Royal Mail services are in disarray

Lara Platman

With another strike by Royal Mail postal workers due to take place this week, I am rather frustrated to find that different post offices charge different amounts for the same services and astonished that in some cases they issue a charge at all.

I am currently in the process of selling my home and purchasing another. It is already a stressful time, what with the mortgage companies changing their minds at any given moment about 65 per cent borrowing and 85 per cent borrowing for Self Certification mortgages.

Add to this my rancour at having to purchase the newly created Home Information Pack (HIP), which is a complete waste of money.  I obtained mine from an overpriced company (stating that they do all the searches for you, when I did them myself) and with my solicitor required to do all the searches again, (because they require different searches), it has all proved to be a complete time wasting exercise.

Yes, my recent experience at a post office has been rather a telling tale of an extremely unorganised, antiquated company that is due for a shake down.

I went in to verify my passport to send it over to the solicitor. In previous years, I had simply popped into my local post office, (where it looked like a post office) to be greeted with a smile and a familiarity, and asked for a stamp for the said item. Today, after waiting in a queue that extended past the sweets and toilet paper, I was told by the Old Street post office in London, that the stamping of my photocopy of my passport would cost me £12.60. 

Without hesitation I went over to the post office on the Stratford Broadway, to be told that it would cost me £5.00 with a one off service charge of £2.00. (I suppose if you had more papers to verify).

 My father went into his village post office today, where, he was greeted with a smile and a reference to his name (my goodness, is this village in the 1940’s) also to ask for a photocopy of his passport to be verified.  The cost to my father? Apart from not leaving the small volunteered shop for over 20 minutes and having listened to the local news from three of the villagers and in addition, signed up to the ‘Guy Fawkes’ committee,  the charge to him was zero.

In fact the total cost stated on the Post Office website today is: £6.85. It does not state clearly if this is for one paper or more.

I am firstly very saddened that the city’s post offices feel that they have to charge us for looking at both the original and the copy and charging a fee for a verification stamp. But secondly I am more upset that each post office does not know their correct charges once set.

The national strike this Thursday and Friday by the postal workers is not simply an utter nuisance for the country, but is also an example of how outdated the system has become, removing itself from the people who actually utilise the service, dislodging their trust and willingness to stand by them through the development of digital technology.

The Post Office and Royal Mail will always be used despite the digital revolution. They provide vital community services, enabling physical items to get from A to B and perhaps more importantly to some, they provide a community meeting place, where gunpowder plots can be hatched.

This morning my postman told me that he would be losing £1500 in wages because someone can’t agree with someone else. Tomorrow morning I will tell him that it is not only the unions and management that can’t agree; it is each post office too.

This is the Post Office website stating the correct price: