Mail bosses have ordered a postman to stop delivering groceries to villagers - after they found out he was helping residents with shopping.
Postman Paul Kierby had handed the goods to the elderly residents of Singleton, Lancashire.
But when he took time off work due to an injury, his actions were revealed when a villager called to inquire after him.
Stunned Royal Mail chiefs then ordered the practice to cease.
The Royal Mail, which says on its website "with us it's personal", said it was a "private, historical arrangement" for the village and unfair to everyone else.
"I can understand that the change in routine comes as a bit of a shock but it's not fair to expect other customers to subsidise this," a spokesman said.
"Someone is paying for the extra time it takes the postman to do these deliveries.
"The current postman is not obliged to take over this private arrangement as he is only paid for the delivery of mail.
"We have to be consistent in the service we offer to customers across the country."
But retired teacher Norma Clark, 67, said it was a "nice, friendly tradition".
She said: "I do feel sad because now we have to make other arrangements.
"Nine times out of 10 when the postman dropped off the paper there was mail as well, so it's not like it costs Royal Mail any more.
"It was a good customer service and a bit of good publicity for them. It's mean to stop it."
She added the service was valuable for many people in Singleton who found it hard to get out and about.
The practice came to light when a resident called the Poulton-le-Fylde sorting office to ask after Mr Kierby's welfare after hearing he had injured his shoulder.
In the course of the conversation, the resident remarked on how helpful the postman was.
The local delivery office manager, Martin Blackburn, informed head office who were shocked at Mr Kierby's actions, and ordered the replacement postman, who had been doing the same thing, to cease immediately.
"Free delivery of newspapers and other goods is not a service we provide," the Royal Mail added.
No-one was available for comment at the sorting office.