Is it worth saving your local Post Office?

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I live in Hove, down on the Sussex Riviera. And it turns out that they want to close the nearest post office branch to me. It’s a Crown branch that’s very useful, close and convenient and always seems busy. But they say it’s no longer commercially viable.

Living as I do in the town centre, I have alternatives. There are three other branches within a mile. One in Brighton town centre in WH Smiths that always has long queues that I avoid at all costs. One in central Hove which is located in a newsagents and another up the hill that I never use. Only that one is also a Crown post office.

Needless to say a local campaign has sprung up and I have supported it. The petition centres around how this will affect local pensioners and vulnerable people. It doesn’t consider the potential business impact such a closure might have.

And let’s face it. Local post office branches have done little to innovate to embrace ecommerce and fully profit from how people live these days. Popping into the average Crown post office is a little like going back in time. The opening hours reflect an old-fashioned way of looking at life and there is no real effort to help businesses. The average Crown post office branch has all the commercial zeal and inviting verve of Jeremy Corbyn.

Where is the fast-track aisle for people sending parcels and buying profitable extra services? Where are the lockers to collect items from all manner of retailers? Where is the effort from the average Crown post office branch to make money at all? My local branch doesn’t have collections after 5pm and isn’t open on Sundays. Is yours?

I do hope my local post office isn’t shut down but, my goodness me, I’m not surprised they say it’s not commercially viable. It needs a bloody good kick up the arse.

It seems to me that if the Post Office put the same time and energy into transforming Crown post office branches as they do into consulting on how to shut them down then they might be surprised at how useful they could make these premises in the brave new world of ecommerce. Dear Post Office: join us in the 21st century!

17 Responses

  1. You’re right Dan, most Post Offices are operating exactly the same way they did 25 years ago, which is why, when they’re threatened with closure, the only means anyone seems to have to try to keep them open is how pensioners will cope. Because frankly everyone else can manage without them.

    The Post Office in our nearest town has been closed for months in an ongoing lease dispute. I don’t know the details but I do know our village Post Office, that was around the same time taken over by the lady who runs our newsagent, has flourished. And when the town PO does re-open I won’t be bothering.

    Kirsten opens the Post Office seven days a week – including from 6am till 2pm on Sundays. If everyone who ran a Post Office had the get-up-and-go attitude she does they’d all be doing alright.

  2. I have been watching the documentary on the Post Office modernisation program, and it all makes sense. The subsidies they have enjoyed for years are gone and each post office has to be viable. New business people are taking over and having the post office in their retail shops. You can see the increased motivation to make it a better place to go to. My local post office in at the rear of a SPAR with lots of free parking and open 7 days a week…. it is great and the staff are great too. To have so many branches around the country dealing with small value transactions like they do, and there is no other business like it, they have to change and being within another business to keep costs down is the way forward.

  3. I too have been watching the show on BBC Two and it’s been an eye opener.

    Firstly it always make me chuckle when something like this happens, or a long standing name closes down like Woolworths. Everyone says how bad it is etc but all of them haven’t used the place in years.

    You are right the post offices are so out of date it’s untrue, both PO’S & RM did not catch on to Ecommerce quick enough to cash in on it.

    The one thing I don’t understand and the program has not covered, is why all post offices can offer the same services, for example my local post office can’t do passports, driving licences etc? Why can’t they all offer the same services, so one you know you can go to any post office and two they all cash in from the same thing?

  4. post office counters’ (the shops) are beholden to the recalcitrant unionised postmen’s union

    poc needs to act as agent for more parcel services and the competitors need to toughen up on collection times

    when the sorting / delivery hub system is working 7 days a week then a proper wservice might be available – until then – fba?

  5. Whilst some of the people commenting on this post have had positive experiences with the “new” post offices, unfortunately we haven’t seen the expected benefits. Our local PO is located in the back of the Co-op and there is a desk at the front of the shop which is “available” whenever the shop is open. Every time I go to use this facility the staff don’t want to do the work and immediately refer you to the main desk at the back of the shop. If you persist the manager is called who then says “the system” is broken and they cant do any post office business. Further it is not possible for them to put a sign up saying the service isn’t available as they are awaiting delivery of such a sign from the Post Office. Personally I believe they couldn’t care less whether they take any money or not from the extra hours and are positively trying to discourage people from using the service.

  6. I live in a small Village in Cornwall without a Post Office. My nearest Village with a PO is about 3 miles away although I use a different PO about 4 miles away. If you have a PO under threat I would certainly suggest that it is worth fighting for. Luckily the one I use is probably very safe with the business that it does.

    As a matter of interest I regularly get Feedback with praise for the speed of delivery. That has to be down to the PO. So much praise from me about the speed and efficiency of the PO in Cornwall.

  7. I must say I chuckled at the Corbyn joke – but lets be honest it really should really read:

    “The average Crown post office branch has all the commercial zeal and inviting verve of a Labour politician.”

    (Although Corbyn is the worst of the bunch)

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