Last week I twice had a go at Royal Mail. I first had a rant about the company's false claim that it verifies opt-out requests and then had a moan about the fact that they don't send confirmation letters and reminders to the people who use its service (because, would you believe it, sending such letters is too expensive.
You'd think I'd be done moaning and whining. But I'm not. I'm only half-way there!
What is it this time?
In my correspondence with Royal Mail I pointed out that the company provides ambigious information about the consequences of opting out. When you send an e-mail to email@example.com you get the opt-out form attached to an auto-reply message and some information about opting out in the e-mail itself. The text of the e-mail includes the following warning:
Some of the items that we deliver may contain important information issued by local and central Government departments, for example materials relating to elections. Because we cannot legally separate these items from the others we deliver – such as advertising offers or leaflets – you will not receive these if you choose to opt out.
This statement contradicts this statement on the Royal Mail website:
Opting out from Royal Mail Door to Door stops all unaddressed items from being delivered by us (although we do work with Government to get a message to every UK address in exceptional circumstances). Election material is not delivered by the Door to Door service and is therefore not affected by this opt out [sic].
The contradiction is obvious, right? The first statement says that you won't get
materials relating to elections while the second statement says that
election material is […] not affected by this opt out [sic].
Well, it's not obvious to Royal Mail. A couple of weeks ago they wrote to me:
I can confirm that both statements (online / email) are correct and I am sorry for the confusion this has caused you.
So there you have it. If you register with Royal Mail's opt-out scheme for unaddressed mail you will not get any election materials but election materials will still be delivered. I'm so sorry you are confused about that.
So, which is true?
What election materials you will and won't receive when you opt out is really quite easy to explain. At a general election every candidate is entitled to have a leaflet distributed by Royal Mail to all households in the relevant constituency, for free. Rightly or wrongly, our political masters regard these leaflets as an important part of the democratic process, and every household will therefore receive these so-called election communications. All other unaddressed political junk mail will be prevented by opting out.
It's really not that difficult… And yet Royal Mail's confusion goes all the way back to 2006. You do wonder sometimes if these people should be allowed to run an opt-out service without the help of organisations that are more knowledgeable about junk mail and opting out.