Royal Mail suspends deliveries to estate - because of one dog

Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

An entire estate in Salford has had its postal deliveries suspended because of one dog. After an incident with two postmen, during which a post bag was damaged, the Royal Mail wrote to residents telling them they'd have to pick their own post up for a while because it was too dangerous for postal deliveries to be made in the estate.

So what's the issue, and can the Royal Mail do this?


According to a report in the Manchester Evening News, two postal workers were confronted by the animal.

One local told the Daily Mail that the dog in question was often let out on the driveway, and ran through a broken fence into a park next door. However, she insisted that he was a 'great dog', although she said he tended to get a bit 'aggressive' when he saw postmen.

Shortly after the incident, the Manchester Evening News said that everyone in and around Briar Hill Avenue in Little Hulton received a letter telling them that postal deliveries had been temporarily suspended. The letter stated that the level of risk was "unacceptably high due to threat of further dog attacks".

A spokeswoman told the paper that it had previously suspended deliveries to that particular address and asked the resident to keep her dog under control. She failed to do so, the postmen were threatened, so they suspended deliveries.

The Royal Mail said it was trying to find a solution with the owner of the dog and the local council.

Those on the estate will have to pick up their own post for now - from a delivery office four miles away.

But can Royal Mail do this?

The company has the right to suspend deliveries.

It has not been afraid to use this right. A couple of years ago a retired banker from Bury St Edmunds had his deliveries suspended because his garden was so overgrown that the Royal Mail considered it a health and safety hazard.

Around the same time, a number of residents of Berry Drive in Paignton had their deliveries suspended because seagulls were nesting locally and attacking delivery men who tried to deliver the post.

At the end of last year, it suspended deliveries to properties in one Wiltshire street because fleas were running rampant in the area. And, as we reported, around the same time it refused to deliver to an OAP in West Yorkshire in wet weather because it made her path too slippy.

Is this fair?

The Royal Mail has every right to suspend deliveries as it sees fit, if a property falls into any one of a number of categories. At any given time it is not delivering to 0.1% of all homes in the UK.

In this instance it has fallen foul of the rule that the Royal Mail can suspend a service if there has been an incident where staff have been threatened.

There's some good news for the local residents. These sorts of suspensions are usually temporary. And in the interim if they don't want to make the four mile trip to pick up the post, they can make alternative arrangements: the company will deliver to another customer nearby or a local post office by arrangement.

But what do you think? is this a sensible move by a company trying to protect its staff from harm, or is being chased by a dog all part of the role of a postie? Let us know in the comments.

10 consumer rights you should know
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Royal Mail suspends deliveries to estate - because of one dog

The law states that any goods you buy from a UK retailer should be of satisfactory quality, as described, fit for purpose and last a reasonable amount of time.

This applies even if you buy items in a sale or with a discount voucher. You may have to insist on these rights being respected, though.

Useful phrases to use when you want to show you mean business include, "according to the Sale of Goods Act 1979" and, if it's a service, "according to the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982".

Some shops will allow you to exchange goods without a receipt, but they can refuse to should they wish.

If the goods are faulty, however, another proof of purchase such as a bank statement should work just as well.

If you attempt to return goods within four weeks of the purchase, your chances of getting a full refund are much higher as you can argue that you have not "accepted" them.

After this point, you can only really expect an exchange, repair or part-refund.

The updated Consumer Credit Act states that card companies are jointly and severally liable for credit card purchases of between £100 and £60,260 (whether or not you paid just a deposit or the whole amount on your card).

Anyone spending between these amounts on their credit card is therefore protected if the retailer or service provider goes bust, their online shopping never arrives or the items in question are faulty or not as described.

Start by writing to the agency asking it to either remove or change the entry that you think is wrong. It will investigate the matter and find out whether you have been the victim of ID theft or a bank's mistake.

Within 28 days from receipt of your letter the agency should tell you how the bank has responded. If the bank agrees to change the entry, they will authorise the agency to update their records. They should also send updates to any other credit reference agencies they use.

You can also contact your lender directly to query a mistake. If the lender agrees to the discrepancy, ask them to confirm this in writing on their letterhead and send a copy to the agency, asking them to update your file.

The FOS settles disputes between financial companies such as banks and consumers.

If a financial organisation rejects a complaint you make about its services, you can therefore escalate that complaint to the FOS - as long as you have given the company in question at least eight weeks to respond.

The FOS will then investigate the case, and could force the company to offer you compensation should it see fit.

Bailiffs are allowed to take some of your belongings to sell on to cover certain debts, including unpaid Council Tax and parking fines.

They can, for example, take so-called luxury items such as TVs or games consoles. However, they cannot take essentials such as fridges or clothes.

What's more, they can only generally enter your home to take your stuff if you leave a door or window open or invite them in.

You are therefore within your rights to refuse them access and to ask for related documents such as proof of their identity. If they try to force their way in, you can also call the police to stop them.

Private sector debt collectors do not have the same powers as bailiffs, whatever they tell you.

They cannot, for example, enter your home and take your possessions in lieu of payment.

In fact, they can only write, phone, or visit your home to talk to you about paying back the debt. As with bailiffs, you can also call the police if you feel physically threatened.

Thanks to the Distance Selling Regulations, you actually have more rights buying online or by phone than on the High Street.

You can, for example, send most goods back within a week, for a full refund (including outward delivery costs), even if there's no fault.

You will usually need to pay for the return delivery, though. The seller must then refund you within 30 days.

We enter into contracts all the time, whether it be to join a gym, switch energy supplier or take out a loan.

In most cases, once you've signed a contract, you are legally bound by it. In some situations, however, you have the right to cancel it within a certain timeframe.

Credit agreements, for example, can be cancelled within 14 days. And online retailers must tell you about your cancellation rights for any contract made up to stand up legally.


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