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French post admits errors and aims to improve parcel service

French post office La Poste has announced that it is working to improve its parcel delivery service, Colissimo, after a huge spike in traffic since the end of confinement has led to more than 20,000 delivery errors per day.

The Colissimo service, which manages larger packages, accounts for 50% of parcel deliveries in France. It currently sends around two million packages per day, and has a “delivery error” percentage of around 1%.

But 1% of two million means that the service still reports 20,000 errors per day. And as confinement ended, the explosion in postal deliveries saw this error percentage double to 2%. (It has since dropped back to 1%).

Major problems include customers reporting that their parcel has not arrived, despite the online tracker saying it had been delivered; postal workers not ringing the doorbell; deliveries in strange places such as hidden in a hedge or stuffed into a tiny mailbox; parcels arriving damaged; delays in delivery times; or “missed delivery” leaflets being pushed through doors even when the homeowner is in.

Xavier Mallet, director general of La Poste, admitted the rise in errors, but explained to newspaper Le Parisien: “Since confinement ended, Colissimo has seen an explosion in activity - 50% more overnight. From 1.2 million parcels delivered every day, we went to 1.7 million, even two million some days.

“The problem is in the final kilometre. Before Covid, our 80,000 postal workers delivered 91% of packages first time. During confinement, that rose to 98%. Today, we are at 94%. We are working with our clients to improve these numbers.”


Less packaging, better communication

The larger the parcel, the more difficult to deliver, so one of La Poste’s major aims is to ask popular online retailers to reduce their parcel and packaging sizes, to enable more deliveries to fit directly inside letterboxes.

For the remaining 10% of parcels that will never be small enough to fit inside a letterbox or postbox, La Poste is working to improve deliveries via better communication.

Mr Mallet said: “For these [parcels], we will soon restart sending an email [to customers] giving them a time slot of when we expect to deliver. We are also aiming to systematise a second visit the next day in the case of missed delivery.

“Tests will begin on October 1. When it comes to telephone calls to let people know we are outside, our postal workers will soon be able to do that on their devices.”

The company will still continue to maintain social distancing measures. Recipients of packages will not be required to sign any paper or delivery screen; instead, they will be sent a confirmation code by email, which they will simply need to show to their delivery person upon receipt.

In February this year, an investigation by news source FranceInfo found that La Poste deals with a near-constant stream of complaints from unhappy parcel customers on Twitter. La Poste said that it was working to improve errors, and was not the only parcel service to encounter problems.

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