We all need to use a post office occasionally and 90% of us apparently live within a mile of one. Have you still got one near you? If so, will it be there in a few years’ time or will it evolve into a Post Office Local?
Post office queue targets were axed in 2004, and in 2009 Consumer Focus research found that average queue times were just over six minutes, up from five minutes and 40 seconds the year before.
New Consumer Focus research is coming soon so I’ll be interested to see if that upward trend is still continuing.
Plans for Post Office Locals
A key part of the plan for the Post Office is ‘Post Office Local’, which are being piloted at the moment. One in six post offices and one in five sub post offices (97% of post offices are run by private business people as sub post offices, often in shops) will turn into one of these in the next few years, mainly from 2014.
It means many post offices will close, replaced by paired-down services going to nearby shops or petrol stations, and perhaps supermarkets – but will it help solve the many problems we experience at the post office?
Consumer Focus says the upside to Post Office Locals is longer opening hours – but it also means fewer post office services. It did research which found most people in the pilot areas were satisfied, but just over half had had to use an alternative post office because their Post Office Local didn’t do what they needed it to.
The new local services won’t let you pay your bills, send international mail over 5kg, renew your passport or do anything to do with the DVLA – hardly very useful.
Sub post offices aren’t satisfactory
As part of our Royal Mail research we heard from one member who said the standard of customer service in sub post offices varies a great deal:
‘There appears to be no standard as to presentation or access in the shop itself. There are homemade notices, a jumble of leaflets, untidy displays of stationery, advertisements and sometimes a queuing system of sorts. There used to be standards about queuing times, but nothing seems to apply now.’
Another complained that ‘post office buildings have been converted into pizza restaurants and local sub post offices are threatened with closure’. Hearing these worries about sub post offices, makes me wonder whether an even more paired-down version (i.e. Post Office Local) will work.
We had strong interest in our recent Royal Mail Conversation, so we’re keen to hear your experiences, especially with the Post Office Local service. Are you willing to give it a try or do you feel it’s a poor substitute?
What do you think of the overall service provided by your local post office?
Excellent (36%, 200 Votes)
Good (30%, 168 Votes)
OK (14%, 78 Votes)
Could be better (13%, 71 Votes)
Terrible (7%, 37 Votes)
Total Voters: 554