Royal Mail customers debited twice as technical problems continue

Royal Mail apologises as some users of SmartStamp and Online Postage have average £50 debited by mistake

Around 600 Royal Mail customers have had an average of £50 debited from their cards by mistake after the group admitted to ongoing technical problems with its website.

Customers using its SmartStamp and Online Postage services are being contacted by Royal Mail and offered a £25 goodwill gesture on top of the cash being refunded.

The accidental debits are the latest in a series of problems with Royal Mail's website applications. In early December, Royal Mail's popular online Price Finder service, which allows consumers to calculate the cost of sending parcels, broke down, angering thousands of people looking to send Christmas cards and presents.

The Price Finder page – which calculates the postal cost of packages based on their size and weight – is still broken, displaying only a holding page which states the organisation is still "experiencing technical difficulties". It has now been out of service for over three weeks.

The latest problem has hit Royal Mail's SmartStamp and Online Postage application services, used by around 30,000 customers, and managed on behalf of Royal Mail by Capgemini. Royal Mail merely said "difficulties are being experienced", adding that Capgemini "is working hard to return the website to normal".

In a joint statement issued by Moya Greene, chief executive of Royal Mail Group, and Paul Hermelin, chief executive of the Capgemini group, said: "The technical problems mean that for around 600 customers we have debited their payment cards twice as they sought to repeat a transaction which the system told them had failed. The estimated average additional amount is around £50.

"As the records of those impacted customers are reviewed, they will be contacted as a matter of urgency and their accounts will be credited in full. They will also be provided with an additional payment of £25 as a gesture of goodwill.

"Some customers have also paid for postage which has then not printed out or have not been able to see the result of a top-up to their pre-pay account. Where this is happening, or where other problems are occurring, we are fixing those problems on an individual basis. These specific payment issues do not affect customers using Online Postage via PayPal."

Greene and Hermelin apologised for the disruption "at this key time of the year for our customers".


Mark King

The GuardianTramp

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