03 August 2011 by Web Bureau
‘Delivery to neighbour’ trial
We’ve all experienced it – you arrive home to find a note from Royal Mail stating that some of your post couldn’t be delivered. Cue the long trudge to the nearest sorting office and the dreaded queue to collect your mail. However, a new proposal from the company could put an end to such inconvenience.
Royal Mail is applying for a change to its licence to allow its posties to leave certain items of mail with a neighbour if the named recipient is not home. The pilot scheme would include mail which is too large for the letterbox and some forms of signed-for post. Special Delivery items would be excluded from the trial.
For Northern Ireland’s E-commerce community, this ‘delivery to neighbour’ scheme could prove hugely beneficial, as the efficiency of a company’s chosen postal provider can have a direct impact on profits. Despite the occasional bad press, Royal Mail remains one of the cheapest and most reliable delivery choices for business customers. Any change that improves the effectiveness of their delivery system, and saves on the time, money and customer goodwill that can be lost trying to track down ‘undeliverable’ post, can only be a good thing. However, certain drawbacks should be noted. For a start, there is no opt-out option.
If granted, the postman or woman will have a “degree of flexibility” in choosing which neighbour he leaves your post with. Most likely that will be a next-door neighbour, but it could be someone deemed to be in “close proximity” to the addressee. As Robert Hammond of Consumer Focus points out, “For many people having their mail left with a neighbour they do not know, or might not trust, could open the door to problems”.
Changes in compensation claims
Somewhat more worrying for E-commerce companies, are Royal Mail’s proposals to alter its existing system for compensation applications for lost or damaged mail.
Royal Mail has recommended cutting the current 12-month claim period to a mere 60-days. Given that a claim can only be made 15 working days after the date of posting, the reality is that there would only be a six-week window in which customers can seek compensation.
In addition, the company wants to reduce the holding time for undeliverable mail from 21 to 18 days. Such moves, they say, “will enable Royal Mail to better investigate the loss of an item and improve our ability to find it and return it to the sender.”
Finally, it suggests that business customers who use untracked services such as Mailsort and Packetpost will not be able to seek compensation at all.
The regulator for postal services, Postcomm is currently consulting on the proposals and seeks comments on the suggested changes by September 9.
Royal Mail - www2.royalmailgroup.com
Postcomm - www.psc.gov.uk
Consumer Focus - www.consumerfocus.org.uk