What I wrote at Lib Dem Voice

October 07, 2006

14,185 complaints and £123,927...

... that's the cost of Royal Mail's mistakes in Oxfordshire.

On 20th August, I applied to Royal Mail under the Freedom of Information Act for some information about how they handle complaints made against them:
- how many are made in Oxford,
- what’s the cause,
- how many are upheld, and
- what is the cost?

A mere 31 days later - 11 days longer than by law they are obliged to respond - I’ve got an answer. (Even if the e-mail reply does refer, rather oddly, to my having requested information for Mole Valley.)

Or, to be precise, I’ve been pointed to one of the documents, Number of complaints handled by postcode area 2005-06 (2.7mb), available on the Royal Mail website. I’ve gone through it myself and done the math.

In the OX postcode (which is Oxfordshire, rather than Oxford - let alone the areas within the city), there were:
* 14,185 complaints made against Royal Mail in the last year.
* Of these 14,185 complaints, 5,778 (41%) were upheld.
* The total cost of compensation paid out was £123,927.

(I don’t know how this compares with previous years because that information is not available.)

Which is all very interesting, but tells me nothing about the situation in Oxford. That’s no accident, of course, as my Royal Mail correspondent informed me:
"The information is not broken down to show the areas within Oxford and we would consider this more detailed unpublished performance information to be commercially sensitive and therefore exempt under Section 43 of the Freedom of Information Act (prejudice to commercial interests). It is our view that the release of unpublished, local performance data could be presented out of context by business competitors (who are not themselves required to publish such information), and therefore used to prejudice the commercial interests of Royal Mail in a competitive market.

"This provision is subject to the public interest test. Although there is public interest in the level of customer satisfaction with Royal Mail's performance, we believe this interest is satisfied through reporting to Postwatch (our independent consumer watchdog) and the publication of our performance against nationally agreed targets. Further, Royal Mail Group is a publicly owned company and there is a real and direct public interest in its commercial performance and financial well-being. Therefore in our view the public interest clearly lies in maintaining this exemption."
Fair enough? No, not really.

The local sorting office in my Oxford city council ward of Headington was closed last year. This was Royal Mail’s justification:
"It is true to say that some customers will be disadvantaged by the relocation of the Delivery Office to the East Oxford site. However, we believe that the benefits of the new operation including most importantly, far more efficient mail handling outweigh this."
How to test whether this efficiency has been delivered? Well, one way is to find out whether the number of complaints made by the public has increased since the sorting office was closed.

But, of course, any increase (or - let’s be fair and objective - decrease) in complaints caused by the loss of the sorting office will be masked by looking across-the-board at the OX postcode figures.

Which leaves only one route open to me. Yes, an appeal to the Royal Mail’s Head of Information Compliance asking for a review of the non-disclosure.

How empowered do I feel right now?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Statement of my past dealings with Royal Mail/Consignia

I was a post-person for the company formally known as Consignia plc.. I got to know many things as a result of my work with Consignia, about this company and the way in which it operates at the highest level

My findings came about as I did battle over a Health & Safety issue caused by the company, although this escalated into much, much more. This was the flash point of my downward spiral within the company and also the reason I got to know the company so well, and found out many shocking things along the way.

The Flashpoint
As the company broke the Health & safety at work Act with regards to the way I was treated, at my place of work. It was the companies duty; bound by its contracts that I should be taken care of with as little a regard for me or my rights as an individual as possible. I was to be treated, and loose my employment in a most disrespectful and despicable manor. The Company being as big and as powerful as it was had procedures in store for myself, and any other person that attempted to take a stand against its best interests. This was referred to as “The System” i.e. system of disposal, and was COMPANY POLICY, of which I will detail and offer a comprehensive guide through. I was vaguely aware of this at the time, I did know what the eventual outcome of the companies wrong doing was going to be, i.e. my dismissal. But I was unsure exactly how the company would go about this in a apparently legitimate and fair manor, as it has to be seen to outsiders. Therefore I took it upon myself to gather information, keep accurate records of events, analyse its contracts, managers, its litrature and conduct code. With a view to finding out exactly how this company works in such an instance and what a person could expect…

