State Comptroller Cites The Failures Of The Israel Postal Company

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State Comptroller, Justice Yosef Shapira, is currently publishing a special audit report on the service of the Israel Postal Company, and the report raises serious findings regarding the conduct of the mail service.

The comptroller writes that “the findings of this report present a bleak picture that in the decade since the opening of the quantitative mail market to competition, the quality of postal services was poor, and the company had difficulty in providing postal services throughout the country and in accordance with the terms of the license granted to it. The audit findings detailed in this comprehensive report raise deficiencies, including severe ones, in dealing with mail and in their distribution to the public. These deficiencies were made possible, inter alia, by improper supervision by the Postal Supervision Department of the Ministry of Communications of the company and other permit holders for distributing mail.

The auditor who carried out the process of public participation in the report also brings the grades given by the public and expresses low satisfaction with the services provided by the company’s units. For example: The Public Inquiries Department – 1.64 (out of 5), the service at the company’s branches – 2.48; And the main services it provides its customers: receiving packages from abroad – 2.09, the follow-up postal service – 2.38. Eighty percent of the respondents said that they suffered some kind of damage, including not receiving a product purchased from a company abroad (80% of the respondents), payment of a penalty for late payment or missing a family event (about 49%).

Most of the complaints received by the ombudsman at the State Comptroller’s Office on the subject of postal services were found to be justified, and this indicates a number of significant deficiencies in several areas:

• Postal orders: The company does not meet the dates set forth in its license.
• Regular mail, registered mail, and “postal mail” were delayed when they were transferred between the company’s units, and there was a delay in sorting the mail in the company’s units and delivering them to the recipients.
• Postal services are sometimes lost when they are held by the company, and they have no ability to locate them or the place where they were lost, inter alia, because they did not operate a system for monitoring mail items and mail bags as required by the license. This is especially true when it comes to a registered mail service that customers pay for tracking.

The “Mail 24” service does not fulfill its mission and is in fact not used as a fast mail forwarding service. As a result, there is a real concern that the description of the service on the company’s website and the name given to it – “Postal 24” – misleads the public.

Service in Postal Units: The company did not meet the temporary waiting target in the queue prescribed in the license. Many branches have long waiting times and some of the company’s customers leave the queue before receiving the service.

The company does not have real-time data on the waiting times in hundreds of postal units. As a result, the company’s management is unable to locate branches where waiting time is long and to shorten them, even in real time, in order to improve service to the company’s customers.

Service for People with Disabilities: For years, the company neglected to make its units accessible to persons with disabilities as required by law. Among other things, the company did not train all service providers on the types of disabilities and adjustments required for each of them, and for years did not conduct an accessibility survey to obtain a snapshot of accessibility in all its units.

Service to public bodies: Public bodies such as the Courts Administration, the Population and Immigration Authority and the Israel Tax Authority regularly send mailings of great importance to their recipients. There were significant deficiencies in the postal services of these important public bodies, which do not conform to the standards that the company is required to meet in the area of efficiency and control, especially in view of the importance of these mailings, which cause public damage, financial damage and distress.

The totality of the findings in the report, including the deficiencies in the Ministry of Communications’ activities, indicate that the ministry failed in its role as a regulator of the postal market and did not act as required to ensure that the company meets its service targets. For years, the Postal Supervision Department at the Ministry of Communications did not fulfill its function properly in view of the damage to the quality of the postal services provided by the company.

The report also points out that since the opening of the quantitative mail market to competition more than a decade ago, the Ministries of Communications and Finance have not regularly examined the Postal Company’s expenses for operating the universal service – that is, distributing mail all over the country at a uniform price – which is detrimental to the company’s financial strength to provide quality universal service and promote competition in the mail market.

“Ensuring quality postal services for all the public throughout the country requires the pooling of national resources and the systematic preparation of many bodies, including the postal company, regulatory bodies, and government ministries responsible for ensuring the financing of these services. Proper preparation of all relevant bodies is likely to ensure the provision of quality postal services for all, the reduction of direct and indirect damages to the public and the reduction of postal services,” the report adds.

In addition to all the negative criticism, the State Comptroller notes positively that “since the beginning of the audit, the company has taken steps to correct the deficiencies, including the establishment and operation of a national sorting house, distribution centers and regional dispatch centers. “This is not sufficient, and the relevant government ministries and the postal company must study the findings of the report and act decisively, every body within its responsibility, to improve postal services and to increase supervision over the holders of a permit to distribute mail, and to set uniform rules and service quality objectives for residents of the periphery and the rural sector, will receive quality postal services from all permit holders. They also have to ensure that people with disabilities can receive postal services where the public receives the service,” the comptroller wrote at the end of the report.

(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)