I may have something of an obsession with the Royal Mail. That’s because I still use it, both for personal and business purposes. I am particularly exercised by the speed of delivery.

When the Post Office ran it, and even after the two things were split in some bizarre Machiavellian plan for privatization  the delivery was pretty good. purposes It wasn’t that Machiavellian actually – the delivery service looked as if it could make a profit, the Post Office side didn’t. The odd thing I discovered running a business that relies on posting parcels out was that despite the alleged differences; first and second class parcel delivery speeds were virtually indistinguishable.

They are very different now.

Recently I have been on the receiving end of a transaction where the second class delivery took a week. I know there was a Bank Holiday involved and Brits love the excuse of a Bank Holiday for all sorts of unfathomable occurrences. Bank Holidays are to us as Alien abduction and Bovine mutilations are to the USA. They appear in times of need to explain disappearances that might otherwise be put down to drunken episodes, infidelities, psychopathy or general fecklessness.

In another case I sent an official form back to a Government Department in a post paid second class envelope and that took four days to arrive. No Bank Holiday, Aliens or deranged psychopaths involved (as far as I am aware).

I know that if I am dissatisfied with the Royal Mail Service I can change providers. Except it really isn’t that easy. There are other parcel services where I live, although it is a very small town/large village. But they are nowhere near as convenient and despite all the headline rates quoted, always more expensive.

So why am I complaining? I am using the most convenient and reasonably priced service in the market. What’s wrong?

Well …the way the quality of service has plummeted since privatization for a start.

I am not against the market. Where it works. But in this case I can’t help feel there is a deliberate downgrading of the secondary price service to drive customers to the premium priced one.

Also I have a big problem with calling something Royal Mail when it is just another joint stock operation designed to maximise profit. The Royal Mails have been organising communications between Crown subjects for many years principally because private services were unreliable and suspect, and the Crown needed secure communications to occur in the realm.

That’s one thing I don’t think has changed and the fragmentation of comms services brings as much confusion and opportunism for exploitative behaviour as it does innovation and service.

Anyway – just get my letters there on time!


This was a short sketch I wrote in 2009 when the eventual privatisation of Royal Mail became clear. Although the idea of a rump public sector service has gone by the board the resonance with the current erosion of the universal door to door service and the fattening up for private acquisition still amuses me in an ironic way.


C = Customer

PO= Post Office worker.


C         I’d like to send this first class please.

PO       Public or private?

C         Sorry?

PO       Public or  private?

C         I just want to post it.

PO      (Sighs)

PO       Where to mate?

C         My auntie, in Devon.

PO       Devon? How old is she?

C         She’s 67, look what’s that got…

PO       Drive does she?

C         Yes. Well, she can, but she’s not very confident now her eyes are….

 PO       Better be public then.

 C         Why?

 PO       Delivery to the door

 C         Okay how much is that?

 PO       £25 mate.

 C         What!

 PO       First class Royal Mail £25 to Devon

 C         It’s only a birthday card for God’s sake.

 PO       Well that’s the first class postage to Devon these days sir.

 C         I could drive there and back for nearly that much.

 PO       I was doing to suggest it sir.

 C         But why?

 PO       Well, that’s the public sector for you isn’t it?

 C         What do you mean? What’s that got to do with it?

 PO       Well you’re paying for years of wasters expecting a free ride.

 C         A free ride?

 PO       Pensions, contracts of employment, redundancy pay, a 37 hour week, a living wage, all that socialist rubbish.

 C         So how much is the private mail to Devon?

 PO       Ah now you’re talking sir, I knew you’d see sense. £2.50.

 C         It’s still pretty steep… but okay.

 PO       Very wise sir. You won’t regret it.

 C         And when will it get there?

 PO       First class sir, tomorrow, guaranteed next day delivery.

 C         Great, it’s her birthday tomorrow.

 PO       Checks her mail every day does she sir?

 C         Well, of course, she doesn’t just leave it on the mat.

 PO       Mat?

 C         You know when it drops through the letter box, she picks it up straight away.

 PO       Very funny sir.

 C         Why funny?

 PO       It’s the private sector sir, efficient, fast, reliable.

 C         So?

 PO       Efficiency does not do door to door.

 C         So what does it do?

 PO       All she has to do is pick it up from the Local Customer Satisfaction Collection and Delivery Point.

 C         Which is where for Devon?

 PO       Reading. Thank you for using EasyMail. Next