Royal Mail WISMO crisis as service overwhelmed

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I’ve just got off the phone with a local small business who is being inundated with “Where is my order?” messages. This is so common in normal times that ‘Where is my order’ has an industry acronym – WISMO, and this year you’re likely to get more WISMO messages than ever before.

The problem is of course that despite taking on 33,000 Christmas workers to bolster their 110,000 permanent staff, Royal Mail have been working at Christmas levels since March and the deluge of online shopping hasn’t stopped for nine months. Now with Christmas coming, the normal Christmas rush is hitting on top of the pandemic online shopping and WISMO is inevitable due to delays.

We’ve already seen marketplaces extend delivery estimations with eBay telling buyers that their Royal Mail 48 could take up to five days to arrive instead of 2 days. Setting buyer’s expectations is the first way to cut down on WISMO and the second, if you use tracked services, is to make sure that your customers receive tracking information and can self serve by checking the status of their parcel themselves.

If you are a buyer and waiting to receive a parcel, our advice is to be patient and try to resist the temptation to deluge retailers, Royal Mail and other couriers with WISMO enquiries. Everyone in the ecommerce and delivery industry are working flat out and sadly all your enquiry is likely to do is take someone away from getting things moving rather than get you an immediate answer.

It’s time to accept that, for some, this Christmas there will be a missing present under the tree that’s not delivered on time. We’ve known for a long time that this would not be a normal Christmas so get yourself in the mindset of making do and accepting the inevitable. Royal Mail and other carriers are doing their utmost to deliver Christmas, and you can give yourself the best possible chance of receiving every delivery you want by shopping early – if you’ve not already done your Christmas shopping count this as a warning that now’s the time to do it, not four days before Christmas!

“Despite our best efforts, exhaustive planning and significant investment in extra resource, some customers may experience slightly longer delivery timescales than our usual service standards.

This is due to the exceptionally high volumes we are seeing, exacerbated by the coronavirus-related measures we have put in place in local mail centres and delivery offices.

In such cases, we always work hard to get back to providing our usual level of service as quickly as we can.”
– Royal Mail

Today, Royal Mail report that staffing issues due to self-isolating and social distancing, along with greatly increased parcel volumes, continue to have some effect at mail centres. Ten have reported not all mail was processed and despatched to delivery offices on schedule on Thursday night, and may be delivered later than expected:

  • Bristol Mail Centre
  • Some mail posted on Thursday from across the UK, due for delivery today to addresses in the BA, BS, GL and TA postcode areas.

  • Cardiff Mail Centre
  • Some mail posted on Thursday from across the UK, due for delivery today to addresses in the CF, LD and NP postcode areas.

  • Chelmsford Mail Centre
  • Some mail posted on Thursday from across the UK, due for delivery today to addresses in the CM, CO and SS postcode areas.

  • Croydon Mail Centre
  • Some mail posted on Thursday from across the UK, due for delivery today to addresses in the BR, CR, SE and SM postcode areas.

  • Edinburgh Mail Centre
  • Some mail posted on Thursday from across the UK, due for delivery today to addresses in the DD, EH, FK, KY, PH and TD postcode areas.

  • Jubilee Mail Centre
  • Some mail posted on Thursday from across the UK, due for delivery today to addresses in the GU, KT, SW and TW postcode areas.

  • Medway Mail Centre
  • Some mail posted on Thursday from across the UK, due for delivery today to addresses in the CT, DA, ME and TN postcode areas.

  • Norwich Mail Centre
  • Some mail posted on Thursday from across the UK, due for delivery today to addresses in the NR postcode area.

  • Sheffield Mail Centre
  • Some mail posted on Thursday from across the UK, due for delivery today to addresses in the DN, HU, LN and S postcode areas.

  • Tyneside Mail Centre
  • Some mail posted on Thursday from across the UK, due for delivery today to addresses in the DH, DL, NE, SR and TS postcode areas.

Additionally, due to resourcing issues, deliveries in the following areas are likely to be limited today, Friday the 11th of December, and into next week. If you need to collect an item for which Royal Mail have left a ‘Something for you’ card from the Customer Service Points at one of these offices, check for details of revised opening hours. If Royal Mail have not left a ‘Something for you card’, and you do not have alternative arrangements in place, they they apologise as sorry but your mail will not be available for collection.

  • Ashington
  • (NE22, NE62-NE64)

  • Gillingham
  • (ME7)

  • South Ockendon
  • (RM15)

  • Tooting
  • (SW17)

  • Totton
  • (SO40, SO43)

31 Responses

  1. It is the same everywhere. We are all getting it.

    Normally we send everything 48 hour the week before the Black Friday racket we noticed things were just going to pot.
    We have at another cost to the business moved everything to 24 hour and that is still taking days.
    eBay defects are now starting to show of course, however now that RMG have actually admitted they “cannot deliver Christmas” it is time for eBay to get protecting the accounts as this is NOT in our control.
    On a Positive note however a LOT of of people are just coming to collect direct now that has been really good this year, and Facebook has been the big winner for us. I even for two days this week had higher web sales than eBay…

    Of course the real BIG WINNERS will be Amazon with the Shop early message and that Logistics network.

