Bert had an altercation with the Post Office today. He has sent a number of recorded delivery letters recently, all of which have failed to arrive.
I hardly need tell you that these are letters of complaint. He is writing to the electricity board to complain about them digging up his (our) garden to lay their cables without consent.
Hmmm - maybe he sent my Valentine card by recorded delivery, as that failed to arrive too.
Anyway, today he phoned up to complain about the non-arrival of his mail. They said there is nothing they can do to trace the letters. "But what about using the tracking numbers I was given when I sent the letters recorded delivery?" he asked. "No. Tracking numbers are no good. We can only track a letter using its tracking number once it has been received and signed for."
"Hang on," Bert said. "What, then, is the point of a tracking number?" "Well sir, once a letter has been signed for, we use the tracking number to ascertain whether the letter was delivered late or not. But until it has been signed for, the tracking number has no significance whatsoever. Indeed, it does not even appear in our system. We keep no record of tracking numbers."
"Okay," said Bert. "So what about my letters which appear to have disappeared? Do I get compensation for those?" "Well that depends," they replied. "We offer £10 compensation for letters that are delivered, i.e. signed for, more than 15 days late. But if the letter is lost, i.e. never signed for, then we offer a book of stamps in compensation. To claim this, you need to send in the original ticket with the tracking number." "So hang on," said Bert, "I send in the original ticket - using a stamp - and then you send me a book of stamps in return?" "Exactly." "So when is a letter lost, and when is it late?" asked Bert. "A letter is lost if it is not delivered, i.e. signed for, within 30 days," replied the Post Office.
They went on to explain that recorded delivery letters are far more likely to end up 'lost' than your average first or second class letter. This is because recorded delivery letters are sent in batches, and big companies receive a batch but do not sign for the individual letters. Often the letters do arrive, but the Post Office doesn't know about it.
The long and short of it was that the PO was prepared to compensate Bert for his last letter, which was officially late (i.e. more than 15 but less than 30 days late). "But what about my earlier letters?" "No, they're not late any more. They're missing. We don't compensate for missing letters." Which takes us back to the book of stamps. "A book of stamps? Is that it?" Bert asked incredulously. "Well, they are first class," pointed out the PO. "Oh come on," he remonstrated. "Would you consider - instead - compensating me with the monetary value of a book of stamps? I can at least go out for a pint then and feel like I've achieved something with this phone call." They laughed. But no, stamps were as far as they were prepared to go.
As Bert pointed out, a book of stamps represented twelve more opportunities for the Post Office to lose his mail.