The Post Office has decided to end Royal Mail’s 360-year-old monopoly on delivering parcels from its branches due to concerns about service quality.
Deals have been signed with competitors Evri and DPD in response to customer dissatisfaction with Royal Mail’s service.
Starting later this month, customers will have the option to choose from these couriers at the counter, marking the first time such choices have been offered, The Guardian reported.
The move comes after increasing complaints about service standards, prompting the Post Office to explore alternative options for its customers.
Both companies were previously under the same umbrella until 2012 when the Post Office was separated into an independent entity, a move that was part of the privatization of Royal Mail overseen by then-business secretary Vince Cable.
While the Post Office oversees a network of 11,500 branches and provides banking services, Royal Mail is tasked with delivery services, facing escalating competition from courier firms.
Royal Mail’s performance has been criticised, leading to an investigation by communications regulator Ofcom due to missed delivery targets in 2022-23.
The company also grappled with strikes during the peak trading season last year, aggravated by adverse weather conditions.
Royal Mail attributes its challenges to the strain from high parcel volumes during the pandemic and employee illnesses, although it claims ongoing improvement in its services.
However, the Post Office has grown impatient with Royal Mail due to customer concerns about lost or delayed parcels, especially during Christmas. A survey revealed that 48% of parcel senders wish to have other options.
While Royal Mail’s service quality has faced scrutiny, the Post Office’s new partners, Evri (formerly Hermes), have also received criticism for poor service.
The Post Office plans to expand its partnerships with more delivery carriers, offering alternatives to Royal Mail, both online and in branches.
The Post Office, under the leadership of CEO Nick Read, is undergoing a significant transformation by partnering with new mail carriers, DPD and Evri, for over-the-counter sales, marking a historic change in its 360-year history.
Read said, “This expanded partnership with DPD and Evri shows how we are disrupting the mails market to offer greater choice for customers and more opportunities for postmasters as we build a Post Office fit for the future.”
A Royal Mail spokesperson highlighted their longstanding collaboration with the Post Office and outlined various customer service enhancements, including expanded online postage choices through their website and app, 24/7 drop-off at designated locations such as parcel postboxes, and convenient home collection services like Royal Mail Parcel Collect.
The Post Office revealed that its agreements with Evri and DPD not only benefit customers but also provide advantages to individual postmasters operating branches, attracting more customers to their businesses.
The company is working to rebuild its relationship with post office operators, particularly after the Horizon scandal, where a faulty IT system resulted in unjust accusations of fraud, theft, and false accounting against numerous operators.
Read acknowledged the errors in procedures and governance that led to inappropriate bonus payments tied to the inquiry into the scandal and issued an apology for the mishandling of payments, which were related to work connected to the miscarriage of justice investigation.
The Horizon scandal resulted in some operators being wrongfully imprisoned and tragically linked to four suicides.