Argos and eBay have joined a growing number of retailers seeking alternative courier services after Royal Mail voted in favour of strike action yesterday.

The country is now facing a crippling national postal strike which would mean a very bleak Christmas for retailers, particularly online retailers who rely on the service for smaller deliveries.

Argos said: “The majority of home delivery customer orders are delivered by Argos Home Delivery using our own vehicles, so we do not anticipate any delivery issues. We have a contingency in place which will ensure the small proportion of Royal Mail deliveries are not delayed in any way.”

EBay has also said today that it has temporarily removed the options for buyers to rate sellers on the time it takes to dispatch items.

It said that as many of its sellers rely on Royal Mail for delivery and it is working with a number of alternative carriers to ensure sellers can make deliveries in the run up to Christmas. It also called for action to end the dispute.

EBay UK managing director Mark Lewis said: “While we appreciate the complexity of the issues at hand, the Royal Mail, the Government and the Union must work to bring this dispute to a swift end.”

E-tail giant Amazon has reportedly cancelled certain items it sends through the Royal Mail to curb interruptions to its Christmas deliveries.

CWU deputy general secretary Dave Ward said his union would try to avoid a strike action. It has given Royal Mail 10 days to resolve the dispute over the modernisation of the service.

Etail industry body IMRG’s chief executive James Roper said: “A pattern is emerging - postal strikes in the run-up to Christmas. With mail volumes diminishing, you might expect the postal union to appreciate the huge opportunity that the e-retail industry is trying to give to Royal Mail - large volumes of new business. Sales expectations for the fourth quarter 2009 if in-line with current year on year growth figures would be £15.5bn, generating more than 100m parcel deliveries per month.

Royal Mail management’s excellent work to engage the digital world risks being undermined by this action. Sadly, yet again, consumers seem set to be left to pay for other’s self interest”.