On 31 August 2021, we issued our decision document setting out our decisions on proposals we made as part of the simplification of the Access Letters Contract (ALC) consultation. Following the publication, we have had some further feedback from customers, who more clearly articulated their concerns regarding the decision to amend the ‘Any changes’ clause 13.2.1(a) of the ALC. These concerns were considered in detail in addition to the information we gathered from customers during the ALC review, including by a wider team within Royal Mail containing individuals who were not directly involved in the ALC review.
The decision we made in August was to amend clause 13.2.1(a) of the Access Letters Contract:
- to allow us to implement ‘all other changes’ by giving 70 days’ notice where the change does not fall within one of the other notice provisions in the ALC and where the changes do not impact on customer systems; and
- if a change does impact on customer systems and does not fall within one of the other notice period provisions (e.g. changes to prices or profiles), such changes will be introduced on 120 days.
We continue to see merit in having a shorter notification period (70 days’ notice) to make non-technical changes which would not require a long lead time for customers to implement and technical changes which would require a longer lead time, therefore providing 120 days’ notice. However, we also understand the importance of allowing customers the opportunity to challenge notices we may introduce under the ‘Any change’ clause (current clause 13.2.1(a) of the ALC). This point has been raised by some customers in relation to this specific ‘Any changes’ clause, following the issuing of the decision document.
After careful consideration, we have decided to revoke the decision to amend the ‘Any changes’ clause. The existing provisions, as set out currently in Clause 13.2.1(a) of the ALC, will remain and any changes will require 190 days’ notice. We will continue with implementation of the other decisions relating to notice periods.
We are particularly glad that we have found common ground with customers in regards to our decision to introduce a clause enabling new services to be introduced on a shorter notice period of 70 days (subject to a voting mechanism giving customers an opportunity to vote to accept the shorter notice period). Customer feedback provided through the engagement process in this area was valuable and formed an important part of our consideration in arriving at the final decision. We see this as a positive outcome for the mail industry, enabling us and the mail industry to act quickly to innovate and bring new products and services to market, so that we can collectively seize on opportunities to retain and grow mail volumes, in an environment which has evolved since 2012/13, when the original ALC terms were introduced.
We are continuing to work on developing the contract changes to reflect the decisions we have made on the ALC review, with a view to issuing a formal contract notice to customers in November 2021, for changes to become effective from June 2022. This will incorporate the above-mentioned revocation on the notice period relating to the ‘Any changes’ clause.