Post Office changes spark small business fears

Post office sign The Post Office network is set to see a series of changes during 2012

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Small firms will be forced to make costly journeys for postal services owing to changes to the Post Office network, a business group has warned.

Hundreds of branches are set to be replaced with Post Office Locals, which are found in shops, petrol stations and pubs.

But the Federation of Small Businesses worries the new, limited outlets will not serve the needs of some firms.

However, the Post Office said the Locals were often more convenient.

Staying competitive

Gill Tesh makes lime mortar, used in the building trade, at her home in rural Devon and sells it to clients around the UK. She said Post Office services had been vital for the business.

In 2007, some 45 Post Office branches in Devon were closed. This included one near Mrs Tesh which was replaced by a postal van that turns up for a few hours a day.

Gill Tesh Gill Tesh said the shift to a different service could cause problems

"We are in a competitive world. If the post has gone at one o'clock and somebody phones up at two, saying they urgently need something for the next day, we cannot say 'I'm sorry the post has gone'," she said.

"It can be a problem. It makes us less competitive."

From the summer of 2012, more Post Office Locals will start to appear and businesses will be less likely to be able to deposit a cheque or pay car tax.

Small business groups are worried that people will have to travel miles to a Post Office for such services.

The official watchdog Consumer Focus, which conducted a study of Locals in Devon, has also raised concerns.

This included some Locals not holding as much cash as regular branches which receive daily deliveries.


A set of 140 pilot Post Office Locals is running at the moment. Neil Ennis, of the Post Office, said this programme allowed post offices to remain open.

"It provides the opportunity for us to keep post offices in the community where communities need them," he said.

Research completed in November showed that 96% of customers using these branches were very satisfied with the new service, he said.

Customers were also benefiting from longer opening hours, he added, with some branches open late into the evening and throughout the weekend.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    The Dutch and German Post Offices were privatised, bought TNT and DHL respectively, and are now owners of world-wide courier companies. They benefit as the Royal Mail is run down.

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    I would like post offices to stay open but sending things is very costly and confusing since the way things are by size. I have know many cases where one PO says how much it is but the receiving one will make it a different amount and charge extra postage and costs. This means more people are using e mail, cheaper and instant.

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    For small businesses, if in need of door to door service, if Royal Mail go, there are hundreds of small carrier businesses.
    Just look in Yellow Pages.
    Small carrier companies are very competitively priced these days, they have to be, they are privately run, not hampered by 19th Century bureaucracy as Royal Mail is!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    My in-store post office has queues a mile long with pensioners getting their pensions and wanting a long chat with the assistant, people posting things to Ulan Bator, e-bay sellers wanting to shave every penny off a parcel and others examining the Christmas stamps before they buy and now you wnt to add heavy use businesses to the queue. Yes that really will get British business moving - not!

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    Some mail order businesses are located close to Post Offices.
    If the Post Office closes then they will incur additional overheads, mainly additional Time and some fuel/parking expenses.
    Sure most domestic customers can cope with the change, and footfall at Post Offices shouldn't drop much, but it means extra work for some small businesses or some more empty business premises.

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    The solution is simple, if radical.
    *Stop* trying to run it as a business.
    Turn them into a Government services shopfront, of which Mail is just one of their key responsibilities.

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    Post Office services have been cherry picked for years, and now we get this daft idea coming to the fore. Is the government secretly trying to downgrade what is left so that private firms move into the home delivery and collection market even more? Once a mighty enterprise, now more of an inconvenience than a convenient way to deliver. As for 'service', there just isn't any nowadays.

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    So many people have demanded a freeze on the cost of postage that the current cost of many services are half what they once were. If you want Victoria standards of Postal Service you need to pay Victorian levels of charges.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    The UK postal service is already a disaster. Why would anyone want to go to a high street newsagent, then fight their way upstairs in an outlet in which the elevators don't work properly?
    When snail mail is competing with the internet and other 'analogue' despatch facilities the UK's Royal Mail needs to be pro-active.
    It isn't.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    With other operators skimming off the profitable areas and leaving the Royal Mail with the costly services this was always going to be the outcome. That was before email came along. If town centres are in decline what is the future for the rural scene

    @2 Perhaps people living in the countryside should receive a subsidy because they allow it to be maintained more cheaply than otherwise

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    Due to government policies over a number of years the consumer bot personal and business is now reaping the miss guided policy of opening up markets to competition. The post office has to compete against other postal operators including door to door deliveries for them, inaddition to policies that limit the servic\e that they can offer. We only get what we pay for!

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    Maybe small businesses should pay more tax to subsidise post offices.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    I smell a business opportunity here for local collection and delivery enterprises. Come on you entrepeneurs - show us your iniative.


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