The Royal Mess… I mean Mail

Last night I watched Dispatches, one of my favourite current affairs programs, and they had an episode on the British Royal Mail.

I knew the British post has been going through some rough times – they wanted to strike over Christmas last year because they were arguing they didn’t get paid enough. Also, their shifts had been changed from a four day week to a five day and they wanted it to be moved back to the original shift pattern.

However, I did some research and discovered that in 2007, the weekly wage for a delivery man was £440 a week. This is more than I receive and you don’t see me striking. (Although, in my case, it might be more of the scenario of ‘beggars can’t be choosers’.)

Over the Christmas period I posted about 30 cards around the world. This cost me more than £30. You can understand my dismay when half of those cards arrived ripped open, with letters missing out of them, or with the cards damaged. That’s if they arrived at all.

Thanks to Dispatches, I now understand why. It seems as though it’s common within the British postal service to open cards and letters and check them for money. Unfortunately for those postie thieves who tried to steal from my letters, they would have been disappointed. I had no money left to put inside the envelopes after I paid for the postage.

Certainly in other countries the postal service seems to be more modern. In Australia and the USA they use automated postal sorting systems but here in the UK they are still sorting the post by hand. Although the Royal Mail claims to have ‘modernised’, it seems they are still using methods they had in the 1940s.

Last time Dispatches went undercover at the Royal Mail, the company was investigated and received a £10 million fine. I wonder how much they can expect to pay this time round?


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