Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Postal service

There was a column in the Daily Express yesterday written by a reporter who received a letter addressed to Mr Gordon Brown PM, 10 Downing Street, London, W1; unsurprisingly she wasn't Mr Brown and although they lived at a number 10 not the number 10. This led her to express her frustration with the delivery system, how her kids get 10 out of 12 copies of National Geographic; how cheques don't turn up; how she gets post for other people.
I was in company at the time at this led to a quick discussion. Now we all know the past is often tinted rose, but still the consensus was that home post was often delivered before you left for work/school. You'd open the door and there it was; likewise you'd get into work and it was often on the doorstep or at least before you opened up to customers.

Now home delivery takes place sometime between 9 and 10 if you're lucky; in other words for most people after they've left. At work it's between 11 and 12 again if you're lucky.

Of course geographical location has a part to play and there are simply more houses being built which means more places to deliver to, but any business that wants to keep customers would keep up with this demand. Except Royal Mail isn't a business they're a monopoly. Oh maybe not quite there are other delivery firms out there, but if you just want to post one letter out to someone the cost to use them is prohibitive compare to the Royal Mail.

The journalist above says the kids run to the door when they hear the post come and find a "Sorry we missed you" card yep had that. My parents have had parcels left in the porch with no attempt made to even see if there's anyone in the house for one particular company my father uses a great deal he hasn't signed for anything in several years.

How does this contrast with other services - well Bioshock2 was despatched yesterday at 10:47 reached Droitwich at 18:50, Kidderminster at 2:46 and was out on the van for delivery at 6:22 I'm almost surprised not to find a "Sorry" card this morning. Royal Mail offer the same service, for the same sort of premium rate, but their times never seem to add up, we've seen parcels signed with scribbles we've no connection to. It's just a shambles.

Royal Mail has rested too long on being the dominant delivery company and it needs shaking up; there's no reason why it can't be tendered out to another company and if they can't handle it take away the contract and hand it to someone else.


Orphi said...

I think possibly the problem is that transport and delivery is a commodity service, and people want to pay as little as possible for it. When you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.

Think about it — if you can pay 21p to have your letter delivered by Royal Mail, or £21 to have it delivered by somebody who's going to do the job properly, who are you going to go to? Yeah, exactly.

In a related vein, I heard somebody at the Post Office complain that “Working in the Post Office is so complicated. Trouble is, them what's got the brains for it ain't interested in the money, see?”

(Think about it — apart from posting stuff, the Post Office lets you tax your car, pay your TV license, apply for a passport and seventy-billion other beuracratic government functions that require an advanced PhD in form-filling to comprehend…)

But sure, having no competition doesn't exactly encourage efficiency.

FlipC said...

And therein lies a part of its problem. It's trying to be a bank, and still be a government outlet as well as a postal service.

Why is it handling tax discs and passports that's got nothing to do with them? You should be visiting the council offices to get this type of thing done. You know the people we pay to handle the bureaucracy.

But yes is it operating at a loss or just breaking even on its deliveries, as there's talk to raise first class costs to 41p would we object to a service that costs 50p but actually delivers the way the PO used to?

Orphi said...

You seem to be confusing the Post Office and the Royal Mail. They are apparently no longer related.

Also, I can find a Post Office. Council offices are much harder to find — especially if you live in some God-forsaken village somewhere.

FlipC said...

They're both part of the Royal Mail Group, but yes the Royal Mail is the delivery arm and the Post Office is the counter services.

But the PO have pulled a lot of services away from the village stores, so what's the difference between visiting the council offices and visiting the district PO? I mean saying you can't find it, have you had a need to look?

Don B said...

"But the PO have pulled a lot of services away from the village stores, so what's the difference between visiting the council offices and visiting the district PO?"

2 miles to my my nearest village Post Office and 20+ to the District Council Offices in Malvern but they don't have a caller office that accepts money, for that I have to go to Pershore for the combined Malvern Hills/Wychavon Council Tax Office. I accept that most people in my position are able to pay their Council Tax by Direct Debit but I have several friends who live very much hand to mouth and have no bank account and for them the local Post Office Counter service is essential.

You started this blog about the Royal Mail Delivery Service. My current experience is the best I have had for years. On good days Peter my postman, brings me my post between 7.15am and 7.30am and spots when other neighbour's post is incorrectly addressed to my house. Every 5/6 weeks when he is not on the post may be as late as 10.00am and the incorrectly addressed mail does come to me.

FlipC said...

That's a fair point Don in terms of distance; with regard to the caller office accepting money well that would need to be changed if the PO had such services removed.

Onto the Royal Mail and you're obviously in a fortunate position, but are you part of a majority or minority?