Bpost can’t keep up with surge in package deliveries

Summary

Authorities are concerned about Bpost’s response to a massive increase in online shipping – asking customers to collect them at pick-up points

Self-service

Federal minister Petra De Sutter, in charge of state-owned enterprises, has asked Bpost to reconsider its decision to ask some customers to pick up parcels rather than deliver them to their doors.

Due to a dramatic increase in online shopping, Bpost announced that it was impossible to deliver all the packages and is asking some of its customers to collect them at pick-up points. The temporary measure would cover 5% of the more than half a million parcels Bpost is currently delivering daily. The remaining 95% of packages are still delivered to homes.

“I understand the concerns that followed this announcement,” said De Sutter. “I consulted Bpost and asked them to look into this.”

The minister notes, however, the exceptional working circumstances of the postal service. “Normally they deliver 270,000 packages a day, now it’s almost 600,000,” she said. “They have already recruited an additional 2,000 people. Employees are working tirelessly. The company is looking for ways to continue, and we can appreciate that.”

What’s next, asking customers to go sort their own packages in the sorting centres? They cannot be serious

- Comeos CEO Dominique Michel

Retail trade federation Comeos is less diplomatic. “The government closed the stores and, at the same time, called on Belgians to order online from merchants,” said Comeos CEO Dominique Michel. “And now it appears that Bpost cannot keep up and asks the recipient to go and get the package themselves. We wonder what’s going to happen after that. Are we going to ask the customers to go sort them out themselves in the sorting centres? They cannot be serious.”

Bpost clarified its position to customers last week. “Depending on the postcode of your home, you will receive an email asking you to pick up your package in one of the collaborating stores or in one of our 2,300 Post Points,” a spokesperson explained.

Customers can refuse this offer. “But in that case, they will receive their package later.”

Many local merchants and SMEs have turned to e-commerce and are now entrusting their parcels to us en masse

- Bpost

Bpost will work with Decathlon from today. A section of the sporting goods store will temporarily serve as an additional pick-up point.

More serious is Comeos’s claim that Bpost has refused to pick up parcels from some retailers because there were too many. The federation published an open letter in the press at the weekend in which it called on the government to intervene. “The coronavirus crisis is difficult for everyone,” it read, “but e-commerce is the only way for our businesses to make up a small part of their turnover. If this opportunity is not available, they can very well shut up shop.”

Bpost said that it is continuing to work with retailers to adapt operational capacity to meet demand. But the expected quantities “have been greatly exceeded in recent weeks,” said the spokesperson. “Many local merchants and SMEs have turned to e-commerce and are now entrusting their parcels to us en masse.”

Photo courtesy Bpost