Dutch regulator urges fine for PostNL over service quality

Dutch postal regulatory OPTA has written to ministers suggesting that PostNL face administrative penalties for missing its service quality target in 2010. By law, the universal service provider in the Netherlands must deliver 95% of its standard single-piece overnight domestic mail, as deposited within public postboxes, on the next working day.

During 2010, PostNL achieved only a 92.9% rate, but has argued that the low score was the result of “considerable” strike action by trade unions at the end of the year.

The OPTA wrote last week to the government minister Henk Bleacher to state that PostNL fulfilled its service quality commitments for post offices, but failed to comply with the 2009 Postal Act on delivery times.

The regulator noted PostNL’s arguments about the strike action disrupting services from 15 November to 31 December 2010, but said ministers should consider giving it the powers to level fines against PostNL for missing its targets.

Under the postal law, the regulator monitors the service quality target, but said it did not have the powers to enforce the target with fines. “Although the college has established that PostNL has not complied with the requirement that applies to the quality of the standard overnight service, it cannot proceed to enforcement action,” the OPTA warned the minister.

The regulator also complained at the repeated failure of PostNL to provide the required data for it to monitor service quality, again suggesting a warning and a fine if the company continued such an attitude towards regulation.

PostNL

Perhaps seeking to soften the news, today PostNL issued a statement highlighting 2011s unaudited service quality results as being “one of its highest in over 20 years” at 96.1%.

The company said it was “content” with its performance, especially given the various changes being made as it redesigns its delivery network, which is moving to a structure based on nine central mail preparation centres using part-time staff, in place of 300 local delivery offices.

The 2011 figures have been measured by independent agency Intomart GfK, but will not be approved by OPTA until June.

Pieter Kunz, operations director at PostNL, said: “We are proud of this high quality score. Everyone in the Netherlands is now aware that the declining market is forcing our postal company to keep on reorganising. Something occasionally goes wrong, of course, and every mail item not delivered correctly or on time is one too many, but all our staff certainly deserve to be complimented on this performance.”

The 96.1% figure related to consumer mail refers to about 14% of the total volume handled by PostNL, which said that for business mail, which accounts for 86% of the mail stream, its on-time rate was 97% in 2011, and 96% during 2010 when not including the strike period.

PostNL delivers about 8.8bn postal items each year, including 100m parcels, to more than 88m addresses in the Benelux region, Germany, the UK and Italy.

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