A letter sent from Egilsstaðir in East Iceland took four days to arrive at another location in the same town, RÚV reports. As of February 1, all mail sent from the countryside is driven to Reykjavík to be machine sorted there, rather than sorted by hand at rural offices. The Icelandic Post Office says that this is a more efficient system, given that only 10% of mail is sent from rural locations, but that the letter should have only take three days to arrive, not four.
Prior to February 1, so-called ‘A-Class’ letters were sorted on-site and then delivered from there, whereas ‘B-Class’ letters were sent on for machine sorting in Reykjavík and took longer to be delivered. Now that A-Class letter service has been discontinued, all mail is sent to Reykjavík for sorting by default.
The letter in question was mailed on 1:00 PM on Monday afternoon, likely driven to Reykjavík on Wednesday evening, and not sorted until Thursday. It’s suspected that the extra day’s delay in delivering the letter was because it missed being sorted on Wednesday instead.
Brynjar Smári Rúnarsson, a representative for the Post Office, demurred when asked if a single letter, or even a bundle of letters, could be sorted on-site in a rural post office instead of being driven to the capital for machine sorting. “As a rule, what usually happens is that staff receive letters at the post office and then put them in the right place and then add more letters as the day goes along. There are mailboxes, too, and staff aren’t sorting these letters by hand. They’re actually just put in the same place and sent to Reykjavík for sorting. Machine sorting is more efficient than hand sorting and given the size of the market in Iceland and the mix of places where deliveries enter the system, it’s best that this machine sorting take place here in the capital area.”