Complaints rise as postal deliveries decline

4:23 min

In this modern age of emails and text messages, the amount of mail deliveries sent through the post is declining year on year. However, in Sweden, there is one aspect related to postal delivery services that is increasing - customer complaints.

Since 2000, the number of postal mail deliveries has dropped by almost 30 percent. Fewer postal deliveries but the amount of complaints over lost mail, mail that's late or sent to the wrong address has soared. And the Swedish Post and Telecom Authority (PTS) wants the company responsible, PostNord, to explain why.

"The most common complaint from people is perhaps receiving mail that is not addressed to them. It could be that someone does not got any mail for 5 days or just one day a week, which of course can mean that people miss appointments, such as a visit to the doctors, and then its very serious," says Sten Selander, head of the PTS postal unit, to Radio Sweden.

"There are several deficiencies in the post distribution chain," says Sten Selander."Post is wrongly collected, parcels disappear in handling and something is not quite right with the delivery of mail in Sweden."

The blame is not being attached to postal workers. Last week, the Swedish Post and Telecom Authority was alerted by the union Seco that its postal members, in the counties of Norrbotten and Västerbotten, had working conditions that were completely unacceptable.

A postman that Radio Sweden met, said that it is something that happens daily. The Mail is rarely delivered as it should, and the reason is simple - they can't manage.

"Mail is not getting sent out each and every day," he says. Around "ten percent will not be distributed and it's not satisfactory for those delivering the mail or receiving it."

Erik, as we'll call him, has been a postman for more than thirty years, and according to him, the situation is now worse than ever. He meets Radio Sweden's reporter near his workplace - a post office somewhere in central Sweden.

He describes his daily rush to finish the mail in time and that many colleagues have to work constant overtime.He has seen many go off sick or have poor mental health.

When Erik started, he said most postal depots only handled mail for 300 or 400 households in each district. Today, it is not unusual to have a district of one thousand households.

Erik's district has grown by several hundred households in recent years. But the worst of it is on Mondays and Tuesdays when they have to deliver advertising and more than a thousand free newspapers. "Then there will be overtime for most people," he says.

"One can say that it's become too big to complete in one working day - almost unrealistic.It doesn't measure up to any calculation at all. And one cannot work as much overtime as one wants, it's just not good for you," he tells Radio Sweden.

It was back in 2009 that Sweden's national postal service merged with its Danish counterpart to form PostNord. Acccording to legislation, PostNord must deliver 5 days a week in Sweden. However, the complaints to PTS and the testimonies from the likes of Erik, show this is something that Postnord cannot manage, a fact that Mats Ståhlgren, production manager at PostNord, admits is true.

"We should deliver mail every day, if we do not then it's a failure.We have this new method in delivering mail. In many places it has gone well but in other places it has not worked out so well and we have had to adjust. But I am the first to regret this," he tells Radio Sweden.