October 07, 2004

I wish to register a complaint

I was supposed to be giving up having complaint sagas with bureaucracies, but it'd probably take a twelve-step programme to keep me away from them. So what you normally get is a twelve-step process anyway. One, they foul up. Two, you complain. Three, they don't deal with your complaint properly. Four, you complain about the way they dealt with your complaint. And so it proceeds....

7 October 2004

The Manager
Royal Mail Customer Service Centre

Copy to: Keith Hill MP

Dear Sir/Madam

I want to make a number of complaints about the disgraceful level of service I am receiving from the Royal Mail. It is very far from the first time I have complained about items going missing or being misdelivered – this is at least the tenth letter I have written, not to mention any number of phone calls - and I am not prepared to accept the way in which you have dealt with them.

Recently I was sent a new chequebook from my bank, the National Westminster. It did not arrive, and on 23 September I reported this to them. They cancelled it, and then sent me a new one, but to the local bank, to be picked up, rather than to my address. (I am no longer happy for valuables to be sent to my address as there have been so many problems with my post over the last few months, and I would like you to make yourself aware of the various complaints I have made over the past period when dealing with this complaint.)

I thought nothing more of it until I received a letter, on Tuesday this week, from the bank. This informed me that somebody had tried to cash one of the cheques from the missing chequebook. They, had, in fact, tried to cash it for £950. In fact, I have discovered today that they also tried to cash another one, for £900.

Obviously I take this extremely seriously. In the first place, it constitutes an attempt to steal nearly two thousand pounds from me - and maybe more if further cheques turn out to have been presented. In the second place, it is only the most recent, though by far the most serious, in a long series of items that have failed to reach me by post in recent times. In the third, I have been assured I do not know how many times that problems with my post are taken seriously, that my post is being monitored to ensure it gets delivered, etc etc. You no doubt have copies of the letters which have made these claims. However, it does not seem to improve – in fact I was already intending to write a letter this week to report my latest problem of non-receipt, for which please see my PS. And when it comes to an extremely serious theft such as the one I have just suffered, then I think it is time that proper action was taken.

It may already have occurred to you that I think somebody in the Royal Mail may be personally responsible for this apparent theft. If the bank has sent me something and I have not received it, then a very likely scenario is that it has been taken by somebody in the Royal Mail system who has recognised it as a chequebook. It is not, of course, the only possibility – on recent form the Royal Mail may quite likely have misdelivered it – but it seems the most likely possibility, as given that an attempt has been made to cash the cheques, a systematic operation is more likely than just the mischance of them being misdelivered and then somebody at the wrong address attempting to cash them.

I therefore called the Royal Mail this morning, assuming – in retrospect I cannot imagine why – that they would appreciate the seriousness of this, and would put me on to somebody whose job is was to try and locate and identify internal theft. Instead, I found it treated little more seriously than a report of misdirected junk mail. I spoke to somebody called D---- C---- at your S---- centre. He took some very sketchy and general details of the missing item, and said they would be passed on to your team that deal with such matters. I then expected to be told that these people would be in touch with me presently. How wrong I was. Mr C---- actually stated that they probably wouldn't be in touch with me at all.

This is appalling, is it not? I suffer an attempted theft, of serious proportions, which, it is entirely likely, is because of internal theft, theft by one or more of your own employees, and nobody will even get back to me about it? What sort of an organisation is it which thinks that it can behave in such a manner? What am I supposed to do, and think, about this? Am I supposed to just accept that my valuables may be stolen in transit and that nobody will even have the courtesy to discuss the matter with me? Can you possibly explain to me how reassured I am supposed to be by that, and how much confidence this will give me that this extremely serious matter will be investigated in any way? Given the record so far, which is that however may complaints I make, nothing improves in any way, what possible reason can I have for thinking that this is anything other than a brush-off?

Obviously I can appreciate that it is not so simple to find out who, if anyone, has been involved in this theft. That much is understood. What, however, I can neither appreciate nor understand is why you think you can receive a complaint of this kind and not even respond to the person who has complained, somebody who has been put in an extremely vulnerable position by the Royal Mail's own failings, somebody who remains in that vulnerable position and who actually needs some sort of practical reassurance. Instead, they are simply left swinging in the wind.

I am shocked and upset by the way in which you think you are entitled to deal with this. I am further shocked by the attitude of at least one member of staff to whom I spoke today, in so far as Mr C----, when I was unhappy with what I was being told, refused on several occasions to allow me to speak to a supervisor. It is quite elementary that you cannot refuse members of the public when they make such a request. I have had several jobs where I have been required to deal with the public, including my present employment, and it has always been entirely basic that such requested should be complied with. It further reinforces my picture of Royal Mail as an organisation which does not care about the experiences or feelings of members of the public who are unfortunate enough to have to have dealings with you. We are expected to put up with whatever we get, to carry on putting up with it and to do so without, apparently, even having anybody come back to us on important matters like theft, or even having the right to speak to a supervisor.

I would like to make the following requests:

  • I would like, please, a written explanation as to why Mr C---- refused me, several times, when I asked to speak to a supervisor. By his own account the conversation will have been recorded and I would like you, please, to listen to it.
  • Even more importantly, I would like, please, to have somebody who deals with internal theft to speak to me personally about this matter and explain in detail what you propose to do about it.
  • I would not like you to tell me what you are "committed to", to "assure" me of anything, or to send me a book of stamps by way of recompense. I want to know that problems are being taken seriously and that steps are being taken to resolve them. Until that happens, being told how seriously you take it merely adds to the frustration.

I have copied this letter to my MP, who I am asking to pursue this enquiry on my behalf.



PS I said I had another matter to report, which I would get to in a PS. Not for the first time, I have to report that a magazine, to which I have a subscription, has not reached me through the post. It would normally have got to me by 22 September, and it has not. It is a copy of the London Review Of Books with the cover date of 23 September. I have now been obliged to go an purchase another copy, for which I attach the receipt. This cost me £2.99 which I would now like to have refunded please.


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