From Monday the Post Office will deliver letters and parcels to the house next door if you're out - and hand out new "don't trust the people next door" stickers that will tell you at a glance what type of neighbourhood you're living in.
The Post Office asked for permission for surrogate deliveries back in July, and following a consultation which yielded more than 600 overwhelmingly negative responses, Ofcom has decided to let the postie drop deliveries off with a neighbour, even getting them to sign where necessary, though responsibility for packages will remain with the Post Office and Ofcom says it will monitor the situation.
Citizens who don't trust their neighbours will have to put up stickers, provided by the Post Office, enabling instant judgments on how friendly a neighbourhood is with just a glance into the doorways.
The Post Office argued that other delivery companies, with whom it is required to compete these days, already have the right to leave stuff with the house next door, while it has been bound to wait for the householder or keep the parcel at the post office for collection, both of which are more expensive than dropping it off with someone nearby.
The consultation attracted hundreds of responses, around two-thirds of which were anonymous, but are almost universally against the scheme. The reasons range from the simple:
"My wife doesn't want delivery to our neighbour as she doesn't get on with them."
... to the complicated, from the Children's Hearing Society ...
"We often have extremely confidential papers sent to Panel Members (PM). Should they inadvertently be opened by neighbours, very serious details of other people's lives could be accessed."
... to the surreal ...
"At number seven we have a religious nut who it appears from what she says spends most of the day praying in the bedroom with one of her children, I would add that she is perfectly harmless, no aggression but unfortunately her head is on another planet."
In many areas delivery to a neighbour is already common practice despite the rules, and the vast majority of people aren't thieves so it doesn't matter, but the divisive nature of the stickers is a concern - who'd want to be the only house in the street with a sticker, or without one!
Come Monday you might find out your neighbours aren't as trusting as they seemed, so perhaps you should get your retaliation in first? ®