The anger about the mail has reached the next high. In October, the Federal Network Agency received more complaints than in any month before, and in 2022 there were more critical submissions than ever before in a year. As the Bonn supervisory authority reported on request, it received around 43,500 complaints last year, almost three times as many as in 2021 - there were 15,118. This significantly exceeded the previous annual high of the statistics that began ten years ago: 18,867 complaints were counted in 2020.
The complaints are aimed at the entire German letter and parcel industry, but most of the comments about delayed or lost shipments relate to the market leader Deutsche Post. According to older authorities, Swiss Post accounted for 91 percent of the negative experiences that consumers reported to the Federal Network Agency.
Deutsche Post speaks of local problems, which they attribute to a high level of sickness and the generally difficult search for workers. A company spokesman said that in the coming year "everything will be done to further improve the quality of delivery despite the continuing challenging circumstances". He referred to the recently started collective bargaining and the threat of warning strikes.
Problems started with Corona sick notes
During the collective bargaining talks, Verdi is demanding a wage increase of 15 percent, which Post considers unrealistic. It is quite possible that the employee representatives will soon want to increase the pressure. There has already been a first small warning strike by the DPVKOM trade union in Magdeburg, further work stoppages on a larger scale could follow in the next few weeks. Then the arrival of many shipments would probably be significantly delayed, which should increase the already existing resentment of consumers.
The problems at the post office began in the summer - at that time a high number of corona sick reports meant that in some places there were not enough delivery staff to deliver the letters and parcels. Critics accused the Post of having sewn on edge in terms of personnel and now getting the receipt. The left-wing member of the Bundestag Pascal Meiser speaks of a "massive return pressure that is now weighing on Deutsche Post and as a result has repeatedly cut back on staff". This personnel policy must finally come to an end, says Meiser.
The group initiated emergency measures: In order to regain control of events, the flow of mail was deliberately slowed down in some delivery areas and the letters were only delivered there every other day. In early November, management admitted to mistakes. In the meantime, however, the delivery problems have subsided somewhat and "the operational key figures are clearly developing in a positive direction," said the Post management team at the time.
Numbers of complaints point to improvement
In fact, one can conclude from the monthly figures that the worst is over. The Federal Network Agency received 3,098 complaints in July, 3,473 in August, 4,994 in September, 9,436 in October, 7,000 in November and 6,900 in December - the last two monthly figures are approximate because the evaluation has not yet been completed. The slight decrease from November to December is noteworthy, as the volume of shipments in the last month of the year is significantly higher than usual due to the Christmas business. The fact that the complaints have not increased can be taken as evidence of a gradual easing of the delivery problems.
In relation to the more than a billion letters and parcels that are transported in Germany every month, the number of complaints only accounts for a negligibly small proportion. However, many people who are upset about late, lost or incorrectly posted shipments should not contact the network agency at all - either because they are still not aware of the possibility of making a complaint or because it is too difficult for them.
Federal Network Agency calls for the possibility of sanctions
Last year, the Federal Network Agency initiated 86 investigations due to numerous complaints. The year before, there were only 17. Such tests - whether in Bochum, Kamp-Lintfort, Eschweiler (all North Rhine-Westphalia), Gottmadingen (Baden-Württemberg), Schwaig (Bavaria) or Bernau near Berlin - are written warnings to which the post office must respond. According to the website of the Federal Network Agency, the delivery situation has largely or increasingly stabilized in most of the problem areas in which it was checked and the Post deployed additional staff.
According to Post estimates, part of the increase in complaints can be explained by the intensive media reports about the problems: Citizens who were ignorant yesterday report to the network agency after reading the newspaper and report their own problems that would never have been on record without the media reports.
The delivery problems come at the worst possible time for Deutsche Post. Because federal politicians are finally starting to reform the completely outdated postal law. In view of the high number of complaints, the President of the Federal Network Agency, Klaus Müller, calls for the possibility of sanctions as part of this amendment in order to increase the pressure on Swiss Post.
There are more and more voices from the Bundestag that support such a means of pressure and want to make it possible in the upcoming legal reform. "The wave of complaints makes it clear that a friendly address at the post office does not help," said the FDP member of the Bundestag Reinhard Houben. "An option to impose sanctions is becoming more and more urgent."