Royal Mail says sorry for Christmas mail left undelivered for 12 months

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Postal bosses yesterday issued an apology after a blunder by staff left thousands of Christmas letters languishing in a depot for a year.

The 4,000 letters were found at the Aberdeen Mail Centre in a storage area which has not been used since last Christmas.

The mail, destined for Aberdeen and the north east, was discovered on Monday when equipment was moved.

The two bags of first-class post were found beneath other empty mail bags in a carrier cage.

Workers have spent the last five days processing the mail and it will start dropping through letter boxes tomorrow a year late - along with letters of apology.

Royal Mail said the mistake was down to human error, and stressed that "strong measures" have been introduced to make sure there is no repeat of the blunder.

Consumer watchdog Postwatch said the fiasco was "extremely disappointing" and urged customers to seek compensation if they were not satisfied with the service.

A Royal Mail spokeswoman said: "Royal Mail can confirm that a number of items were found in an area within the Aberdeen Mail Centre following a relocation of equipment, in an area of the mail centre that has not been used since last Christmas.

"We would like to offer our sincere apologies to our customers for any inconvenience caused as a result of this delay and if any customers have any concerns about missing mail they should contact Royal Mail Customer Services on 08457 740 740.

"This appears to have been an unfortunate human error and no individual has been identified as being responsible. However, strong measures have been put in place to ensure this does not happen again.

"The safety and security of mail is of paramount importance to this business and Royal Mail takes every step to ensure that mail reaches customers correctly.

"Incidents such as this are a rare occurrence."

The company began processing the late mail today, and it is expected to start reaching customers tomorrow.

Tricia Dow, director of Postwatch Scotland, said: "This is extremely disappointing for customers in the area who have been expecting this mail and many of them may be thinking of not sending cards or gifts to the people who didn't respond last year.

"Lots of it will be cards but there will be other items in there such as business mail and things that may have had more serious consequences than a delayed card.

"The people who sent it expect it to be delivered safely within a reasonable amount of time and a year later is a major aberration.

"It is a major blip in Royal Mail's service, particularly at such an important time but the good thing is that Royal Mail have now admitted this and they have found the mail which is more important."

She said that customers should keep their envelopes if they wanted to make a claim against Royal Mail, and could complain to Postwatch if they were still not satisfied.