Company Background
Consignia plc became officially in business 1 minuet before midnight before the first day of the year 2000. This was the transition period from Royal Mail to Consignia plc. There was a good reason for the company changing hands one minuet before the stoke of midnight. This enabled the company to retain the official secrets act, revised in December 1999. As it would have been seen when the company was a Government operation and not a plc. Only certain parts of the official secrets Act was applicable under the Consignia name i.e. Information relating to people and addresses, and NOT information regarding secrecy & business methods of the Post Office/Royal Mail. Although the government version was signed and adhered to. Safety, security and loyalty were of paramount importance within the company, as was trust hence the meaning of the name “Consignia” amongst other things. There was no reason to just change the name of the company this was not at all the consensus as far as the company was concerned. All be it that is what they would have, and want others to believe. It was far from just a meaningless name change as, jo-public knows it to have been. The whole way of operating and the running the company changed also, as the new contracts & code of conduct/practice dictates. The company went solo with a vested interest from the Government with the main aim of making success as a business. The Royal Mail and Post Office names were the trade names of the "totally new privatised company". The notion that the company just changed its name as a revamp or to revive its self image with the sole use of a name is totally absurd and untrue. In fact the new company Consignia did not at any time promote the use of the new name in any way shape or form trough its literature (only when it had too) The Consignia name was always in the small print. Even on the contract, the only notion it was actually a Consignia contract was written in clause 22 (more commonly known to management as “catch 22“) With the exception of the pay slip there was no mention of the name in big print. This was to keep a low profile and not to cause any concern or suspicion that any thing had changed within the company. To quote my old training manager at the time Mr Thomas on why this was He stated "Royal Mail is the name people know and trust, and as far as people are aware nothing has changed".. Although it had indeed on a big scale.. Even the Government were kept in the dark of the companies policies and activities, or so I would hope… Government representatives such as Lord Sawyer and Nicholas Underhill checked in form time to time and even conducted a report of the new company and how it was seen on the surface to be operating. That made an interesting if somewhat inaccurate read, in some to areas to say the least... Although people only know what they are told, or what others want them to believe.

The areas in which the "old Royal Mail company" were failing were theft/fraud amongst other things, by employees. This was an identified area within the company’s control. Millions of pounds of goods/information passed though its hands each week approximately a million were also “lost“. Consignia attempted to combat this issue through the use of. Illegally fingerprinting its postal workers. This covert fingerprinting was undertaken by its training managers. Upon the signature of the new "base copy" of the Consignia contract at processing centres throughout the country. The reference to the fingerprinting in the contact was "it maybe necessary for us to process certain types of data about yourself that maybe perceived as SENSITIVE DATA" It was only unclear to the vast majority of low-level employees/post persons/managers as to what this "sensitive data" actually was at the time. The company only failed to mention. It was actually fingerprint information been taken and processed. Obviously there was the criminal background check too. Both the fore finger and thumbs of each hand were taken (when possible). It was the training managers personal decision at the time, as to whether this information could be easily obtained. To quote my old training manager, while commenting on the glory of the new Consignia contract at the time he so boldly stated "The contracts so good it should be made illegal" and the contract was “specific to some, quite unspecific to others” Mr Thomas was quite sure his comments and actions would not be noted or interpreted. He was more used to training managers than post persons it seemed. The title of the contract at the time was “SPECIFIC EVENT CONTRACT” and carried the Royal Mail name in bold lettering at the top of the page. Consignia were in the information business full stop. They send it, they receive it, they take it, they get away with it. They were more an investor in peoples information than in people its self, with the exception of higher level managers. However good a technique was used to gain valuable fingerprints from its employees was. For the provision of there own (IB)/police force, for security reasons. The company failed to pull the wool over my eyes on this occasion. After talking to others I believe there were two differing methods of taking fingerprints. The latter and more obvious method used on myself. The prints would be lifted through the use of the employees identification card/photo id card. These cards served no purpose other than to catalogue its employees. Personal information relating to individuals would be gathered and kept on file, this would be the employees profile… The cards would be placed in front of the employee. You would be instructed to pick up the card in front of you with your forefinger and thumb and show it to the person sitting opposite you. The same would be done with the other hand on the other side. A demonstration was provided by the training manager at the time on how to do this. This was a seemingly worthless task. These cards did not have your photo on at this stage, just the name of the individual. Care would be taken handling these cards by the manager, i.e. The faces of which would not be touched. These cards would now be sent for “print processing”… The other method of taking finger prints was done in a similar guise. i.e. Through the touching of laminated cards.

