Universal Postal Service

Different postal services have different delivery speed standards. Classically, the courier service allows for the fastest delivery time. The most common delivery times for the courier service are either delivery the next day at a certain time or even same-day delivery. In the case of the domestic non-registered mail delivery service provided within the framework of Eesti Post’s universal postal service, Eesti Post offered for years only such a service which allowed the letter to be delivered to the recipient by the next working day after delivery by the sender. The sender did not have the option to choose between different delivery speeds. It is quite common in the world that in addition to the one-day delivery service, the postal service provider also offers, for example, a three-day delivery service. The Estonian Postal Act also provides for such a possibility, as it describes the quality standards for the delivery speed of a national non-registered mail both in case of one working day and three working days.

Affordable charges payable for the universal postal service shall be established by a regulation of the minister responsible for the field on the proposal of the Competition Authority. Until now, there was no affordable charge payable for a letter to be delivered within three working days. After the amendment to the regulation that entered into force on 20 May 2020, the corresponding charge is specified in the regulation and Eesti Post immediately started offering the domestic non-registered mail delivery service with two different delivery speed options. Faster transmission costs more, but if speed is not vital for the sender, the service will be cheaper. For example, the delivery of a simple letter weighing up to 250 g domestically costs €1.50 if the sender chooses a delivery speed of one working day, but €0.90 if the sender chooses a delivery speed of three working days.

Quality of letter delivery speed

The Postal Act stipulates that as part of the provision of domestic postal services, regardless of the delivery speed, at least 90% of the domestic non-registered mail must be delivered to the addressee within the prescribed time. Thus, either in one working day or three working days, respectively. In order to verify compliance with this requirement, the Postal Act provides that the universal postal service provider shall ensure control by a person independent of them. In addition, the Competition Authority has also exercised supervision over the speed of transmission of domestic non-registered mail from time to time

The Competition Authority last inspected the transmission of non-registered mail in the autumn of 2020. For the first time, it was also possible to perform supervision on non-registered mail with a delivery speed of three working days. To this end, a total of 1,000 ordinary letters were posted in September and October. Based on the forecasts, it could be assumed that almost 90% of senders would choose this service if a more favourable choice arose. For about 10% of senders, the speed of mail delivery is important and they choose a more expensive service. Accordingly, 100 test letters were sent as a priority, i.e. with a delivery time of one working day, and 900 test letters with a normal delivery time, i.e. three working days. Letters were posted in all counties, both in the countryside and in the city. The posting took place through the mailboxes of Eesti Post, which are located in places that are accessible around the clock outdoors. Only one letter was posted to each mailbox and it was noted when the corresponding mailbox would be emptied next. Emptying times were indicated on the mailbox. Recipients who took part in the supervision were then expected to give information when the letter reached their mailbox. The period between the date of emptying of the mailbox and the date of receipt of the letter was considered to be the transmission time of the letter. Only working days were taken into account.

The supervision revealed that out of 1,000 letters sent, 990 letters could be taken into account in reflecting the results, as the date of delivery was not identifiable for 10 letters. A total of 918 letters or 92.7% arrived on time. Of these, 91 letters or 92.9% of priority letters were received on time and 827 letters or 92.7% of ordinary letters were received on time. And 58% of all delays were delays of one day. Three letters out of all posted letters, i.e. 0.3% of letters, did not reach the recipients. These letters were considered lost.

Thus, supervision conducted by the Competition Authority in September and October 2020 showed that the speed of transmitting domestic non-registered mail complies with the requirement established under the Postal Act. The requirement is for at least 90% of the letters to be on time, but the result for priority letters was 92.9% and for ordinary letters 92.7%.