The number of complaints made to the mediation service of Bpost went up by 55% in 2018, and for the first time, the number of complaints about packages overtook those about letters.
The service received 9,276 requests for mediation in 2018, and found 4,030 of them admissible, a total of 43%. Those requests accepted represented 11,825 individual complaints, according to the service’s latest annual report.
The mediation service was created in 1993 and the number of interventions has grown steadily since then, but more recently the numbers have shot up: between 2015 and 2018 the numbers have increased by no less than 136%.
For the first time last year, complaints about package deliveries exceeded those regarding letter post – 39% of the total compared to 31%. This coincides with a decline in the number of letters carried, as the public opts for other communication methods such as email and messaging apps. At the same time, business in packages is booming at Bpost, with the growth of online buying.
Complaints about customer service made up “a considerable number” or 28% of all complaints, and 2% concerned other Bpost services, including commercial services and free newspapers.
The report states that 71% of complaints led to compensation. However a letter of apology is included in that definition, so it is not clear to what extent damages were paid out for, to take an example, lost packages.
The report is critical of Bpost’s own procedures for dealing with complaints, which it describes as “ineffective for the treatment of recurring complaints regarding mail delivery”. Among those common complaints: late delivery of funeral notices, received only after the event; 800 cases involving registered letters, and 182 where mail simply disappeared. One common complaint concerns the mail carrier leaving a note stating the recipient was not at home when they were.
The report even goes so far as to state that “in the great majority of cases,” when a package goes missing, as is the case for one in four complaints, the postal service has no means of finding out what happened.
“The road that has to be taken by the customer in order to be able to express their complaint to the customer relations service is becoming more and more laborious,” the report says, citing the endless menu of choices faced when calling the Bpost call centre before ever encountering a human response. Bpost needs to consider improvements to its customer service as “an absolute priority,” the report concludes.