The delivery of parcels and registered mail may soon have to meet regulatory standards, following recent complaints and a $100,000 fine handed to Singapore Post for service standard failures that covered only basic local letters.
The recent lapses by the postal service provider involved services which are covered by the Infocomm Media Development Authority's (IMDA) Postal Quality of Service standards, as well as those that are not, Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information Sim Ann said yesterday.
The IMDA received eight complaints last year about people getting notices that parcels and registered mail could not be delivered to them even when there was someone at home. In 2017, there were seven such complaints.
But SingPost could not give the specific number of complaints it received on such failed delivery notices, Ms Sim noted. "Nonetheless, we believe that there are likely to be more incidents which were not formally reported," she said in Parliament, adding that the IMDA will pay attention to this area as well.
Ms Sim was replying to Ms Lee Bee Wah (Nee Soon GRC) on instances of missing mail and the misuse of failed postal delivery notices when recipients were at home.
She also said that SingPost received 91 complaints about misdelivered and lost mail last year, and it investigated each complaint and redelivered mail that was found.
Under the IMDA's Postal Quality of Service standards, SingPost has to deliver 98 per cent to 99 per cent of basic local letters in one working day, and 100 per cent in two working days. It failed to meet these requirements in nine instances in 2017, resulting in SingPost receiving its highest fine to date last Thursday.
IMDA said it is assessing SingPost's performance for last year, and the results will be published in the middle of this year.
SingPost announced a raft of measures on the day it was fined, in a move to improve its service quality in the coming three to six months.
The measures include hiring an extra 100 postmen and extending mail delivery slots to weekday evenings and on Saturdays.
SingPost has been widely criticised in recent months for several incidents, including discarded mail and undistributed business fliers.
Ms Sim said SingPost's board and management agree with the Government that a thorough review of its operations and manpower must be made, even as it takes immediate steps to remedy the service lapses.
Ms Denise Phua (Jalan Besar GRC) asked if the ministry would consider facilitating alternative delivery agents and systems, like a trial she introduced in her Central Singapore District, where senior citizens were employed to "drop mail in their localities".
"The outcomes were quite good... There is good potential to create reliable delivery systems (and) employ seniors and also graduates of special education schools," said Ms Phua, who is mayor of the district.
Ms Sim said she will ask the IMDA to work closely with the Central Singapore Community Development Council to look at how it can improve postal services.
Postmen now do more doorstep deliveries because of the growth in e-commerce, with about 38,000 items unable to fit into letterboxes a day and work becoming increasingly labour-intensive, she noted.
SingPost needs to make itself ready for this new operating environment, and the IMDA will provide training and other support where needed, she said.
Ms Lee noted that SingPost's lapses had been raised in Parliament as early as 2017 but the situation has gone "from bad to worse".
Ms Sim said it may take time before they are fully addressed.
Further regulatory action from the IMDA can be expected, she added, as it reviews SingPost's letter delivery performance for last year, investigates infringements under the Postal Services Act and considers extra regulatory standards.