There were 3 different sides to a Consignia "Nick Moody Contract" There was the low-level employee/manager contract. There was the second side of the contract which would protect the managers/representatives of the company at a higher level. If a person ever challenged the company and tried to prove guilt on the companies behalf ,on any occasion. The higher level managers would initiate the third version of the contract and then the CMA conduct code came into play .. i.e. nick moody happened to turn into "nick nasty" (this will be detailed next) There were certain personnel and training managers on the "nick nice" side of the contract doing there duty to secure the mail as described.. Nick Moody’s name was at the bottom of every contract. The contract/s were constructed and built upon total security of the company. It was unadvisable to attempt go challenge it, and if one did they would suffer the consequences in its entirety.

It turned out upon detailed inspection there were two versions of the conduct code.. Version one of the conduct code was the “all the workers & overseers code of conduct".. This version was agreed with by the Communication Workers Union. And was recognised as the standard of how an employee would be treated within the company. It depicted how great, fair and legitimate the company was as an employer. The second version was restricted to higher level/executive management, and was a guide on how to operate and conduct business dealings & interests when a threat was posed to the company. This was to a totally different standard. It details methods of treating, and dealing with people in another manor. Prior to there disposal within the company. This version was the Communication Managers Association.. "managers associated version of the conduct code" Both versions were on the same document, as it is associated. i.e. certain words (key words) are extracted to reveal a different document in another form. The fist paragraph of this began "Royal Mail is entering unprecedented de-regulation in the face of tough compertion to create a culture of cooperation and trust" i.e. There are no rules within this company to do what is needed. The managers conduct code almost beggars belief, and was very hard to reveal in the subtext. It was very cleverly thought of, laid out and devised by some of the most intelligent people one will find. As one would expect from a company that is the authority on the written word in Great Britain. It could be found on the first 10 pages of the then Consignia conduct code, this was referred to as the 10 commandments. The reason for implementing, of the managers code was clause 22 of the Consignia contract: "Consignia must take to discharge its responsibilities under the Act" ..(that would be the Act of parliament /the law) Notice it states “take to“… This implies every other word associated with the word DISCHARGE, of which there are many (none of them being nice). This is where the association game begins, and was the one of the reasons I discovered the managers code. I pity all that ever went though this “associated dismissal procedure” as written in the managers conduct code. As it is a very displeasing thing to endure. This is the procedure I and many others have gone through.

Beneath the surface of Consignia. All the fake smiles, false handshakes and deceptive assurances. Was a very complex devious and well thought out company, if a little narrow minded within business at the time. With many fail safes and resources in operation. The company was very cocky, malicious and sadistic in its nature. It was “almost untouchable“… Great pleasure would be taken in the way that the company would do its best to destroy a person and His or Her image, if challenged. It was merciless in its way of dealing with people. The company had a well thought out way of dealing and dispensing with such individuals as myself that posed a threat. THIS WAS THE MANAGERS CODE OF CONDUCT.

