'Next-door' post scheme extended
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A scheme to deliver post to a neighbour if no-one is at home is to be extended across the UK.
Royal Mail decided to roll out the initiative to millions of homes around the country after a three-month trial.
The postal group said customers welcomed the convenience of letters and parcels being left at a nearby address if they were not in.
The practice would become widespread from late September, subject to regulatory approval.
Homeowners and neighbours would be included in the scheme unless they registered to opt out.
End Quote Robert Hammond Consumer Focus
Missed deliveries are becoming an increasing inconvenience”
Royal Mail said that in most cases it would be left to postal workers to decide which neighbour a letter or package should be left with.
Mike Newnham, Royal Mail's chief customer officer, said: "The results of the trial showed that customers welcomed the convenience of having items delivered to a neighbour if they were not at home to receive them.
"We look forward to Ofcom's decision on rolling out the initiative later this summer but wanted to give all our customers early information about our plans and outline their options."Online shopping
During the trial, 220,000 items were delivered to an alternative address and there were only two cases where a neighbour claimed not to have signed on behalf of a customer, Royal Mail said.
Leaflets would be delivered to 29 million addresses next week explaining how the scheme works.
Robert Hammond of Consumer Focus said: "As we do more of our shopping online, missed deliveries are becoming an increasing inconvenience for customers. Many people will be at work when deliveries are made and need alternative ways to receive their mail.
"Leaving post with a neighbour is a good option, and research by both Royal Mail and Consumer Focus during trials earlier this year showed a positive response from customers and the neighbours their mail was left with.
"Not all customers will want their mail to be left with a neighbour. But we welcome this extra delivery option, as long as Royal Mail ensures customers are aware they can opt-out and that staff adhere to the scheme's guidelines."