The postal operator has apologised to customers after it achieved an 89.2 per cent success rate for first class stamped and metered mail in Q3 (September 6 to December 5) against a 93 per cent target. The rate for second class stamped and metered mail was 97.2 per cent on a target of 98.5 per cent.
Royal Mail confirmed that it will be applying to regulator Postcomm for a “special exemption in recognition of the severity of the weather conditions that led to the decline of service standards during the quarter three period”. The operator said it “believes that these conditions warrant our application on this occasion”.
Even so, a spokesman for watchdog Consumer Focus said Royal Mail “cannot entirely blame the cold for these dismal results” and that the operator “must work harder”.
He added: “Local delivery issues suggest the company must work harder at minimising customer disruption from modernisation. Consumers face two more years of this vital programme. It is essential that Royal Mail are clear about the disruption modernisation can cause and communicate better with its loyal customers. If it is to quickly pick-up and address customer issues Royal Mail must also overhaul its complaint handling process.”
During the period in question posties worked evenings and Sundays to deliver mail, and last month received a letter from Prime Minister Cameron, who praised their “excellent work”. In contrast, many supermarkets and private couriers cancelled deliveries.
In the letter, Cameron said: “I would like to thank all of you for the excellent work that you did right across the country to deliver Christmas letters, cards and parcels.
“Christmas is always a very busy time for you. The freezing conditions that you have faced – the last few weeks have seen the worst start to the winter in living memory – have made deliveries this year particularly difficult. Despite this, you did everything possible to keep the service going and to make sure that the vast majority of people got their cards and their presents before Christmas.”
The criticism comes just days after Royal Mail was lambasted by Keep Britain Tidy, in the so-called “rubber band-gate”, after the organisation claimed red rubber bands strewn across Britain’s streets by posties were as bad as dogs’ mess.
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