The ongoing battle between the SA Post Office and courier companies in South Africa could leave many online retailers unhappy.
The Post Office wants to prevent private courier companies from delivering any packages under 1kg, and its efforts have been backed up by ICASA.
ICASA is the postal service regulator in South Africa, as well as the regulator for the telecommunications and broadcasting industries.
SAPO is currently involved in a legal battle with PostNet and has said the courier company is violating the Postal Services Act 124 of 1998.
This act states that the Post Office is the sole entity which may render reserved postal services in South Africa, including the delivery of all postal articles up to and including 1kg.
Potential impact on couriers
One of the biggest potential issues with the Post Office being the sole conveyor of articles below 1kg is the effect of this ruling on ecommerce and logistics.
Courier companies are not only used to deliver online purchases to customers or to send articles to other people – they are also used by businesses in the motoring, pharmaceutical, and physical retail sectors to facilitate logistical operations.
Many of these businesses depend on the same-day delivery goods to complete orders, a service which private courier companies offer.
Online retailers don’t want to use the Post Office
MyBroadband spoke to several local online retailers about the legal battle, and almost all said they would not be happy if they were forced to use the Post Office to deliver products under 1kg.
Major ecommerce businesses in South Africa often deliver articles below this weight, and a number have said that if the Postal Services Act is enforced, they will purposefully make their parcels heavier to avoid using the Post Office.
MyBroadband asked the South Africa Post Office for comment on the matter, but the company did not respond by the time of publication.
Wootware founder Rory Magee told MyBroadband that many of the company’s sales may consist of parcels below 1kg.
“Many parcels may be under this limit. However, it would be trivial, albeit wasteful, to make a parcel heavier – add more packaging material/void-fill,” Magee said.
When asked about Wootware’s position on being forced to use the Post Office for sub-1kg deliveries, Magee said he would be unhappy with this.
“I wouldn’t be comfortable with any entity that discourages free-market competition in order to force others to do business with them,” he said.
“It would be akin to Telkom forcing customers back onto ADSL.”
Rebel Tech owner Rune Ravnsborg told MyBroadband that a good percentage of the company’s deliveries were under 1kg.
“Rebel Tech uses the courier services of The Courier Guy and RTT,” Ravnsborg said.
“Both couriers charged based on the volumetric weight of a parcel and, depending on the volumetric weight, the type of service is selected (under 5kg is air freight or two-day shipping).”
He added that Rebel Tech would be unhappy using the Post Office for deliveries, due to its poor service and inefficiency.
“Rebel Tech prides itself on high service and good turnaround on orders, and to ensure that, I would instead make sure that all parcels are above 1kg.”
OneDayOnly confirmed that it uses private courier companies to perform deliveries to customers.
It added that it often delivers products which are under 1kg.
OneDayOnly said it would not be happy with being forced to use the South African Post Office to facilitate the delivery of sub-1kg articles.