Ofcom warns of fines after quarter of people have problems raising complaints over parcel deliveries

Parcel firms “must get better” at handling customer complaints after around a quarter of people have had problems when raising issues with deliveries, regulator Ofcom has warned.

The watchdog confirmed a raft of measures first set out in December and said fines or tighter regulation could be on the way if it fails to see “substantial improvements” in complaints handling and customer service across the industry.

Damning results of a survey of more than 2,000 Britons by Ofcom in January last year found nearly two-thirds (64 per cent) had suffered problems with parcel deliveries in the previous three months.

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A quarter of people have experienced problems raising a complain over a parcel delivery

The poll also showed around a quarter of those questioned found it difficult to make a complaint or contact parcel firms when their delivery went wrong.

Two in five said their complaints were only partially resolved, while almost one in ten were left with their complaint completely unresolved, the watchdog said.

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It has now unveiled new guidance on customer complaints, which will come into effect from April 1 next year.

The new rules will ensure parcel firms tell customers who to contact and how to make a complaint, what the process is and how long it will take to resolve, and make sure staff are trained appropriately.

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It is also proposing a new requirement for “clear and effective” policies and procedures for the fair treatment of disabled customers, who it said are 50 per cent more likely to experience significant problems with parcel deliveries.

Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom’s networks and communications group director, said: “The customer service that some people have been getting when a delivery goes wrong simply hasn’t been good enough.

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“So we’re strengthening our regulations to make sure people are treated fairly by delivery firms.

“If we’re not satisfied with how parcel companies respond, they could face enforcement action or tighter rules in future.”

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But Citizens Advice said the guidelines did not go far enough.

Matthew Upton, the organisation’s director of policy, said: “Until the regulator starts monitoring firms’ performances and fining those which fall short, disappointing deliveries will remain the norm.”

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Ofcom also said it would continue to set “strict” annual delivery targets for Royal Mail and the cap on second-class stamp prices, which is set at 68p.

It comes as Royal Mail is under pressure amid disgruntled staff and delivery woes.