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I will be sticking with Royal Mail where possible in the future

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COLUMN: The Postie Notes by Mark Gilbert

After singing along to “Tulips from Amsterdam”, I googled the song by Max Bygraves. It was whilst talking to Dorothy and Henry at their gate at InverSkaill, in the middle of nowhere, that I remembered his tag line was, “I Wanna Tell You a Story.”

Well, here it is, I’ll have to leave out the main players’ names, so as not to get into any trouble, but most folk in the far north will know who I am talking about.

Northern Times columnist Mark Gilbert.
Northern Times columnist Mark Gilbert.

Royal Mail is great. Not everyone thinks so, but we all have different experiences, and after 28 years with them (man and boy), as a postie, manager, trainer, internal security and now “retired to the Highlands postie”, I feel I have enough knowledge of the business to comment.

My own delivery and collection woes have caused frustration and a feeling of helplessness, which may be specific to the Highlands, inflicted by Royal Mail’s so-called competitors.

So as not to order everything I need up here on Torrisdale from Amazon, I decided to order my new “magic” garden hose from a smaller supplier, a company which I deliver brochures for, and seemingly have good quality products.

The first hose arrived, and I set it up and was initially pleased with the performance. That was until just after I had showed it to Paul, the Skerray postie, as just after he left the joint to the spray gun failed and I got soaked!

I spoke to the supplier, and they agreed to exchange the unit and emailed me a returns label. The return parcel sat on the shelf waiting to be collected for six weeks, with the supplier telling me they couldn’t send a replacement until it had been collected.

As soon as it was collected they dispatched the new one, which arrived in time for Christmas.

So, the big set up came when my sister-in-law Sylvia was here, and it failed at the tap end joint immediately! That started a new sequence of enough new labels applied to the parcel to add about a pound weight to it.

The company said that because I had had it for more than 30 days, they couldn’t refund me. After a few more emails (88 and counting) the “customer services” department said they didn’t have contact details for their CEO.

I found the details and sent a letter by special delivery to the CEO, highlighting the issues, but received neither an acknowledgement nor a reply.

My return was eventually collected, and I received an email to confirm dispatch of the replacement, with the same delivery firm.

In the meantime, I had borrowed a hose from a neighbour after telling them the story, saying my new one was on its way, but after having it for a few weeks they prompted me to chase up the delivery and the company confirmed that they had lost the replacement for my replacement!

The third hose arrived last Sunday, 286 days after ordering the original, I haven’t set it up yet, but pray it works this time.

Since the saga began, the delivery firm has changed its name, the definition of its original name is: “A Greek God of commerce, eloquence, invention, travel and theft, who serves as herald and messenger of the other Gods”. It sounds good, but every experience I have of them didn’t give me an easy life at all.

I’m sticking with Royal Mail where possible in future.

Mark Gilbert is a postman based at Bettyhill.

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