An Post warns retailers to cease selling competitors’ products
An Post has warned shops with post offices that selling competitors' products could result in their contract being terminated
14 March 2014
An Post has sent a letter to all its postmasters who operate retail outlets warning them against selling products that would be deemed competitive to An Post.
ShelfLife has seen a copy of the strongly worded letter, dated 28 February, from John Daly, Retail Operations director of An Post. The letter stated that a postmaster who operates a shop in conjunction with An Post may not under his contract offer competing services in the shop.
It complained of postmasters providing services for competitors such as the "holding of parcels for customers for courier companies".
The letter stated: "Many of our competitors are only too happy to establish themselves in close proximity to post office services as they hope to draw business away from our network. We should not be facilitating them.
"Under your contract with An Post you may not operate or be involved in operating directly or indirectly any service in the post office or in the same premises as the post office which competes directly or indirectly with any service provided by An Post in the post office."
He cites services such as electronic top up, sale of SIM cards, bill payment services and money transmission services as the main competition.
The letter goes on to say that even when competing services are located in or around the same premises, An Post would view this as the post office "being deemed unsuitable for purpose".
"Where any such activity is identified it will be regarded extremely seriously as all postmasters have been clearly advised that such activity represents a breach of their contract. An Post will take immediate action for such breaches of contract up to and including notice of contract termination."
It urges retailers to take it upon themselves to "make such matters clear to the management company concerned" if the likes of a Parcel Motel is present in a shopping centre with a post office.
The retailer was then warned that checks would be carried out and action taken if any such competition was observed. "You should be aware that company officers, including audit teams and visiting offices, will in future as a matter of course, check to see if competing services are being provided. If you are currently providing any such service to other parties you need to cease doing so immediately."
ShelfLife contacted a number of retailers about this issue and while they didn’t want to be named for obvious reasons the general consensus was that they were very unhappy with the contents of the letter. One retailer said that it was "a disaster" for him as he was a Payzone agent too and needed this to provide services like the Leap Card, gas cards and ESB top up, which were services not provided on An Post’s Postpoint system. He said he would lose a considerable amount of footfall if he couldn’t sell Leap cards.
Another retailer said that he was contacting the Postmasters Union to complain about the situation.