As someone who relies upon Smartstamp to process my business mail the last few days have been what is best described as difficult and frustrating. For those of you that are unfamiliar with the service, Smartstamp is a subscription based service provided by Royal Mail that allows you to print your postage directly to your home printer. I use it in conjunction with my Royal Mail business collections in order to save me time queuing at the post office with several sacks of mail each day.
The usually reliable service has now been down for a period of 4 days, as I write this on Tuesday morning. It appears, although no one is completely sure, that Royal Mail decided to carry out a system upgrade of their website some time after Friday night. This seems to have brought down not only most of the Royal Mail website but also the Smartstamp service, the online business accounts and the ability to print postage online. Whilst the lack of service is inconvenient at best and at worst means many small businesses are unable to function properly if at all, the main problem here appears to be lack of information.
Royal Mail are very active on Twitter, as are many of the customers complaining about the lack of service for the past 4 days. They still, however, fail to directly answer customer questions about when if ever the Smartstamp problem will be resolved. They allude to “problems with their website” which they “are working to fix” but do not directly mention the Smartstmap outage nor give any indication of when customers can expect the service to be up and running again. Likewise there is no mention of any problems with the service on the parts of the Royal Mail website that do still work only a generic message about technical difficulties. Whilst I appreciate Royal Mail are going to be very busy fielding queries from frustrated customers, the main point here is that communication is the key. If customers are aware the service will be unavailable for a number of days, it is no less inconvenient but it does allow them to plan for the outage and make alternative arrangements, to simply ignore the issue and not give any timeframe as to when it will be resolved is a fail of epic proportions and not what I would expect from a company that is meant to specialise in communications.
Update as of 15.00 Tuesday afternoon.
I have just received the following email from Royal Mail below stating the current situation. It really is unforgivable that it has taken 4 days for them to even acknowledge that there is a problem and inform customers. In my opinion this should have been sent out as soon as they were made aware of the issue. I wonder how many more days of no service we have to look forward to.
As you may be aware, we are still experiencing technical difficulties with our SmartStamp® product on our website and the service is not currently available.
We are really sorry for the problems you may be encountering and the inconvenience this may be causing. We are still working to fix the issues with SmartStamp® and our website as quickly as we can.
We will send out a further email to let you know as soon as SmartStamp® becomes available again.
Again, we would like to apologise for the inconvenience this is causing our customers. Until SmartStamp® becomes available, customers with urgent mailings can take their mail to their nearest Post Office branch which can be found at: www.postoffice.co.uk/branch-finder.
The SmartStamp® Customer Service Team