I'm not a fan of our postal service as one of my earlier blogs might have let on but now they have dropped to an all time low in my opinion. We have been waiting for a package from the US for over a month now. Such items normally only take 7 - 10 days max but i gusee this got held up in the postal strike. Yesterday I got a card through the door to say I owed the Royal Mail £12.56 in duty. I thought that seemed a bit steep as the product value was only about £40. I went to the sorting office to collect it today and discovered the duty was just £4.56 and the rest was a handling charged levied by the Post Office. "for what purpose?" I asked, and was told it getds levied on all international mail. "funny" I said, "I've never had to pay it before. Surely the cost of postage is the handling charge?" "Well that's what catches people out, you might think you are buying something cheap from abroad but then you have to pay import charges." Of all the cheek, this guy is now making an assumption on the contents of my package and my mentality. I glared at him which resulted in him saying "If you want to know more you'll have to phone this number" while pointing to a telephone number on the label.
I went home and phoned it. I needed to negotiate 6 different switching options before I actually managed to speak to a human who, unfortunately, was very polite and nicely spoken. it's very difficult being annoyed with someone when you really feel like taking him a cup of tea, giving him a hug and saying "There, there I'm sure it will be alright." No doubt that was why he had that job. Anyway this guy informed me that the charge was because the Royal Mail had had to pay Customs the £4.56 out of their own funds and the remaining £8 was a charge to cover that service! SERVICE, you've got to be kidding. I told him that and he at first blamed it on Customs and Excise so I politely pointed out that I was not the least bit concerned about paying the £4.56 duty and they were only doing what was right. Having realised I wasn't going to take that piece of bait he then decided to try and blame it on the banks, after all everyone wants to hang them out to dry these days don't they? Wrong again, I was not having that either, Bank charges might seem excessive in some instances but charging £12.56 for a £4.56 outlay amounts to almost 300% and I don't know any bank that outrageous. In the end all he could say is that was how things were done at the Royal Mail.
I feel like I have been fleeced. After all, it's not as if I had a choice, OK I could have refused to pay it but then the package would have been sent back and we would have lost out completely as the company who sent it would not have been liable to give us a refund on those grounds. At least if it's an upfront postal charge you know what you are paying there and then but this was a totally hidden one. the sooner another company has the right to handle small items of post in competition with the Royal Mail the better. the way things stand at present we are at their mercy and can't do a thing about it.