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Can neighbours grab your sensitive package, asks Post Office

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The Post Office has asked for permission to drop parcels and recorded delivery letters with a neighbour, so Ofcom wants to know if you're OK with that.

Trials of deliver-to-neighbour started last summer and apparently went very well, so the regulator is considering allowing the postie to leave packages with a neighbour unless there's a sticker on your door saying you don't trust 'em.

During the trials post was dropped with a neighbour unless such a sticker was displayed on the letterbox, and the vast majority (90 per cent) were very happy with that. Six per cent didn't care one way or another, and only 1 per cent were unhappy, but more important was the 40 per cent drop in undeliverable packages, which are expensive to process.

Perhaps more surprising is the detail that only a third of those questioned following the trial were even aware that it had taken place, and only half of those knew they could opt out (though just about all of them vaguely remembered getting a flyer through the door explaining the trial). In rural areas, and some urban ones too, delivering packages to neighbours is common practice despite being against Post Office rules.

And those rules only apply to the Post Office, as Ofcom points out. Alternative delivery companies, already cherry-picking the profitable bits of the market, are at liberty to deliver anywhere they like and often make clear in their terms and conditions that packages may be left with a neighbour.

Letting the Post Office legally do the same seems only fair, and Ofcom* plans to have the rules in place by Christmas assuming no significant objections are raised to the consultation (PDF, but adds little) which is open until 24 August. ®

* Ofom took over regulation of the Post Office last December, as it had so much spare time on its hands.

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