Royal Mail – roll out of Delivery to Neighbour scheme
1.1 In July 2011 Royal Mail applied to the former postal regulator Postcomm for regulatory approval to enable it to undertake a trial of the delivery of items which cannot be delivered to the addressee to neighbours of the addresses (the Delivery to Neighbour scheme) (-1-).
1.2 The trial has taken place in a number of areas across the UK since late 2011 as permitted by Postcomm.
1.3 Postcomms regulatory functions transferred to Ofcom on 1 October 2011 and Royal Mail has submitted a formal request to Ofcom for the approval of the Delivery to Neighbour scheme across the UK. This would allow neighbours of addressees of undeliverable mail to be considered to be another delivery point as provided for by section 4 (c) of the Postal Services (Universal Postal Service) Order 2012 and Designated Universal Service Provider (DUSP) Condition 1.2.2.
1.4 Royal Mail has made a commitment that any roll out will include a provision for customers to opt out of the service and that Royal Mail will retain liability for all undeliverable items until they are received by the original addressee.
1.5 Royal Mails report of the trial shows that 92% of postal recipients whose item was left with a neighbour, and 90% of neighbours who accepted an item, expressed overall satisfaction with the experience. 6% were neither satisfied nor dissatisfied. 1% were fairly dissatisfied and 1% very dissatisfied. In addition in the trial areas there was a reduction of approximately 40% in the numbers of undeliverable items that were returned to delivery offices.
1.6 Consumer Focus has undertaken its own research into the scheme and provided positive feedback on the trial although it has also identified some issues which should be addressed in the national roll out.
1.7 Having regard to our duty under section 29 of the Postal Services Act 2011 to carry out our functions in a way that we consider will secure the provision of a universal postal service, including the need for the provision of that service to be financially sustainable and efficient, we propose that Royal Mail should be permitted to deliver items to neighbours to improve the convenience of the service for postal users, and enable a more efficient delivery system for Royal Mail. In developing this proposal, we have noted that other packet delivery services competing with Royal Mail are currently permitted to leave undelivered items with neighbours.
1.8 The issue of effective delivery of packets and signed for items to addressees is an important one. Ofcom is aware that complaints relating to the performance of postmen/women in respect of issues such as the delivery of P739 cards (which say that an attempt to deliver has been made) when in fact the item has been left in the Delivery Office regularly feature in the top 10 categories of complaints received by Royal Mail. Royal Mail considers that the Delivery to Neighbour process should have a positive impact in terms of reducing the incentive to not attempt to deliver larger items first time. We hope that the Delivery to Neighbour process will have a positive impact on customer service and we will monitor the effectiveness of the Delivery to Neighbour process generally, in particular with regard to P739 complaints.
1.9 Ofcom therefore proposes to agree to Royal Mails application. The purpose of this consultation is to seek views from stakeholders before reaching a final decision.
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