USPS, Consignia Work to Fix Delivery Problems

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The U.S. Postal Service and Consignia, the British postal system, are working to overcome customer complaints about an international delivery agreement between the two agencies earlier this year, the USPS said this week.

As part of the three-year deal, General Logistic Systems, Consignia's Pan-European parcel company, delivers USPS Global Express Mail and Global Air Parcel Post in Europe. General Logistic Systems consists of 23 national parcel companies.

Consumers using the service have told the USPS that some package recipients have refused delivery after being hit with duties and fees that were higher than expected. Other customers have complained about late deliveries.

"I attribute a lot of this to start-up issues," said Robert E. Michelson, manager of international marketing at the postal service.

As a result, the USPS has discussed prepayment of duties, taxes and fees on all items valued at less than $300. This would add $1 to $2 to the average delivery cost, the postal service said, but would eliminate at least half of all customs clearance, duty payment and return problems. Consignia also is working with local customs offices on the issue.

Meanwhile, a decision is expected next week by the Communication Workers Union in the United Kingdom on Consignia's offer to increase basic pay for 160,000 postal workers 6.9 percent by April 2003. The union has lifted the threat of a strike in Royal Mail over pay.

The first 2.2 percent of the proposed increase would be backdated to Oct. 1, 2001. Further increases would come in stages from this summer forward, subject to progress in implementing changes in how mail is delivered and sorted.

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