Mail delays 'failing consumers'
Delays in the delivery of post across the Irish border are failing people on both parts of the island, a consumer group has warned.
A study by the Consumer Focus Post group found an average delivery time of between two and three working days for post coming from the south to the north.
The watchdog has now called for the main postal service providers, Royal Mail and An Post, and their respective regulators, Postcomm and ComReg, to work together to improve the standard of service.
The research found members of the public were concerned at the unreliability of cross border postal delivery, and said consumers in the North and the Republic are suffering.
Consumer Focus Post's Chris Thirkettle said: "What is clear from our study is that cross-border mail plays an important role in the social and economic life of many Northern Ireland consumers and businesses.
"Along with telecommunications and transport, mail is an integral part of the essential communication infrastructure which supports the growing economic and social interaction between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
"The performance of the existing mail service, while satisfying European interstate targets, is unambitious and does not meet the reasonable expectations of many consumers and businesses in Northern Ireland, or match adequately our local circumstances."
The consumer group's research found considerable confusion among the public in the North about the service.
It claimed more than a quarter of people were unaware of when they can expect a cross-border letter to arrive and seven in 10 consumers surveyed were unaware of the correct postage for sending mail to the Republic.
When consumers were informed of the correct postage, four in 10 considered it did not represent value for money.
InterTradeIreland chief executive Liam Nellis welcomed the report's findings.
"The postal service is a basic infrastructure underpinning trade and commerce," he said.
"Any steps, however marginal, that can be taken to improve the speed, reliability and cost effectiveness of the cross-border postal service could make a significant contribution to the ease at which business is carried out across the island."