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Rubbish Postal Services

Posted on 12th April 2019

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This post is a copy of an item from my News Blog.

I returned home on Friday night to find a package for me: a large envelope, in which we had sent thee Christmas cards for my family in New Zealand, for redistribution to my family by my sister.

The envelope had been ripped, and later resealed, presumably by the NZ postal service. It seems that at least one other package was similarly ripped open, because our envelope had been refilled with the contents of another package: cards for someone called Tom. Our Christmas cards were not there, and were probably delivered to someone else.

Our envelope was then delivered to the wrong address. The recipient then returned it to the sender, us.

What a dreadful service the NZ Post provides. I have heard a number of other horror stories about NZ Post, from my family.

Of course, other postal services around the world also screw up, often and badly:

  • In South Africa, you can't send anything other than letters and postcards through the post; if you do, the contents will be stolen. The postal service have video of such thefts, which usually occur in the sorting room, but are not allowed to prosecute the thieves because they didn't get trade union agreement to install the cameras.
  • Sheryl's father likes mustard, so a few years ago she sent him a parcel containing 8 different types of mustard. They were very well packaged. He received one of them; the rest were stolen or lost.
  • Many years ago, when Sheryl moved in with me, she had huge problems getting her American bank to send her statements to the right address (because the structure of German addresses is different to US addresses, and the data doesn't fit in the form or the database behind it); despite the incorrect addresses, her statements were somehow delivered. After months of battling, the bank finally got the address printed correctly on the envelope, but then the statement didn't arrive, and was returned to the bank by the German post office. The bank sent the returned envelope to another address (either her old address, or her parent's address in Chicago - I no longer remember which). We took the returned envelope to the German post office, and asked what was wrong with the address: "nothing" was the answer. We asked why it was returned to the sender: "You will have to ask the US post, because it was returned by them"; "No", we said, "the return sticker is in German, so it was clearly returned by Deutsche Post". It is still unclear whether this was a deliberate lie, or rank stupidity, by the German postal worker.
  • Deutsche Post charges a premium for sending odd sized envelopes: a large premium. It costs more to send an odd sized card than to send an A4 envelope, which is why we often send groups of cards to one person, for redistribution in the destination country.
  • My father told me about a man in New Zealand, who owned a business. He moved from the town to an address in the country. Post to such addresses is delivered to a post box on the street. After a few weeks, he became worried by the fact that he had received no post at his new address, and went to the post office to check; he was told that the post office had no mail for him. He did this again, with the same answer. Finally, he asked to speak with the post-master, who told him that the mail was not being delivered because the post box was at the wrong height, meaning that the mailman couldn't deliver it without getting out of his van. All his mail, which included bills from his suppliers and payments from his customers, had since been destroyed. When he complained that he hadn't been contacted about the issue before his mail was destroyed, he was told "Don't you take that attitude with me. We did inform you; we wrote you a letter."

This abominable service is bad enough, but despite it, the legal position in Germany is that proof of posting is considered proof of delivery. This applies to legal notices of all kinds, payments, bills, etc.

Is it any wonder that postal services everywhere are losing business to courier services?