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Opened mail admitted

Three quarters of Britons have opened mail that was addressed to someone else without the person’s permission, according to a survey.

Those three-quarters confessed that they have opened mail intended for someone else while being fully aware that it was not directed to them and without the permission of the intended recipient. A third of Britons admitted that they had kept a parcel which was not addressed to them, with most (90pc) of these never telling the intended recipients of the parcel’s whereabouts.

The survey, by the courier quote comparison website, was carried out as part of the company’s research into Britons’ behaviour and attitudes towards mail and deliveries. A total of 1993 British adults were polled as part of the research, all aged 18 or older. There was an even split of males and females.

The respondents were first asked, “Have you ever intentionally opened mail addressed to someone else, without their permission?” to which three quarters of Britons stated that they had. These respondents were then asked if they realised that this was illegal in the UK at the time of opening the mail, to which 79pc said ‘yes’. When asked to provide details of whose mail they had opened, it was revealed that they were most likely to open mail intended for ‘previous house owners/residents’ (62pc), followed by their ‘spouse’ (58pc) and ‘children’ (37pc). One fifth of these respondents confessed that they had opened mail intended for their ‘neighbour’ (21pc).

To consider how far Britons would be prepared to go when it came to other people’s deliveries, all respondents were then asked if they had ever kept another person’s package or parcel, to which just under a third (31pc) confirmed that they had, although 48pc stated that they had opened packages addressed to other people without their consent. Of those who had actually kept the misdirected package, only 10pc stated that they had advised the intended recipient of the parcel’s whereabouts. The remaining respondents had either ‘decided not to inform the original recipient intentionally’ (49pc) or had tried but had been ‘unable to reach them’ (41pc).

All respondents who had opened another person’s post or packages were asked what type of mail it was that they had opened. They were able to identify all answers that applied to their situation, giving this top ten mail most likely to be opened by another person:

1. Bills – 63%
2. Cards (e.g. birthday, Christmas) – 51%
3. DVDs – 42%
4. Books – 36%
5. Clothing – 31%
6. Technology e.g. gadgets – 28%
7. Gifts – 24%
8. Flowers – 21%
9. Handwritten letters – 16%
10. Supermarket delivery – 15%

Finally, all respondents who had kept another person’s delivery were asked to provide an estimate of the value of the parcel or package. The average estimate value of one of these misdirected and wrongfully opened and kept items was £36.

Nick Clarkson of said: “These findings are shocking! It’s one thing to open a bill addressed to your partner, which you’d end up looking after anyway, but it’s another to open and keep a parcel with an average worth of £36! If someone has paid for an item or been sent a gift and it has been wrongly delivered, that is bad enough. The thought that the wrong recipient might just hold on to it and keep quiet is horrible, especially if they do have the opportunity to ‘fess up and hand over the goods. It’s a very deceitful thing to do. In this case, finders should not be keepers, unless there really is no other alternative.”


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