Company Conduct and methods of disposal/dismissal
These included : Harassment from managers in many forms. A watchful eye from the companies IB force (investigative bureau) to create an era of paranoia, also to check guidelines are being followed and maybe capture incriminating photo evidence of protocol not been followed i.e. H&S (Health & Safety) as it was in my case. Immediate suspension from work would follow to stop the gathering of evidence against the company, and its now merciless management. I referred to them at this stage as “Gestapo like management“. Suggestions were to follow that the challenging individual was mentally incapable/unstable. It was the companies EHS (employee health service) that played its role in this sense. I make reference to this division of the company as “Consignia’s medical retirement unit” under normal circumstances the EHS were there to offer help and support to employee’s, however in this instance this it not the case. It is instructed that “employee health service advice should be given and taken into account to further detriment the individuals health” You were instructed to visit the pre booked appointment to the EHS to hasten and aid “your speedy return back to duties” This was just a deception as were lots of statements given by the company, to reach it‘s goals. An apparent psychiatric, medical evaluation would follow by this service. Through the use of one brief appointment and talks. This would be conducted by a person with little or no qualifications in the field of medicine. i.e. A “Bogus Doctor on a Consignia pay-role“. The EHS was a “false front” of the company. Its most important purpose being to palm of employees as being unfit for duty. It was the job of these “fake doctors” in this department to suggest, intensify and instil feelings of further paranoia, anger and deep depression created by the managers. Also if possible they would try and deceive a person into singing over there medical records & also liase with the said persons GP (General Practitioner/Doctor). With the sole intention of creating an area of concern towards the individuals health & well-being. This information would be made confidential from the employee, so no or little comments would ever be made and directed towards the person concerned. Even from ones REAL GP, due to medical guidelines and constraints. Any tale could and would be told on your behalf and you would never be the wiser to what ever was said by the EHS. One would only ever be portrayed and perceived in the worst possible light. Now on both sides, once the employees GP was influenced.

While on suspension from work, letters of failure and threats would follow in the countless dozens. Of which the company intended you to singe by the use of stating “please acknowledge receipt of this letter”.. You could break these letters down to this or a similar form, “you are mentally ill please singe here” These letters/documents would be “standard issue“ and part of “The System“. They would start from day one of suspension, (before the EHS appointment) and not stop until dismissal was complete. This could take several months while the company did its best to ware the said victim down, whilst on minimal pay. As with all company literature and statements you did simply not read the text as seen. One would have to read trough it…“through the lines” Doing so would reveal the true nature and intent of the company… There was a lot of trickery, hurtful comments and actions made along the way, at every stage of the unfair dismissal procedure. Any concurring witnesses of the perusing employee would also be seen to be intimidated, and consequently withdraw there support due to fear of dismissal themselves. I was recorded on concealed Dictaphones on many an occasion while being interviewed, as I also did them. Management would only talk to the concerned individual with a whiteness, to act against the pursuing employee. This was also the job of the note taker whist in interviews. Interviews and the provided information given to the company for its “own internal investigations” as contracted once a complaint was made in writing. Would be broken-down, cut, altered and edited in the minuets to suite the company. The managers conduct code states “criticism should be given & taken to detriment the individuals health” i.e. Harass give cause for alarm and distress to the employee… Also it states “all appeals against dismissal will be completed to dismiss circumstances fully” and...“It is recommended employees leave the business for health reasons in respect of medical retirement”. Every dismissal case is “judged on it’s own merits“ and dealt with as a separate case. Even though the circumstances behind the unfair dismissal would be the same. This severs the connection between countless amounts of other individuals dealt with in the same manor, of which there would be many. There would be no prospect of an appeal against dismissal due to nature of these circumstances or similar. Only a staged charade was provided and false hopes given. As was the internal investigation conducted on your behalf, of the companies wrong doing. It would be imperative that the company gained access to the information held against it in full. This was the job of the Union and its representatives. To leak or take away if possible, information to be put forward to the managers and the CMA. It was also imperative that company documents/letters were agreed with and singed. Of which I never did, I always wrote a letter in response, and I only realised certain written statements to the company. Enough to show I meant business. Management also had if deemed necessary the option to go out of there “area of authority” as my manager once did. i.e. Actions outside of the work place. The union CWU is there as a preventative measure in the broad scale. It will offer no help or support, as they are on the same contract and work in conjunction with the managers. Only the information they are supposed have, or access too is limited and of a much lower security level. No union agreement would override the Consignia contract… Unless the Senior Union officials became aware of the companies activities in full. Lower level Union representatives would receive a rise in pay scale from the company if they were made aware of the illegal contract. However the senior Union officials could not be bought or paid of.

