Royal Mail pays out £130,000 as number of complaints soars

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ROYAL Mail bosses have been forced to pay out more than £130,000 in compensation to customers in Edinburgh and the Lothians as complaints climbed to 50 a day.

New figures obtained by the News today reveal households in the EH postcode made a total of 17,148 complaints about lost, mis-delivered and damaged mail between April 2008 and March last year.

The figures also show four postal workers were sacked for failing to deliver mail during the last year.

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In all, Royal Mail was forced to pay out 131,295 in compensation to customers after the complaints.

Douglas White, senior policy advocate specialising in post for Consumer Focus Scotland, said: "Problems with mail deliveries such as lost, damaged or delayed mail, or mail which is delivered to the wrong address, can cause considerable inconvenience or distress for consumers.

"We would always encourage anyone experiencing a problem with the postal service to complain to Royal Mail as it only by complaining that systemic problems can be identified and tackled."

The complaints figures for the Lothians area, which covers a population of roughly 1.2 million, were among the worst in the UK per capita.

The highest number came from the Birmingham area, where there were 26,199 complaints from a population of roughly 3.6 million.

The number of Lothians complaints dropped from more than 21,000 the previous year.

Today, post watchdogs said it was "essential" that Royal Mail "treats all complaints seriously and improves the way it handles them".

Last month, former postman Ross Henderson, of Carrick Knowe Terrace, was given 120 hours of community service at Edinburgh Sheriff Court after admitting failing to deliver 1,628 postal packets between 12 June and 23 July last year.

The 23-year-old told the court he left hundreds of letters and parcels at his home because he could not cope with his round.

Royal Mail also dismissed three workers between April 2008 and March 2009 for failing to deliver post, while the firm also suspended another employee in the previous year for the same offence.

The latest figures, released under freedom of information laws, showed that 4,321 complaints over lost mail were made in the EH postcode in 2008-9.

Another 488 complained that their post was damaged, 2,311 complained it was mis-delivered and 932 experienced delays.

A Royal Mail spokesman said: "Royal Mail has a zero tolerance approach to any dishonesty and that stance is shared by the majority of postmen and women, who are honest and do all they can to protect mail and deliver it safely."