Carbost residents “at end of their tether” following 10-day postal farce

Commander Bill Peppe said Royal Mail had shown a total disregard towards its customer’s concerns.

Residents of Carbost were said to be at end of their tether this week following postal issues which had left many across the area without mail for 10 days.

The matter was raised with the Free Press by one local householder who criticised Royal Mail for its “hopelessly inadequate response” to the problem.

Retired Navy officer, Commander Bill Peppe, OBE, contacted the Free Press earlier this week to alert the paper about the delay which began on Monday 14th February and has impacted residents within the Carbost area for a week and a half.

Since then the Free Press has spoke to two other residents who had been affected, while Skye MSP Kate Forbes said she has been contacted by several people concerning the delay.

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Mr Peppe first contacted Royal Mail on Friday 18th February, stating: “No mail being delivered, I understand there is no postie, I also understand mail is being held at the Kyle sorting office. Am I able to collect it?”

In its initial automated response, Royal Mail said it was sorry that Mr Peppe had not received mail in several days and could fully understand his concerns.

It went on to state: “We aim to deliver to all addresses we have mail for, six days a week. In a small number of local offices this may temporarily not be possible because of local issues such as Covid-19 self-isolation, higher than usual levels of sickness absence, resourcing, or other local factors.

“Please be assured we are working hard and are providing targeted support to the offices affected to minimise the disruption caused. We’re sorry for any inconvenience.”

However, Commander Peppe hit back, stating that the reply was “inadequate” and showed “a total disregard for your customers’ concerns.”

Underlining the impact the matter has had he added: “You have made no effort to research the situation on the ground and offer no solution to the problem.

“Your customers on this delivery round have had no mail for a week; time critical, perishable, personal and expensive items are waiting well outside your forecast timescale.

“The costs, material and mental, to people and businesses are likely to be high. The reasons for the failure are well known locally and are due to poor or non-existent planning by Royal Mail for a foreseeable, indeed forecast, problem. You should draft in extra staff to ensure that the backlog is cleared, and normal deliveries recommence.”

Further to Mr Peppe’s appeal, Royal Mail apologised for its ‘blanket response’ and asked if he could provide details on the date the missing items were posted; each item’s tracking number; the date he last received a mail delivery; and the details of where he heard there is a local issue and no postal worker allocated to his walk.

Addressing Royal Mail’s questions, Mr Peppe once again rebuked the company, writing: “I could have no idea whether we received mail on Saturday 12th February, but we certainly did not on Monday 14 nor since – there was none today – Monday 21st.”

He added: “Your failures show a total lack of consideration for your customers, both in allowing the problem, whatever its cause, to continue for so long and in failing to communicate and advise – might it be possible to collect mail ourselves for instance?”

The Free Press approached Royal Mail for comment on Wednesday (February 23rd). A spokesperson for the company said: “The vast majority of mail is delivered safely and on time. We aim to deliver to all addresses we have mail for, six days a week. In the local area, we are experiencing some delays to service due to high levels of sickness absence, Covid-related self-isolation and resourcing issues. We apologise to any customers who may have experienced delays to their mail.

“We have been working hard to get our levels of service back to normal as soon as possible. Anyone who has concerns over the delivery of their mail should contact the Royal Mail customer service team on 03457 740 740 or via the Royal Mail website”

On Wednesday evening, the Free Press spoke to Carbost resident Dani Anslow who had contacted Skye MSP Kate Forbes to seek a resolution to the problem, while on Thursday morning, fellow Carbost resident Janice Page highlighted the problems that she and others had encountered because of the lack of a service.

Speaking to the Free Press, an exasperated Ms Page said: “Most of us in Carbost are at the end of our tether.

“I have 10 items or so in three or four parcels held by the Royal Mail sorting office at Kyle saying they have tried to deliver.

“Not just parcels there must be mail as well, luckily none of mine are perishable. “However, my friend Jessie Donaldson had flowers sent to her for her birthday, and you can image the state of them.

“Amazon have been in touch with the Kyle sorting office and have arranged a delivery for tomorrow, but I am not holding breath – however, one would think that a big service user like Amazon should get things moving.”

Commenting on the situation on Thursday afternoon, Ms Forbes told the Free Press: “Having been contacted by several constituents in the Carbost area over the past few days, it would appear there is a significant problem with postal deliveries in this part of Skye.

“I have written to Royal Mail today asking them to explore all possible options so that an interim, though reduced, service can resume immediately. I have also asked for clarification on whether staffing levels are adequate or if Royal Mail intends to recruit for Skye generally in the near future.

“I am grateful to all of the hardworking staff on the ground who do everything they possibly can to help small rural communities get their post on time.”

Shortly after, Ms Page got back in touch with the Free Press after receiving her first delivery of post for 10 days, she said: “We have a postal delivery today, a large van came and offloaded big parcels and some letters.

“Either Amazon, Kate Forbes, or yourselves (the Free Press) must have got the message out!”

In a further broadside against Royal Mail, islander John MacKay emailed the Free Press to say: “I live in Fiscavaig and have learnt today (February 24th) that Royal Mail last delivered here on Thursday (17th February) last week, and will not be delivering again until Friday this week (25th February).

“A similar situation arose in a neighbouring area around the 13th of May (2021), for several days.

“I have tried to contact the Inverness mail centre for answers, but they have ignored my many calls.

He added: “It is shocking and disappointing that a company, whose profits last year were £726 million, have failed to provide a basic service in the area.

“Most people very much depend on the Royal Mail service, in particular remote areas of the Highlands and islands, where, apart from important packets and parcels, notification of Covid-19 vaccine is eagerly awaited.”

Article by Adam Gordon

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