Destruction of Customer`s Mail

dennis fallon made this Rhyddid Gwybodaeth request to Royal Mail Group Limited
This authority is not subject to FOI law, so is not legally obliged to respond (manylion).
This request has been closed to new correspondence. Contact us if you think it should be reopened.

Gwrthodwyd y cais gan Royal Mail Group Limited.

Dear Royal Mail Group Limited,

I appreciate you no longer have an obligation to deal with FOI requests,as you have now been sold off for profit, but you still have a business responsibility to explain to your customers how you operate and this public website allows you to obtain free additional notification of your Terms and Conditions and demonstrate your social accountability.

My concern is that Royal Mail carried a correctly addressed Mother`s Day card from Brighton to Birmingham but REFUSED to deliver it the last mile from the sorting office to our home because apparently the postage was 9 pence short, which they notified us by delivering a penalty card to us instead.

The process which caused them to divert and issue the penalty card caused a delay of at least two additional days which meant the card missed the deadline of Mothering Sunday, and my mother was so upset she told me not to collect it or pay the penalty charge of an additional one pound.

I was amazed to subsequently learn that, for commercial reasons, the Royal Mail have strict limits on the size of cards which will be delivered using a simple first class stamp,even though they weigh very little, and also amazed to learn that major card retailers sell cards which seem to exceed the allowed dimensions by a very small amount, and therefore risk delay and surcharge.

The only way people are notified of this risk is by way of a TINY logo on the back of the card advising `large letter`,but people are unaware of the consequences wherby Royal Mail will delay and refuse to deliver, and then ultimately destroy the mail if the penalty charge is not paid.

The person who sent the card posted it in good faith using a First Class Stamp in good faith BUT not only did the Royal Mail deliberately fail to deliver they then sent it, and the contents, to the National Returns Centre in Northern Ireland to be DESTROYED as punishment for not applying the correct postage.

From my point of view,this appears to be a stupid and vindictive process because the Royal Mail went to the trouble of delivering the penalty charge card to our home but refused to deliver the actual card.

Obviously the Royal Mail are not a stupid organisation and are following a strictly commercial process of intimidating the public into paying additional postage for small low weight items, without real concern for the consequences of delaying the post or wasting other people`s time making them go to pick up the item themselves from the sorting office.

People who post small letters and cards, in good faith, do not expect them to be deliberately diverted,delayed or destroyed by the Royal Mail so I would appreciate informaion on how the system operates.

Q1.Apparently an Ordinary First Class Stamp only covers delivery of an item that weighs less than 100grams and does not exceed a size of 240mm x 165mm x 5mm, and if any of these parameters are exceeded the Royal Mail may refuse to deliver even at a delayed 2nd Class basis.
Please confirm the type of machine(model and manufacturer) used to seperate out items that exceed these parameters, an advise if it is the same type of machine that has been used for the past 5 years or if it is ann upgraded more sensitive version.

Q2.Please advise as to the tolerance accuracy of the machine that allows mail to proceed as non-large letter post because obviously there must be a cut-off point.The reply would need to identify, for example, if items weighing 105grams,or of length 245mm etc, would be isolated by the system.

Q3.In order to test the quality of service at Post Offices I have prepared 10 pages of A4 paper folded 3 times to fit within a standard envelope, and there appears to be confusion within different places as to what is allowed, so I would appreciate knowing what is the truth.
The test envelope pushes through the 5mm slot using just one finger and a little effort BUT some Post Offices say they class it as Large Mail because is is a tight fit.
The letter does go through, so please advise the wording of how the staff are trained to deal with mail and the templates, because there can only be one correct answer.

Q4.Please advise of how the Royal Mail,apart from their website, advertise of these conditions of carriage and warn the public that possibly important post may be deliberately delayed if it exceeds the parameters by a small amount.

Regarding your website info, apparently Mail may be retained at the local sorting office for 18 calendar days, then forwarded to the National Returns Centre in Belfast and opened to try to identify a sender. As long as the contents are not newspapers, advertising materials or magazines they may be returned to sender.If there is no return address available and the contents meet our storage criteria, we may hold the items for up to four months (for 1st Class, 2nd Class. For Royal Mail Signed For™ it’s two months) pending claims via Customer Services. If the item is not claimed within that time, unfortunately we’ll have to dispose of it.

Q5.Please advise, if a letter is held at the NRC for up to four months and someone has been unable previously to collect from the local sorting office due to illness or holiday, the procedure to be followed to retrieve the letter from Belfast before destruction.

Q5.Please advise as to when the undelivered items are actually opened to search for a return address, how many staff are employed for this purpose, and how many letters do they deal with on an annual basis, using most recent figures.

Q6.Please advise what is the protocol followed by the NRC for dealing with correctly addressed mail, surcharge not paid,when the contents of the mail are found to include photographs,personal letters, cheques or cash.

Q7.Please advise of the vetting or security process followed to ensure that the staff are of sufficient integrity to open other people`s mail, are they bound by any rules, and how do they deal with letters marked `private and confidential` even when the recipient`s address is valid?

Sorry to put you to the trouble of replying to these questions but there is public confusion as to how the Royal Mail can delay,divert,open and destroy correctly addressed mail if it does not meet their Terms and Conditions which do not seem to be generally known nor displayed in public places.

Thanking you in anticipation,

Yours faithfully,
Dennis Fallon

FOI, Royal Mail Group Limited

Dear Mr Fallon


I am writing in response to your request for information dated 28 May
2014. You have requested information under the terms of the Freedom of
Information Act 2000. Following the flotation of Royal Mail on the London
Stock Exchange last year, it is no longer subject to the Freedom of
Information Act (FOIA). The Act provides a right of access to information
held by ‘public authorities’. Royal Mail Group was previously a public
authority under section 3(1)(b) of the Act, because it was a
publicly-owned company. Royal Mail was a publicly-owned company for the
purposes of the FOIA because it was wholly owned by the Crown. However,
now that the government has sold some of its shares in Royal Mail, this is
no longer the case. Royal Mail Group is not therefore obliged to respond
to requests for information under the terms of the Act.


It may be useful if I explain that following the separation of Royal Mail
and Post Office Limited, Post Office Limited remains wholly owned by the
government and as such remains subject to the Freedom of Information Act
2000. Therefore any requests concerning Post Office Limited procedures and
services should be made to them directly.


We would encourage customers who have any queries or concerns regarding
Royal Mail’s products and services to visit our website;
[1] or contact our customer services teams on 03457 740

Detailed information about our business is also available from

Yours sincerely,


Kate Fearn

Information Rights Team

Royal Mail Group


dangos adrannau a ddyfynnir