Parcel delivery firms must ‘substantially’ improve complaints handling, warns watchdog

Ofcom has warned that parcel delivery firms “must get better” at dealing with customer complaints, after around a quarter of consumers have faced problems when communicating issues with deliveries.

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

The research reveals that 64% of consumer have suffered problems with parcel deliveries in the last three months. In addition, 25% found it difficult to make a complaint or contact parcel firms when their delivery went wrong.

A further two in five consumers said their complaints were only partially resolved, while almost one in 10 were left with their complaint completely unresolved, the watchdog said.

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

The new regulation will make sure delivery 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 properly.

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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% more likely to experience significant problems with parcel deliveries.

The new protection for disabled consumers will come into effect from 1 November 2023.

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

“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.”

However, Citizens Advice have said the guidelines do not go far enough to address the “abysmal” service.

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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