For the 7th quarter in a row Royal Mail Quality of Service targets set for the Universal Service Obligation have been missed. Royal Mail failed to deliver the prescribed 93% of 1st Class letters and parcels on time, i.e. the next working day.
Royal Mail Quality of Service 4th Quarter 2018-19
For the last quarter, Royal Mail only delivered 92% of 1st Class mail the next working day and 91.5% for the full year.
Royal Mail did manage to deliver enough 2nd Class mail on time to meet the regulatory target with 98.9% delivered within three working days for the quarter and 98.6% for the full year.
Why isn’t the Royal Mail Quality of Service target being met?
There is something strange going on at Royal Mail, it’s almost as if they’ve given up and abandoned any attempt to deliver the post covered by the Universal service on time. Missing the Royal Mail Quality of Service for the odd quarter is one thing, but now they haven’t delivered the post on time for almost two years. One might ask what the regulator is doing about this and indeed why Royal Mail CEO Rico Back who took control in June 2018 hasn’t managed to turn things around in a year.
Royal Mail are under an obligation to deliver the Universal Service but their entire focus appears to be on parcels. Even here they are making life difficult for their customers having recently given NetDespatch clients just a month’s notice to move onto a new platform. Users, who needed no tech expertise as NetDespatch did all the integration work for them, are being forced to implement new software solutions, which one might normally view as a three to six month project, in under a month.
One might look at Royal Mail’s performance over the past two years and conclude that they have washed their hands of 1st Class Mail and would happily split the company keeping the parcels business and letting the regulator award the job of delivering the Universal Service Obligation to a different company or take it back into government ownership.
“We were disappointed to miss our target. Every item of mail is important to us. We are proud to deliver the Universal Service and we take our Quality of Service obligations very seriously.”
– Royal Mail Spokesperson
Any other business that failed to deliver their basic service for almost two years would have customers leaving in droves, but there is no realistic alternative to Royal Mail – even third party postal services rely on Royal Mail for final mile deliveries.
What did Royal Mail say?
“We are disappointed that we missed our annual regulatory First Class target. Our postmen and women work extremely hard to deliver the mail six days a week in all weather. We are committed to delivering high standards of service to all our customers across the UK.”
– Paul O’Keefe, director of quality and customer, Royal Mail
What are OFCOM doing?
OFCOM have brought forward a review of Royal Mail services from 2022 to this year.
Sustaining the universal postal service
3.26 Many people and businesses rely on the universal postal service. We have a duty to secure the universal postal service, and monitor on Royal Mail’s performance and finances.
3.27 In light of the continuing decline in the letters market and broader changes in the parcels’ market and customers’ expectations, we propose to enhance our monitoring of Royal Mail.
Annual Plan 2019/2012
We will bring forward some of the work we had planned to undertake as part of our next review of the regulation of Royal Mail which, as we set out in spring 2017, we intended to undertake by 2022.
3.28 In the next financial year, in addition to our current work programme, we will:
• Carry out a review of Royal Mail’s efficiency.
This work will give us more insights into the likely future sustainability of the universal postal service. We intend to provide our latest view on the sustainability of the universal postal service in Q3.
• Seek to understand the needs of postal users better.
We will carry out research to review the extent to which the postal market is meeting the reasonable needs of users in light of changes in the market, in particular the growth in online shopping and continued decline in letters. We will assess implications arising from changes in postal user needs. We plan to publish preliminary findings in Q4.
– Ofcom’s Annual Plan programme of work for 2019/20