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Friday 24 March 2023 Dublin: 7°C
Sasko Lazarov/
# Delays
An Post experiencing delays with post coming from UK following Royal Mail strikes
An Post’s head of communications Anna McHugh told The Journal there are “big problems” with post coming from and leaving Britain.

AN POST HAS said it is currently experiencing delays in delivering mail due to the busy Christmas period and the impact of Royal Mail strikes in the UK.

It comes after a number of people took to social media in recent days to report that they were experiencing delays in receiving items ordered before Christmas. 

One person wrote that they had purchased something from the UK that had shipped on 30 December, but it had yet to be delivered.

Another person wrote that they had ordered something from the UK on 7 December, which had yet to arrive. 

Postal workers at Royal Mail held strikes across November and December due to a long-running dispute over pay and working conditions. Delays have been reported across the UK due to their impact. 

Parcel firm Evri today apologised to UK customers who are continuing to wait for delayed Christmas deliveries, saying that staff shortages, Royal Mail strikes and bad weather had contributed to the problems.

Speaking to The Journal, head of communications at An Post Anna McHugh said there are “big problems” with post coming from and leaving the UK due to recent strike action.

“They’ve had ongoing industry relations problems there, so there’s huge delays, both in their delivery of mail across Britain and their despatch of international parcels in particular,” McHugh said.

“Our operations team has seen many Royal Mail parcels arriving out of sequence as well, so stuff that was posted later in December is arriving sooner than stuff that was posted weeks ago.”

‘Underpaid’ Christmas post

McHugh said there is also an annual “unusual phenomenon” where An Post receives a batch of late Christmas cards and letters from Royal Mail, all of which are ‘underpaid’.

This happens due to British stamps being put on mail being sent to Ireland, which don’t actually cover the postage cost. 

“People in the UK stick a British first class or second class stamp on cards for Ireland – it happens every year – and that doesn’t cover postage to Ireland. They’re supposed to use international stamps for Ireland,” she said.

“Royal Mail kind of gather them all up, fill up a container and eventually send them on to us. They don’t often land until the end of January.”

McHugh said she hopes that the balance of outstanding UK parcels will arrive in the next week or so.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland programme, managing director of An Post Commercial Garrett Bridgeman said that Royal Mail’s failure to invest in its network has resulted in its service deteriorating to “a very low level”.

The Irish Post Office is owned by the Irish people and our primary mission is to ensure that we provide them with a world class postal service, and I think if you look at it, some of the other posts within Europe haven’t done that and I think Royal Mail is a good example.

“Failing to invest in their network and their services has resulted in significant deterioration of service for customers in the UK, lots of industrial disputes, and this has resulted in their service really falling and deteriorating to a very low level,” he said.

Bridgeman said An Post is with working Royal Mail to ensure that post still coming from the UK is delivered, adding that as soon as product lands into Ireland, it will be delivered within 24 hours.

International delays

People have also reported delays in receiving international parcels on social media, with one user writing that a parcel ordered from China had been sorted in a Dublin parcel hub on 29 December, but still had not been delivered.

McHugh said An Post is not aware of “any massive issues” with delays, but that new EU customs regulations have been causing delays recently.

These regulations state that electronic customs data and documentation for all items coming into Ireland from non-EU countries – including Britain – must be provided by the sender, along with necessary customs duty, excise duty and VAT.

If they are not provided, Irish Revenue rules dictate that they must be returned to sender. 

“There’s no underestimating the impact of the new EU customs regulations. They’re really significant, and there’s no doubt that Irish revenue has taken a very stringent approach to their implementation,” McHugh said.

“The bigger online retailers have systems in place. It’s where you’re dealing with personal gifts coming maybe from family or friends or those small SMEs who just aren’t aware of it, haven’t been informed and are falling outside of the new regulations, and a whole level of Brexit denial in Britain as well.

“It isn’t well known, a lot of people are not aware, so you’re relying really on people here who have been affected to let their friends and family know to get these things in order. It’s very difficult, and not at all customer friendly.”

She said other issues such as weather and ongoing pandemic issues in sending countries could also have an impact on items being delayed.

“People forget that there are still waves of Covid doing the rounds that impact, locally, in bigger countries that can result in slowdowns, staff issues. And of course, weather at this time of year, particularly from places like the States and Canada, but that wouldn’t be out of the ordinary this time of year.”

McHugh said An Post have also been impacted by a higher level of sick absence recently, but that it wasn’t having “too bad an impact on deliveries”.

“In some areas we have had to restrict deliveries for standard mail to alternate days, but generally if someone has a cold for example, they are only off work for a couple of days,” she said.

“Obviously Covid, flu or more serious viruses will require longer absence, but staff all work together to get daily deliveries done as best they can. Thankfully the weather has been generally good also – snow and ice are what we dread at this time of year.”

She said the busier Christmas period usually results in post being slower, which is now followed almost immediately by online sales across the majority of retailers.

“There used to be a bit of a gap and things would be quiet for January, but that doesn’t happen because the sales starts on Christmas Day and a lot of people actually wait for them to buy their Christmas presents and things.

“Then you’re straight into it, all the sales are on now, and then you’re starting already in spring, summer. So it kind of never stops anymore.”

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