Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Royal Mail - time for it to face the discipline of the free market

With the Labour Party and the Trades Unions predictably "frothing at the mouth" about the forthcoming privatisation of Royal Mail, I thought I would publish a simple "Is it Broken - Does it Need Fixing?" quiz.
Through the various Conservative Associations I work for I consider myself a major user of Royal Mail services. Last year we spent over £20,000 on postage, and regularly use six different RM products, from normal over the counter stamps, pre-paid franking machine, Mailsort, Online Business Account, Freepost and Reply Paid.
So, take part in my simple multiple choice quiz...
Q1. If you ran a delivery company and a customer spent £2,700 in one day, and had ordered from you 40 mail sacks which you forgot to deliver despite confirming the request in writing, what would you do?
(a) Apologise and arrange for someone to drive around from the local sorting office (3 miles away) with the missing sacks in order to fulfil your obligations to your customer.

(b) Apologies, but ask the customer to put the franked mail in whatever sacks and boxes they had  to hand, and arrange to pick these up as planned.

(c) Tell the customer that a written confirmation is sent from Head Office and it's not the fault of the local depot. Refuse to deliver the sacks as "it's not my job". Advise the customer that unless the mail is sacked properly, you will refuse to collect it - and say that it is the customers responsibility to obtain the sacks by driving around local post offices asking for spare sacks wherever they could be found.

Q2. If the customer referred to above was only able to obtain 30 sacks, resulting in each sack being 25% overweight, what would you do (bearing in mind it was your fault that the sacks were not delivered)?

(a) Bring a few spare sacks with me in case their was a problem, and spread the load (as you would have to do if the letters were placed in a post box).

(b) Take the mail without complaint, after all the customer has just spent £2,700 and it isn't his fault he didn't have the sacks.

(c) Make a complaint to your Trades Union rep, who in turn informed the Health & Safety Officer, who could then write to the customer pointing out that the mail sacks were overweight and threatening to withdraw services and possibly take legal action if the over packing of mail sacks occurred again?

Q3. if a customer who spent £20,000pa with you requested and paid for five private collections (ie, where your van calls at his office to collect sacked mail) how many of those pre-booked, pre-paid and confirmed collections would you ignore?

(a) None - if a customer pays for a service I have a duty to fulfil my obligations

(b) One or two - we are all human and accidents happen

(c) All five of them. It's all the fault of Head Office who take the bookings and expect us to read the email. 

Q4. If your company was losing money and staff were facing redundancy, and a customer accidentally sent 5,000 items of OBA pre-franked mail but only enclosed a payment certificate for 3,000 items, what would you do?

(a) Immediately phone the customer and request the missing payment, withholding the mail until the short payment was received?

(b) Realise the error when reconciling the paperwork and inform the customer of the debt?

(c) Do absolutely nothing until the customer phoned your Revenue Department and a admitted the error, at which point you can blame the system for not picking up the discrepancy.

Q5. If you fail to pick up a customer's 8,500 items of post which are dated and time sensitive and need to be in the system that day, what would you do (bearing in mind they had just spent over £3,000 with your company)?

(a) Apologise and send a van around immediately?

(b) Explain that all the vans are out and there is no way to reschedule, and ask the customer if they could bring the post around to the local sorting office?

(c) Tell the customer to bring the post to the sorting office then criticise them for daring to enter Royal Mail property without authorisation, then keep them waiting for an hour as the two people trained to unload sacks and push trolleys are both unavailable until 2pm.

Now. most companies (or their local employees if they cared about their customers and wanted to increase sales and protect their jobs) would choose Answer A. Fair enough, a few may choose Answer B, that's human nature.

Sadly, in the cases highlighted above, Royal Mail's answer was C every time.  

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