diamond geezer

 Friday, October 23, 2009

So look, I've had this idea to save the Royal Mail.
And it's brilliant, and no taxpayers money is wasted.

One of the most annoying things about Royal Mail is that they refuse to deliver your post if it has inadequate postage. Some idiot has sent you a letter with insufficient stamps on the front, perhaps, or else been baffled by complex new pricing instructions involving weight and thickness. Sorry, a few pence under, delivery refused. The postie then slips a card through your letterbox, detailing excess charges required, and your intended mailshot is kept hostage back at the sorting office until you agree to pay up.

And it's not cheap is it? Not only do you have to pay back every penny the sender omitted, this is also dwarfed by a whacking great "handling fee". An extra pound or so on top of the surcharge, notionally to cover the cost of the postman scribbling a few illegible details on a card, and a missed delivery can suddenly become very expensive indeed. But you've got to pay up otherwise you'll never find out what your mystery package is, let alone ever get to open it. It's daylight robbery, obviously. But it could also save the business.

Here's my plan.

Get yourself an envelope, stick a folded sheet of waste paper inside, and make sure you definitely don't stick a stamp on the front. Then write down an address of your choice (and here's the cunning bit), preferably of somebody you know but don't like. Pop the envelope into a postbox, and that's your job well done.

Some days later your selected nemesis will receive an "undelivered" card through their letterbox. It'll tell them they've been sent a letter with insufficient postage, but not what that mystery package might be. Imagine their consternation. It might be a bill, but there again it might be a cheque. It might be junkmail, but there again it might be a premium bond win. It might be a letter from a long-lost auntie, except she's stuck it in too big an envelope and fallen foul of complicated breadth and depth regulations. However much they might want to ignore this unexpected missive, they daren't. So they'll head down to the sorting office and pay their one pound thirty something, just in case. You can probably imagine their anger on discovering that the contents of their expensive envelope really weren't worth the money. But by then your financial good deed is done. Outlay (to you) nil, profit (to the Royal Mail) £1. Kerching.

To truly succeed, my plan needs to be multiplied through the collective efforts of the entire population. If we all chip in and we all send an unstamped envelope to somebody we don't like, the Royal Mail will suddenly be tens of millions of pounds better off. And we don't need to stop at doing this only once. Let's all send another unstamped envelope a few weeks later, to somebody different this time. They might be a bit suspicious, but they'll still not resist paying because it might just be a really important letter they daren't miss. Keep this up over several months and the Royal Mail could soon have collected enough £1 surcharges to yank their business back into the black. Result!

This really is something for nothing. It's a bit naughty, admittedly, but it's not illegal. And it manages to annoy somebody you hate without them ever being able to trace the evildoing back to you. Please, feel no guilt, because the benefits to the country as a whole are huge. Indeed this is, I'm sure you'll agree, the perfect solution for rescuing a beloved national organisation from collapse and eventual bankruptcy. My plan cannot fail to succeed, just so long as postmen continue to make regular daily deliveries.... (ah, bugger).

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