Royal Mail delivery times affecting some businesses

LONDON - Some 35% of businesses that depend on the post for their livelihood find that the time at which the mail is delivered to their premises is negatively affecting their business, according to a new survey.

The research by Hamilton House Mailings claims that many of these businesses have complained to Royal Mail about delivery times, but only 12% of those who complained felt that their complaint resulted in a significant improvement in the delivery times of their mail. As many as 24% stated that they had some improvement or an improvement that lasted only a little while, but 64% stated that there was no improvement as a result of their complaint about delivery times.

What the survey found was that the greatest success businesses had in getting mail delivery times changed came when discussions were opened with the local postman as opposed to the area sorting office.

The survey highlighted an enormous variance of mail delivery times across the country. While 37% of firms got their post before 9am, 17% said that the mail did not arrive until the period between 10am and noon, making it impossible to offer a same day turnaround for goods.

More frustrating for firms was that for 24% of businesses surveyed the delivery time was so variable it was impossible to say when the post would arrive.

This had led 4% of those companies to pay for the right to collect their own mail rather than wait for a delivery.

"We rarely receive two days' post at similar times -- quite frankly any time between 9.30am and 4pm is the norm," one respondent said.

However the cost of picking up the mail is not cheap. One company said it was being charged £3,500 a year for the service and others have been quoted around £2,000 to have delivery at a time more suitable to the business.

The survey found that some firms said that they had changed their systems away from Royal Mail to cope with the problems that variable delivery times bring and are pushing customers towards email, fax and phone ordering to avoid the difficulty of variable delivery times.

The news was not all bad for Royal Mail. "They [Royal Mail] were very good at contacting us and our customers to explain what happened when a parcel went astray," one respondent said; and "Staff at the local office are always very helpful," another said.

The survey was conducted by Hamilton House Mailings, a Northants-based company that sells mailing lists and which runs internet news groups for businesses that work in the mail order industry. More than 1,000 companies were surveyed through the news groups.

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