It has been four working days since we sent Percy the Potato on his festive mission to test delay-stricken Royal Mail.
Along with a card, the small parcel was posted second-class last week meaning it should have arrived within two to three working days – yet it is still missing in action.
Dozens of readers asked if there was any point in sending cards or gifts for Christmas this year when we asked them about delays with the postal service.
So, with the big day approaching, we decided to test for ourselves just how bad things were by sending a friend in West Malling, whose village is on the frontline of Royal Mail disruption, a small gift – Percy the Positive Potato – and a Christmas card.
The crocheted present was popped into his envelope on Friday (December 1) and both items were sent second-class from the Painters Ash Post Office, in Gravesend, at 3.30pm.
According to Royal Mail, second-class deliveries should take two to three working days to arrive at their destination.
As we sent them quite late in the day on Friday we are saying the first day would be Saturday meaning it should have been delivered yesterday (Tuesday, December 6) at the latest.
And although our friend has had post, the card and gift have not yet found their way to her doorstep.
It is thought the issues with delays boils down to a lack of posties on rounds, rather than the mail not getting to the sorting office.
A Royal Mail employee has even described the firm as a “sinking ship” as it puts more pressure on workers to go out on longer rounds with less time to complete them and managers tell them to prioritise deliveries.
He said he was once proud to wear the uniform, but is now embarrassed, saying the public “deserves better”.
Responding to KentOnline’s request for comment on the postie’s experience, a Royal Mail spokesperson denied the service prioritised parcel deliveries over post.
They added: “We are committed to improving our deliveries and ensuring support is in place for our colleagues.
“Since the summer, we have recruited more than 7,000 postmen and women to fill vacancies, and to support the health of our employees and assist them in their return to work, we have introduced a wellbeing programme which provides colleagues with free, confidential, and independent healthcare support, including unlimited 24/7 access to an online GP.
“We have taken additional measures in the lead-up to Christmas to ensure there is enough support in place to handle the increased demand. This includes a drive to recruit 16,000 seasonal workers and the addition of more vehicles and more parcel sorting sites. These actions are already making a difference.”
With changes already being implemented, hopefully, Percy will arrive in West Malling soon – albeit it slightly delayed.