What quality standards does the universal service provider have to comply with?

Below you will find a concise summary of the main quality standards imposed on the universal service provider – until 2018 this is bpost - by virtue of the Postal Act, the implementation orders and the fourth management contract.

The most important obligations regarding quality are grouped below, divided into six sections: provision of information, delivery of postal items, delivery times, customer satisfaction, the mail network and the postal retail network.

Obligations regarding the provision of information to the users

The universal service provider provides the user with precise, up-to-date and complete information on the products and services that are part of the universal service. The staff should be capable of giving information regarding the access to the service, the tariffs, the level of quality, the accountability terms and the complaint procedure orally at all times. The staff has to be able to provide the features of a product.

The legislator asks the universal service provider to clearly and legibly indicate the offices’ opening hours on the outside of the buildings as well as the most important tariffs on the inside. For instance in all offices brochures have to be displayed describing each product or service that is part of the universal service or the access terms, the basic tariffs, the discounts, the standard premium charges, the accountability terms and the complaint procedure, the name and address of the headquarters.

Furthermore each modification made to the terms of the offer of products and services, have to be notified to the users before it takes effect.

Obligations regarding the delivery of postal items

The legislator lays down that the universal service provider delivers the postal items and postal parcels at least five days per week - except for Sundays and legal holidays - to all houses as far as they are equipped with a regulation letterbox.

Obligations regarding the delivery times of postal items

As for delivery times it is stated, among other things, that deliveries shall take place within "Day + 1" for at least 90% of these domestic priority items and within "Day + 2" for at least 97%.

Obligations regarding customer satisfaction

The 4th management contract stipulates that bpost, under BIPT’s supervision, has to conduct a customer satisfaction survey relating to the way its public service tasks are carried out regularly and at least once a year.

The survey covers among other things the queue times at the counters. It is for instance stipulated that bpost has to adopt adequate measures to limit the queue times at the counters. Furthermore bpost commits itself to increasing the accessibility of its postal service points (offices and Postal Points) for persons with a handicap. Compliance with this obligation is studied in the customer satisfaction survey. In addition the management contract stipulates that bpost ensures that per week the postal offices are open during a number of hours “outside office hours". The customers needs regarding the opening hours also have to be studied in the customer satisfaction survey.

Obligations regarding the mail network (among other things the red post-boxes)

Bpost is obliged to maintain an “adequate basic infrastructure” for clearance, sorting, transport and delivery in order to meet its obligations regarding the universal service provision and other public service missions.

In particular this means that bpost needs to provide at least one access point for the deposit of postal items in each municipality, including the amalgamated municipalities that constituted separate administrative units on 31 December 1971.

On all red post-boxes the time of last useful clearance is indicated as well as the address of the closest post-box where a later clearance is possible. The management contract states that the last clearance of the day should take place at 5 p.m. for at least one post-box per municipality and at 7 p.m. for the municipalities where this is justified based on the customer needs evaluated annually by bpost, whereby bpost ensures a well-balanced distribution across the entire territory.

Obligations relating to the postal retail network

Finally the fourth management contract lays down various obligations regarding the postal retail network, namely:

  • bpost’s obligations regarding the service offer in the postal retail network;
  • the scope of the postal retail network;
  • the opening hours and deployment of the postal staff in postal offices and postal stops;
  • the accessibility of the postal service points for persons with a handicap.