personal finance

Royal Mail hit by decade high of more than 1m complaints


Royal Mail received more than a million complaints from householders last year, the highest level for a decade.

An analysis of Royal Mail quality service reports reveals that it investigated 1,135,441 consumer complaints in the year to 28 March 2021. This is an increase of nearly 50% compared with the previous year.

The surge in complaints is revealed as the company is under fire for delays in postal districts across the country. The Observer last week revealed that more than 120 postal districts experienced delays over the Christmas and new year period. The regulator Ofcom has said it is closely monitoring the situation and will take action if necessary.

In 2020-21, Royal Mail also missed many of its key targets. It delivered about 75% of first-class letters the next working day, compared with its target of 93%. The price of a first-class stamp has risen 21% during the pandemic and is now 85p.

Royal Mail has a near-monopoly over letter deliveries to the front door and has faced claims in parliament that it has prioritised parcels over letters because it is in fierce competition with rival operators, including Amazon. Royal Mail said it warned customers that its service was likely to be disrupted by Covid-19 because of an increase in parcel volumes, social distancing requirements and staff absences.

Customers have complained of delays of up to an hour when phoning Royal Mail customer service agents to complain about missing post.

Lorna Scott Fox, 67, a writer who lives in east London, said her postal deliveries had stopped for about three weeks in December and she had still not taken down her Christmas cards because they only arrived this month.

She said that when she phoned Royal Mail to complain, she faced a wait of about 50 minutes to speak to a customer service agent. “The delays are dreadful, but it’s not surprising because there must be hundreds of people ringing up. I still have not had any response to my complaint.”

Residents of East Dulwich
Residents of East Dulwich have launched a petition complaining about delays after the closure of a mail depot. Photograph: Ian Tuttle/Rex/Shutterstock

Residents in East Dulwich in south-east London have launched a petition complaining about delays after the closure of a mail depot. It says: “It would be easy to blame all this on Covid but the problems existed long before Covid and they are likely to continue long into the future unless something is done. We demand a plan of action from Royal Mail to solve this.”

Citizens Advice said the postal service needed to improve information to customers, including the length of likely delays. Matthew Upton, director of policy at Citizens Advice, said: “Royal Mail must do more to reduce these delays and, if these issues become a long-term trend, the regulator Ofcom must be ready to take action.”

The most recent quality-of-service reports for Royal Mail show it is still failing to hit regulated targets, but the company said its performance is improving.

An Ofcom spokesperson said: “We know how important a reliable postal service is to customers, and we can take action if Royal Mail fails to meet our annual targets.“We closely monitor its delivery performance throughout the year, and have made it clear to the company that it must improve as the impacts of the pandemic subside. We will assess Royal Mail’s compliance after it has reported on its overall performance for the whole financial year.”Royal Mail bosses said postal workers have done an “extraordinary job” but the service has faced a significant increase in workloads. It says its policy is to treat parcels and letters with “equal importance”.

A Royal Mail spokesperson said: “The overwhelming majority of all mail is safely and correctly delivered by our postmen and women, with just one complaint for around every 10,000 items of mail handled by Royal Mail in 2020-21.

“Where something goes wrong, our aim is to promptly deal with the problem and rectify it as soon as possible. We are the only UK delivery company that publishes an annual complaints report, as well as a quality of service report which is subject to some of the most rigorous standards of any major European country.”



READ SOURCE

Leave a Reply

This website uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies.