South Africans may soon have their Uber eats orders delivered by the post office if the weight is below one Kilogram. This may be the result of a court battle between the South African Post Office and private couriers regarding delivery of parcels under 1Kg.
An Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) Complaints and Compliance Committee (CCC) ruling against PostNet in 2019 declared that courier services should not be allowed to deliver the parcels under 1kg.
The Post Office had raised the complaint with ICASA seeking recognition as the only licensed provider of reserved postal services in South Africa allowed to deliver parcels weighing less than 1kg. South Africa’s 1998 Postal Act 124 states that only a licensed postal services operator may provide the reserved postal services. These include letters, postcards, printed matter, small parcels and postal articles weighing less than 1kg.
Meanwhile, PostNet managed to secure an interdiction allowing it and other courier companies to continue offering delivery for the parcels in contention until the matter is heard at the High court.
The South African Express Parcel Application (SAEPA), an association representing couriers companies such as DHL, FedEx, UPS, CourierIT, DSV, Globeflight, and RAM also joined PostNet as a co-applicant in the case.
SAEPA CEO Garry Marshall told South African blog MyBroadband that a ruling in the Post Office’s favour would have a disastrous effect.
“The sales loss is bad enough – the impact will be huge, particularly on the international players,” Marshall said.
It means that courier services and the post office would now have to start weighing all their products before delivery. Customers too will be required to find scales and weigh their parcels before selecting a suitable delivery medium.
“All around it is impractical, it will have a dramatic impact on courier companies – both their revenues as well as their processes,” Marshall said.
Food orders from the country’s popular online delivery portals Uber Eats and Mr. D would be affected as the ruling makes no exemption for food.
“You better make sure that you order a pizza over 1kg,” Marshall stated. “Don’t order your KFC for home delivery, because if it’s under a kilogram, it can’t be done.”
The South African Post Office believes that courier services have stolen their business.
“We believe we are complimentary to them, we don’t believe we compete with them as we are not in the business of carrying traditional mail,” Marshall said.
He attributed the Post Office’s redundancy to a change in how things are done.
“The fact that email has climbed in and destroyed the document business is not a courier issue,” he said.
“They never changed anything, they never did anything differently to match the change of space.”
Post Offices across the world have had to contend with the emergence of technology and instant courier delivery services. Kenya’s Postal Office has been rendered a loss-making business as it struggles to stay afloat. In contrast, Post Offices in Western countries have remained profitable by evolving to offer world-class courier services, DHL, a product of Germany’s Post Office is a global courier business offering top-notch delivery services.