Not-so-special delivery: how to claim for late post

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If you have experienced Royal Mail delays you may be able to claim for compensation. Letters and parcels sent by special delivery should arrive on a specific day, while first-class post should arrive the next working day after it is sent, and second-class post within three working days.

Compensation for delays kicks in when your post is three or more working days late, or 24 hours late if it was sent by special delivery. You can lodge a compensation claim for lost post 10 working days after it was due to arrive, or five days for special delivery.

For delays on first- and second-class post, compensation is six first-class stamps; on special delivery items compensation starts at £5 and rises to £10 if the delay goes on for seven or more working days.

“There are, however, rules that mean Royal Mail does not have to pay compensation if it’s impractical or unreasonable for it to deliver an item,” says Kate Hobson at Citizens Advice. “This could be because an individual’s health and safety could be put at risk or for any other reason Royal Mail believes it would be impractical or unreasonable to deliver an item.”

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The person due to receive the post can make the claim, or the sender. Whoever makes the claim will need to provide details and, where possible, evidence of where the item was posted and when, which service was used and who it was posted to.

“It’s usually easier for the sender to claim because they’re more likely to have the evidence that’s needed, such as the amount paid for postage, the type of postage used (eg, first class) and the contents,” says Hobson.

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Once your post is delayed long enough to make a claim for loss, you may be due more compensation. If the item was not sent using special delivery and has no real value – a Christmas card or postcard, for example – the limit is six first-class stamps again. If it is a more valuable item and you can provide evidence of its value and of postage, you can claim for a loss and a refund of up to £20 or £50 for Signed For mail.

“If you’re unhappy with its response you may be able to escalate your complaint to the Postal Review Panel,” says Hobson. “If your complaint is unresolved you may then be able to escalate to the Postal Redress Service, but not all Royal Mail services are covered.”