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Watchdog tells Royal Mail to reform to customers’ needs

Watchdog tells Royal Mail to reform to customers' needs
Watchdog tells Royal Mail to reform to customers' needs

Ofcom, the communication watchdog, has released its report into the UK’s Royal Mail performance, suggesting it cuts down on delivery days. 

One wonders if the Royal Mail’s snail mail is still relevant in the modern days of technology. A study found that eight in 10 people still need this service, while 74% say they rely on the post office for letters. 

Part of the postal service’s obligation is to deliver letters six days a week, excluding Sundays. Parcel deliveries must take place Monday through Friday. Added to this are two delivery speeds for its universal service products. 

Yesterday, Ofcom released its recommendations to help the telecommunication company “change to better align with the needs of consumers.”

Evidence released on Wednesday (January 24, 2024)  suggests that the universal service needs to change to better align with consumers’ needs and ensure it can remain affordable and sustainable. “We are seeking input from all interested parties on our assessment so there can be an informed public debate on how the specification should be modernized for the future.”

The public has until April 3, 2024, to provide input on Ofcom’s recommendations for modernization. “Downgrading the quality of service is not an option for reform,” states the report.

Royal Mail should cut down on delivery days

Ofcom says the universal postal service risks becoming “unsustainable” as people send fewer letters and receive more parcels. “Reform is necessary to secure its long-term future.”

As far back as November 2022, the Royal Mail approached the government to request a reduction in the frequency of letter delivery from six to five days a week, removing Saturdays. 

In October 2023, a study was released on how customer demands have shifted. The need to post letters has dropped, while the need for parcel deliveries at home or businesses has increased. It noticed that the “continued growth in online shopping and selling became part of daily life.”

The study also found that some vulnerable groups still rely on parcels delivered by the Royal Mail. Concerns have been raised that this group might be “less accepting” of reducing the number of days, “especially if they do not have access to competitor services.”

The “most vulnerable audiences” seem more open to the recommendation to reduce the number of days for letter deliveries. This recommendation is backed up by research that shows the letter volumes halved since 2011.

Royal Mail’s long-standing troubles

The Royal Mail has been in financial trouble for a few months now. In November, it was fined £5.6 million ($7 million) for failing to meet ‘first and second-class’ delivery targets in the last financial year. 

The communications watchdog found the postal service’s first-class national performance fell nearly 10% below the target. While its target was to deliver 99.9% of the mail daily, it only managed to reach 89%

These findings are severe, and the penalty was imposed in an emergency to get the Royal Mail to modernize. 

About the author

Mia is a multi-award-winning journalist. She has more than 14 years of experience in mainstream media. She's covered many historic moments that happened in Africa and internationally. She has a strong focus on human interest stories, to bring her readers and viewers closer to the topics at hand.

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