Royal Mail customers furious at 90-minute wait to collect parcels in Portsmouth

SLOW GOING The queue at the Slindon Street collections office. Inset, a poster put up at the post office. ''Picture: Paul Jacobs  (123350-5)
SLOW GOING The queue at the Slindon Street collections office. Inset, a poster put up at the post office. ''Picture: Paul Jacobs (123350-5)
Picture: Malcolm Wells

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ROYAL MAIL customers are queuing for up to 90 minutes for their parcels as workers struggle to keep up with demand.

Often the queue for collections at the office in Slindon Street, Portsmouth, snakes out of the office door and around the building, as pictured on page 1.

WARNING A poster put up at the post office. ''Picture: Paul Jacobs  (123350-2)

WARNING A poster put up at the post office. ''Picture: Paul Jacobs (123350-2)

Union officials say one of the reasons for that is that staff are working to a delivery system that dates from the 1980s.

If people are not at home when their mail is delivered it is checked back in by hand.

Then when a customer comes to collect it, staff have to check their details in the hope they can read the handwriting before finding the item on the shelf.

Now frustrated customers have had enough. On one day recently, people waiting to collect parcels claim only one member of staff was available and when managers on another floor were called they refused to help.

Martin Robinson, 44, of Britannia Road North, Southsea, said: ‘The delivery system has to change.

‘I’ve lived in Portsmouth for 25 years and nothing has been done.

‘There were only three hatches available when I managed to get in the building. I waited for an hour and a half for my mail and a lot of that was stood standing in the rain outside.

‘Eight times out of 10 the queues stretch around the building.

‘It’s not nice for people who are there having to stand around with their children.

‘Queuing time could be cut by 25 per cent if another staff was on the till.’

Another customer, who did not wish to be named, said: ‘When I was there, the managers were asked to help but they refused to come down. It’s appalling.’

The Communication Workers’ Union, which represents Royal Mail employees, said it is investigating the claims because employees have already said they receive little support.

Ruth Harris, branch secretary for the union, said the mail service needed to introduce a computer database to modernise and speed up the service.

She says delays are also being caused by a lack of storage space in the mail office, workers using bicycles to transport mail and a rise in internet shopping.

And people have been left confused as to when they can pick up their mail because instructions left on delivery notes are unclear.

Ms Harris said: ‘I worked at the Portsmouth mail office back in the 1980s and we were having to write down people’s details then.’

‘Royal Mail needs to drastically modernise.

‘It’s a worrying time because I don’t know how workers are going to cope with the Christmas rush.’

Though an electronic database is not in place in other parts of the country, workers at Waterlooville Delivery Office have set up their own to use.

An emergency meeting between union members and Portsmouth employees to try and address the issues will be held today.

Adrian Booth, of Royal Mail, said: ‘We apologise to our customers who have experienced delays.

‘This is being caused by the ever-increasing volumes of packets and parcels for collection as more customers turn to internet shopping.

‘We are making every effort to improve this situation and already placed additional resources into helping our customers.

‘This includes extra storage and a new system designed to locate customers’ items. We apologise for any delay whilst these changes bed in but we are confident that they will improve our customer service.’