Royal Mail has been fined £5.6 million by the regulatory body Ofcom for "significant" failures in meeting its mail delivery targets.
Ofcom imposed the fine after an investigation revealed that Royal Mail did not meet its delivery targets for both first and second-class mail in the 2022–2023 financial year.
Only 73.7% of first-class mail was delivered within one working day during the year against a target of 93%, while 90.7% of second-class mail was delivered within three working days compared to a target of 98.5%.
Customers paying for first-class stamps expect next-day delivery, while Royal Mail states that second-class mail will be delivered within two to three working days.
Ofcom found that Royal Mail also failed to complete all delivery routes: only 89.35% of orders were fulfilled on the required day compared to a target of 99.9%.
Even considering factors such as strikes, extreme weather conditions, and the closure of the Stansted Airport runway, Ofcom stated that Royal Mail still fails to meet its targets for timely delivery of first and second-class mail.
Ofcom stated, "This means that Royal Mail has breached its commitments by failing to achieve its targets to a significant and unexplained extent. This has caused significant harm to customers, and Royal Mail has not taken sufficient measures to try to prevent this failure."
Jan Strohorn, Ofcom's Director of Compliance, said, "Royal Mail's role in our lives carries tremendous responsibility, and from our investigations, we know that customers value reliability and consistency."
"It is clear that the pandemic has had a significant impact on Royal Mail's operations in previous years. But we warned the company that it can no longer use this as an excuse, and since then, it simply has not rectified the situation."
"The company has let consumers down, and today's fine must serve as a wake-up call: the company must take its responsibilities more seriously. We will continue to hold Royal Mail accountable to ensure an improvement in service levels."
A representative of Royal Mail stated, "We are very disappointed with our service quality performance in 2022–2023 and today acknowledge Ofcom's decision."
"Last year was exceptionally challenging for Royal Mail. Service quality was significantly affected by the prolonged labor dispute, including an 18-day strike."
"We are pleased that Ofcom has acknowledged that elements beyond Royal Mail's control had a substantial impact on service levels and adjusted the figures to 82% for first-class mail and 95.5% for second-class mail."
"Service quality is extremely important to us. We take the commitment to providing a high level of service seriously and are taking steps to restore service quality to the level expected by our customers."