tough and it all counts. I’m furious.

  3. I sent two cheques to my bank by first class post 14/08/11 and they never arrived. Both cheques were cashed on the 18th & 20th of August 2011 by persons unknown.

    I complained to Royal Mail and have been fobbed off even though it is some one that is working for the Royal Mail that has stolen my cheques, if the amount was just a few pounds I wouldn’t mind but they were for £5000.00. As both cheques were made out to me someone has had to open an account in my name to cash them, and it would appear that the employee’s within in the Royal Mail have got the cheque cashing business all set up and any mail to a Bank is evidently intercepted at source.

    I am ddefinitely taking this further as the police aren’t interested and I’m determined to recover the amount stolen from me via the Royal Mail!!!!

  4. What a wonderful story. Thanks for sharing it. I found it of great interest and most helpful as I too have been fobbed off

    A most interesting and helpful story. Many thanks for sharing it.
    I too have had a bad experience. Royal Mail should be ashamed
    of their mere stupidity in the way they treat their consumers, and especially when the negligence rests with them.

  5. Hello! Is this the 21st century? Do I have to queue behind a 20 strong line of people waiting at your Stourbridge branch (post office) to post a birthday card to my brother.

    Why would you have to do this sir?

    To buy one first class stamp of course. Why do you place the convenience of the public (your customers) in what I can only describe as cross inconvenience. Why can you not have a separate counter clearly marked (sign) saying get your SINGLE STAMPS HERE?

    What happened to the machines that gave you a single stamp be it first or second class? Gone? Sadly yes. Profit or non profit put before your customers needs?

    Almost everything today you have to queue for but that does not make it right. I finished up going into Wilkinson’s, HORRAY for Wilkinson’s.

    Yes! I could buy my stamp there. Problem was I had to buy a minimum of 6. I held back my tears, I am a pensioner I never post letters only the occasional birthday card. I had to pay out well over £4, good for you? Very bad for the caring image you place on your customers.

    I am under no illusions that this complaint will make one iota of difference in the way you the GPO run your business. But one thing I do hope I have highlighted in this complaint, this is one dissatisfied customer.

    This is a complaint, one that you are guilty of causing by your cutbacks and, total lack of understanding the needs of the general public. David Mellor.

  6. Why do I have to queue behind a 20 strong line of people waiting at your Stourbridge branch (post office) to post a birthday card to my brother.

    Why would you have to do this sir?

    To buy one first class stamp of course. Why do you place the convenience of the public (your customers) in what I can only describe as cross inconvenience. Why can you not have a separate counter clearly marked (sign) saying get your SINGLE STAMPS HERE?

    What happened to the machines that gave you a single stamp be it first or second class? Gone? Sadly yes. Profit or non profit put before your customers needs?

    Almost everything today you have to queue for but that does not make it right. I finished up going into Wilkinson’s, HORRAY for Wilkinson’s.

    Yes! I could buy my stamp there. Problem was I had to buy a minimum of 6. I held back my tears, I am a pensioner I never post letters only the occasional birthday card. I had to pay out well over £4, good for you? Very bad for the caring image you place on your customers.

    I am under no illusions that this complaint will make one iota of difference in the way you the GPO run your business. But one thing I do hope I have highlighted in this complaint, this is one dissatisfied customer.

    This is a complaint, one that you are guilty of causing by your cutbacks and, total lack of understanding the needs of the general public. David Mellor.

  7. Lets see if i get a reply after the postman tried so hard to post my package that he smashed the letterbox! Furious is simply too kind of a word.

  8. Thanks very much for sharing this. I am currently fighting with Royal Mail with my case. I sent my iphone to a iphone repairer that I sent my ipad for them to repair before. They sent my ipad back to me very quick so I always trust them. However Tthe receiver received the parcel but they found out that the package has been opened by someone else and the iphone4 inside has gone. Royal Mail refused to give me compensation because they said the wieght on my posting certificate is at the similar weight as the original packaging they received from the receiver so they said i didnt post an iphone at all!

