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Postal Services

  • The UK's Royal Mail has an ingenious way of making money on the side. It will distribute fliers on behalf of other companies to anyone who has recently changed their address. They must charge a pretty penny for the service: it doesn't breach confidentiality, since the companies don't get the addresses to which their brochures are being sent; at the same time, it still effectively targets lots of people who have recently moved who may be in the market for furniture and DIY-related products. They charge enough that in the month since we're changed our address, we've received all of two brochures this way. Bonus: It's possible to opt out from this serivce.

  • Something which bothers me about deliveries in this country: it's regular practice to leave deliveries with neighbors, if th deliveree isn't in. This has only happened once to me so far, but the general practice of it disturbs me greatly. Why presume that neighbors get along? That they'll ever see each other? That one won't go on vacation leaving the other packageless? It's an alien experience to me, but C. laughed at my worries over it; it's standard practice in the UK.


    ( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
    (Deleted comment)
    Aug. 18th, 2008 08:12 am (UTC)
    Interesting. Is this equally true, in your experience, for postal service employees as it is for private companies delivering parcels?
    (Deleted comment)
    Aug. 18th, 2008 08:11 am (UTC)
    As a general rule, I like neighborliness. In practice, though, when it comes to package deliveries, I worry about everything that could go wrong - and it could so very easily.
    Aug. 18th, 2008 12:57 am (UTC)
    I wouldn't want anyone getting my packages! I'd rather they took it back to the sorting office than left it with a stranger, but they do it all the time.
    Aug. 18th, 2008 08:14 am (UTC)
    Given how little time I've lived here, I've gotten to know my neighbors pretty well. I like them. They're not strangers really; and yet I still don't want my packages left with them.
    (Deleted comment)
    Aug. 18th, 2008 08:14 am (UTC)
    I knew I'd miss having a concierge!
    Aug. 18th, 2008 11:56 am (UTC)
    I had it happen to me once in Long Island, when I lived above a dentist's office; some delivery guy tried to leave the flowers for one of the technicians with me. I probably would have taken it if it hadn't been something I could have killed in the time it took me to pass them on.

    It never happened when I lived in a rural area, though. The houses were too far apart for that to be convenient for anyone, I think.
    Aug. 18th, 2008 07:50 am (UTC)
    Leaving packages with neighbours
    It is?
    I always get a card shoved through the door saying they can be collected from sorting office.
    Though Selfridges once left a delivery on the doorstep - but as it was a huge heavy crate-load of Le Creuset I suppose they thought no-one was likely to make off with it.
    Aug. 18th, 2008 08:10 am (UTC)
    Re: Leaving packages with neighbours
    So C. tells me.

    The one delivery from the post office I missed was left at a sorting office. The one delivery from DHL I missed was left with the next-door neighbor - no accompanying note was left with me to know it had been delivered.
    Aug. 18th, 2008 08:15 am (UTC)
    UK: it is indeed common practice. I did it last Saturday, much to the gratitude of the neighbour who would otherwise have had to trek over to the next town with something to identify him, which he wouldn't have been able to do until the following Saturday morning.
    Aug. 18th, 2008 08:25 am (UTC)
    I appreciate that it's convenient when it works out well; I just don't trust the system to necessarily work out well. When DHL left the package with my neighbor, they didn't leave me a note to tell me they were doing so; it wasn't even a package I was expecting, as it was a gift. They just left it and trusted the neighbor to tell me. It's all the ways it might not have worked out - conflicting schedules, sudden vacations, instances of neighbors who don't get on - which makes me uneasy.

    Edited at 2008-08-18 08:33 am (UTC)
    Aug. 18th, 2008 11:54 am (UTC)
    They should have left a card. You should complain that they didn't - without the card saying where they left it the system breaks down and the driver needs his wrist slapping.

    The neighbour should refuse it if they're going away or something. On our road, one neighbour never takes in a package whereas another is happy to take everyone's and usually brings it round when she sees someone is back!

    The post office varies, having words with your postman can usually mean that he'll default to taking it back to the depot, but where I live that process takes 48 hours, so I prefer to have it left with a neighbour.

    The worst one i had was where a furniture company turned up a day early with 3 wardrobes and 3 chests of drawers and my kind (but daft) neighbour took the delivery! Getting the huge, heavy boxes from her place to mine was an adventure.
    Aug. 18th, 2008 08:38 pm (UTC)
    Rubbish system
    This happened to me as well. Argos delivered the furniture to a neighbor two flights of stairs up from us and I was pregnant and my partner on crutches. It was very, very difficult to get it down! Also - nothing to tell us where it was delivered - no legible signature for their records or anything. It took a load of phone calls back and forth where they said, "we've already delivered it" and I said, "it's not here!" before we figured it out.
    Aug. 18th, 2008 08:42 am (UTC)
    Strictly speaking, I think you're supposed to tell the Royal Mail if it's allowed to leave parcels with a designated neighbour or in a designated 'safe place' - at any rate, there are forms for doing so. In practice, post people tend to use their own initiative, but they're generally good at telling you what they've done in my experience.

    I find couriers tend to be less consistent. I've never had one leave a parcel with neighbours but I've had them occasionally leave parcels on the doorstep (thankfully, not in an area with a high probability of vanishment), behind the bins, etc. with no note. In some cases, for example where the nearest depot is half an hour's drive away and only open office hours, that may be the most convenient option - on the other hand, it's decidedly risky.

    I suspect that if your neighbours thought there might be a problem getting the parcel to you (if they were going on holiday imminently, for example) they wouldn't have accepted the parcel. There is the possibility of deliberate malice, of course, but in that case when you rang the Post Office to find out why the parcel hadn't turned up there would be a piece of paper saying that it had been delivered to the neighbours'.

    Aug. 18th, 2008 11:07 am (UTC)
    I live close to the sorting office (just down the road) so I always get a card saying they have taken it back there and please collect it. I think it can depend on how convenient it would be to go to the nearest sorting office and possibly the preferences of the person making the delivery. If I lived miles from a sorting office I would appreciate packages being left with neighbours.
    Aug. 18th, 2008 11:26 am (UTC)
    With me, they usually just attempt to hammer the parcel through the slot in the door, regardless of size, shape, requirement for signature, crunching sounds, etc.
    Aug. 18th, 2008 11:48 am (UTC)
    Once my post person thrust a parcel into the hands of my neighbours despite them saying they were about to go on holiday and wouldn't see us. The postie wouldn't take no for an answer, so we were left parcelless for two weeks, just cos he couldn't be bothered to take it back to the sorting office!

    Another time I had a whole crate of wine nicked - the courier said he'd delivered it to our neighbours but all the neighbours in our corner of the cul de sac denied all knowledge of it. I'm pretty sure which set of neighbours it was, but cos the courier was so vague about who he'd left it with, we couldn't prove anything.

    Now I have a big sign in the window of my door, telling people not to leave things with neighbours...
    Aug. 18th, 2008 01:06 pm (UTC)
    Thank you for justifying my paranoia!
    Aug. 25th, 2008 03:16 pm (UTC)
    We've had parcels left inside the recycling box, with no note through the door, the day before the recycling is picked up.
    We've had parcels left with neighbours, but no note. And then notes, but then wrong neighbour listed.
    We've also had "please pick up from the depot within 72 hours or it will be returned to sender", when the depot is 15 miles from anywhere and no option of a redeliver, and we don't drive.
    We've also had notes saying it must be picked up from the depot with ID of the recipent, but no indication of who the recipient is.
    ( 18 comments — Leave a comment )