Leading article: The Royal Mail's glorious failure

Share

Heroes come in all jobs and guises. But one unmistakable hero for our times is Roger Annies, the postman from south Wales who has been subjected to a disciplinary hearing by the Royal Mail for having the effrontery to inform the householders on his round how they could reduce the amount of junk mail he was forced to push through their letter boxes.

He composed his own circular - complete with tear-off slip - which they could return to the local delivery office demanding an end to the advertising material the Royal Mail calls "door-to-door" items. To do so would reduce the flood of unsolicited fliers which his employers are planning to increase. It would also reduce paper usage and help to save the environment. Some 70 of his householders filled in the slip and Mr Annies was promptly charged with "misconduct" by his employers and suspended from his job. In one way, it's not hard to see why.

The Royal Mail delivers a quarter of all the UK's unaddressed mail. In 2005 it shoved three billion bits of junk mail through the nation's letter boxes. In a year when the number of first-class letters fell by more than 5 per cent, it needs to make good the revenue lost. Junk mail, it argues, keeps British stamp prices among the lowest in Europe. And if the Royal Mail didn't do it, it argues shiftily, someone else would.

In making such an example of Mr Annies, however, the Royal Mail has been hoist by its own petard. What could have remained a little local difficulty has escalated into a glorious national cause. In fact, the Royal Mail already allows people to say no to junk mail. It just doesn't advertise the fact, and omits to mention it on the company website. Worse still, it has been making out, quite erroneously, that those who register for the opt-out risk not receiving public health warnings such as how to deal with an outbreak of bird flu or Home Office advice on terrorist threats.

That kind of implicit blackmail has now been exposed. Royal Mail will now have to be honest and simply tell customers who wish to avoid junk post what they need to do. They could send out a blanket mailing to inform the nation. It is one piece of unsolicited post no one would object to receiving.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SEN Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Leeds: Randstad Education is the UK market lead...

SEN Teacher

£100 - £180 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: SEN Teacher requiredRandstad Ed...

SEN Teaching Assistant

£60 - £70 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Special Needs Teaching Assistant ...

PMLD Teacher

£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: The Job; Experienced PMLD Teac...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Norovirus the food poisoning bug that causes violent stomach flu  

A flu pandemic could decide next year’s election

Matthew Norman
J. Jayalalithaa gestures to her party supporters while standing on the balcony of her residence in Chennai. Former film star Jayalalithaa Jayaram is one of India's most colourful and controversial politicians  

The jailing of former film star Jayalalithaa Jayaram is a drama even Bollywood couldn’t produce

Andrew Buncombe
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?