  2. Royal mail phone does not work they just hang up on you, spical delivery does work chat does not work they email system is down so it need look at

  3. Royal Mail are the worst anyway I won’t buy if seller states they use them, I ordered a jet washer for my car they said they had delivered it, I told them not to my house as I was in that day, they then said the package weighed less than 50 grams therefore fitting letterbox and refused to compensate,, wankers.

  4. Amazon and other couriers will be the big winners , because all they do when they become overwhelmed is place the item in the Royal Mail system who are bound by the U.S.O. and have to deliver to the whole country , so blame transfers and face saved.

  5. Don’t order from JD they have thieving scumbags working in there warehouses, can’t get through to anybody to complain the bot called becky is making sure of that

  6. I bet RM need to increase the prices once again and everything will be going very smoothly…just kidding!

  7. its simply poor management and planning
    yes we have covid, yes we have Christmas, and winter
    though bad health, winter, and Christmas happen every year

  8. All online retail outlets like etsy and ebay need to accept this announcement and make a statement on their sites (thry can do a global announcement for free posts or sales) to let ALL buyers know and also NOT penalise any seller for delivery issues if they can provide tracking for items sent.

    Small business have to survive through Royal Mails failing, as a sole trader I do not see why I should refund my customer £10 and Royal Mail award me 6x 1st Class stamps for loss of my customers item!

  9. It does make you wonder about royal mails problems it may be they are just victims of being a decent employer
    Most other couriers employees dont get paid if they call in sick

  10. not true victor, royal mail happily sack employees at a drop of a hat.

    my best friend was postman with severe epilepsy requiring surgery. so, pre-op his doctor told royal mail do not allow him to drive as he may crash and kill someone due to epilepsy.
    once, the royal mangers knew of this problem they gave him a van and told him to drive 8 miles to another RM depot because they “no job” for him. after 2 weeks, he requested a move to closer RM depot; they refused and them sacked him on the spot.

  11. I ordered several supplies Friday from four suppliers with Royal Mail. They all arrived yesterday so it seems likely that RM have stored post from a few days ago and keeping up with new parcels like they did in the winter weather three years ago and during lockdown one.
    I would personally like a statement from e-commerce sites like eBay and Etsy that we could copy and paste into the many enquiries about late deliveries. It would save me time that I could spend on getting the next lot of orders out.

  12. I hope Royal Mail gets destroyed by the competition. It is a dinosaur of a business which is being held back by the unions and the UK would be better off without it.

  13. Held back by the unions get real no sign of my comments from this morning condemning the upper echelons of Royal mail for complete lack of investment over the Christmas period and loyal postmen and women using their own vehicles to provide the best possible service ask liz after all we are royal mail ???hrh to you James you’ve heard of her of course

  14. Sadly it is the same old thing from royal mail…. They are still sorting the majority of parcels by hand! Every eyar we get the ‘oops we were caught out’ message. They knew it was all moving to parcels several years ago… but have dragged their heals, with the help of the unions who fear automation and modernisation. If they had been largely automated in the sorting centres then they wouldn’t be so hit by staff absence and doscial distancing. Machines carry on regardless. They could have then concentrated on delivering.
    Still, what we see is promises that will take years to happen and more price rises. It is like they are still publically owned. Atleast then we could say we excpected little investment and forward thinking!
    I pity the poor floor staff as they will e3nd up with the blame while managers sit in offices pretending to know how it all works.

  15. We were told that once RM was sold off it would be a.model of private enterprise, modernised, efficient et al.

    Instead all we have had is price rises, cuts in services, smaller mail centres closed and soon the loss of saturday deliveries (causing post pile ups) and yet another price hike.

    Don’t tell me it is better.

  16. I did not want to but after so many “WISMO’s” I have closed down until the new year. I don’t see any other option.

  17. For those that think Royal Mail should go, we have to remember that the Royal Mail is a letter postal service- plus parcels, not an exclusive parcel courier company. They have to deliver letters, which is a whole different job than just driving and jumping out of a van.
    Until it either splits the letter and parcel service or gets rid of letters altogether it cannot fully compete in its current form.
    Do we really want to say goodbye to all of our letters, business and personal, birthday cards, wedding invitations, hospital letters? I don’t. There are those still alive that are not computer savvy and require this service.
    It’s heading in the direction of parcels but it’s not going to happen overnight. Postmen and women do a good job under the circumstances of costcutting and covid.

  18. Like all retailers i have had my issues with RM, but we can’t lay the blame entirely at their door. Sure they are a dinosaur who haven’t moved with the times, but they (logistics) are all struggling to cope with the volumes.

