ANACOM orders CTT to reformulate postal network density proposal

ANACOM has not accepted the proposal submitted by CTT - Correios de Portugal to complement the postal network density targets and minimum offers of service currently in force – it was deemed that the proposal did not fully meet user needs.

It is recalled that the postal establishment in each municipality where CTT is obliged to ensure provision of the full range of concession services, under the requirements of the current objectives, must be either (i) a post office or (ii) a postal services office that provides the full range of concession services under conditions equivalent to those at post offices. This is considered by ANACOM as essential.

CTT's proposal, while partially taking into account the reference framework defined by ANACOM, is not fully in line with it. On this basis, the proposal has not been accepted and CTT is now granted a period of 30 days, under the terms of the law, to reformulate it.

It is recalled that ANACOM's decision to complement the postal network density objectives and minimum offers of service stems from the changes implemented by the concessionaire in its network of postal establishments. These changes resulted in an exponential increase in the number of municipalities lacking post offices (there were 33 municipalities without post offices as of January 2019), affecting the way postal services are provided to users and impacting the satisfaction of user needs.

When reformulating their proposal, CTT must ensure, in particular, that the following is made clear:

  • As regards the postal services offices to which the measures defined by ANACOM in its January decision will apply (the postal services offices where, in each municipality, the full range of concession services must be provided), these offices must be open, in 99% of Portugal's municipalities, every working day for a minimum daily period of 6 hours, whereas in the remaining 1% of municipalities, they must be open every working day for a minimum daily period of 3 hours.
  • As regards training, CTT's proposal must specify that initial and continuing training will be directed at all staff of the postal service office which ensures provision of the concession services, including those staff that serve the customers of these services. Furthermore, explicit reference must be made to all the content to be covered in the training course; and real-time training must be given in the presence of services requested by customers and simulated training in other concession services. In the context of continuing training, there must be training when there are complaints about procedures and about the manner in which services at postal service offices are provided.
  • As regards infrastructure and equipment, CTT's proposal must be clear as to the necessity of infrastructure being in a state of conservation which guarantees easy access for all users, including users with special needs; and the proposal must specify the existence of external signage which clearly identifies postal services offices.
  • As regards customer satisfaction, CTT's proposal should be clear as to the frequency with which customer satisfaction is measured, while ANACOM's determination of January 2019 explicitly states that this should be carried out on an annual basis. The proposal must indicate actions to address the causes of poor user satisfaction and be clear about the procedures to be implemented regarding complaints.
  • As regards customer service, CTT's proposal must be clear about the procedures for improvement to be introduced at postal services offices and about the way their users must be served (in an organised and sequential manner, according to order of arrival exclusively for users of postal services). CTT must also make clear that the secrecy and inviolability of postal items is to be guaranteed, along with the protection of data and protection of privacy in all services provided, safeguarding the confidentiality of all information which is transmitted or stored.

ANACOM also states that CTT's proposal must take into account the provisions of its determination of January as regards information to be made available to the public, and as regards control and supervision, among other matters.

Furthermore, it should be recalled that, in January, ANACOM made a series of recommendations to CTT, which continue to apply insofar as CTT is called on to:

  • Implement the requirements defined by ANACOM for the remaining postal service offices, in a progressive and scheduled manner, starting with those located in parishes with more than 10 thousand inhabitants, in which there are no post offices.
  • Refrain from taking any measures during the procedure of reviewing the objectives of postal network density and minimum offer of services as may contradict the objectives set out therein.

Final decision on prior disclosure of information on closure
of postal establishments or reduction in opening hours

ANACOM also decided to require CTT, in cases where postal establishments are subject to closure or a reduction in opening hours, to give notice to users and to ANACOM as regards the changes which it intends to introduce, at least 20 working days prior to the date on which such changes enter into effect. This information must be given by means of a notice posted in a prominent position at the entrance door to the establishment, specifying the postal establishment's last day of operation and details of the two nearest postal establishments providing the same services, their respective addresses and opening hours.

In cases where there is a reduction in opening hours, information should be displayed about the new timetable and the date on which it will take effect.

It is recalled that, in January, ANACOM recommended to CTT that:

  • When they wish to close establishments or reduce opening hours, they notify local authorities where the establishment is located at least 20 days prior to the date on which the change takes effect;
  • In cases where CTT intends to close all post offices in a municipality, so that the municipality is served only by postal service offices, this solution must be subject to prior agreement with local authorities, seeking adoption of a solution which ensures adequate satisfaction of the needs of local populations and businesses.

These decisions were taken by ANACOM following the prior hearing of CTT and a public consultation that saw broad participation. In fact, contributions were received from about 50 undertakings, including: ANAFRE- Associação Nacional de Freguesias (National Association of Parish Councils), which forwarded the contributions of 25 parish councils (Penso; Cercal do Alentejo; Vila e Roussas; Ribeirinha; São Sebastião; Azinhaga; Cachopo; Granja Ulmeiro; Aguada de Cima; Ferreira; Carvoeira Carmões; Montenegro; Vale de Cavalos; Carrazeda de Ansiães; Campanhã; Biscainho; Espírito Santo, Nossa Senhora da Graça e São Simão; Casegas e Ourondo; Montargil; Folques; Alpiarça; Ramada e Caneças; Sacavém e Prior Velho; Castanheira do Ribatejo e Cachoeiras; Barcelinhos); Junta de Freguesia de Laranjeiro e Feijó; ANMP - Associação Nacional de Municípios Portugueses (National Association of Portuguese Municipalities), DECO - Associação Portuguesa para a Defesa do Consumidor (Portuguese Consumer Protection Association); Intermunicipal Communities of Beiras e Serra da Estrela and of Terras de Trás-os-Montes and the Municipal Councils of Sousel, Vendas Novas, Alcochete, Alpiarça, Arraiolos, Carregal do Sal, Lagoa, Manteigas, Marinha Grande, Melgaço, Oliveira do Bairro, Oliveira de Frades, Palmela, Sintra, Soure, Vila Velha de Ródão, Vila Flor, Avis e Celorico de Basto; and SINDETELCO - Sindicato Democrático dos Trabalhadores dos Correios, Telecomunicações, Media e Serviços (Democratic Union of Communication and Media Workers).