Ireland’s An Post to cut services on days around public holidays

Ireland’s An Post to cut services on days around public holidays

Ireland’s An Post has been given permission to abandon services on certain days around public holidays — including around Christmas. The Republic’s postal regulator, ComReg, has decided to grant An Post its request to reduce services on days it says see lower volumes of mail.

It means re-interpreting An Post’s minimum service standards in its role as universal postal service provider. Changes will apply from 1 January 2015.

Days on which An Post will no longer have to provide the full universal service will not include Christmas Eve, St Stephen’s Day (26 December), and Good Friday.

ComReg is also allowing An Post to take off Mondays immediately following public holidays, where those public holidays fall at the weekend, including after St Patrick’s Day, Christmas Day, St Stephen’s Day and New Year’s Day.

An Post will continue to provide deliveries on Christmas Eve, with the company seeking to drop only collections on that day. And, the regulator decided that An Post must continue to provide collections and/or deliveries on Good Friday to access points it already services on that day.

ComReg did consult on the proposals since September, but only An Post responded to the consultation.

State-owned An Post was appointed universal service provider in 2011 for a 12-year term, to be reviewed after seven years.

“Low demand”

An Post applied to change its minimum standards to reduce services around public holidays because it said there was “low demand” for universal postal service on these days, and that customers have alternative methods of communications that they are using.

The firm said that on Christmas Eve, collection volumes fall to as little as 20% of normal volumes.

“The provision of an extensive postal service on days when demand for postal services is very low increases cost and ultimately price without any commensurate benefit to postal users,” An Post said.

The company said many businesses are closed or inaccessible on these days, and that the business community and general public “do not expect a postal service” on these days.

It said there was “significant” cost in providing collection and delivery services on such days.

“An Post understands that some of its business customers in the non-retail sector, particularly international financial services companies, work during public holiday weekends,” the company said. “However these customers, particularly those that operate call centres, mainly communicate with their international business partners and customers via telephone and email rather than physical mail.”

An Post delivers about 12.5m items of mail each week, but the universal service operates at a “substantial” loss.

The company’s EUR 511m-a-year mails business saw mail volume down 2% year-on-year in 2013, with expectations that the decline will accelerate to 3-5% in 2014.

The company warned in its 2013 annual report that while it intended to continue providing the universal service in the coming years, “this may not be sustainable on an ongoing basis as traditional mail volumes are further substituted by new technologies”.

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