  9. I sent an item by special delivery with insurance about 7 months ago. That item was stolen out of the back of the postpersons van. I filed a claim and have been fighting ever since to get my claim paid. It is about £300, so would like the money back. Phoning them up I dont get very far and the website does not really show you how to complain. Apparently the latest problem is a form they sent to the person who did not receive the item. He sent it back straight away (he told me this) but guess what Royal Mail have not received it. They are sending this again, and I am to give it a week but would like to escalate this claim straight away so am going to write to the review panel and maybe POSTRS at the same time. 7 months is ridiculous and they are still not helpful

  10. This is SO helpful. Thank you. I think I’ll go straight to step 4 and bypass 3 having done 1 and 2. They seem to get away with so much.

  11. Dear Post office UK,

    My name is Ruth Nannyanzi, I live at 163 A, (Basement)Gloucester Terrace, London W2 6DX.

    I am not happy the way the post men are delivering our mails. I have been in this area on this street since August 2010 with my family.

    We live in the Basement, Mine is A and my neighbour lives in B. All are Flats. The problem is that we do not get our letters in the basement. We have to ask the neighbours up stairs to open door for us to get our mails. This is three years now. Only one post man who I do not know his name his done a good job whenever he is sent in our a rea; he brings our letters downstairs in the basement.

    When the shift changes we do get letters. Now our neighbours have cannot open for us that we can report this to your office if we want to get our mails/letters. Also two of us Ruth Nannyanzi 163 A, (Basement), Gloucester Terrace,London W2 6DX and my neighbour is Mrs Benefield who live at 163 B, (Basement), Gloucester Terrace, London W2 6DX.

    Please can you settle this as soon as possible. We are losing a lot of important letters from a round the world which we cannot receive from your office.

    Please Post Office can you tell your distributer to see that we can receive our letters/mails in the 163 A and B at (Basement)Gloucestet Terrace London W2 6D.

    I will be very glad to see that our mails/letters from your office has been distributed well to us in the basements.

    Thank you again

    Yours sincerely

    Ruth Nannyanzi

  12. I sold an iphone on ebay for £155. Royal Mail person at the counter advised sending it Track and Trace.
    I stored the tracking number in my phone but foolishly I threw away the receipt. The item got lost. Royal Mail sent me 6 stamps as return of postage. They said that was all was entitled to because I didn’t keep the receipt.
    I have been using this guide, and unfortunately, have today had to go through the small claims court service.
    Let’s see how this turns out.

  13. £12.95 Ebay item sent to me using RM signed for delivery. Item did not show up but seller has provided tracking information with a signature which I do not recognise and printed name SHADE. Seller washes hands of issue and says it’s delivered mate nothing we can do. Ebay case opened and found in sellers favour because seller has proof of delivery. But I still don’t have my item! Appeal failed because – get this – ebay consider it delivered if it arrives within a certain distance of your house – wouldn’t elaborate on what that distance is. Well I still don’t have my item – so Ebay’s buyer protection guarantee is worth jack. So there you have it – it can happen to anyone – it could happen to YOU – on any ebay purchase that is delivered – on any value – BEWARE – I will never use ebay again – amazon only from now on – incase they are any better who knows. It’s not worth claiming through RM after reading all the stores above – not in my case anyway. THanks for reading – and going to sell ALL my RM shares and spread this little story far and wide.nn1nn1nn1nn1nn1nn1nn1nn1nn1nn1nn1

  14. Been having issue with RM since december 2015. My local post office delivered my parcel to the wrong address and the postwoman forged my signature according to my local office’s manager. Surely this would outweight their immunity clause? Someone please help as im fed up of getting fobbed off by RM x

  15. I have sent the letter to my morgage company twice and it had been received. Your staff doesn’t know how to talk to customers they didn’t lists to me about the problem,and I’m sick of lost or opened mail rude delivery men.

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