Sunday, February 3, 2008

Post Haste....Not!!!

The latest survey by Comreg of the opinions of business and residential postal users about postal services here published in recent days makes for depressing reading. When this information is put together with the repeated failure of An Post to meet the targets for next day delivery, surely its time for someone to take responsibility for a service that is not delivery for consumers, pardon the pun! It is ridiculous that a target of 94% for next day delivery of post set by Comreg for An Post a number of years ago continues to be missed by a mile. For the last 5 years, the rate has been in the 63%-79% bracket. I use the post a few times a week and it is really frustrating that sometimes it takes a few days for a letter to get from Dublin to Ashbourne.

I know Royal Mail have had their problems too, but I really like this ad!

I don't blame the postal workers, especially the postmen and women who go out in all weathers to deliver our letters, but the management at the top and in particular the regulator and the Government who have presided over this fiasco. Obviously An Post deliver most of the post in the country, even if on the business side new players have come into the market in recent years. But even with liberalisation, if we allow the current providers to get away with a poor service without any penalties or consequences, well then there is no incentive for improvement. In fact the opposite has happened, Comreg awarded a price increase, with the standard stamp going up from 48c to 55c last March without any commitments on improved service.

You have to plough through it, but on page 39 of the business report it records levels of satisfaction, there are some minor shifts up and down, but overall there are still high levels of dissatisfaction and on page 42 it shows 40% of business customers were unhappy with aspects of postal service. That's an amazing figure.

There were lower levels of dissatisfaction among residential customers, about 10%, but heavy users (those getting or sending more than 14 items a week) dissatisfaction was up to 20%. Of those who made a complaint 34%, only 20% were happy with how it was dealt with, which again is quite a shocking figure.

It's clear from this that with liberalisation approaching we either need incentives for all post providers to improve performance and perhaps price freezes or other sanctions where targets are not met, which result in consumers getting a bad deal.