Monday, 8 October 2012

Royal Mail's "Delivery to a Neighbour" Service - a Good Thing?

This is one for our UK readers :)

From the beginning of this month, Royal Mail will leave your items with a neighbour if you are not at home when they try to deliver.  My question is, what do you think of this?

Whilst I can see the positives of such a system, I am not entirely convinced.

Yes, chances are you will get your delivery when you get in from work, which beats a trip to the Post Office on a Saturday morning.  Good.

That is of course assuming you have good neighbours. I am fortunate to say we do. Well, at least the ones we know!  They are lovely people who will even bring our post to us, and we do the same for them. Tea often forms part of the exchange.  However, we don't know all our neighbours - we live in a highly populated part of London and people move in and out of our street practically on a daily basis.

Would I want my purchases going to a relative stranger?  I'm not sure I would, I'm a bit too reserved to share my online purchases with all of my street, but ok, let's call it an opportunity to make a new friend when I call round to collect.

Would I want my valuable jewellery purchases going to a relative stranger?  Errr... no, I don't think so.

I have faith that many of our customers will welcome this move by Royal Mail, and I agree that if you have a good relationship with your neighbours and are happy for them to receive your post if you are out, then it does make life a lot easier when you don't have to queue up to collect your delivery from the Post Office.

I do wonder however - has anyone asked the neighbours how they feel about this?  The OAPs, stay-at-home mums, homeworkers and everyone else who spends a large part of their time around the home?  Will their homes become a depot for the street, Amazon boxes stacking up behind their front door?

It is a tricky situation for online businesses - we want our deliveries to get to our customers safely and quickly.  However these two qualities seem to be at odds with one another with this new system, it may well gain speed, but what impact does it have on the safety element?

Our contract of sale is with the customer, not with the customer's neighbour at number 56.  What happens when the customer is unable to get their item back from number 56?  Will Royal Mail still entertain a claim for loss when they have delivered it to the neighbour?  Does delivering your orders *anywhere* mean that Royal Mail have satisfied their agreement to us?  I'm not entirely sure.

A question for all of you who buy or sell online - how many times have you experienced or your customers reported that a "while you were out" card was not actually left when a delivery was attempted?  At least before, if the seller could confirm the item had been shipped, the customer would have the Post Office as the only port of call.  Now, if that should happen, your parcel could be anywhere on your street!  Ah, fun and games!

Anyone working in jewellery, whether you sell components or finished pieces, will know that we often deal with valuable items - expensive precious metals or stones, pieces of jewellery that have taken time and effort to create,  one-off items that are custom made for a specific customer and impossible to replicate - and if you undertake jewellery repairs, you will often handle personal effects and mementos that are unique and irreplaceable.  Are you happy to send those knowing that they may be delivered somewhere other than where you want them to be?

You see, the onus on getting the items to the right person apparently relies on the recipient.  If the customer would like their delivery of sterling silver items to be sent to them only and not to their neighbours, then the customer needs to contact Royal Mail and wait to be sent an Opt-Out sticker that they then put on their front door to indicate that their deliveries should go to them and not the neighbours.  That'll win you friends in the neighbourhood!  Will look nice in my front door too - which we've just decorated a pretty shade of blue, except it was missing a little something - ah yes! a clearly visible royal mail sticker of course!!

Ok, I may sound a little bit negative here... as I mentioned earlier, I can see the positives, really I can... I just fail to be convinced by them!

I suppose this is something that will be really good for some people and a terrible idea for some others, but still, I'd really love to hear your views on this please!

Jasmin x

To find out more visit Royal Mail's website, or obtain an opt-out form here.