The other evening we watched the Channel 4 Despatches programme "Secrets of your missing Mail" in which covert filming of the UKMail Courier depot in Bournemouth showed staff throwing parcels around, kicking them and boasting that they could dish out the contents of partially broken wine shipments.
Apart from the smug attitude of the presenter, the programme was rather more annoying than shocking as its entire evidence comprised about 3 minutes of filming which was endlessly repeated and it carried an implication that this is what private couriers are like whereas the Royal Mail are not. I'm fairly sure that any parcel sorting depot in the Country, particularly staffed by un-managed people on minimum wage, could exhibit examples of similar rough treatment and suppliers have to use bomb-proof packaging to counter it. Other Countries are even worse (never send parcels to Russia, is my tip).
I'm 100% against the proposed sell-off of Royal Mail and Parcelforce but let us not pretend that their service is in some way vastly superior to independent courier companies.
It reminded me of an evening about 20 years ago when I was running a small lighting business. We had a team of 6 packers in the warehouse packing small parcels of lightbulbs and flourescent tubes to be collected each evening by a Parcelforce lorry. These parcels were all carefully and solidly stacked inside 6ft tall wooden trolleys called "Mates" which were duly wheeled onto the back of the lorry and taken off to the new state-of-the-art sorting depot in Peterborough. All very efficient.
Some of the staff (and me) were quite interested in seeing the new depot so one evening we arranged a minibus to take us on an official tour.
The manager of the depot welcomed us through the main receiving doors and proudly demonstrated the first stage of the automated sorting systems where the "Mates" are taken off the lorries and wheeled up to a large caged contraption.
"This is the Mate-tipping machine", he beamed. We watched in open-jawed horror as each Mate was hooked onto the device and jerked to a height of 10 feet and through 180 degrees to spew the entire contents onto a metal floor below.