I was prompted to write this by an encounter with a customer on Wednesday who called in wanting to stop the package she had posted the previous day at the post office. She didn't like the answer I gave her and so called customer service, who told her to come back and ask again. It was something of a waste of everybody's time. I confess I don't know in detail how the mail centre functions but I know stuff goes in one end and comes out the other and goes on to its intended destination. While the vast majority of mail and parcels probably now come direct from businesses we still collect from post boxes and post offices every day and dispatch everything at the end of the day to the mail centre. It seemed impossible to find a picture of a mail centre that was busy and full of yorks, this one looks half empty. The times I passed through Manchester mail centre when I was doing covid kit collections it was always busy and crowded.
So this is roughly what happens when you post a letter:
A postman comes and empties the box and brings it back to their delivery office.
It is loaded with the letters from all the other boxes onto a york (big metal trolley things).
At the end of the day a lorry arrives from the mail centre and takes it away.
They are fed through a machine that reads the postcode and they are separated and dispatched to the mail centre that is appropriate for its destination.
A bigger lorry takes it to the next mail centre.
Letters are fed into sorting machines that sort them to the appropriate delivery office and walk.
Yet another machine sorts the letters (well some of them) into the right order to be delivered.
They are loaded into boxes, put back on a york and dispatched to the appropriate delivery office.
At the delivery office the posties sort the mail into their walk frames. We can't just take the box of walk-sorted mail out because only about half of the mail is sorted this way so it must still be prepped for delivery.
Then the postie bundles the letters and smaller packets up and puts them in delivery bags ready for delivery.
Once something is in the system the only place it is going is the address on the front.
So no, you can't get your packet back. I hope that clears that up.
(Disclaimer: this A to Z is not official Royal Mail advice, except by coincidence.)
Stay safe. Be kind. Get your covid booster.