Sometimes, just sometimes, I do need a reliable and affordable postal service. As someone who has friends in various countries, and who occasionally (and admittedly rarer than could be) would like to connect in simple but nice ways with her family and friends beyond the Channel and Irish Sea, I need to use some form of postal service.
So, I put a parcel of little titbits together for a friend of mine. Nothing of great value, just a parcel of goodies that a family of four would enjoy opening up. When I heard the postage cost I thought I'd misheard. Honestly, I had to ask twice to make sure that my ears were in fact working and the poor man in the shop post office hadn't made a mistake. The bill came to 32 quid. I kid you not, that's considerably more than the actual value of the items in the box. I had to decide not to use the service offered, which was embarrassing. Kindly, the guy fiddled about and found that if I repackaged into two parcels of 3 lbs each, I'd only pay half of that. How can that be? I mean, surely, it must be easier to handle one rather than two parcels? I decided to go with the competition, DHL to be precise, who picked up the parcel from my door, and deliver it tracked within 3-5 days for half the cost of Royal Mail. Plus I didn't need to repackage.
At the same time I'm waiting for a parcel from German that was posted well over 2 weeks ago. By airmail. It must be the slowest aeroplane ever. Some people may be able to cycle the distance in that time. What if it was meant for an occasion and arrived too late?
Next, I send a letter with 10 copies of A Hat in Time (have you got your copy yet?) from Glasgow to Edinburgh, for sale at a crafts market. Posted on Wednesday first class (very expensive and yes, ouch, because I still haven't quite recovered the outlay of the print run, and remember, this month I'm broke, so it was a financial risk to start with because I have to sell 3 books just to just recover the postage and production cost). Today, Friday, it hasn't yet arrived. This means I'll lose 50% of potential sale time. We're talking Glasgow to Edinburgh here, I could have driven the books there for the cost of postage.
I've had various incidents of larger items getting lost, within the UK and between EU countries. There was a toddler coat that I bought on ebay which arrived 6 weeks after it was sent, by that time the seller had completed (!) a claim with Royal Mail. I got my coat for free that way, but really, I'd rather pay and get my coat in time.
There are numerous incidents of a red card being left in our letter box and when I drag myself to the depot (which is only open mornings and about 4 miles away), the item was not to be found. Never to appear again. Without any knowledge of who sent it, so I can't even get the sender to claim for a lost item. And I don't even know if it was valuable, a nice gesture or anything else that I'd like to send the sender for.
So I'm seriously considering if I should entrust any Christmas cards to the rubbish service that has become out of Royal Mail. I'm all for supporting them so they can actually stay in business, but there are limits. It really infuriates me that they make it unaffordable to send a little something to people you hardly see, thus undermining the cracked leg that their business stands on. The personal touch of a letter, a parcel, sent from human to human. I'll certainly think twice now about using them at all. That surely can't be in their business interest.
photo credit: theedinburghblog via flickr.com