An Post has blamed Brexit and EU customs rules for a deluge of complaints about parcels not being delivered to customers in Ireland or left languishing for weeks in sorting offices.
A large number of people have taken to social media to berate the State-owned postal operator as confusion reigns over what it calls “stringent” new rules governing the delivery of goods into the European Union which took effect over the summer.
Some have claimed weddings and Christenings have been impacted or delayed as they wait up to weeks for items to arrive or they have been returned to the sender without being delivered at all.
On Twitter, one customer said: “I’m waiting on my shoes for my wedding and I’m waiting on a response from you for over a week now,” she posted.
“I’ve emailed twice, tried ringing but the phone is engaged and tweeted twice. Have you lost my wedding shoes?”
Another person asked An Post on Twitter: “Can someone please reply to my messages. I am waiting on a package for my wedding that I need urgently and I’ve been getting no replies to messages or emails.”
Lullaby Lane, a UK-based online shop selling baby clothes and accessories, said Irish customers “have been fantastic but it is heartbreaking when Christenings have been cancelled because An Post are holding on to/sending back their Christening outfits.”
An Post said the introduction of an EU customs requirement in July for “additional electronic documentation” on goods coming into the EU from outside has led to “significant delays” or customers “not receiving their goods at all”.
It declined to detail the scale of the backlog, how long it will take to clear or how many parcels are being returned to non-EU senders as a result.
Customers in Ireland buying from “smaller or specialist non-EU retailers and in particular smaller/specialist British retailers” are being particularly impacted, it said as they are not aware of requirements.
“This is giving rise to customs delays when these parcels arrive in Ireland and/or the items having to be returned to sender because the necessary electronic data is missing or incomplete, or the contents are restricted or prohibited.”. The spokeswoman said there were no such issues shopping online in Ireland, from other EU countries or with major retailers in Britain.
Gift parcels being sent by family and friends in Britain to Irish addresses are also being impacted. An Post said it is working with Irish Customs, Royal Mail and other non-EU carriers to help resolve the issues and will be providing advice to consumers on avoiding some pitfalls that leads to non-delivery or delay.
An Post advised customer getting parcels from non-EU countries to check the senders are completing appropriate documentation.
One complainant on Twitter said: "Three of my packages from Japan have been returned to their senders since August. What is going on?! I have plenty of friends from the EU who aren't having any 'custom' related issues since July 1."
Another said: “I don’t understand how a small brown envelope with just paper inside can be going through customs clearance at all. Let alone for over a week. Is every handwritten letter or birthday card being treated this way? It doesn’t make sense?”
Revenue said postal operators or courier businesses delivering imported goods are required to complete “relevant customs import declarations on behalf of the importer”. It said these declarations are based on information provided to by the exporting party. It said where postal operators don’t have enough information they can contact the exporter or importer to get it.
“The postal operator or courier service may also choose to re-export the goods to the country of origin if they do not have sufficient information to ensure the completion of the import declaration.”