Royal Mail ordered to improve as people in Yorkshire wait weeks for deliveries

Royal Mail has been struggling to meet demand as thousands of staff have been off this month with Covid-19Royal Mail has been struggling to meet demand as thousands of staff have been off this month with Covid-19
Royal Mail has been struggling to meet demand as thousands of staff have been off this month with Covid-19
Royal Mail has been ordered to improve by its regulator Ofcom as people across the country say they have been left waiting weeks for deliveries.

The company has been struggling to keep up with demand in some areas as thousands of staff have been off work with Covid-19 in recent weeks.

At one point last week 80 postcodes were hit by disruption and people across Yorkshire have complained about prolonged delays, with some claiming they received Christmas cards in the middle of January.

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Sophie Moxon, who runs Scents by Sophie in Leeds, said the delays are beginning to have an impact on her business, as one customer has been waiting more than 16 days for a home fragrance package which she sent second class.

“Although that’s not my fault and I’ve posted it well within the right timeframe, it still reflects badly on my business,” she said.

“I’m either having to refund the order, and I’m down on stock, or send a replacement.

"If I put a claim in with Royal Mail about the delay, I'll get six-second class stamps as compensation for a £30 order.”

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Ofcom said Royal Mail “must take steps to improve” and it “will not hesitate to take action” if the company misses its delivery targets for 2021/22.

The annual targets set out in Royal Mail’s contract state the company must deliver at least 93 per cent of first-class post – across the UK – within one working day of collection, and 98.5 per cent of second-class post within three working days.

It was fined £1.5m by Ofcom for missing its 2018/19 delivery target.

The regulator said the pandemic has created “significant challenges” for the company and it was given time to readjust, but that period ended in August last year.

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Despite the pressures on the pandemic, last month Royal Mail agreed to deliver 900,000 Covid test kits a day.

A spokeswoman for the company said: “We aim to deliver to all addresses we have mail for, six days a week. In a small number of local offices this may temporarily not be possible due to local issues such as Covid-related self-isolation, higher than usual levels of sickness absence, resourcing or other local factors.

“As Ofcom has recognised, the recent Omicron variant has had a particular impact on staff absence. Around 15,000 staff members were off work at its peak in early January, but we would like to reassure customers that the situation is improving.

“We are providing targeted support to the local offices affected by these issues and rotating deliveries to minimise delays to individual customers.

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“We apologise to customers for any inconvenience they may have experienced. Our postmen and women are continuing to work incredibly hard, as they have done throughout the pandemic, and we are thankful for all of their efforts and determination.”