Parcel firms must improve how they deal with delivery errors or face enforcement action, the industry’s regulator has warned.
Ofcom said people in the UK who send and receive parcels would receive greater protection under new rules designed to improve how companies handle complaints.
During the pandemic, tighter Covid rules made many more shoppers reliant on parcels, and Ofcom’s own research from last year found that almost two-thirds (64%) of customers had experienced problems with deliveries over a three-month period.
Consumer groups have claimed the sector is rife with issues, some of which have been blamed on the pressure put on delivery drivers to meet targets, with commonly reported problems including parcels being left in insecure places, such as doorsteps, and companies refusing to take responsibility for mistakes.
The regulator said it was tightening up the rules on how firms deal with complaints, as well as making it easier for people to contact companies and bringing in better protections for disabled customers.
Its new guidance on the handling of customer complaints will take effect from April 2023.
Ofcom said millions of people increasingly relied on parcel deliveries, “so it is crucial that delivery firms have strong systems in place to deal with any problems”.
The customer service that some people have been getting when a delivery goes wrong “simply hasn’t been good enough”, said Lindsey Fussell, its networks and communications group director.
She added: “If we’re not satisfied with how parcel companies respond, they could face enforcement action or tighter rules in future.” Enforcement action could include financial penalties.
Research last year by the regulator found that about a quarter of parcel senders found it difficult to make a complaint or contact the firm when their delivery did not go to plan. Two in five said their complaints were only partly resolved, while almost one in 10 were left with their complaint completely unresolved.
Ofcom has also set out how it will regulate Royal Mail over the next five years. As the “universal service provider”, it is subject to more regulation than other postal firms. This includes annual delivery targets and a cap on the price of a second-class stamp, currently set at 68p.
The regulator said its review had found that “these safeguards continue to be the best way to protect people and businesses”.
July 18, 2022 at 10:10PM Rupert Jones