What has the introduction of Downstream Access (DSA) postal service meant for the public?

Downstream Access (DSA) was established in 2003 as an end to a 350 year monopoly by Royal Mail. DSA allows for competitor postal companies to collect and distribute mail by utilising the Royal Mail network for final processing and delivery.

The idea of a DSA provider is to provide a low cost postal solution for businesses and consumers which may seem like an effective solution for smaller businesses, but has actually caused some issues over the years.

Increased Postage Prices

DSA services are able to offer their clients discounted rates for bulk mailing, and for some pre-sorted batches (MailMark, Mailsort) TM, further savings can be made which could result in at least half the cost of a stamp.

Understandably with these discounts, larger businesses enjoy them the most because of large volume mailing lists. Businesses will need to produce over 100 letters per day in order for the DSA carrier to pick them up from the premises.

The de-regulation and introduction of direct mail providers has created an unfair service for smaller companies, who are paying more as Royal Mail postage prices have risen far more than inflation since the competition was introduced to mitigate for lost revenues.

The de-regulation should have led to lower prices by creating competition for Royal Mail and encouraging a better service for customers, but it’s resulted in offering less for more.

Royal Mail Strain

Since the introduction of DSA, the postal service has led to fragmentation and less transparency across the postal system.

Looking at the illustration below from Ofcom, if your letters are picked up by a DSA provider such as UKMail, you can’t determine that your post will be sorted at their sorting office or Royal Mails – Similarly with delivery. There is a lack of auditability and postal tracking, so if documents are late or missing, who are to blame?

Source: Ofcom

The reason why the DSA service is doing so well is because they are advertising their modern, cost effective services against an ‘old-fashioned’ Royal Mail service. They are not showing the full picture which is fracturing the Royal Mail service and affecting the standard consumers.

DSA services are only completing up to half of the postal transaction, which means the Royal Mail staff are receiving increased workloads in their sorting offices and deliveries and coming under pressure to complete more work in less time.

Royal Mail: Ofcom

In June 2014, Royal Mail recognised these concerns that had arisen since the introduction of DSA postage services and wrote a letter to Ofcom to request an investigation into this service. The letter “Direct Delivery: a threat to the Universal Postal Service” states that the Royal Mail service is being treated unfairly compared to its competitors as they are required to complete more work whilst trying to offer services at a competitive rate.

In the postal service, there is increased speculation and risk that direct deliverers such as Whistl, UKMail, CitiPost are ‘cherry picking’ their delivery areas. Cherry picking means that the competitor companies are simply picking the higher volume, cheaper-to-deliver areas whilst Royal Mail delivers to the remaining, more expensive locations.

Whilst this issue was raised in Royal Mails Ofcom letter, Whistl denied allegations, Ofcom required further evidence to Royal Mails’ claims of cherry picking because in 2014 when the letter was compiled, this cherry picking tactic was only actioned by a small percentage. However, given the growth of some DSA providers, there is expectations that these tactics will increase, resulting in Royal Mail struggling to keep up with the demands and increasing postal rates as a result.

How can you be sure you’re with a trackable provider?

Unlike other shared providers, Publisure are completely transparent about who we partner with along with providing an open and honest relationship with each of our clients regarding our processes and the way we work, so you never have to worry about missing documents.

As a standard, our Hybrid Mail postal service will increase efficiency and reduces costs at every point of handling outbound correspondence by increasing potential for postal discounts;

  • We use unique document ID, combined with MailMark data to track each step of the postal process: From the moment document are submitted, enter the Royal Mail sorting office and when they’re out for delivery.
  • Each document audit trail records User ID, date, time of submission, document name, postcode etc, which is all submitted to your Publisure platform.

Retain control of your outbound communications with Publisure Hybrid Mail Solutions and deliver secure, auditable and cost-efficient documents through online and offline channels.

Keep track of your documents with Publisure

Enjoy low-cost solutions with high value outcomes, at every step of the postal journey.

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