Policy on parcels

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Thanks to all who replied to my grumble about the Post Office asking us what is in our parcels (Letters, 18 December). Staff probably feel awkward doing this. So why have they been ordered to?

One suggestion is because the airlines insist on it. Yet most parcels go by van – and when we take a flight, we do not have to say how many socks are in our case, only that we haven’t packed anything we shouldn’t.

Are staff just helping customers comply with the rules? The argument and determination to know that come from behind the grille belie this. There is more
to it. Is it about selling? “What’s in the parcel?” is often followed by an offer of insurance.

If the concern is safety, how effective is the question? Has the Post Office run a trial comparing it to asking nothing, or if we have complied with the restrictions? Is our privacy being sacrificed rationally or on a whim?

George Byron

Comely Bank Avenue

Edinburgh

Post Office staff enquiring about the contents of parcels does not only apply to air mail but local postage also. Last week I was posting a parcel to Dundee and was asked to confirm the contents for safety reasons. When I replied that it contained a Christmas tree (albeit a very small artificial one) the person seemed reluctant to take me seriously and asked: “Really?”

What is the point of being honest if scepticism abounds in at this festive time of year?

Iain Mackinnon

Durley Dene Crescent

Bridge of Earn

I should like to assure Mr Byron that when attending my Post Office counter in the mornings, prying is not expected of me, nor are the contents of his parcel of any personal interest whatsoever.

What, however, is required of me, and all my colleagues, is that parcels and packets are processed in accordance with the Dangerous Goods Act, which requires identifying the contents before they enter the postal network. This is a process which is extensively audited. The next time you fly, one might like to consider what is under your feet, and crucially how it got there.

Apart from untruths and the odd terrorist, you should feel reassured that either you or your nearest and dearest will arrive safely.

Jonathan Nicholson

Nicholsons

Links Road

Longniddry