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ACM: postal company PostNL must stop frustrating its competitors

Dutch postal company PostNL failed to share clearly with other postal companies part of its tariffs and conditions for mail delivery. Consequently, Van Straaten Post and Intrapost, two smaller rival postal companies, did not know what conditions they needed to fulfil in order to qualify for discounts. As a result, they were not able to draw up well-substantiated offers for their business customers.

The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) imposed an order subject to periodic penalty payments on PostNL, forcing them to end this violation. PostNL will have to pay a penalty payment of EUR 100.000 per week (with a maximum of EUR 1 million). PostNL does not agree with ACM’s decision: it believes that its method of providing information is indeed transparent. In addition, PostNL filed a request with the court to stop publication of this decision. The court has ruled in ACM’s favor on both counts.

Liberalization in the postal market leads to more choice and lower prices

Since 2009, the postal market has been completely liberalized. The aim of liberalization is to create more choice and realize lower prices, especially for business customers. Henk Don, Member of the Board of ACM, adds: ‘However, postal companies will then have to be given the opportunity to submit well-substantiated offers. In order to do so, they will have to know what tariffs PostNL charges for which services.’

PostNL is the only postal company in the Netherlands with a network that covers the entire country for collecting, sorting and delivering mail. Smaller postal companies are dependent on PostNL’s national network for mail that they are unable to deliver themselves using their own networks. After all, smaller postal companies lack a network with which they are able to deliver mail throughout the Netherlands five days a week.

PostNL’s practices harms the competitive positions of new entrants

PostNL has a dominant position in the postal market. Over the past few years, alternative postal companies have been able to gain modest market shares. If they wish to increase their market shares, they will have to be able to attract major clients. Mr. Don continues: ‘PostNL will have to enable its competitors to draw up well-substantiated offers. That is not happening right now. It directly hurts the competitive positions of these smaller companies. Competition in the postal market is thus harmed, which is not good for the tariffs that customers are charged.’