Introducing ‘ Royal Mail 120 ‘ pandemic service

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We’ve been examining shipping estimations on eBay for the past few days and it would appear that they have extended the estimated delivery times displayed to customers. From what we can see eBay have turned the Royal Mail 48 service promise into what displays to buyers as something more like a Royal Mail 120 service.

It’s tricky to tie down exactly what’s going on without knowing every sellers’ settings for handling time and cut off time, however we have established that for an item purchased on Wednesday this week, with a seller who’s promise is to ship on Thursday via Royal Mail Tracked 48, that the delivery estimate displayed to buyers is Monday to Wednesday – effectively 3-5 days or what we’ve dubbed Royal Mail 120.

There is no question that extending delivery promises is the right thing to do in a pandemic – there’s still a chance you might get an item after 3 days but if a buyer then goes back to eBay to ask why their item hasn’t arrived they’ll see the estimated delivery range still has a couple more days to go. Hopefully this will deter them from pestering hard working sellers who are at the mercy of their carriers.

However, on the downside it does now make it impossible to find items with fast shipping and it looks to buyers as if many items could take anything up to a week to arrive and that could potentially put some off buying. It also makes some other economy services look like they are remarkably fast as their estimated delivery windows are faster than Royal Mail 120.

The situation is similar for Royal Mail Tracked 24 where it appears the estimated transit time is now 2-4 days.

We’d like to note, our comments here aren’t intended to as a dig at Royal Mail or any other carrier. Royal Mail Posties are working their socks off to deliver the post so we’re presenting this as the reality of living in a pandemic rather than as a complaint.

Actual Delivery Experiences

Royal-Mail-results-parcel-analysis-from-on-online-sellerWe’ve already noted the actual delivery results from one Tamebay reader who reported 54% of Royal Mail 48 items posted arrived on the 7th day with 12% still not delivered by the 10th day.

These real delivery results are actually worse than what we’ve dubbed the Royal Mail 120 service, so we wanted to establish how quickly parcels really do arrive, not just via Royal Mail but with random carriers across multiple marketplaces.

Tamebay Black Friday Delivery Speed Test

Today we start a Tamebay Black Friday Delivery Speed Test. We’ve made a raft of purchases across multiple marketplaces with a variety of estimated delivery dates and different carriers. We accepted whatever the first postage offered was and also, noting that on Amazon all purchases were from Amazon FBA, wanted to see if Amazon Logistics would carry out the deliveries or if alternative carriers were used.

All purchases were made between 10.15am and 10.30am on Black Friday 2020, the 27th of November. We will be regularly updating results until all items are received. Much more important than speed, what we really want to know is if delivery promises are met. It’s worth noting the estimated delivery times have been pushed out by the marketplaces to anything up to 10 days or more.

As a side note, the prize goes to a seller on OnBuy for being first, in our Tamebay Black Friday Delivery Speed Test, to mark an item as despatched which was at 12.24pm.


Advertised Service

Estimated Delivery

Delivery Cost

Despatch Date

Delivery Date

Amazon Amazon FBA Sunday, 29 November 2020 by 8:00pm Prime Account
Amazon Amazon FBA Sunday, 29 November 2020 Prime Account
Amazon Amazon FBA Monday, 7 December 2020 – Saturday, 12 December 2020 Prime Account
Amazon Amazon FBA Sunday, 29 November 2020 Prime Account
Amazon Amazon FBA Sunday, 29 November 2020 Prime Account
eBay Other 48h courier Wed, 2 Dec 2020 – Thu, 3 Dec 2020 Free
eBay Royal Mail 1st Class Wed, 2 Dec 2020 – Fri, 4 Dec 2020 Free
eBay Royal Mail 2nd Class Thu, 3 Dec 2020 – Sat, 5 Dec 2020 £0.65
eBay Other 48h courier Wed, 2 Dec 2020 – Thu, 3 Dec 2020 £1.95
eBay Royal Mail 2nd Class Thu, 3 Dec 2020 – Sat, 5 Dec 2020 Free
OnBuy Standard Thursday 3rd – Saturday 5th Dec Free
OnBuy Standard Saturday 5th – Tuesday 8th Dec Free Friday 27th November
OnBuy Standard Thursday 3rd – Saturday 5th Dec Free
OnBuy Standard Saturday 5th – Tuesday 8th Dec Free
OnBuy Standard Friday 4th – Monday 7th Dec £1.16

9 Responses

  1. 1st class LL is currently taking 10 days to arrive, parcels slightly earlier, as the late fines are more on Parcels.
    We’re currently trialling Hermes Postable since the problems came to a head on the 16th November

  2. This is useful we will welcome the result
    The infuriating comment all sellers suffer Comes to mind
    I purchased 10 items this week they all arrived today ,yours has not why?
    Different couriers ,from different sellers with different goods ,On different markets
    With different locations , Is not really a good indicator

  3. @ Victor

    Oh yes. That is probably the most annoying aspect of it, those buyers uses their world beating “logic” to work out it must be the seller rather than the post, for the reasons you stated. Try to educate them as to why they’ve come to an incorrect conclusion and it only makes it worse. They’re not so much Sherlock Holmes, as Surelacks Brains.

