With an average of over 14 billion items of mail delivered each year by the Royal Mail alone, it might not be all that surprising to hear that some things don’t always make it to their intended destination.

If you’ve been left waiting on a delivery that never arrives, you’ll know how much of an impact it can have – particularly if the item held great sentimental value or was crucial to helping you at work or around the home.

So how many items get lost, why does it happen, and what can you do to prevent it from happening?

How many items get lost?

Back in 2017-18, over a quarter of a million complaints of lost mail were raised to Royal Mail, resulting in upwards of £4million being paid in compensation. And with figures for other major players in the sector not made public, the overall figures could be truly head-spinning.

However, with more than 15.5 billion items delivered by Royal Mail in that same period as the 250,000 complaints – it suggests that the percentage of items not making it to their destination is miniscule. While this is little comfort to those that do not receive their items in time – if at all – it does show just how efficient our postal service is in the bigger picture.

Why do items get lost?

Some items might simply end up going to the wrong person, whether through the door or mailboxes outside your home, due to a mistake by the postie, but such occurrences are quite rare, sender errors such as misspelling a name or postcode are far more common.

Recycling old delivery packaging can also cause problems. If other addresses from the one you are delivering to are not properly obscured, this can cause issues with delivery. And using packaging that is not resistant to the elements can also be a problem, leaving items in an undeliverable state.

If a return address is included on an envelope or parcel, then the Royal Mail will return these items free of charge to the address of origin, making sure items are not lost. However, if no return address is supplied, then they will be sent to the National Return Centre in Belfast and that may well be the end of the line.

How can you stop items getting lost?

Including a return address on the reverse of anything you send through the post or via a courier is the best way of ensuring items are not completely lost in the system, as it increases your chances of having them returned in the event that they are not delivered to the right address or end up not making it at all.

Using weatherproof packaging and labels, and printing them rather than handwriting also gives your items a fairer chance of making it to where you need them to be. But the most important thing to remember is to make sure you pay the right amount of postage upfront and you address the item correctly and clearly so that the sorting machines send the item in the right direction from the start.



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