Finally! Postmen given the go-ahead to leave parcels with a neighbour if you’re not home

| September 27, 2012 | 0 Comments

Tara Evans

06:35 EST, 27 September 2012


09:36 EST, 27 September 2012

Postmen will be able to leave parcels with a neighbour when no one is home after Royal Mail was given the go-ahead today to change its delivery rules.

At present large items that cannot fit through letterboxes are returned to a depot and a red ‘sorry, you were out’ card is left.

The change will end the frustration of people who miss the postman during the week because they are at work and are therefore left with just a small window of time on a Saturday morning to get to their local collection point.

Ding dong: Postmen will now be able to leave parcels with neighbours when the recipient is not at home

Ding dong: Postmen will now be able to leave parcels with neighbours when the recipient is not at home

Royal Mail postmen will be allowed to follow other private delivery firms who leave packages with neighbours and then post a slip through the letter box explaining which house has the item. 

The scheme was given the go-ahead by government watchdog Ofcom today after a consultation on how it would work and a three month trial that was welcomed by 90 per cent of customers due to its convenience. 

The initiative will be rolled out on October 1, making it easier for people who are out and about to receive their post. The change will also save hundreds of man-hours as fewer Post Office staff will be required to man collection points.

Households will be able to opt out of the scheme by putting a sticker, which will be available from the Post Office, near their letter box. And Royal Mail will still be responsible for the mail if it goes missing.

Anything sent by Special Delivery, from abroad, or high-value parcels will be excluded from the scheme. Post sent by a Government department under the ‘Do Not Redirect’ (DNR) scheme, such as pension information or passports, will also be excluded. DNR means the item can only be delivered to the address it bears. 

Royal Mail wrote to all 29million addresses across the UK in August providing information about the new delivery procedure. 

Mike Newnham, Royal Mail’s chief customer officer, said: ‘We are delighted that Ofcom has approved the regulatory changes that enable us to roll out the “delivery to neighbour” initiative across the UK.

‘This means that customers will benefit from the improved convenience during the busy Christmas period and beyond.’

Critics have raised concerns that items could be stolen or damaged by neighbours. It will not be possible to select which neighbour receives your parcel and postmen will also not be obliged to try each neighbour until they find one prepared to accept the item.

The change in rules is part of cost-cutting at state-owned Royal Mail which has suffered poor finances in recent years. A change in the law in 2011 allowed the government the privatise 90 per cent of Royal Mail and it hopes to begin selling shares in the operation from the end of 2013.

In order to do so, the management of Royal Mail has been looking to improve financial performance and remove disadvantages faced by Royal Mail compared with its rivals.

As the nation’s provider of universal mail collection and delivery, the Royal Mail has had to adhere to a number of standards, including a ban on leaving post with neighbours.

The removal of the ban, along with significant rises in stamp prices, are part of efforts to make Royal Mail competitive with private sector rivals and attractive to investors. 

Robert Hammond, director of postal policy and regulation at Consumer Focus, said: ‘This is good news for consumers. Missed deliveries are an increasing inconvenience for many people and giving postmen the option to leave undeliverable post with a neighbour is one way to tackle this issue.

‘This moves reflects our changing lives – more of us live alone or have entire households at work during the day and need alternative ways to receive our mail.

‘We are also becoming a nation of internet shoppers meaning an increase in the number of larger parcels and packages which we need to be delivered.’

The comments below have not been moderated.

As a business user of Royal Mail, dispatching in excess of 2000+ parcels per week I can say with some experience that although in theory the ‘leave with a neighbour’ safeplace system is a good idea, in practice the majority of the time it fails miserably.

Some examples of this ..

1: The postman does not leave a note with the customer telling them they have left the parcel somehwhere.
Customer then wonders where the parcel is ( shown on Royal Mail website as delivered ) … onus is then on customer to contact neighbours and ask if they have received their delivery.

2. The customer is IN all day and ready to receive the parcel … but mysteriously the parcel is marked as ‘undelivered’ and returned to a local post office.

3. Item is shown as delivered on the Royal Mail website .. but in fact has not even left the Post Office at that stage … OR parcel has been left in some random place ( behind dustbin, etc ) and customer not advised where it had been left.


West Sussex, United Kingdom,
27/9/2012 15:18

Postmen must be really easy-going people. As it seems like the Post Office has never heard of neighbour feuds.


Newport, United Kingdom,
27/9/2012 14:59

At the moment, my neighbour does receive my package as I am at work during the day. I don’t have a problem leaving for Royal Mail to do so. Especially in this current day and age, we hardly know our neighbours and this will provide us the chance to get to know them better.


27/9/2012 14:36

Not a problem for me, but If you think you neighbours are thieves perhaps you should move house.


27/9/2012 14:02

Would not be a better solution, if the parcel is not big get it delivered to your place of employment or put on the parcel a day when you will be in.


london, United Kingdom,
27/9/2012 12:54

The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline.

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