I sent CWU head quarters piles of written statements/information regarding company policies. It was to no surprise in light of my statements and conversations to the CWU & office of Jim Moaha they no longer liked the name Consignia, it was boycotted shortly after. These were the “Bone Headed Unions“. Even though to quote Mr J Roberts in The House Of Commons mar 02; “I for one quite happen to like the name”, Consignia .. This and many other things were to change on my behalf. I was regarded by the company as being “quite clever“. And I have had a major effect on how the postal business runs today. I have been sent subliminal messages from the company since my dismissal. They like to let me know they have not forgotten me and my achievements, which I find touching in a way. These came amongst other things in the form of various company slogans “with us it’s personal”… “for the little things that make the big things happen” And also the add campaign for the post office. When I singed the Consignia contract I gave away my fingerprints without notification or consent. I also agreed to various other documents that in certain circumstances are absolutely horrid, nasty and demeaning to an individual. My rights as a human-being were violated. I was party to an illegal contract, as were thousands of post persons in the UK that had there fingerprints lifted without notification or consent , and so must Her Majesty The Queen & Her government been party too, whether it be aware or not.….

It’s over four years now since I raised these issues with the former company. It was only a matter of weeks while I was at the peak of my battle with the company that to no surprise changed its name. Due to an unfortunate turn of events things did not work out for me I failed to expose the company for what was, to people outside the company. I did dare not send my in-depth findings to the afore mentioned people in Government, as I should have done when I had the chance. I did not know what would be thought of my information or where it would lead. Although I did make an effort & threaten the company with prospective involvement from people in Government. I eventually suffered an induced nervous breakdown after around six months of continuous stress as a result of my dealings with the company, and the implications involved. My findings and information would have had an impact on, a monumental scale in the UK and felt around the world. If it was ever to come to the view of the public the way in which the UK postal service operates, with a Royal tile with ties to the Government. The consequences would have been unimaginable. My near 5” stack of paperwork months of work that I had compiled that took thousands of hours was thrown in the sodding bin much to the relief and delight of my opponent, it was dangerous information to possess in any sense for a low-level renegade employee such as myself. After which I made the statement “it’s not over yet “ I intend to honour my word. Quite a bit of my old work is to this day held on file within the now company walls. All this is told from memory. At one time there was not another person that understood Consignia as I did, and as I have demonstrated by past dealings. My case against the company could have been cast in Iron, maybe even irons. The accuracy and detail of my information was and still is, extreme. Albeit somewhat unbelievable to a degree, to persons that do not understand big business… I did fear for my life at one stage. I had a phone call at home just two days after I went to the Industrial Tribunal on the basis of unfair dismissal On 22 January 02. (this would have been my gateway to bigger issues). A voice told me if I did not get to a place of safety in 10 minutes I was dead. This was at the same time two days after that date a Consignia manager was shot & killed, somewhere in Ireland, as I so predicted. This made me very paranoid and I took this threat seriously. This then company was the near death of me. I would have rather died than be beaten into submission and end up in an institution for the insane. No one other than myself or the people I was dealing with within the company knew what I was on the verge of doing, there was a lot at stake. There are many things a person can or will endure in there life time. This was most definitely the worst ordeal I will ever encounter period. Since falling afoul of Consignia and its management. The bastards of the office world. This was and still possibly is although under a different plc. title, the biggest and most corrupt business in Britain.

