Royal Mail's Postcode Address File, the electronic database containing every address in the United Kingdom, should be more widely available and managed by a separate business unit within Royal Mail, UK postal regulator Postcomm said this week.
Originally created by Royal Mail to improve the efficiency of its postal service, the PAF now is used by various companies doing business with large numbers of people — such as insurance companies, banks, travel companies and utilities — and is used extensively by database companies to verify their address information.
Postcomm said it reviewed management of the PAF after concerns that Royal Mail planned to change the way it charged for the service. There also were concerns that Royal Mail might seek to exploit PAF unfairly, that maintenance was below par and that some companies received unduly preferential or discriminatory terms, Postcomm said.
Published as a consultation document, the review proposes that:
· Royal Mail keep overall ownership of PAF but create a separate business unit responsible for managing the file's maintenance, development and distribution.
· Royal Mail introduce objective contractual arrangements with suppliers of address data to PAF (for example, local authorities) to secure key information, and Royal Mail should pay the same price for its use of the file as any similar user.
· Royal Mail should formalize its consultation procedures and introduce a PAF advisory board.
· Royal Mail design a flexible, responsive licensing framework that promotes use of PAF and encourages accurate addressing.
· Regulatory controls be tightened, with revenue based on a reasonable allocation of costs and greater transparency in finances, performance and decision making.
Postcomm said it hopes a cooperative approach with Royal Mail can resolve any concerns.
“PAF has become an essential resource for UK businesses as well as a vital part of the UK postal industry,” said Nigel Stapleton, chairman of Postcomm. “We think it is right that Royal Mail should continue to own and manage it, but in the fully competitive mail market we need to make sure it is not used by Royal Mail to discriminate against its competitors.”
Melissa Campanelli covers postal news, CRM and database marketing for DM News and DMNews.com. To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters