Are RMG now pulling the strings at POL?

I wrote a blog recently about the choices Moya Greene at RMG had now she was free from the shackles of direct Government control.   I mentioned the new 2D label printing process as an example.

On reflection – having come across an interesting RMG web page about these new labels ( http://www.royalmail.com/business/help/preparing-your-mail/getting-barcode-ready-frequently-asked-questions ) it seems to me that Moya may have already been using some muscle on POL before the last Government owned shares in RMG were sold.

You see the introduction of these labels came as a ‘surprise’ to the SPMR network a couple of months ago.   A trial they said – to see how it goes.  SPMRs were (still are) furious about not only the extra work but the imminent withdrawal of the ability to print multiple labels of the same value that has saved them time in the past when processing multiple items that require the same postage label.   No indication of any additional payment for the extra time involved in entering the post code for each parcel.

But all this started years ago and POL would have known about it.   The RMG website says that RMG would be ready to accept these new labels from October 2015.   Well let’s think back a bit about that.   The equipment required to scan these labels would have had to be ordered and installed in good time.   Say a year for that.  A selection process – possibly a tender – would have been required – at least 6 months.  A budget for the purchase would have to have been approved – another 6 months.  A feasability study, a policy decision and an initial concept – all these would have taken time – say another year.

So at least three years ago RMG would have committed themselves to this new process.   POL would certainly have been told along the way – when? who knows.   As I mentioned in my earlier blog – one of the benefits to POL of this new process is that it adds value to their part in the posting of parcels and perhaps strengthens their ties to RMG through the MDA.

Trouble is nobody told the SPMRs – forget the NFSP – they are totally irrelevant in the whole process now – what better example than this to prove that.

SPMRs now want more pay for performing the extra work involved.  Fair enough you might think.  But consider this – the costing for this project was completed 2 to three years ago.  If there was to be additional payment to POL for providing this ‘extra’ then that deal would have been done at that time in order to include it in the budget.

Look again at the RMG website page (above) and see that RMG say that once this system is fully operational it will actually cost them more to process non 2D labels and a surcharge may be likely!   Mmm I suspect that non compliance/branch standards will soon become an issue here.  (once again POL have not given that any thought – shoving stamps on a parcel may become a more cost effective solution for SPMRs!)

But … I actually think the use of the 2D label is a great idea and I can see it being extended eventually to letters.  It does add value to the service that Post Office can provide.   It will certainly result in a more efficient process for RMG and a great transformation in customer service – imagine all postal items being tracked!   At a stretch of the imagination I could see the day when stamps become a thing of the past and labels are required on everything.   This would lead to a bigger demand on the Post Office service and the network would remain a key integral part of the Postal Services infrastructure of this country.

The RMG website gives us another clue about how RMG are now pulling the strings.   For several years now – particularly since the separation of POL from RMG, RMG have been ‘pinching’ Post Office bulk customers.   plenty of reports of RMG approaching these customers directly with enticing offers to save money by dealing with them direct.   My guess is that this has largely gone unchecked – primarily because once a customer has left the branch to go direct with RMG – they are unlikely to go back.   CABPost of course would welcome this as long as the consumer benefits and in any case what can POL do about it?   I am sure I have read somewhere that there were restrictions on doing this placed on RMG by POL in the MDA but are POL really going to upset their largest customer?

I get the impression that RMG will now do all they can to secure these bulk customers from POL – it makes sense to them and the customer.   POL just don’t have a leg to stand on anymore.

A new direction is called for – a new agreement – I hate to say this – A memorandum of understanding perhaps – between POL and RMG – maybe even an ‘integrated’ ownership solution.  Then again – do we need POL in its current form any longer?

More on this to come ….

 

 

 

 

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