My own personal Feelings of the Royal Mail company
I did like my job as a post-person, while I worked for the company. I felt a sense of self worth in the community, it was also a job I took pride in and liked to do. I was proud to be a member of a team. I was respected and liked by most, management, fellow employees and customers alike. I tried my best to please those around me and get on well in a group. I had no significant trouble while I was in service. My company record and attendance was good also. I was proud to work for such a seemingly great company. It was a nice company to work for, up till a point. Consignia did become an big obsession with me. I spent a lot of time preparing a case for the company to answer too. It took a lot of thought and effort on my part it also was a stressing experience to deal and dealth into the depths of the company and the way it worked. This was made I wouldn’t say easy, but less of an effort by the way the bungling management handled issues. They lead me to discover as much as I did, which was way too much. The company didn’t like intelligent low-level employees, as they could cause reason for concern in certain instances. I guess that’s why the union officials don’t seem to be so bright, this makes them less of a threat. I wouldn’t even say I was intelligent. I just showed perseverance total dedication and thought on a big scale. The company owes me quite a bit for my efforts and ideas, of which I gave many a lot of which were seen to be understood and acted upon. Either that or it be pure coincidence which would be unlikely. I would say I did know this company and the way it works internally like no other. I have experienced the long arm and the wrath of Royal Mail first hand. It was an upsetting experience, although at some stages the feelings I had were euphoric. It was not so much the fact I was destined to loose my job that was expected, it was personal with me. It became personal in the manor I was treated that’s the way the company made it. The company affected my personal life in ways no other will ever understand. I was under constant stress and pressure, it was one individual against many. There was a lot of deep thought and strategy involved. I was determined I was not to be beaten I was fighting for my rights as a person. If ever I never achieved anything else in this life that wouldn’t matter but failure on this occasion was not an option. I had information I just didn’t have the means of communication. I am only one voice who would listen to wild tales from a disgruntled employee… I had insurmountable odds staked against me at the time and was driven to the brink of irreversible insanity. I was sectioned off after a period of no sleep constant worry, threats and anxiety “I lost my mind” It was only a brief period of insanity, however this was compounded by my incarceration for two months in an institution. My personal health did deteriorate it took me two years to get over and fully straighten out my head as a result of all this. As things stand now I just view myself as a failure. Had it not been for my paperwork destroyed by a idiot things could have been different. I have never really been good at anything particular in my life but when dealing with the company I was the best… For the company this was no standard dismissal case it was far more that that, there was a lot at steak on both sides. For the company it was exposure which would have been catastrophically disastrous, for me it was my honour, integrity and my rights that I stood for. I knew I was dealing with the best in the business (well almost) I was dealing with people with money and power, the thought of that was scary. I wouldn’t have liked to think how far the company would have gone, if they did not drive me into insanity the way they did. It hurts to know the company took pleasure in the things they put me through. I was shit on a MANAGRES SHOE. I believe this is not right the way the Royal Mail company does these things to individuals, maybe some day they will be the death of someone as they most certainly nearly were me. I do not view myself as a weak person I did fair phenomenally well, a lesser minded individual would never have come as far as I did or coped as well as I. Things could not have worked out better for the company they accomplished what they set out to do. I knew when I posted a letter in the latter stages of my battle it was dealt with and had the full attention of the top executives in London and faxed throughout the county. I gave the company a mighty scare and a lot to think about, many things have changed since then. Like where has the old conduct code gone for example, because I am damn sure it’s still in use behind closed doors. Any scrip analyst could confirm the authenticity of this document. If I had a copy I could revile the hidden text again in about 6 hours.. In battle there are always casualties although it was never me that declared war. It has been niggling at me now for years to make this statement. It is something I had to do. I have done my best to provide an understandable insight to the reader. These are the things that I went through and how the postal service operates in the United Kingdom contrary to all its statements of fairness and compliance. They are not to be trusted or judged on face value…

Mission statement
I pride myself on the accuracy and sincerity of my information. I also stand to make no capital gain from these above statements. This information is freely available too all. The only thing I seek now is acknowledgement and eventual closure, for my own personal reasons. The Royal Mail company gave me the worst days of my life. I must not be the only victim of its callus malpractices and code of conduct. The only thing I could do was stand and fight for my rights, of which I believed in wholeheartedly. It was a great battle, one I could have won circumstances forgiving. It was unfortunate fait would never let this happen. I have suffered unimaginable horror and stress at the hands of Consignia/Royal Mail. This will now remain with me for the rest of my life. I lost my dignity and respect also the will to live at one point. This was due to my treatment and the things I endured. I felt it was time to make this statement, as I never got the chance in the past to cast my voice. No longer will my testimony fall on deaf ears…..


It is now my intent to disclose this official information which I have obtained as a result of my past work with Consignia/Royal Mail. Make damaging disclosures relating to security and intelligence. Publish, broadcast and use for my own benefit. To every other person firm and company. Information that relates in every way, of business methods and work practices of the Post Office….
Adam Fawcett (AKA Adam Ant P.O adverts)

*I reserve the right to change/amend this publication in part or as a whole as I see fit at any time without prior notification* doc.spec.A/Fawcett/30/sept/06