Ofcom investigation into Royal Mail under-performance

Ofcom investigation into Royal Mail under-performance

Royal Mail’s performance was so bad in the past year that Ofcom have opened investigation into Royal Mail’s compliance with its quality of service performance targets. No complaint was needed, this was an ‘own-initiative’ Ofcom investigation.

It’s worth pointing out that the country should be grateful to the hardworking posties who delivered mail and parcels throughout the pandemic, not to mention millions of covid tests. However while the country feels like it’s back to normal with Coronavirus hardly mentioned on the news in recent months, Royal Mail have yet to recover normal levels of service.

A return to meeting the performance targets Ofcom set Royal Mail needs to come before the lower service levels become the new norm.

Reasons for Ofcom investigation

Ofcom rules require Royal Mail to meet specified quality of service performance targets in the provision of universal service products and none of these were met.

Target to complete 99.9% of delivery routes on each day that a delivery is required

  • Royal Mail only completed 94.09% of delivery routes for each day in which a delivery was required

Target to deliver 93% of First Class mail within one working day of collection

  • Royal Mail only delivered 81.8% of First Class mail within one working day

Target to deliver 98.5% of Second Class mail within three working days of collection

  • Royal Mail only delivered 95.4% of Second Class mail within three working days

Target in respect of stamped and metered mail, deliver 91.5% of First Class products within one working day in each postcode area of the UK

  • Royal Mail did not meet the postcode area target in any of the 118 postcode areas

Ofcom takes compliance with quality of service targets very seriously. In light of Royal Mail’s reported performance, Ofcom’s investigation will examine whether there are reasonable grounds for believing that Royal Mail has failed to comply with its obligations under DUSP condition 1.9.1 in respect of the year 2021-22.

– Ofcom

When publishing their Quality of Service results for the full 2021/22 year, Royal Mail said that at the peak of Omicron, absence levels were double what Royal Mail would expect to see at that time of the year pre-pandemic, reaching over 15,000 employees off sick or self-isolating in January 2022. Royal Mail say that they took immediate steps to restore a comprehensive service, including recruiting additional temporary staff and establishing a specialised dedicated delivery task force to provide targeted support to the most impacted offices.

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Comments

Undoubtedly Royal Mail faced challenges during covid and they have mostly managed to keep mail moving during the pandemic. However, there is a suspicion that covid has also been used to justify huge price increases and a drop in service standards. It's right that ofcom looks at this. But, other than fining RM, what else can they do? Better regulation across all the privatised industries in the UK would lead to better business practices and fairer prices for customers.

andy • 2nd June 2022 • Reply to andy

Andy, the bottom line is that Royal Mail has a number of issues: Customer service is shocking (try phoning). Customer processes are shocking (try claiming for lost post). Pricing is excessively complicated (check out the number of business post options and prices and work out what they all mean). The website is really bad (try using the help for anything other than a simple query). Their account management is poor (try getting a reply within a couple of days, try treading an invoice). Their performance is dropping and their prices are rising. Improvements could be made but RM have the choice of paying shareholder dividends or investing. If Ofcom fine them then ultimately the shareholder payout will be reduced and pressure will be applied to re-invest some income. If nothing is done then assets will be allowed to degrade, money paid out to shareholders and the service will become degraded leaving a big mess - similar to the water privatisation.

Stuart Waudby • 6th June 2022 • Reply to Stuart Waudby

Ofcom are looking at the wrong statistics. My experience over December 2021 was that once a letter / parcel was late then it no longer could achieve its target and was stored until there was some spare capacity. Mail on one day would arrive a bit late whereas mail sent on other days took a month. Royal Mail targets should be set to average delivery time, not percent on time. This would ensure that all post receives equal priority, not just post that has the potential to achieve target.

Stuart Waudby • 6th June 2022 • Reply to Stuart Waudby

@stuart - if in national hands the performance would be even worse. At least in the private sector they are forced to compete against more efficient operators. The problem here is a lazy overpaid and underworked unionised workforce who refuse to let the company upgrade properly.

James • 7th June 2022 • Reply to James

"It’s worth pointing out that the country should be grateful to the hardworking posties" well unless they put in unpaid overtime to meet their company's own advertised standards then I would be as grateful to them as I am to any other worker performing a service - i.e. not grateful at all, rather indifferent; they have been paid to perform a service and they have performed that service; and in Royal Mail's case while the posties have completed their shifts the overall performance is substandard. So in short I am indifferent to the posties but disappointed in RM as a company - don't see why we should be grateful unless they did something not required of them

Lee • 15th June 2022 • Reply to Lee