What’s happening to Oban’s mail?

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An Oban resident missed her operation after the Royal Mail delivered four first-class letters from a Glasgow hospital all at once – up to 14 days after the first one was posted and on the day her operation was due.

In an ongoing investigation, The Oban Times can reveal that many Oban residents have recently reported missing and late post.

Last month we were contacted by a man in Oban about a missing second-class parcel. When the package, due for delivery on Monday October 11, failed to arrive at his Oban home on the Longsdale run, he visited the Royal Mail’s Oban Delivery Office on Albany Street that day to locate it. A member of staff checked, but said it was not there.

The man returned twice more that week – first thing on Wednesday and Friday mornings, since the sorting office’s opening hours are 8am to 10am on weekdays. Each time he was told his parcel was not there. It was tracked to a Glasgow mailing centre on Saturday, where a member of staff told him it was very unlikely to still be there.

He went back to the Oban sorting office for a fourth time on Monday October 18, a full week after the parcel should have been delivered. ‘Lo and behold,’ he told The Oban Times, ‘my parcel was found.’ He was also handed a parcel for his flatmate, due to be delivered almost a fortnight earlier. ‘People are waiting on more serious stuff than me,’ he said.

On Sunday October 24, we contacted the Royal Mail about this incident. A spokesperson told us: ‘We are currently experiencing some staff shortages in the Oban area which may cause some disruption to service.

‘We are in the process of recruiting new members of staff and we are looking to restore our high service levels as quickly as possible. We apologise for any inconvenience. Every item of mail is important to Royal Mail. We aim to deliver all items of mail in line with the relevant service specification.’

On Monday October 25, we heard a further complaint from another Oban resident, who also lives on the Longsdale mail run.

She was waiting to hear the date for her operation at Ross Hall Hospital in Glasgow, but had heard nothing – until the hospital lab called her on Monday October 25 to ask her if she’d taken a Covid test before her operation the next day, Tuesday October 26. This was the first she had heard about her operation date.

She discovered the hospital had sent her four letters before her upcoming operation, but somehow all had failed to reach her. As a consequence, her operation has had to be rescheduled to December.

However following the call from The Oban Times – on Tuesday October 26, the day her operation was due – all four letters from the hospital arrived through her letterbox in Oban, plus a huge amount of other mail.

All four envelopes were stamped with the dates they were sent, postmarked on October 12, 13, 19 and 20. The first contained a letter confirming her admission to hospital, and the third contained the Covid test, which was to be done and sent back on October 22, before her admission on October 26.

All four correspondence arrived 14 days after the first letter was postmarked. Each had been posted first class. The Royal Mail website explains the service aims to deliver first class letters and parcels the next working day, including Saturdays.

Many local residents took to the Oban Community Forum Facebook page to report similar problems on Monday October 25 and Tuesday October 26.

One, on Monday 25, said: ‘We have received no mail at home for a week, until it all arrived this afternoon in one bundle, apparently due to a shortage of postal staff locally. It is rumoured that a third of Oban is similarly affected.’ Another person that day added: ‘Wrapped in elastic band…weeks worth.’

On Tuesday 26, another person wrote: ‘We know and respect our local postie, this is not in any way a complaint about him, simply reporting the fact that our entire road received similar bundles of a week’s mail yesterday.’

‘I can attest to that,’ another person said. ‘After no mail for several days, we received a huge amount on Monday including some bills, birthday cards and important documents long overdue. Am hoping the situation improves soon or the run up to Christmas could be severely affected.’

‘Yes, likewise,’ added another person on Tuesday 26, ‘been waiting for over eight days for several items that should have been here in two days and that triggered disputes with e-Bay suppliers due to delays.’

‘My family posted for next day delivery birthday gifts for me it took five weeks to arrive!’ reported another on Tuesday 26. ‘Then the two parcels arrived one box damaged. Paying for a service and not getting it.’

Despite The Oban Times contacting Royal Mail asking why it had taken so long to deliver a first-class letter from a hospital in Glasgow and how Royal Mail aims to solve this problem affecting so many people in the town, particularly so close to Christmas, Royal Mail sent us the same response as before.