Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 December 2014

Cherry-picking threatens universal postal service

ROYAL Mail and its staff are proud to provide the universal service to all 29 million addresses in the United Kingdom.

Recently, we have seen companies like TNT Post UK establish their own mail operations which bypass Royal Mail's network.

The universal service is sustained by the money we make in urban areas. We have been working to manage the decline in letter volumes by being more efficient and more customer-focused.

However, the already-challenged universal service is now being further undermined by new entrants in the following ways:

Where: geographic cherry-picking – new entrants to the market deliver only in urban areas, whereas Royal Mail must deliver to less populous areas;

When: service cherry-picking – direct-delivery competitors are not bound by the same rules as Royal Mail. TNT Post UK typically has an "every other day" service; Royal Mail must collect and deliver letters six days a week;

What: product cherry-picking – direct-delivery competitors only deliver bulk business mail, much machine-sequenced. This type of mail is valuable to the universal service provider and helps support the cost of manually sorting. We fear that a point could soon be reached where direct-delivery competition leads to the universal service being unviable.

Were this to happen, it could represent the loss of a vital service upon which communities across Northern Ireland rely.

MICHAEL KENNEDY

Director of operations, Royal Mail NI

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