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.

Satisfaction

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
    +1

    Comment number 33.

    Since the start of the summer, we have been receiving our mail at around 3;30pm and First Class post takes anywhere from 2 days to a week to arrive, even if posted locally. It would be faster if they strapped the letters to the backs of trained chihuahuas. Frankly, anything would be an improvement on the present service.

  • Comment number 32.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 31.

    I can remember when the Post Office was one of the best run companies in the world. Now it is one of the worst. I think a sort out of the top management is in order.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 30.

    Some things are too important to be run by people whose no.1 objective is making profit - and the availability of financial services to all is one of them. Of course, given the need to deliver to shareholders will disenfranchise those in poorer and more remote areas. It is simply wrong.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 29.

    Noooooooo!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 28.

    Services on the whole are poor. As long as companies/government focus on cuts and not on outcomes, services to those who PAY for them will always suffer. It may also mean that we may need to pay more for them, but only when service is improved. There should be a price for poor service, and until that service is improved there should be no price hikes.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 27.

    24.Athame57

    "Our local post office was a very busy place so I can't see why it needed to be shut!"

    ====

    So was ours. I can only think the intention is to reduce the service, and so revenues, so as to make a case for full privatisation. Not because this will make anything better for either staff or customers, quite the opposite, but for doctrinaire reasons.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 26.

    Well you never know, they might find that the services are so popular, they might open Post offices again

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 25.

    Postal services has the potential to make lots and lots of money.Could be like our Power and Water Companies.Think of the profits the latter two now make.
    Think of the massive savings we have all made selling them off to Private Operations?
    We will all save an absolute fortune by selling the Post Office to people who see a bargain and worship the magic words..."Dividends and Money"
    Pigs fly...

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 24.

    Our local post office was a very busy place so I can't see why it needed to be shut!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 23.

    I find it almost impossible to use post offices as I have to go to work. It would be a lot better if they were all relocated to supermarkets that are open when people need to use them. Banks as well.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 22.

    At a time when the economic market is gloomy for small businesses, this move puts even more pressure on sectors struggling to make ends meet. More jobs loses, less profit + increased risk of businesses going bust. Privatisation of the post office is not the answer either after what's happened to utilities. Government should be doing more to boost our economy, especially as we now alone from EU.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 21.

    It lost its way years ago it no longer offers a service to people or businesses which is in any way reliable. The Royal Mail is no better with no reliability on delivery times and a completely impossible set of rules on sizes and weights to follow for pricing letters and parcels. Anything to do with post in this Country is useless. I only use the Post Office when I have no choice. Efficiency?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 20.

    We have a post office in our local supermarket, the supermarket is open 18 hours every day and the post is open for eight hours and from experience it is truly a bad idea.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 19.

    The obsession with competition ruined Royal Mail. Opening up the (profitable) business post to all comers whilst insisting that Royal Mail HAD to continue the (loss making) residential service was suicidal. They never stood a chance.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 18.

    The Post Office was once something Britain could be truly proud of. Decades of mis-management have brought it to its knees to the point it no longer meets the needs of customers. Meanwhile the clowns who brought it down are probably retired with massive pensions or pay-offs - congratulated for what they have achieved. No wonder British industry is struggling.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 17.

    If there is one thing British management excel in it is downsizing.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 16.

    The services now cost more are less efficient. WHY?

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 15.

    Cameron gets very protective about the finanical big boys.

    But does nothing to protect our post offices!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 14.

    Will the Post Office Locals be offering round-the-clock service in the round-the-clock petrol stations and supermarkets?

 

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