Way back in 2012 I started posting some advice about using the postal system at Christmas. The traffic of parcels through the system has been akin to Christmas levels since the lockdown started back in March. People who couldn't go out and buy stuff suddenly found the only way to fill their houses with crap was to order it over the interweb. (The only perk of the situation was that everyone was at home so at least we got rid of everything and the number of packets being stored at the office plummeted.) Added to the extra parcels some staff have been sheltering or isolating, meaning people are often doing double deliveries and extra overtime. Consequently people are feeling stressed and exhausted, and as the Christmas pressure period approaches we are beginning to wonder just how much workload the posties and the system can handle. And what does Royal Mail do in this situation ... it introduces a doorstep collection service. So please forgive us if your postie is less than their usual chirpy self this festive season.
So, to reiterate the recommendations given previously:
1. PUT A RETURN ADDRESS ON THE BACK OF EVERYTHING YOU PUT IN THE POSTAL SYSTEM. This is the cardinal rule. Things fail to be delivered for all sorts of reasons; incorrect address, insufficient postage, damage to the address, failure to collect from the office, so if you want to get it back we have to know where it came from.
2. PUT ENOUGH POSTAGE ON. A first class stamp is only suitable for a flat letter 24cmx16.5cm, anything bigger and you should consult royalmail.com. Failure to do so will result in a surcharge. Only about 10% of people bother to pay for their surcharged items so the chances are that it will never arrive. Be wary of large or thick Christmas cards that will need a large letter stamp. Don't guess, just go to the post office.
3. PACKAGE YOUR ITEM SECURELY. Packages are sorted by machines and tipped in and out of bags, ensure the packaging is robust.
4. USE THE POSTCODE, and most importantly, USE THE CORRECT POSTCODE. Large cities often have multiple roads with the same name so using the wrong code may result in delay and possible non-delivery.
5. LAST POSTING DATES are a guideline, post early to avoid disappointment as I anticipate the service will struggle even more in the coming weeks.
6. A final appeal to STOP buying shit that is not Christmas pressies. Let's be honest, stuff does not make you happy and the thrill of purchase is not going to alleviate the existential dread that accompanies the loss of reality in our current climate. Add to that the fact that the planet is well and truly fucked maybe if everyone just gave charity donations for Christmas instead (perhaps the Woodland Trust or Medical Aid for Palestine) we could all sit and feel smug on boxing day that we haven't made the world a worse place in pursuit of meaningless consumerism. (I have major cognitive dissonance as I rely on Royal Mail for my income but I really wish people would stop buying so much crap.)
(Disclaimer: This is not official Royal Mail advice)