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N. Wales man tackles post misery.

Byline: Tom Bodden Welsh Affairs Correspondent

A NORTH Wales man is to stand up to the troubled postal service on behalf of the people of Wales.

Iwan Roberts is heading up a team of watchdogs to investigate postal complaints.

Mr Roberts, 30, originally from Denbigh, will research consumers' gripes and can press for compensation claims for lost or damaged mail.

The new senior complaints officer with Postwatch Wales will act as a voice for users of postal services in a team of three in Cardiff.

"We are in the front line of the complaints, if people can't get satisfaction by contacting Royal Mail or Parcelforce, " he said.

The newly-established organisation - set up last year under the Post Services Act - has been handling about 45 complaints a month.

It took over from the former Post Office Users Council but Mr Roberts says it now has teeth to act on behalf of the public.

Postwatch reports to the industry regulator Postcomm, which can levy fines or penalties on failing operators.

The biggest single complaint case handled in Wales so far involved a North Wales company expecting delivery of vital documents which went missing in the post.

Postwatch managed to secure more than pounds 1,000 in compensation for the business.

But Mr Roberts says that job satisfaction does not lie in cash pay-outs.

"Basically, we are aiming to get to the root of any problems to try to stop then happening again, we just want the best for the consumer."

Most complaints involve delayed mail, damaged parcels or packages getting lost, he said.

"Sometimes the case can cause a lot of distress, like the widow from Prestatyn whose card to her dying husband arrived after he died.

"That is an extremely emotional situation.

"And people do ring up and they are terribly upset. What they want is someone to help them, to get to the bottom of what went on, and when you are able to do that it is hugely satisfying."

Postwatch Wales is made up of nine committee members across the country, each with 10 volunteers carrying out research.

The closure of sub Post Offices is another keen issue in communities, he said. It can exclude people from access to services because of where they live, or their background or age.

"Even moving a sub post office a mile and a half can provoke deep feelings in communities."

As Consignia, the new name for the Post Office, faces increasing outside competition for delivery services, Postwatch will extend its responsibility to other operators too.

POSTWATCH Wales can be contacted on 08456-013265, and a website at www. postwatch. co. uk with access to the Wales pages.
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Feb 5, 2002
Words:444
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