Services: Postal Law Reform - Mail delivery could take longer

Sending letters might take a little longer in the future.

Services: Postal Law Reform - Mail delivery could take longer

Sending letters might take a little longer in the future. The Federal Ministry of Economics published a key issues paper in which a currently valid rule for the fastest possible letter delivery is presented as no longer up to date.

It's about the specification that 80 percent of letters must be delivered on the next working day - such a rule is to be "adapted" in the upcoming reform of the outdated postal law. That would be a relief for Swiss Post because it would then have less time pressure. Elsewhere in the paper, however, the Bonn-based group is held more accountable.

If the 80 percent requirement were either lowered or abolished, many letters would not end up in the mailbox the next working day, but only two working days later. The paper is a basis for discussion to push the legislative process. A first draft law could be presented in the summer. What the legal rules will look like in the end is still open.

The paper shows that a requirement for longer maturities is to be tightened. Currently, 95 percent of letters have to be with the addressee two working days later. Such a requirement could be raised - either in relation to the day after the next day after the letter was posted or in relation to the third day after the letter was posted.

The time factor plays less of a role in receiving letters

With these considerations, the Ministry is reacting to the fact that the time factor in receiving letters is often no longer relevant, since people clarify urgent written matters with e-mails or chat messages. "Users' expectations of the various postal services have changed over time," the paper says. "These days, the focus is on reliability and commitment with letters, and speed and predictability with parcels."

The Postal Act was last fundamentally revised in 1999 - at a time when letters were much more important than they are today and parcels only played a secondary role.

The tightening of the requirement for longer transit times is intended to ensure that misery like last year does not occur again: Due to staffing problems, the Post delivered letters and parcels in some places much later than usual. This led to a wave of complaints to the Federal Network Agency.

As a reaction to these problems, the supervisory authority demanded the possibility of sanctions. In the future, she wants to increase the pressure on Swiss Post with fines or penalties so that she can better control her business. In the key issues paper, "effective powers to issue orders and sanctions" for the network agency are now being discussed. In response to the key points, Federal Network Agency boss Klaus Müller wrote on Twitter that his authority welcomed “the proposals for clearer enforcement rules”.

The document contains further considerations on the forthcoming legislative reform. In the future, vending machines could play a role in fulfilling branch network obligations. So far they don't. The post office maintains so-called post offices where you can pick up and drop off packages and where you can buy stamps. Such machines should be meant.

Reluctant post office response

The Post reacted cautiously to the key points. "The postal sector is confronted with continuously falling letter volumes and significantly increasing costs, which are increasingly jeopardizing the economic provision of postal services at affordable prices," said a company spokesman. They want to "continue to offer good working conditions and invest in the conversion to a climate-neutral letter and parcel service". The cornerstones "do not do justice to the structural challenges in many respects". In view of the focus on more social and ecological sustainability agreed in the coalition agreement, the paper falls short.

The Federal Association of Mail Services, in which rather small competitors of the post office have joined forces, rated the paper positively. "The instruments of the Federal Network Agency will be significantly sharpened and the competition for the best services and the cheapest prices will be put on a fair basis," said the association's chairman, Walther Otremba.