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Post Office


Hold up at the  Post Office

And can I interest you in some Travel Insurance?

The above image is from the Spectator website. Just check its properties to see where it came from. No, I didn't get permission. Yes, I'll remove it if the copyright holder asks me to.  

Post Offices are about to close a two and a half thousand offices, mainly rural ones. It seems very odd that post offices are being forced to close. In practice the Post Office is probably the retail outlet I visit more than any other, invariably to do something to do with ... the post. I don't think I've ever been tempted to buy home insurance, change money, get a full-body massage or partake of any of the other services the PO offers. At larger Post Offices now there is always a long queue and a flat screen display telling you how wonderful the Post Office is at doing things that you can easily get elsewhere. Actually collecting and delivering the post seems to be a kind of guilty secret that the marketing boys at the PO dare not mention. A dreaded legacy activity that will soon evaporate as soon as its protected, monopoly status is preserved.

It seems odd that the PO does not supply, well, useful things. Like franking machines. Or stamps, by post, ordered on a website. Or even a 'stamp folder' where stamps of different denominations may be safely and securely stored. Or envelopes. Or letter weighing scales. Or label-printing software or hardware. Or first class mail that arrives the next day. Or mail that gets reliably delivered. Or a service that closes, across the board, at 5:30 just as people are getting out of work. Or makes it remotely easy to pick up mail because it could not be delivered because the postman/Parcel Force man didn't bother calling at the house until everyone had left for work/school/pub. I am sure that a marketing genius like Allan Leighton would have spotted that these are not strategic and have no place in the the goods and services provided by a 21st Centry Post Office. And Adam Crozier, advertising specialist and CEO, with a salary of more than one million pounds a year, would hardly have missed anything so obvious.     

I often go to my local sorting office at around 7:15pm. The last collection is not until 7:30, but the counter is closed at 7:15. There are plenty of postmen in the building - the car park is full to bursting. But the counter is closed on the dot. The counter is really meant to handle pickup of mail items that couldn't be delivered, because they were too big, or required a signature. As a special concession it is possible to send items by recorded delivery and registered post. But only one item. There is an officious notice on the door telling customers that their business is not wanted, and that the one-item rule is a gracious favour to the the mailing public. This is natural behaviour for a monopoly supplier. One of these days we'll have genuine choice about  to  whom we entrust our letters.

It is quite clear to me that the Post Office is a relic from the days of paper-based transfer of money and information. It should jettison all the services (such as renewing tax discs, paying pensions, and handing out forms for driving licences and passports, and just focus on letting people post and receive their stuff.

Independent Article

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