Ofcom has launched an inquiry into Royal Mail’s failure to meet targets in the past year just as the postal service comes under attack from unions.
It comes after Royal Mail said it did not meet delivery targets for 2021-2022 earlier this month, including those for mail and postcode areas.
The service is required to deliver 93 per cent of First Class mail within one working day of collection and 98.5 per cent of Second Class mail within three working days of collection. Royal Mail missed the First Class target by 12 per cent, and the Second call by around three per cent.
The failing feels particularly hitting for consumers after the company increased first-class prices by 10p to 95p, and added 2p to second class stamp prices earlier this year, and signalled that more hikes may be set to come.
The company largely blamed the pandemic and dreaded “pingdemic” for the poor results, which appeased investors at the time.
In a statement released this morning, Ofcom said: “Our investigation … will gather evidence to understand the reasons behind this substantial lapse in performance, and determine whether Royal Mail has breached its requirements”.
A Royal Mail spokesperson said: “We are disappointed with our 2021-22 Quality of Service performance and apologise to all customers that have been affected by any service issues”.
Meanwhile, Director of Policy at Citizens Advice Matthew Upton welcomed the probe.
“While posties have been working tirelessly to deliver our letters and parcels, Royal Mail itself has been letting people down. For two years running we’ve uncovered substantial post delays across the country. This is a vital public service, relied on by many for bills and medical letters”, he said.
To make matters worse, Royal Mail may soon be hit by UK-wide strikes over plans to remove 542 frontline delivery managers alongside a redeployment programme to bring in worsening terms and conditions,
Unite the union declared there would be a ballot, inviting some 2,400 managers to have their say, and causing potential chaos over the summer months.
A Royal Mail spokesperson pushed back against this announcement and said: “We are disappointed that Unite/CMA have informed us of their intention to ballot operational managers when the lengthy consultation on these changes has concluded, and the restructure is complete.”
“We committed to protect pay for all managers who will stay with Royal Mail and the vast majority will see an increase in their earnings. As part of an extended consultation period, we gave managers the option to request voluntary redundancy with a package of up to two years’ salary and this was over-subscribed. This ballot is not an announcement of industrial action and we will continue to engage with Unite/CMA, as we have throughout the process”, it added.
Royal Mail shares dipped nearly five per cent this afternoon to 314.12p.