By Daniel Hunter

Ofcom today (Thursday) gave approval for Royal Mail to roll out its ‘delivery to neighbour’ scheme across the UK.

This will allow Royal Mail to leave certain mail items with a neighbour in the event that consumers are not at home to receive them themselves, although an addressee may choose to opt-out of the scheme.

The decision follows consideration of consultation responses and the positive results from trials of the scheme, covering 748,000 addresses in six areas across the UK.

The new scheme will reduce the need for consumers to collect items from Royal Mail delivery offices or Post Offices, or for items to be re-delivered when addressees are not at home to receive them first time.

Ofcom’s decision brings Royal Mail in line with other UK postal operators who are already able to leave items with neighbours as part of their standard delivery practice.

The scheme in practice

The ‘delivery to neighbour’ scheme should help meet increasing consumer need for easier ways to receive certain items requiring a signature and parcels, if the person is not at home when the postman tries to deliver.
Royal Mail will retain liability for all undeliverable items until they are received by the addressee.

Royal Mail will also enable addressees to opt out of the scheme should they wish, both in relation to delivery of their own items and their receipt of a neighbour’s items.

Consumers can alert Royal Mail to their preference to opt-out by displaying a free opt-out sticker (available from Royal Mail) near their letterbox.

Ongoing monitoring

In light of stakeholder responses to its consultation, Ofcom will monitor the implementation and effectiveness of the service closely, including the level of consumer complaints.

If any issues are identified following the nationwide roll-out of the ‘delivery to neighbour’ scheme, Ofcom is able to investigate the operation of the service.
In recognition of the concerns expressed by some individual respondents about the use of stickers to opt-out from the ‘delivery to neighbour’ scheme, Ofcom will ask Royal Mail to explore the use of alternatives to the opt-out sticker in the future.

For example, Royal Mail can look at ways of identifying an opt-out address electronically or by less visible means.

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