Royal Mail 'breached competition law' with delivery charges, Ofcom finds

Ofcom alleges that changes to 'access services' meant that higher prices would be charged to competitors

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The Independent Online

Ofcom, the UK regulator, has issued a strongly-worded 'statement of objections' against Royal Mail, alleging that it discriminated against rival delivery services.

The letter has been issued as part of an ongoing investigation prompted by a complaint by one of Royal Mail’s rivals, Whistl UK, in 2014. Whistl said it believed changes announced in January to the price of bulk deliveries discriminated against rivals.

The bulk mail delivery service, known as 'access services' allow other delivery services  to pass over business letters such as councils, banks and utility companies to Royal Mail, which then sorts and delivers them.

Ofcom alleges that changes made by Royal Mail to these services meant that higher access prices would be charged to competitors.

"The statement alleges that these higher access prices would act as a strong disincentive against entry into the delivery market, further increasing barriers to expansion for postal operators seeking to compete with Royal Mail in this market, and leading to a potential distortion of competition against the interests of consumers," Ofcom said.

Royal Mail withdrew the charges in March, a few weeks after Ofcom opened its investigation.