Royal Mail’s rivals, who are also customers due to the fact they rely on posties for their “final mile” deliveries, have slated the firm’s “woeful” service levels, claiming it is “staggering” that the management is still blaming Covid for late deliveries, while also hiking prices.
The Mail Competition Forum (MCF) represents leading mail and parcel operators, including Whistl UK, City Link, Citipost AMP, DX Group, One Post, UK Mail, Secured Mail Group, whose access mail accounted for 64% of all addressed letters delivered by Royal Mail, totalling more than 5 billion items, in the year to April 2021.
Addressed mail MCF members carry includes both advertising and transactional mailshots for critical services, such as banking, utilities, councils and NHS Trusts; the organisation argues this needs to be delivered on time.
However, despite investing extensively to mitigate the effects of the pandemic on service levels themselves, MCF members say they have received prolonged poor service from Royal Mail, with mail consistently being delivered late, and still no assurances of a return to contractually agreed service levels. Despite this, Royal Mail has again greatly increased postal prices.
During a recent Westminster debate, there was widespread support of Royal Mail staff and the Communication Workers Union, but criticism of Royal Mail management and the poor quality of service provided to customers.
Ofcom’s role was also criticised, with Helen Hayes MP stating: “My engagement with Ofcom has been, frankly, extremely disappointing. There appeared to be very little interest in the severe problems affecting my constituents, and no meaningful action that Ofcom, as the regulator, was willing or able to take in response.”
In a letter to Hayes ahead of the debate, MCF secretary Ian Paterson outlined Royal Mail’s “woeful service” and said the company was using the contractual term “disruptive event” to negate responsibility for its prolonged poor-quality performance.
With no clear timeline from Royal Mail on when pre-pandemic service levels are likely to resume or when the pandemic disruptive event will come to an end, the MCF has appealed to both Ofcom and Royal Mail to bring an end to this stand-off.
An MCF spokesperson commented: “At the start of the pandemic we understood the disruption, but while the downstream access industry has adapted to bring its service levels back to business as usual, Royal Mail is still using the pandemic as an excuse more than two years on.
“We have worked hard to keep our end of the bargain, processing our client’s mail on time, but we are being let down at the final delivery stage. We’re seeing important mail arriving days later than it should, and all at a time when Royal Mail has raised its prices – it’s staggering.
“We are asking Royal Mail to do three things: to get the access service back to the agreed level now, to end the no longer justifiable ‘disruptive event’ status, and to compensate Access customers for failing for so long to achieve the agreed service level. Ofcom needs to call Royal Mail to account and get us out of this stalemate.”
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