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Wednesday, July 14, 2010


A failure to deliver

The new parcel delivery service launched by Japan Post Service Co. of the Japan Post group suffered a setback in its first week of operation. The delivery of more than 340,000 parcels was delayed during the period from July 1, the first day of the new service, to July 7. The company must learn from the mishap, which was caused by poor planning and insufficient employee training.

The new delivery service started after Japan Post Service's Yu-Pack delivery services were integrated with the Pelican delivery services run by a joint venture set up in 2008 with Nippon Express Co. Japan Post Service hoped to compete with the leaders of the parcel delivery industry — Yamato Transport Co. and Sagawa Express Co. Some Japan Post Service employees opposed management's plan to carry out the integration July 1 during the busy summer gift season. Instead of heeding their opinion, management rushed through the integration to try to reduce the joint venture's deficit, which had reached ¥98 billion.

Management failed to foresee difficulties that would arise from the integration, in particular the problems arising from Yu-Pack's and Pelican's use different sorting machines. After the integration, some employees had to use machines they were not familiar with, causing slowdowns in delivery times.

According to Japan Post Service President Shinichi Nabekura, a former Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry bureaucrat, delays happened at up to 10 of the company's 70 delivery hubs across the nation. It has also been reported that although manuals were given to employees, insufficient time was allocated to training them to use unfamiliar equipment.

It is outrageous that management did not announce the delay until July 4, by which time the delivery of 260,000 parcels had been delayed. This demonstrates that management was guilty not only of ignoring the interests of customers but also of incompetence. Japan Post Service must carry out a thorough investigation, determine where the responsibility lies for the delivery debacle and take corrective actions.

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