£26.2m bill for compensation

Big increase in Royal Mail complaints

Royal Mail was beset by issues last year

Compensation payments made by Royal Mail jumped by nearly 50% to £26.2m in 2022-23 according to a new report from Ofcom.

Ofcom’s annual Post Monitoring Report has just been published. It sets out key data and trends in the postal sector, including parcel operators.

The report stated that “loss” was Royal Mail’s highest complaint category, with nearly 900,000 complaints.

Royal Mail complaint volumes increased “significantly” to almost 2m, compared with 1.6m the prior year.

Last year Royal Mail’s performance was impacted by 18 days of strike action by CWU members amid toxic relations between posties and senior management. The firm's new CEO has pledged to make quality of service a priority.

Royal Mail is required to provide compensation on a fair and reasonable basis where a customer experiences loss, delay or damage in relation to certain universal postal services, Ofcom explained.

The total compensation paid by Royal Mail in 2022-23 increased by 46% to £26.2m, up from £17.8m in 2021-22.

“The total number of complaints where compensation was paid increased by 37% to almost one million. When compensation was given, the average compensation paid per complaint was £26.93 (an increase of £1.76 from last year).”

Ofcom report was published this week

8% of participants expressed dissatisfaction with Royal Mail, up from 4% in 2021-22.

“While overall satisfaction with Royal Mail remains relatively high (80%), there are increasing signs of dissatisfaction, particularly with the cost of postage.”

Worryingly, Ofcom reported a fall in the number of people who said post was important for them in staying in touch with friends and family. The percentage fell from 75% the prior year to 65%, or two thirds.

Regarding parcel services, eight in 10 participants were satisfied by deliveries from parcel firms, but two thirds had had a delivery issue in the prior six months.

“There is considerable variation between parcel operators – Amazon, DHL, FedEx and UPS have the highest levels of satisfaction over these three areas, while Evri and Yodel have the lowest,” Ofcom said.

It estimated that Royal Mail’s share of the single piece parcel market weighing up to 2kg fell by around 10 percentage points.

“Total parcel volumes decreased by 4.8% to 3.6bn items in 2022-23, compared with a fall of 5.8% in 2021-22. Despite these falls, total volumes were still significantly above pre-pandemic rates (2.8 billion items in 2019-20),” Ofcom found.

Ofcom is currently gathering evidence about how Royal Mail’s Universal Service Obligation might need to change in future. Royal Mail wants the requirement to be reduced to five days, rather than six.