Significantly fewer citizens applied for arbitration proceedings with the Federal Network Agency last year because of damaged or lost shipments than before. The supervisory authority announced on Thursday in Bonn that 3,180 such applications were received last year, 15 percent fewer than in 2021. In 2019 the value was 1453 and the year after that it was 1861.
"The number of requests for arbitration is still high," said Network Agency President Klaus Müller. "This shows that consumers have a great need for a neutral point of contact in the event of a dispute with a postal service provider."
The drop is somewhat surprising given that separate complaints from citizens to the Federal Network Agency have peaked over the past year. However, the complaints, which began to increase from the summer of 2022, were mainly about letter delivery, while the requests for arbitration were mainly about parcels. The decline cannot be "explained clearly," said a spokeswoman for the Federal Network Agency.
Possible explanations for the decline
After their complaints, some citizens may have been able to reach an agreement with the service providers and settle their dispute. Only if there is no agreement do citizens apply for arbitration proceedings. Another possibility is that for many citizens the complaint was enough to vent their anger - and an arbitration procedure was not worth the trouble for them.
Since March 2021, all postal companies operating in Germany have had to participate in the arbitration process. It used to be voluntary - which meant that some companies didn't take part. For almost two years, the procedure has been upgraded with a new obligation.
Almost half of the requests for arbitration in the past year complained about the loss or theft of the content of a shipment, and in a quarter it was about damaged shipments. Long waiting times and irregularities were also issues.
According to the Federal Network Agency, 81 percent of the admissible arbitration requests were directed against the market leader Deutsche Post DHL, 9 percent against Hermes, 4 percent against DPD and 3 percent against GLS. UPS was just under two percent.
Also arbitration with telecommunications providers
882 arbitration proceedings ended in an amicable settlement last year. In 146 applications for arbitration, the postal service provider refused to participate in the procedure, and in 358 cases the application was withdrawn. The authority rejected 1,247 applications for arbitration because they did not contain any facts that could be arbitrated.
In addition to the Post figures, the network agency also announced figures for the telecommunications industry on Thursday. In this area, 2,389 applications for arbitration were received last year, 47 percent more than in 2021. It was about the content of contracts, disruptions, reduced data transmission rates and invoice complaints.
At the end of 2021, a law had been changed that strengthened the consumer's position in relation to his telecommunications provider. This added new facts for the arbitration. In addition, the requirements for opening arbitration proceedings have been lowered - in this area too, arbitration proceedings have become more relevant for consumers than before.