My experience using the new Post Office machines

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Post Office logo homeYesterday, I sent a letter that had to get there the next day. Nothing valuable or bulky, but urgent enough to want Special Delivery from Royal Mail. So I headed for a local Post Office.

As I wrote before, my local Crown branch closed last year, so I headed to a nearby franchise in the shopping centre to send my letter. There the number of counters has been reduced and three spanking new self-service machines have been installed so you can sort your own postage. And, not least, because the queue was much shorter for them, I thought I’d give the robot a whirl.

Soon I was at the touchscreen console answering all the relevant questions about my despatch. Where it was going and how much it weighed, and the like and then I was asked what services I required. I was offered a bewildering array of services and eventually found what I wanted. To be fair on the machine, and interface, it was no more complex than if you want to a banana in Tesco from a similar facility. But it did take a fair bit of finger hovering.

Because my letter was going Special Delivery I had to choose a label and scan it in and it wasn’t entirely clear which label I should choose and I also needed to get the correct postage. The on-screen flow for getting that was cumbersome. And, at the end of it all, the machine instructed me to get the ‘host’ (the post office clerk) to verify all was well and enter a pass code.

The ‘host’ was very helpful and chirpy but overstretched. I had to wait for a little time for him to get to me and finalise my transaction. There was an older gentleman at the adjacent machine sending some parcels and finding the whole thing rather overwhelming. The ‘host’ was admirably helpful and patient with him but I was left watching when I was already, frankly, all done and ready to scarper.

I’m sure that if I used the machines more frequently I’d become more familiar and quicker. And for a first time, I found the experience interesting and satisfactory. But the reliance on having one’s transactions validated by staff did slow me down. That said, it was all much faster than joining the queue. But deep down I’d rather just deal with a human… as long as the queue isn’t too long.

Do you use your local Post Office machines for sending items? How do you find the new Post Office technology and modernised service?

2 Responses

  1. I don’t see the point of an automated service, if takes longer then the PO clerk entering the details onto Horizon & then having to wait for a clerk to check what you have entered is correct & your not ripping off the post office by paying for 1st class & sending it with an SD label.

  2. I think the machine should print the special service labels to avoid you having to try and find it yourself.

    I don’t think these can be compared to supermarkets as they are a different type of self service. I understand that the clerk has to approve the transaction because if they didn’t and I underpaid my package might not be delivered or I might have overpaid. Mail is not comparable to buying some apples from the supermarket. The machines may look the same but I think it’s unfair to compare the processes.

    I do think the printing of large volumes of stamps takes too long and I think posting multiple parcels takes too long because you have to input the address details everytime.

    Also the number of receipts is RIDICULOUS. I think they need to be more environmentally friendly! They should provide the option of not taking a receipt.

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