A new report published today by Consumer Focus Post – called ‘Letter Lockout’1 -
explores the nature and extent of mail delivery problems experienced by consumers living in flats across Northern Ireland.
While most residents of flats express high levels of satisfaction with their postal service provided by Royal Mail, the new findings also reveal that some can experience particular mail delivery problems. Consumer Focus Post decided to conduct the research given the growth in the number of flats in Northern Ireland and previous findings of problems with deliveries to flats in Scotland2.
Key findings include, that on at least one occasion:
• 3 in 5 (61 per cent) have received other people’s correctly addressed mail
• Nearly a third (29 per cent) have their mail wrongly delivered to another address
• Almost a third (29 per cent) have encountered delays in receiving their mail
• 1 in 5 (21 per cent) have experienced lost mail
Yet despite these delivery problems the research also shows that only 7 per cent of residents complain to Royal Mail. Consumer Focus Post believes that better monitoring and assessment by Royal Mail and greater reporting of these issues by consumers is needed for them to be tackled effectively.
Kellin McCloskey, Head of Postal Policy at Consumer Focus Post, said:
‘Many aspects of the post service are working well for consumers across Northern Ireland. On annual basis since 2008, Royal Mail in Northern Ireland has consistently achieved their performance target3 for the speed of First Class mail delivery. This is a positive achievement and one that we welcome.
‘However our research4 has identified particular mail delivery problems5 experienced by consumers living in flats. There is a clear opportunity for Royal Mail to improve its performance for flats – an area which the company is not currently required to measure.
‘We understand and acknowledge the delivery difficulties experienced by Royal Mail staff in relation to flats, especially those which have communal entrances and restricted access. However, with the changing shape of mail deliveries, due to the increased volume of online mailings, consumer needs are changing. So the need for convenient deliveries for both consumers and delivery staff is becoming increasingly important.’
Consumer Focus Post recognises that to improve mail deliveries to flats a number of solutions will be required. It is also essential to obtain long term commitment from a wide range of stakeholders.
Key recommendations from the report include:
Ofcom should encourage Royal Mail to evaluate the quality of service experienced by consumers living in flats. This should be on a similar basis to how delivery performance is assessed for other property types.
Consumers should, wherever possible, report instances of mail delivery problems to Royal Mail Customer Service6 – this will help issues to be raised and addressed. Where appropriate, they should also report the matter to their property managers/landlords in order to seek a satisfactory solution to ongoing delivery issues.
Royal Mail should take further steps to increase consumer awareness of its complaint procedures, and seek to closely monitor mail delivery complaints in flatted properties throughout Northern Ireland.
For the longer term, a forum should be established and led by Royal Mail as the universal service provider7 . This should include a range of key stakeholders including: planning and building control authorities; Architects Societies; Northern Ireland Housing Executive; Northern Ireland Housing Associations; and other postal operators. The forum should consider, evaluate and introduce new policy and practices for mail delivery to households in more challenging property types.
Notes to Editors:
Consumer Focus Post is a statutory organisation that champions the interests of postal consumers across Northern Ireland.
1 The full report can found at http://www.consumerfocus.org.uk/northern-ireland
2 Previous research was carried out by Postwatch in Scotland in 2006 which found major delivery problems associated with flats with communal entrances and restricted entry access.
3 Royal Mail’s Quality of Service Postcode Area Target including for the BT (Northern Ireland) is 91.5%.
4 Includes; NI Postal Service Consumer Satisfaction Survey 2008; Annual Survey of NI Mail and Post Office Services 2010; Annual Survey of Northern Ireland Mail and Post Offices 2011; and the research carried out by Perceptive Insight in 2011 to specifically assess the delivery experience of residents in flatted properties.
5 These problems fall into several categories – misdelivered mail (correctly addressed mail delivered to the wrong address), lost mail and delayed mail.
6 Consumers can complain to Royal Mail on the following contact telephone number 08457 740 740, or alternatively via http://www.royalmail.com/customer-service. Or for advice about their postal complaint can be obtained from Consumer Direct on 08454 040 506.
7 The service provider responsible for the delivery of letters and packets every weekday and Saturday to anywhere in the UK at a uniform and affordable price