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Published on 17 September 2009 in , , , , , ,

Yesterday was my birthday. I don’t normally mention such things as I tend to keep it low key.

It was a fine day but with one downside. Thanks to Royal Mail, I had not one card in the post.

They clearly don't get a lot of post in Ollerbrook Booth

If you’ve been following the Daily Links (and if not, why not!) you’ll know that there’s been serious problems with the mail in Wimbledon thanks to Royal Mail deciding to “modernise”.

This very morning, news was announced that postal workers are to be balloted on strike action.

One of the reasons behind the vote is because of proposed new working practises.

Well at Wimbledon Delivery Office, those new working practises have been put in place. And the whole thing is a complete and utter shambles that’s left most of the area with very little post for nearly four weeks now.

It’s a complete and utter absolute farce. And not just because I didn’t receive a birthday card from my parents. It’s cos I’m also missing things I’ve ordered, and my replacement contact lenses have gone completely awol. Thankfully my bills are mostly done electronically, but if I didn’t, I would have probably missed paying my credit card bill. And a parcel I asked to be redelivered has so far disappeared without a trace.

Even the attempts at sorting out the backlog don’t seem to have done much. We’ve had Sunday deliveries – from my kitchen window I watched one (presumably temporary) postman walk up and down our street looking completely baffled and taking an absolute age to post anything.

We’ve had two deliveries on some days, with a second post coming in at 5pm.

They’ve even been sorting mail in the street near Wimbledon delivery office.

The cause of the problems is, apparently, a new computer system which plots delivery rounds “more efficiently”. I suspect my milkman had such a system imposed on him recently as my milk delivery days changed from Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, to Tuesday, Thursdays and Saturdays when Dairy Crest updated their systems recently. A couple of months later the whole thing abruptly reversed back to the old system without us even being warned.

Over at Royal Mail this amazing new system will see a third of the Delivery Office staff lose their jobs and 23 delivery rounds removed, according to the Wimbledon Guardian.

The whole thing is a complete and utter mess. How Royal Mail can even expect to provide a decent service with a third of the staff in a delivery office is beyond me. Meanwhile the local staff are so fed up – and in such scenarios who can blame them – that they’re on strike. Which of course just makes the matter worse.

At this rate I thoroughly expect my birthday cards to arrive in December, and Christmas cards to arrive in Easter.

And if you think that’s pessimistic, well this amazing new system is coming to a delivery office near you soon. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

A word from Royal Mail

To provide some balance, we should address Royal Mail’s views. Unfortunately as I type, it’s “Service Information for Customers” webpage is still stubbornly refusing to acknowledge that there are serious problems with the mail coming out of Wimbledon Delivery Office.

It does find space to proclaim the following…

We need to modernise how our business operates for customers and are making strong progress in doing so. We cannot slow down and our customers want us to increase our pace of change. We face real challenges; the decline in traditional mail use, the impact of the economic recession and ever stronger competition. This is alongside the unavoidable need to modernise the ways we work and the technology we use. We are continuing to make changes now in a calm, measured and structured way, inviting continuous involvement and dialogue with our unions and our people, seeking to minimise service disruption to our customers, whilst we change.

Royal Mail is continuing to talk with the CWU and our people underlining the impact of service disruption on customers and on Royal Mail’s business and reputation.

Contingency plans remain in operation in affected areas including Royal Mail managers working in London and all affected areas to keep as many services running for customers as we can during industrial action and to help restore services to normal after industrial action.

Which I’m sure you’ll agree, does put the mind at rest.