    And let’s not forget that the Amazon beast has led consumers to believe that us online retailers can not only anticipate when the consumer wants a 2mm sprogget with fur lined dangle gear, but we need to deliver it 30 minutes before they buy at £20 below cost and accept a claim 3 months later that it never arrived or 2 years later return it on the basis that it doesn’t match their dog’s eye colour.

    We are hearing more often in our bricks and mortar store about people wanting to move from Amazon, and indeed this is reflected in sales, that we are planning an exit strategy away from Bezos and Co.


  19. Problem is they think everything is for Xmas, Most of mine is for funerals and missing funeral date is distressing for everyone. It is inexpensive important large letter.
    This is not new been going on for months.

  20. No delivery to our street for 5 days (RM15), finally got mail on Sunday. In the papers, Basildon sorting office being overwhelmed.

    Got an order for Laingdon sent out twice from 13th November and neither parcel received. Will be delivering the order which is bespoke printed funeral stationery (not an order of service few) by hand. That makes three attempts at delivery.

    Not knocking anything or anyone, it is just a perfect storm. All carriers are stressed and are doing there best.

    Ironically Ebay are protecting your late delivery DSR up to the 21st of November ! what about now when the Sh*t has really hit the fan, not heard anything about that. All ready collected my 1st negative feedback after a single message “STILL not received my item” we agreed and they accepted for us to resend and they did this all on the same day regardless of our attempts to remedy the situation. Does customer service count for anything or is it just speed. Thanks for that direction Amazon.

  21. They have destroyed our amazon seller account in just 2 weeks with item showing all the wrong info scanned at the sorting depot before we have shipped and then out for delivery 5 days after shipping on a prime 24
    The issue then is Amazon punish us but then contact us asking us why we do not switch to their own delivery service which is cheaper and if a parcel is delayed they will not punish us for it.

    so what they are saying is its ok for a parcel to be late as long as they are making it late.
    My biggest issue is i have ordered 6 parcels in the last 3 weeks on amazon prime and because they work so late i have had them diveryted to an elderly relatives house who is in all day and night.
    1 delivered handed to resident. NO sign of it. not received
    2 handed to receptionist No dumped on the dorrstep no receptionist at her house not received
    3 handed to resident tracking then showed nowhere near her house not received.
    4 handed to resident at 8pm no dumped on doorstep found the next day.
    5 handed to resident no one has a clue and its not at a neighbours.
    6 hopefully arrivinbg tomorrow.

    so why would i select their service at least royal mail do get it there in the end Amazon just lie.
    If the royal mail were forced to refund 50% of shipping fees when late they would sort their mess out instead of just laughing at us all.

  22. Fact royal mail postmen and women still expected to try and fit 2 rounds and all parcels into one van (quadruple volume compared to a normal Christmas) Fact royal mail upper echelons originally said Christmas card volumes would be down Fact Christmas card volumes have gone through the roof because people can’t visit friends or relatives FACT royal mail upper echelons haven’t invested in enough hire vehicles so that we can go back to one man one van to enable us to fit all mail and parcels in making it easier to give a full service FACT we are currently doing half vanshare mail and all packets one day and other half vanshare mail and all packets the next day ensuring the vanshare round me and my colleague do get as comprehensive a service as we can provide FACT royal mail as a business is only as good as the people on the frontline doing everything possible to get everything coming into their office (as I’ve said including using their own vehicles) delivered where possible. FACT every single dispatch hub in the country is completely overloaded with parcels staff off sick or self isolating HAPPY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE ?????Jeff the posty

  23. This is destroying my business. I rely on receiving items to make my orders, most of which need to be delivered by a certain date. Not to mention the 2 x December birthdays that I’ve not had gifts for due to non delivery. Customers can’t just accept “Royal Mail is being very slow”. I for one can’t afford to keep re-buying goods in they hope they actually arrive. I now get everything possible from Amazon, but some items aren’t available on there. The frustrating thing is, it’s the small businesses that end up paying for this, because they have to jump through hoops to claim via Royal Mail, but still have to refund or replace to customers in good time to keep their reputation.

  24. Posted a parcel 1st class on 15th December from READING RG5 to NP16 6ET and it has still not arrived – despite being on a tracked/signature basis by 1853hrs on 20 December – address clearly typed and large bold and with return address on the rear, very poor service. COVID being used as an excuse for badly run sorting and distribution. Yet the prices go up again from 1/1/21.

  25. i orderd two t.shirts november 25th,seller sent first class,still not arrived,no idea where they are, orderd before many times,always arrived. already lost an vinyl record somwwhere,ordered october. it is a joke .privatisation has destroyed royal mail,like it does everything.

  26. Swamped with WISMO at the moment, we’ve setup template answers to deal with it.
    If I get one more ‘but I’ve ordered things from other sellers that have arrived’ comments, I may actually shut my store until this mess is over and done with.
    Well done RM, Christmas snuck up on them again.


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