The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) has imposed a fine of 2 million euros on Dutch postal operator PostNL for failing to meet the quality requirement for on-time mail delivery in 2019.
In that year, PostNL delivered 94.34 percent of dropbox mail that is subject to the five-day delivery requirement on time, which is below the statutory requirement of at least 95 percent.
PostNL claims force majeure, because PostNL, after it had acquired former rival Sandd, had to deal with issues in Sandd’s network. PostNL subsequently decided to have large volumes of bulk mail that was sent through Sandd processed using PostNL’s own network.
As a result thereof, part of the dropbox mail was delivered too late.
ACM has come to the conclusion that there was no force majeure, because it was not found that PostNL had properly prepared for any problems at Sandd. In fact, in the months leading up to PostNL’s acquisition of Sandd, the quality of the mail-delivery operation had already been under pressure. The on-time delivery rate for letters (which is determined as an average for an entire year) has steadily gone down since 2014, and dropped below the statutory minimum rate in 2019.
The statutory requirements for the USO stipulate, among other things, that, from Tuesday through Saturday, PostNL must deliver dropbox mail on the next delivery day in, on average, at least 95 percent of cases. With regard to medical letters and funeral cards, which must also be delivered on Mondays, PostNL is also required to achieve an on-time delivery rate of 95 percent.
The 2019 delivery rate of this category also went down compared with 2018, but ACM did not establish any violation.
All PostNL services have to be available within a range of 5 kilometers for 95% of inhabitants in the Netherlands. With a result of 99.7%, PostNL more than fulfilled this requirement in 2019. Outside of towns with more than 5,000 inhabitants, at least 85% of citizens must have access to the full range of products and services within a five-kilometer radius. With a result of 97.9%, PostNL has met this requirement as well. ■