Can We Clear Something Up?

A post box

Okay, here's another poser that's been troubling me. Where exactly does 2nd Class Post go in the two or three days it takes to deliver?

Do they leave it somewhere to gather dust for a bit, or simply hand it to the slower postal workers?

If it is left somewhere, then that would seem to be counter-productive, as the storage space for two days worth of letters must be a considerable cost to the Post Office, and might even explain the cost of a first-class stamp.

I was thinking of sending myself 2nd class to see what happened, but then thought it a bit dangerous, so sent my friend Charles instead.

If you have any first-hand knowledge of 2nd class post, or are a letter, or even know where Charles is now, I'd like to hear from you.

Okay, all sorts of rude responses that have no place in a family website, most of which cast unprintable libels about our jolly postal folk.

There were suggestions that 1st class post was so expensive to pay for the huge warehouses required to keep the 2nd class post for two days, and even a suggestion that the post office have a time dilation device that simply pops 2nd class post two days into the future, and then another time dilation device that takes first class post (which actually takes three days to deliver) two days in the past to give it the impression of an overnight delivery.

Well, I did ask. I close now with a report from Mark Shuttleworth, who explains it all fully:

Where does it go? The clue is in the title. All post carrying a 2nd Class stamp goes to the Second Class. It's the one just behind the First Class. A little like Degrees, one is worth something, the other is not.

I've seen this in lots of schools. Socks, shoes, sandwich boxes and all sorts of parnifi.... parfinilaliia..... things are often left untended. It's only when the caretaker arrives at the end of term that these areas are cleared out.

Have you ever noticed an increase in 2nd class post just after school holidays? That's because the caretaker had a spring clean, in time for an influx of tearaways.

Of course schools do use these letters to educate children. Primary schools are good at forwarding First class post. But Secondary schools? Oh dear. Once a pupil reaches teenage years, it loses all semblance of how to read, stamp and forward post ot its appropriate destination.

PS - Many years ago, I worked briefly in a sorting office. I still remember seeing a 2nd class letter. No Postcode, just a name, house number and road - and then two further lines of address: -

North Cave
(near South Cave)

as if that really helped!

Page updated March 24th 2009

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