The Belgian postal service Bpost will take tough action to stamp out the problem of people who receive a note saying they were not at home when the mail carrier called, when in fact they were home all the time.
The problem will be familiar to everyone. You’re expecting a delivery, and the only thing you find in your mailbox is a note from the delivery person saying they tried to deliver but you were not at home.
And all the time, you were in the house and didn’t even hear the doorbell.
Now Jean-Paul Van Avermaet, CEO of Bpost, has told the VRT consumer programme De inspecteur that he plans to take tough action to root out the problem.
“Mail carriers need to ring the bell, and I’m going to check up on it,” he promised.
The question was raised by the programme, which receives a large number of complaints from people in Flanders and Brussels – though it is by no means restricted to those regions, nor indeed to Belgium alone.
The problem is not restricted to deliveries from Bpost either, with other parcel delivery services just as guilty, sometimes failing even to tell the customer where their delivery has ended up.
But since Bpost is a government enterprise, subsidised by the tax-payer, it is the one culprit that can be called to account.
“It's a major frustration,” Van Avermaet said.
“I read a lot of the complaints that come in and I also hear a lot from people themselves. And it is a legitimate frustration. You are at home. And either you did not hear the bell or they didn’t ring. I am aware of that.”
He is sure, he said, the problem is confined to a few bad apples.
"But even if it is only a small number, we have to stop it. We are going to set up a campaign to call on postmen to always ring the bell. If the mail carrier cannot ring the bell, then he should for example leave a note.”
Some steps have already been taken. Where you would be informed of the day of delivery, now it’s a window of five hours, with further precision promised.
In addition, the pocket computer carried by personnel is equipped with GPS to show where the parcel ought to be delivered, and a camera to allow them to send you a photo of the place where the package has been left, such as a nearby shop or a neighbour’s house.
Meanwhile Bpost offers several options to let you have parcels rerouted to another address if there’s a chance you may not be home. That could be a local shop, a nominated neighbour, a Pickup Point or a Parcel Locker. Details at the Bpost website (EN).
The Brussels Times