Royal Mail escapes fine for late first class mail deliveries
Royal Mail has escaped a fine from the industry watchdog for failing to hit targets for delivering first class mail on time.
Ofcom said it had decided not to slap Royal Mail with a penalty after launching an investigation into the firm's performance in May.
The probe came after Royal Mail revealed it had "narrowly" missed targets for first class deliveries, with 92.5% of mail delivered the next working day in the 2015/16 financial year, against a target of 93%.
But the firm said it had beaten the target for 98.5% of second class post delivered within three working days, with a result of 98.8%.
Its reprieve from a penalty came as Ofcom said Royal Mail only missed its first class target by "relatively small margins".
The regulator added it also took into consideration "the steps taken by Royal Mail to address the issues identified as reasons for the breach".
Ofcom has the power to fine up to 10% of turnover for missing targets - which could have seen Royal Mail hit with a £700 million penalty.
In May, Royal Mail blamed its failure to hit first class delivery targets on "events outside its control", saying it was down to the surge in post surrounding Black Friday and Cyber Monday, as well as poor weather and road closures.
It added it would be asking Ofcom to exclude the so-called Cyber Week from normal targets.
The traditional Christmas period is already excluded due to unusually high amounts of post over the festive season.
A spokesman for Ofcom said: "We take Royal Mail's compliance with its delivery targets extremely seriously.
"In this case we decided that a fine was not appropriate, as Royal Mail missed the target by a relatively small margin and has addressed some of the causes.
"However, we have made clear to Royal Mail that we expect it to hit targets in future, or face penalties."
A spokesman for Royal Mail said: " Royal Mail takes its quality of service performance very seriously.
"Our postmen and women work very hard to deliver demanding targets. We remain focused on improving and maintaining our high standards of service to all our customers across the UK, six days a week, in all weathers."