News & Press

‘Sorry, you were out……’ The unsuccessful delivery of your mail

Published: 18 November 2010

Consumer Focus Post, the postal consumer champion, is calling on Royal Mail to introduce more flexible and convenient delivery solutions to accommodate the rise in online purchases and the changing lifestyles of Northern Ireland consumers.

This and further recommendations are made in a new Consumer Focus Post report published today – ‘Sorry, you were out’. The research explores the Northern Ireland consumer experience of unsuccessful deliveries by Royal Mail and the problems facing consumers in retrieving mail items from their local Enquiry Office1

With Christmas approaching and the growth in online shopping, the number of unsuccessful deliveries are set to increase. Last year, over half of Northern Ireland consumers arrived home on one or more occasions to find Royal Mail’s “Sorry, you were out” card2, advising them of an unsuccessful delivery attempt.

Research carried out for Consumer Focus Post suggests that nine out of 10 consumers chose to collect their undelivered mail from their local Enquiry Office, despite a range of alternative re-delivery option offered by Royal Mail. However, for many consumers this trip can be both inconvenient and costly, especially if they live a considerable distance from their nearest Enquiry Office.  

Our research reveals that many consumers in Northern Ireland would like to see Royal Mail offer more convenient delivery solutions which would allow them to have more control over the delivery of their purchases.  The most popular solutions chosen by over half of Northern Ireland consumers included a nominated day or time of delivery followed by three in ten consumers preferring evening deliveries.

Consumer Focus Post is also recommending that consumers should consider using the other services Royal Mail currently offer to re-deliver their mail3, which are outlined on the ‘Sorry, you were out’ advice cards. They should also consider carefully the delivery options offered by the retailer when they are ordering online, about when and where they would like the item to be delivered.

Chris Thirkettle, Mail expert at Consumer Focus Post, said:

‘This report shines a light on the difficulties Northern Ireland consumers face when they are not at home for the delivery of their mail.  Whilst we welcome the measures Royal Mail have started to introduce in Northern Ireland, including the extension of 11 Northern Ireland Enquiry Offices opening hours, further steps are needed.

‘With more consumers than ever choosing to shop online, Royal Mail must provide delivery solutions which match the needs, convenience and expectations of their customers.’


Media Contact – Kellin McCloskey 028 90675042 or 07917858510

Notes to editors

  1. Royal Mail has 71 Enquiry Offices in Northern Ireland – 27 of which are located within Royal Mail’s Delivery Offices and 44 operate through a post office branch.  They provide a facility that is open to the public, from which consumers can collect undelivered items of mail, for example, surcharged items, items requiring a signature and items too large for a normal letter box.
  2. Royal Mail are currently in the process of rolling out the re-branding of their ‘Sorry, you were out’ cards to ‘We’ve got something for you’.
  3. Redelivery Solutions – Consumers can contact Royal Mail by telephone or through its website to arrange for their item to be re-delivered free-of-charge, on an alternative date or to an alternative address within the same postcode areas, or redelivered to their local post office (Local Collect service) at a cost of £1.50 (This cost is due to increase to £1.80 from 31st Jan 2011)
  4. ‘Sorry, you were out’ – a research briefing on Royal Mail’s Enquiry Offices and delivery practices in Northern Ireland’ is available on Consumer Focus Post’s website at
  5. Consumer Focus Post is a statutory organisation that champions the interests of postal consumers across Northern Ireland. Consumer Focus Post started operating on 1 October 2008. 

Press Contact Details

For press & media enquiries, please contact:

Kellin McCloskey
028 9067 5042