Get to the point

I received a letter through my door last week. It was from Royal Mail, so you might have hoped they’d know a bit about letters. No such luck. Here it is. See if you can work out what it’s about.

“Dear Customer

Important information about changes to Royal Mail services in your area
I am the Royal Mail Delivery Manager for your area. I am making some changes to the way my team in Walthamstow deliver to your address. I want to explain why these changes are necessary and how they will affect you.

There may be a period of adjustment whilst my team and I get used to the new ways of working, I would like to thank you for your understanding.

Why we are making these changes

We are proud to provide one of the most comprehensive mail services in the world. Our postmen and women play a vital role in the Walthamstow area as well as across the rest of the UK, where we deliver to almost 29 million addresses, six days a week.

We need to modernise the way we operate in order to maintain services and to keep our prices as low as possible.

The way in which we communicate with each other has changed dramatically. Unfortunately, fewer letters are now posted every day. We need to organise our delivery routes to be as efficient as possible. We also deliver more larger items so we are investing in new equipment to carry these items to you even more securely. The new equipment also reduces the risk of injury to our postmen and women from carrying heavier mail bags.

What this means for you

  • We will continue to deliver in the morning and for a longer period during the day. Many customers will continue to get their mail by lunchtime.
  • The time you receive your mail will depend on where you are on the new delivery route. This may be later or possibly earlier than you are used to.
  • As I am sure you understand, when mail volumes vary, I may need to adjust delivery arrangements and times.

We are proud of the high regard in which our postmen and women are held in their communities. These changes may mean a different postman or woman from your local office will deliver to you. I am confident all of my local team will provide the reliable, friendly service you have come to expect from us over many years.

More information and help
I hope this information is useful. You can write to me using the address on this letter or find out more about how Royal Mail is modernising, including possible alternatives to standard delivery services at:

Here you can also send us an email or subscribe to updates including local service alerts online.

Finally, if you need to talk to us about these changes, I have a dedicated support team who can be contacted on: 08456 011 399.

Our deaf and hard of hearing customers can use our Textphone: 08456 000 606.

Yours faithfully,

[Name deleted]

Delivery Sector Manger for the Walthamstow area”

That’s 478 words. I’d say that about 90% of them are not needed. The main problem with it is that it doesn’t get to the point quickly enough. If you manage to read as far as the bullet points, you finally get some useful information – but not a lot! I read, write and edit things for a living, and I still had to read it twice to work out what the writer was trying to tell me.

It’s not that the language is too complicated or that the sentences are too long; it’s just that the letter gives you a lot of background information that obscures the message.

Here’s the message I think it’s trying to send: “We’re changing how we deliver your post. This may mean that you get fewer deliveries with more items or that your post is delivered later in the day. We’re doing this because fewer people are posting things. If you want more information call XXX or visit YYY.”

All that stuff about ’29 million addresses’ and ‘reducing the risk of injury’ is irrelevant to me. What’s more, the letter is so ambiguous about what’s going to happen to post on my road, it seems almost pointless to send it at all.

Feel free to dissect your least-favourite parts in the comments.