Citizens Advice calls on OfCom to investigate Royal Mail

Consumer champions Citizens Advice have called on the UK postal regulator OfCom to investigate and fine Royal Mail over its poor service between December and January.

Citizens Advice research shows that 28% of people had experienced delays in receiving mail between mid-December and mid-January. If scaled up from the 4,165 adults surveyed, the consumer champion suggests this could amount to as many as 15 million people nationwide.

The impacts of non-receipt of mail included people being unable to pay bills on time, while others had missed health appointments or not received important documents on time. London and the Southeast saw the worst delays. It showed that the problem peaked in mid-jaguar with 77 areas across the country affected by the disruption, covering 2.4 million people in England and Wales.

Though this problem was clearly linked to the pandemic, Citizens Advice has said that this is the second Christmas running that the postal operator has failed to perform to standard. It estimates that 16.5 million were affected in 2020. Some 15,000 Royal Mail staff had to take time off work due to COVID-19.

Dame Clare Moriarty, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said, “A staggering 2.5 million of us missed important documents, health appointments, or were unable to pay a fine or bills due to post delays over Christmas. We understand the strain the pandemic has placed on Royal Mail. But after two years of disruption, Royal Mail cannot let poor service become the new normal. These delays can have serious consequences for those left waiting for their letters. Ofcom must now investigate Royal Mail’s performance and consider enforcement action and fines to ensure lessons are learned.”

In response to the announcement, a Royal Mail spokesperson said, “While the vast majority of mail is delivered safely and on time, the impact of the rise of omicron had a particular impact during Christmas and January, with approximately 15,000 staff members off work due to sickness and self-isolation at one stage.

“As Citizens Advice has acknowledged, the situation has significantly improved. The number of offices we have reported as being most impacted by service issues has reduced from 77 to just one today. We apologize for any delays that our customers may have experienced in the local areas affected. We are working hard to equalize performance and improve service in those areas, including spending over £340m [US$461m] on overtime, additional temporary staff and sick pay, as well as targeted support. Our postmen and women are continuing to work incredibly hard, as they have done throughout the pandemic, and we are thankful for all of their efforts and determination.”

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