I’m usually favourably disposed towards the Royal Mail, but right now I’m feeling very cross with them, and here’s why:
I live on the ground floor of the castle where there are eight flats in all. We have an intercom system that lets us speak to people at the front door and buzz them in.
This morning when the door went, it was a postman. He had a parcel that I needed to sign for so I buzzed to let him in. But, unlike most posties, he refused to bring the package to my door. Instead he insisted on me coming out to the front door, and because I didn’t have my wheelchair handy I had to crawl along the communal hallway to reach him.
When I got to the door I explained that I was a wheelchair user and asked why he hadn’t come and delivered the package to me. He said, ‘We don’t do that – you have to come to us.’
I was shocked, and explained that every other postman had always come to my door. He replied, ‘We just deliver to the front door of blocks.’
I wasn’t satisfied so I asked, ‘But what about people with mobility difficulties? I had to crawl to the door.’ He replied ‘I didn’t know you were disabled – I haven’t been here before.’
I asked about other people with mobility difficulties and explained that regardless of whether he knew someone was disabled or not he should still be ready to make adjustments and do things differently. He said ‘No, everyone has to come out.’
I signed for the package and said ‘I’ll just crawl back inside then.’ As he left he said ‘Yes, you do that.’
I couldn’t believe that Royal Mail would have such an inflexible system and assumed that the postman had probably just made a mistake and then not wanted to back down. So I called their customer services line to check.
The person I spoke to said that the postman was right and that in a multi-occupied address postal workers only need to deliver to the letterbox or delivery point. But he did apologise for the postman not going the ‘extra mile’ to bring me my package.
I asked if Royal Mail had a written policy in relation to disabled customers. He put me on hold while he checked. When he came back he said that it wasn’t written into any policy that postal workers should go the ‘extra mile’ for disabled customers.
I took issue with the phrase ‘extra mile’ and explained that I wasn’t asking anything extra. I was simply asking for a ‘reasonable adjustment’ to the basic service to ensure that I got an equal service. I said that I felt Royal Mail had a duty under the Equality Act 2010 to make sure they and their staff were ready to make adjustments for disabled customers.
Then I asked if Royal Mail had an access policy and he said he was only able to find something that related to the accessibility of their website, and when I looked online myself that’s all I could find too. I said I’d like to make a complaint about their apparent lack of a policy relating to access and asked that they respond to this in writing.
After hanging up I had a look online to check the information about delivery to multi-occupied addresses. This is what I found:
‘If you have an item that needs to be signed for this will be delivered to the door to obtain the signature rather than left at the central point’ makes it perfectly clear what is expected.
I’m sure that like me the postman who visited the castle this morning walked away (or in my case crawled away) from the encounter annoyed and agitated. I’ve no doubt that he thought I was just being a tricky customer.
But the bottom line as is that while I was able to crawl along the hall to reach the front door, it was neither safe nor dignified and I shouldn’t have had to do it. And for many elderly or disabled people that wouldn’t have been possible at all.
Royal Mail have a responsibility to adjust to the needs of their disabled customers. They should have clear policies about access (which are themselves easy to access) and importantly, they should train their staff in these policies and ensure they’re implemented.
I failed to reach a satisfactory resolution to this problem either online or on the phone, so I’m going to try a good old-fashioned letter.
I’ll keep you ‘posted’.