Iceberg Letters

According to well-placed sources, Royal Mail delivers about 14.4 billion letters and, combined with Parcelforce, approximately 1.2 billion parcels per annum.

That’s a big old money tree, right there.

Yet for a flagship enterprise, they still cannot get the basics right. In spite of ‘exhaustive planning’, some customers may be experiencing ‘slightly longer delivery timescales than normal’, according to a corporate spokesdroid.

Well.

It sounds like bosses are working in alternative dimensions of space and time.

Parcels that were posted in the first week in December to same-county destinations are still out there in the ether, or more likely propping up a humungous slag heap of paper in one of the many drab sorting units scattered around our fair isle.

As for ‘exhaustive planning’, the PR team has surely been festively heaving on the happy crack. Cranking up resource to meet volume forecasts is Billy basic operational planning fare. The only conceivably exhaustive part about this could have been the energetic scramble to conjure up the most bonkers throwaway verbal turd for our consumption.

Not only does this risible offering reflect an operational circus at the heart of Royal Mail, but it does rather suggest that bosses don’t know their own market. In any conceivable economic universe where people are forced to stay at home, those in the delivery game will get more custom.

If anything, this is one business that should be prospering during the pandemic, with trade volumes going through the roof and an endless supply of workers entering the market during the wider downturn. It’s all upside.

And while the letters vessel seems to have sailed on, oblivious to the lurking iceberg, the rest of the commercial world is coining it in. The market at least knows the market. The Royal Mail share price has risen 41% in the last 12 months.

But where there is apparent idiocy, there is often a more cynical explanation for clusterfuckery and very frequently evidence of shirky, murky shysters playing Columbo. Postage costs are of course surrendered up front, so the money is in the bag. Why then bother to strive for service, take on too many more staff than your typical seasonal draft, and push up your costs if you have the perfect pass out of the mess?

Particularly when you can opt for the UK service industry’s route one for 2020 and blame all your service failings on COVID. Moreover, for belt and braces copper-bottoming, you can add a suggestion of ‘inevitability’ to boot. Hey presto, deliver what you can with the staff you have over a longer period, and trouser a mega profit.

Any dissent and criticism can then be countered with an assertion that it was all unavoidable and that critics are not rowing in the same direction team UK.

Everyone’s a winner, baby. Well, everyone in Royal Mail management is. Disappointed customers just have to suck it up, and kids have to make do a present-light Crimbo.

Johnson’s ‘fuck business’ now sounds quite reasonable against a business context of ‘fuck integrity’, or more aptly ‘fuck customers’.

The one saving grace is that long-suffering and over-worked posties have finally negotiated a pay rise after a 2-year slog by the CWU. That probably tells you as much as you need to know about where the organisation is at.

In other news, lest we forget, Royal Mail has just hiked the price of a first-class stamp by £0.09 to £0.85 – a rise that equates to 21% since the first quarter of 2020 and means that a first-class stamp will cost more than double than it did in 2010.

Nice work of you can get it – particularly if you no longer need to do it but can still shovel up the loot all the same.

Merry Christmas.

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