Royal Mail complaints rise 300 per cent as targets are missed

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Complaints about lost, damaged and late post have rocketed by more than 300 per cent in two years and are likely to reach 40,000 by the end of the financial year, according to new figures from the independent postal service watchdog.

Complaints about lost, damaged and late post have rocketed by more than 300 per cent in two years and are likely to reach 40,000 by the end of the financial year, according to new figures from the independent postal service watchdog.

Postwatch, the organisation set up to monitor Royal Mail, handled 28,000 complaints last year, up from just 6,300 in 2002, and says complaints this year are already on course to reach 40,000 by April.

Of the 28,000 complaints handled by the watchdog last year, only 88 were about companies other than Royal Mail.

Officials said the failure of Royal Mail to hit any of its 15 performance targets was fuelling increases in complaints ranging from lost letters and parcels to problems with redirection.

The number of complaints, contained in a National Audit Office report about the postal and energy watchdogs, will reignite anger about the standard of postal services after figures published this year suggested that 14.5 million letters are lost each year, with 60 per cent delivered to the wrong address.

Royal Mail said its performance had improved after a "dip" earlier this year after its reorganisation of deliveries. The company insisted that figures for August showed that 92.4 per cent of first class letters were delivered the next day, only just below the target of 92.5 per cent and the best result for a year.

Postwatch said some of the increase in complaints was due to the organisation's increasing public profile after its launch in 2000, but insisted that poor performance was fuelling anger among customers.

The complaint figures are likely to represent the tip of the iceberg, as the watchdog only deals with customers who are still dissatisfied after first complaining directly to Royal Mail.

A spokeswoman said: "By the time they contact us they are angry. Generally people are loath to complain because they might get their postie in trouble, or sometimes they just want an acknowledgement or an apology.

"Some of this rise is because we have only been going since 2000 and people have to understand who we are, what we do.

"Royal Mail has failed to meet any of their standards of service for a good while."

She urged more people to complain about services. "Complaining is a good way of giving Royal Mail customer feedback," she said.

Malcolm Bruce, the Liberal Democrat trade and industry spokesman, said: "This is an appalling indictment but unfortunately entirely consistent with Royal Mail's record in recent years. An organisation which fails all 15 of its performance targets is likely to generate an avalanche of complaints.

"The taxpayer ends up paying twice for the failure of Royal Mail, once for its losses and reduced profitability and again for the increased cost of funding Postwatch."

A spokesman for Royal Mail said the company handled 1.6 million calls to its telephone hotline last year, but stressed that many of those calls were inquiries about services rather than complaints.

He insisted that the company had made customer service "our number one priority" and said services were improving after problems moving to single deliveries earlier this year.

The spokesman said: "Improving our quality of service is our number one priority. There was a dip earlier this year when there were major changes in our operation."

The Royal Mail was fined £7.5m when it failed to meet the 15 targets last year and will hear later this year whether it faces a further fine for breaching its licence. It has already paid £50m in compensation to customers for service disruption after industrial action last year.

Comments