Awards and citations:

1997: Le Prix du Champagne Lanson Noble Cuvée Award for investigations into Champagne for the Millennium investment scams

2001: Le Prix Champagne Lanson Ivory Award for

2011: Vindic d'Or MMXI – 'Meilleur blog anti-1855'

2011: Robert M. Parker, Jnr: ‘This blogger...’:

2012: Born Digital Wine Awards: No Pay No Jay – best investigative wine story

2012: International Wine Challenge – Personality of the Year Award

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Royal Mail (Rogue Male?) redefines 'Special Delivery'!

This is a curious and intriguing tale of how the new privatised Royal Mail is redefining 'Special Delivery'. 

For a number of years now I have been editor of Circle Update, the newsletter of the Circle of Wine Writers. The last couple of weeks or so have been taken up with getting the 115th issue December 2013 ready to be emailed out to our members and external subscribers. Nigel, formerly a distinguished travel writer and now retired, kindly offered a piece on his boutique plot of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay on England's South Coast. Although he had emailed me a couple of low resolution photos to go with his piece, Nigel offered (way beyond the call of duty) last Friday to send me a memory card with some further photos by special delivery. 

Guaranteed by 1pm Saturday 14th December 2013

Nigel duly posted the memory card by Royal Mail special delivery on Friday 13th December with a guaranteed 'special delivery' by 1pm the next day – Saturday 14th. Knowing that this special delivery along with other deliveries due from other carriers, one of us stayed in all Saturday. The other deliveries duly arrived but no sign of the Royal Mail special delivery. Furthermore no sign until late morning on Monday when our regular, charming and very efficient postie rang the bell and handed me the card below that he had picked out of the rack at the Forest Hill sorting office (London SE23).

Something for you! Attempted delivery 8.50 14.12 
– 'waiting for you at local delivery office'

These special delivery letters are not handled by the regular posties, who do their rounds on foot. Instead they are delivered by Royal Mail van drivers. If the driver had indeed tried to deliver at 8.50am on the Saturday he hadn't tried very hard. Nor did he leave the card behind so that I would know that a delivery had been 'attempted' instead leaving the card at the local sorting office, where I would never have seen it if our regular postie hadn't spotted it. 

Once I had the card I went down to the Forest Hill Delivery Office, where I spent some 20 minutes while staff there attempted in vain to match the card with the special delivery letter. I was told that the letter hadn't been put in the right place by the driver. As Monday was the driver's day off, there was nothing further they could do until he was back on Tuesday. They took my phone number with a promise to phone me with news – I'm still waiting.

Following my visit to the Delivery Office I lodged a complaint with Royal Mail.

 The missing special delivery – muddy and with 
clear signs that several people had stepped on it

 The cut (low centre) where the package had been slit open

Finally and most unexpectedly I received my special delivery letter first thing this morning (Thursday 19th December) delivered by a neighbour with the following message:

'Dear Jim
A gentlemen from the Sydenham Park area handed me this outside FC and said that he had found it in the Road and could I return it to the owner. There is something inside.'

Indeed there was something inside – the memory card!

I trust Royal Mail will look into this properly – a question of can't be bothered incompetence or attempted theft – a memory card wasn't considered sufficiently valuable to nick? 


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