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Call for Royal Mail probe as 60% of adults faced festive delivery failures

Paloma Kubiak
Written By:
Paloma Kubiak

Six in 10 people experienced a delay with a letter they sent via Royal Mail, or post they were expecting over the festive period, resulting in some missing important documents and appointments.

An estimated 31 million people (60% of UK adults) were hit with letter delays this Christmas.

According to Citizens Advice, more than six million people missed important mail, with an estimated 3.2 million missing legal or insurance documents, while 2.1 million said they missed a health appointment.

The charity said this is the third festive period in a row where Brits have faced problems with mail delivery.

Between mid-December 2021 and mid-January 2022, it revealed nearly one in three (28%) experienced letter delays. And 31% were left waiting in January 2021.

The postal strikes have no doubt affect performance in the last festive period, but the charity said “this record of failure shows more deep-seated problems at play”.

The charity is calling for Royal Mail to improve its performance and for the regulator, Ofcom, to investigate its performance and hold it to account.

Royal Mail has an obligation as a ‘Universal Service Provider’ to deliver mail on time, but it’s exempt from targets over the Christmas period.

Meanwhile, the price of a 1st class stamp costs 50% more than it did five years ago, and amid the postal worker walkouts, a quarter (23%) of people turned to more expensive products to ensure their post was delivered on time during Christmas 2022.

However, Citizens Advice said 39% of those who opted for the premium options – such as Special Delivery Guaranteed – still faced delays, despite paying more.

Customers let down

Clare Moriarty, chief executive at Citizens Advice, said: “For a third year running, Royal Mail has let consumers down.

“Letter delays have real and worrying consequences, especially when people miss medical appointments or get bills late.

“Royal Mail’s virtual monopoly on letters means that Ofcom needs to take action to protect consumers from further harm. It must investigate Royal Mail’s culture of poor performance and stop letting the company off the hook over the festive season.”

‘Very sorry for disruption’

A Royal Mail spokesperson said: “We are very sorry for any disruption and delay that strike action caused to our customers over the festive period. After each period of industrial action, we have increased our network capacity and used additional resources to assist with getting services back to normal as quickly as possible.

“Throughout, we have prioritised essential government mailings and NHS letters for delivery. We are committed to improving our performance and accelerating Royal Mail’s transformation in order to restore service levels and meet the changing demands of our customers.”