Royal Mail Cyber Incident

Royal Mail Export Suspension Continues – Causing New Headaches for UK Shippers, Including eBay and Etsy Sellers

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Royal Mail is still battling the aftermath of an unspecified cyber incident that is not allowing the organization to process international outbound shipments.

The UK’s postal service first revealed this incident on Wednesday, 11 January, asking shippers not to post international letters and parcels until further notice.

As of Monday, the situation is ongoing, and Royal Mail provided the following update (edited).

“We are temporarily unable to despatch items to overseas destinations. To support faster recovery when our service is restored and to prevent a build-up of export items in our network, we’re asking customers not to post international items until further notice.

“Items that have already been despatched may be subject to delays.

“Our import operations continue to perform a full service, with some minor delays. Parcelforce Worldwide export services are still operating to all international destinations though customers should expect delays of one to two days.

“Our teams are working around the clock to resolve this disruption and we will update you as soon as we have more information.”

Both eBay and Etsy have addressed this situation on their respective seller announcement forums.

eBay UK Reaction

eBay UK said, “We are monitoring the situation closely and to mitigate any delays that may arise, time has also been added to the delivery estimates we display to international buyers whilst the carrier is remedying the situation.”

In addition, eBay UK is offering seller protections for international shipments sent between 4 January and 16 January for items posted via Royal Mail (and presumably Parcelforce as well).

The marketplace is suggesting sellers use alternative shipping solutions such as UPS and DPD via its eBay delivery powered by Packlink. Sellers can also use eBay’s Global Shipping Program (GSP) to send their items.

Since Royal Mail has not resolved the international shipping issue yet, we presume eBay UK will extend the seller protection date further.

Etsy Reaction

Etsy said, “We’re working closely with Royal Mail to monitor the situation for our sellers and will continue to update you as we learn more.

“Due to a Royal Mail cyber incident, the ability to purchase RM export labels is temporarily unavailable and shipping internationally via this carrier should be paused.”

In addition, Etsy recommends UK sellers who already have purchased Royal Mail export shipping labels for international orders should wait to dispatch until the issue is resolved.

Etsy did not address late deliveries of already posted items or how it would handle buyer claims of still undelivered or late delivered orders caused by this situation.

Why is Royal Mail Taking So Long?

Royal Mail has not publically commented many details about the cyber incident. Media reports suggest the cybercriminal ransomware group LockBit is behind the attack. But the group, believed to be from Russia, is denying involvement.

Without further information, it is unclear if Royal Mail is in contact with the attackers, who apparently claim to have decrypted the stolen data and threaten to publish it publically.

Considering it has been five days since Royal Mail went public, the situation appears to be very serious.

This has become another major disruption for Royal Mail, which is in the middle of a labor dispute pause trying to negotiate a new contract with its 115,000 unionized workers.

The labor dispute caused havoc in December and this January lull was going to help Royal Mail catch up on undelivered parcels and letters.

Unfortunately, the cyber incident is causing new headaches now for many small UK businesses and online marketplace sellers as many rely on Royal Mail to ship items overseas.

The domestic labor dispute and the international export cyber incident are not helping Royal Mail’s reputation and could lead to a significant flight of shippers, permanently shifting parcel volume to other services.

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