    I’m glad that most buyers messages aren’t like that and do understand. I think the further we’ve gotten into the lockdown late deliveries pattern, more and more of them are realising it is true what we’ve told them, that Royal Mail can’t cope with the parcels volume.

  4. We mark an item as despatched
    On label print
    It may not be physically despatched until later that day or the next

  5. Amazon should take over RM, in my experience their logistics continue to be outstanding, And I am NOT an Amazon fan ! whereas RM at this time appears as some old machine that has been patched up to keep going over many years but is now on the verge of failing for its last time. I purchased something from ebay last week, only for it to be drop shipped from Amazon, but it was with me early the next morning. Outstanding at this time.

  6. Ebays final acceptance of the later delivery times is a massive step in the right direction, late, but better late than never. However…. as soon as that extra few days are up…. the buyer will be depserately ready to start opening cases, and sellers will be weighing up whether or not it is worth the risk of ebay punishing them, or to just refund straight away, knowing full well that the item will arrive within a few more days or so. Either way as a buyer, if you are impatient, demanding and know ebay…. you can have your cake and eat it still.
    oh.. who else find that when some buyers can’t open a case as not enough time has passed, that they simply message you with their demands instead?!

    The problem with royal mail is the business model over the last several years. Can’t fault the poor guys and gals on the front line. For years they have continued to dither over the surge in the parcels market. Every year we hear the same thing, ‘ we haven’t adapted fast enough’…Every year little happens.
    The fact that the majority of parcels are still sorted by hand is almost funny. What we now see are depots that are too small for the volume of parcels they are processing ( but were fine for smaller letters), and a secondary issue of with covid the old stop gap of just shoving in masses of new staff to help, simply doesn’t work as there isn’t the room with social distancing. Plus… a person new to the job will take time to learn it and get get quick at it… where as what is needed is people who know what they are doing and are already a master at it! Ahh… if only it was done by machine… Sadly, i doubt this is all down to RM themself, im sure the unions would have something to say about replacing people with machines, progress is a dirty word. In the end it all costs jobs.
    What we hear from our posties all the time here is this…
    Overwhelmed with parcels and post backing up.
    Post left behind each day as the lorries that come to collect it are at capacity.
    Management giving directions that simply don’t fit the real world… but the computer says it works….
    Business collectissn chopped and changed by people who have no knowledge of them or the area… so all times etc are off the computer. Yes we all know that google maps says travel time 3mins…. but reality is at peak time it is more like 15… Need a big van as your route gets alot of mail? No worries we will just let people take what van they want so good luck if a large van isn’t available. No point in allocating a van to certain routes is there?!

    I really do pity the posties, they get it in the neck as much as us sellers do. My postie is great and if they ran the depots then it would work alot better. Make apoint of thanking them next tiem you see see them! They really do appreciate it.

  7. Quick update to the ebay delivery times.
    It seems that ebay are still flapping around messing things up.
    Now we are showing this…. Oh and this includes out 2 day dispatch time!!!
    The last 3 weeks or so we ahve sen constantly changing dates and timescales. It is like they simply don’t have a clue what they are doing?! Now we not only have our dispatch time ignored but the extention to the actually delivery time is not showing.
    As such we have no way to protect ourself against delayed deliveries. The whole idea of us extending our dispacth time was to give alittle more wiggle room!
    Love the fact that RM 24 is now slower than RM48!

    Economy Delivery (Royal Mail 48)
    Estimated between Thu. 3 Dec. and Sat. 5 Dec.
    Standard Delivery (Royal Mail 24)
    Estimated between Fri. 4 Dec. and Mon. 7 Dec.
    Express Delivery (Other 24 Hour Courier)
    On or before Thu. 03 Dec. t

  8. I currently use Hermes Postable – a mile better than RM – most items arriving within 2-3 days so my customer feedback is glowing. I know the wheel will probably fall off sometime soon, just like it did back in the summer with the barcode mix up fiasco.

  9. As a Prime customer have to say even Amazon are struggling. Expected a delivery on Sunday and it still hasn’t arrived and no real info on Tracked apart from “delayed in transit” which is not very useful at all!

    For Hermes orders I don’t even get any notifications so it is not just RM, whole market seems to be struggling under the deluge of orders.


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