The Pitfalls of British Mail

Coming from China—where practically everything is bought online—delivery is privatized and well-organized. This is especially highlighted when encountering more antiquated public systems. How can the Sea Turtle solve it?

delivery man with parcel box ringing door bell

Rapidly reaching my second month in Britain, almost everything has finally become comfortably familiar. Still, as a foreigner, of course there are some things that I totally cannot understand. Right now, the conundrum relates to delivery services.

In addition to receiving packages from online shopping adventures, British people also still love to send letters. In fact, the whole country’s communication model is based on “said in the letter.” Therefore, the British post is a very important part of daily life. However, as one of their newest customers in these past two months, I feel really dissatisfied.

The most ridiculous thing is that every time the card will have a highlighted line that says, “Your mailbox is too small for your parcel.” Is the mailbox supposed to automatically become bigger after highlighting text on a card?

Surprisingly, the domestic delivery service hardly monitors their parcels being shipped. In China, for example, you just enter a reference number and you can see a very detailed and clear delivery process: when and where the package was mailed, where it is in transit and even the phone number of the courier. However, in the UK—besides the many logistics companies that can also track items—many cases will only offer a very simple explanation: “Ready for Delivery.”

It’s common in China to buy something on Taobao practically every week. The most exciting thing in daily life was to wait for a call of delivery from the courier. Oppositely in England, waiting for the delivery doesn’t bring the same satisfaction.

Generally, when buying something on Amazon, you’ll receive a message that the package has been shipped almost immediately. However, for the delivery, it’s not so fast. Sometimes, after a few weeks have passed and you barely remember what you bought, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to finally receive your order.

Occasionally, I find that British couriers are relentless.

These carriers will not call you before delivering, usually taking the parcel directly to your front door, and do not even knock to let you know something is there. How can I pick up my package if I don’t know anything’s there? If you’re lucky, you may find a responsible worker once in a while who will knock.

If the courier finds you are not at home, he will first deposit the parcel with a neighbor. Annoyingly, no one will tell you that it was left with someone else. Although the website shows “delivered,” the parcel will still not be in my hand. Luckily, I have kind neighbors who specifically visited my flat and told me. Otherwise, I would never know the final destination of my package.

If there are no neighbors, the worker will just drop a card in your mailbox to let you schedule a re-delivery or pick-up from the post office. Many times, I might be in my room and don’t hear the knocking on the door, so they drop a card. What a regrettable missed connection! To make matters worse, the re-delivery booking date is generally half a week later, so the waiting is made unnecessary longer.

I even moved my computer and stool specifically next to the door in order not to miss deliveries. As a recipient, I am really dedicated.

The most ridiculous thing is that every time the card will have a highlighted line that says, “Your mailbox is too small for your parcel.” Is the mailbox supposed to automatically become bigger after highlighting text on a card?

I really cannot understand why no one calls to indicate delivery. If the customers are informed, I believe successfully received packages will also increase. Meanwhile, the re-delivery workload to employees will also decrease. The efficiency of the current delivery model is too low!

To be honest, my experience with British people is that their work efficiency is generally low. However, maybe I will not be that angry and unsatisfied after I stay here for more time. Perhaps, British people will be willing to greatly increase their efficiency just in time to prepare for Christmas.