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I had a parking fine arrived three weeks late – should Royal Mail pay as I couldn’t get it reduced?

We received a bulk of post which was nearly three weeks late. 

In among this, we had a penalty for a charge for a parking sent to us three weeks earlier, which meant we couldn’t pay the reduced cost.

We challenged Royal Mail and they said they couldn’t compensate us because it wasn’t a special delivery. via email

Royal Mail delivered my parking fine letter late and won't compensate me Royal Mail delivered my parking fine letter late and won't compensate me

Royal Mail delivered my parking fine letter late and won’t compensate me 

Angharad Carrick of This Is Money replies: It’s frustrating to have to pay the full charge after a parking mistake. 

Often, charges like this can be reduced if you pay within 14 days of the letter being issued – but you didn’t get the chance to do this thanks to lateness of post being delivered.

Unfortunately you are not alone. We have heard from a number of readers who are fed up with Royal Mail delays, which has led to missed birthday cards and, more seriously, hospital appointments.

Now it seems that some people are now facing late payment fees as a direct result of the delays.

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One reader told us they had sent a cheque second class on the 9th October for payment of a bill on the 14th, which was not delivered. 

They sent another cheque with a first-class stamp and signature required and it has still not been received. They have now incurred a late payment fee of nearly £300.

You mention your post came in a big bundle, which has been a frequent complaint from households receiving their post late. 

Royal Mail has said it is not a nationwide problem, but some areas seem to be facing worse delays than others.

A spokesman said: ‘If a person experiences a significant delay, this is the exception and not the norm.’  

In its service updates on its website, Royal Mail says that it aims to deliver to all addresses six days a week, but ‘in a small number of local offices, this may temporarily not be possible due to local issues such as high levels of sick absence, resourcing or other local factors.’

Your area is not in the list and it won’t be of much comfort to people in a similar position to you, who are facing penalties as a direct result of Royal Mail delays.

I’ve had a dive into Royal Mail’s compensation policy for delays and for losses to see what you their policy is.

Compensation for Royal Mail delays

To start with, the compensation policy only covers items posted with and delivered by Royal Mail. So, if the council or parking company does not use Royal Mail you will not be entitled to anything.

Its delay policy covers 1st and 2nd class stamped, metered and VAT exempt account mail as well as 1st and 2nd class Royal Mail Signed For mail.

Articles for the Blind and Royal Mail Special Delivery Guaranteed by 1pm are also included in its policy.

Royal Mail says it may pay compensation for delays where it has not delivered or attempted to deliver the items three or more working days after the due date, except where an item is redirected.

If your post is redirected, Royal Mail may pay compensation six or more working days after the due date.

In this case, your compensation will be a book of first class stamps.

Royal Mail says it may pay £5 compensation if mail is delivered 24 or more hours after the due date for Royal Mail Special Delivery Guarantee by 1pm items.

If you’re left waiting seven or more working days after the due date, you will be entitled to ‘substantial’ delay compensation of £10. 

If the item doesn’t arrive it won’t be eligible for compensation for delay but may be eligible for compensation for loss.

In your case, the parking ticket did eventually arrive but it missed the crucial cut-off period to reduce the charge.

Could you be entitled to compensation for loss given you had to pay more through no fault of your own?

Compensation for losses

In your case, the delays led to a loss as you did not receive the parking charge letter until three weeks later, missing the cut off point for you to pay the reduced charge.

Compensation for loss will only be considered 10 working days for items other than Royal Mail Special Delivery Guaranteed by 1pm. For special delivery, you will only be eligible 4 working days after the due date.

There are various types of compensation you could receive but unfortunately, these do not relate to the late delivery of your parking charge.

It does state that if mail is sent using the Special Delivery Guaranteed by 1pm, you’ll be eligible for a fee refund and compensation of the basis of the customer’s actual loss.

Unfortunately, it seems late delivery of something like a penalty charge notice doesn’t fall within Royal Mail’s remit despite it being a result of delays.

However, a spokesman for Royal Mail told This Is Money: ‘Parking fines are typically sent through untracked services and therefore unlikely to be covered. 

‘Generally, in order to assess a person’s compensation claim, it’s important we’re able to review a standard set of evidence such as the sender’s details, method of posting used, place and date of posting and date of receipt. As it’s untracked this evidence is not available.

‘However, we always try to investigate if a customer contacts us. This will involve reviewing the service reports for an area, checking for delays to their particular route and if there has been a delay, assessing whether this delay would have caused them to be seriously impacted.’ 

This does not chime with what you were told, but it may be worth getting in touch with Royal Mail again with more detail about when the letter was sent and received. 

The spokesman added: ‘I would note that the vast majority of letters, both first and second class, are delivered on time to the 32 million homes we serve. 

‘While there are, at times, delays at our delivery offices, a standard method of managing this is to alternate routes and deliver every other day. This is a temporary solution while we put immediate actions in place such as increased recruitment, addressing absence or bringing in new management.

‘So, while there may be a delay, this is managed by alternating routes to ensure a routine service and keeping the delay to a minimum. Meaning it would be rare that there would be a delay of such a significant period that it would impact a parking fine.’ 

Given you live in London, I also got in touch with TfL to ask them whether there is grounds for appeal following Royal Mail delays. It said people can contact TfL to explain the reasons behind any delays, but it did not provide much information beyond that. 

I would suggest that the best course of action is to contact Royal Mail again, and appeal directly to the council with evidence of when the letter was sent and when you received it.

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