I was in my little local post office today and chatting to Jo the post lady about online postage and how it affects her…
I live in a far spread rural ‘village’ and this is the only shop for miles. She sells all the essentials needed as well as providing postal And banking services for the community but has no passing trade just locals for customers.
I had run out of brown tape which I needed to pack my last parcel but I took it along anyway together with the ones already packed. Jo provided a reel of tape and scissors and I taped it and added my postage label while she did my other parcels. I also bought some sugared almonds (essential shopping ) and took out £100 in cash.
The point of this story is that I could have bought my postage online. I could have posted out 24 or 48 hour tracked and then taken my packages along to Jo who would have had to find space for them until collected later in the day in her tiny shop and would also be responsible for them if someone sneaked in and stole them or stamped on them.
What would Jo have received for that.?..Zilch… De Nada…Nuthink… because as post office counter she is not paid for online ordered postage she just has to handle it.
That is the reason I went to the post office with my parcels and will continue to do so as long as that post office can afford to stay open.
When it closes, as it probably will sometime in the next couple of years, I will have to drive to town to post my parcels which will take me 30 mins there and back and 5 mins walking each way from the car park (£1.20) to the post office where I will have to queue (In fact might take 10 mins each way if my arthritic legs continue their chosen path )
I won’t be provided with brown tape, nor sugared almonds nor friendly chat with my local neighbours and friends.
If I should do a market goodness knows where I could get my cash float. I always nornally just ask Jo for cash in the denominations I want.
I know that by buying my postage online I can save a few pence per parcel (but I charge my customers what it costs me so it won’t save me anything) but in the long term it will cost me far more in money and in time if my post office closes from lack of use of its post office counter.
So as I said in the title, please think twice before doing all your postage online and support your post office instead - or lose it.
PS at the height of Covid shortages my post office was the only place for miles where we could purchase flour, loo paper, pasta…
We’re with you on this Joy. We live in a small village in Cornwall with a village shop and Post Office - and we use it and won’t stop. We do very nearly all our banking through it, all our posting and quite a bit of shopping. We can walk to it in less than 5 mins. I know they handle pre-paid parcels because I see them stacked high behind the counter - at Christmas you can barely move. They are the centre of our community - the manager runs 7 outreach postal runs and is also the manager of our village hall. We have a small library of books in the shop - a few shelves - organised by the manager. Every now and then he swaps them around with some of his outreach venues. He and his wife work their socks off - and like your experience - made huge efforts during Covid to make sure all the elderly/less able folk in the village got their food delivered and didn’t have to go into the shop. It would be a huge loss to the community if they closed.
Same here Joy @JOYSofGLASS I would have been lost without my local PO, especially during Covid and I will continue to support and give all my postal business to them, the day isn’t complete without a trip to the PO, we are even on first name terms
My nearest Post Office is in the town, about 15 minutes walk. It’s just a small area at the back of a convenience store and gets quite busy at times. I always use it as I really don’t want to lose it…the next one would be another 30 minutes walk from the town.
So, I’m agreeing here and don’t plan on using online any time soon.
It’s awful here in Wadebridge. Post office closed. It was always so busy and queues out the door. The shop it was in closed so the PO went as well.
Nearest PO is 15 mins away by car.
Nearest Natwest is an hour away by car.
Interesting, I usually buy my postage online & didn’t realise that the post office counter don’t get anything for handling it - I think I assumed if they had to take the parcel they would get something for doing so. I’ll buy my postage at the post office in future!
Strange as my local post office franchise counter DOES get paid for handling items where the postage was bought online/ pre paid returns etc - don’t think he gets paid as much as they do if the postage is purchased at the counter but they do get paid.
Thing is that franchise counter PO is terrible - anyone using the mini mart gets priority over those wanting to post stuff regardless of who’s been waiting longer (so the queues can be loooong), it has no parking and is further away from me compared to the Royal mail depot (which has no queues and ample parking). So I’d rather buy my postage online and nip to the depot to drop it off. It’s not about the cost, it’s about the convenience.
Yes my post office say they get a small handling charge, but nowhere near as much as if the postage was bought from them.
This is why I have avoided online purchasing up till now.
The new prices are really going to cripple the post offices, my postmaster was quite distraught talking about it yesterday.
Post offices are so important to a community but our local ones seem to be in all sorts of trouble at the moment. You are never sure if or when they are going to be open and are often closed at short notice for days at a time. I’m actually talking about large market town P.O.s in Herefordshire and Shropshire - so many small local businesses are really inconvenienced having to make a twenty mile+ journey to the city to post international stuff or do car tax or passport stuff etc. Of course the powers that be want you to do everything online now but the elderly and people in remote areas with no broadband can struggle with this and in some instances you get into kafkaesque arguments with bureaucracy who insist some form or service exists when it simply doesn’t or isn’t available anymore. There are times when I think the world has gone completely mad!
Our PO is just fabulous. The only thing I used online is ordering foreign currency as it tends to be more than what they hold/in a currency they wouldn’t have there. Our PO is the only one in the area which services over 20K people. We also had a mobile PO when Covid kicked in. Wouldn’t be without.
Of course one reason there are nowadays so many PO franchises ( a counter squished into the back of a Tesco Express) and not independent post offices like mine ( I am Lucky and know it ) would be that people stopped using them.
As I said, use it or lose it
Ps I think Jo did say she gets a pittance for the inconvenience if having her small shop space used as a dumping ground for bags of prepaid but it Is a pittance compared to her normal over counter remuneration and not enough to keep her in business. .
Totally agree. The other shops that we use. The local butcher (no plastic wrap) and the Co-Op (we’ve a small one) who incidentally have the best bread cooked on the premises here and check out their wine collection specials (the others there tend to be more expensive). Their Gin is fabulous (there’s a tip as to my drinking habit then!). Aldi and Sainsbury’s are a stop off for the bits we can’t get but these are always last on my shopping trip. I also find that going to these smaller shops I am cheaper than doing the whole shop in Sainsbury’s/Aldi. Co-Op also do their select your charity (from 3 choices) buy their recycled bags and they give monies out to them.
It used to be a proper post office which was very well used but when Mick retired they couldn’t find anyone to take over it and we ended up with this hopeless franchise instead. We used it and we still lost it!
I am with you all, but my situation is now different.
Our post office is in the local Spar…
It is a steep mountain walk that I can no longer manage. They took our bus service away, which anyway still involves over 60 steep steps to get to the bus stop.
If I got down to Spar on the bus there is no way I could manage to walk back up…and the bus would only bring me half way back with having to climb back UP the 60 steps, followed by a steep incline.
Even the local postbox on a lamp post is too far for me to manage…SO I am delighted that I can get parcels collected, pay online and even order stamps with my Tesco food order. Yesterday I ordered 50 Large letter 2nd class stamps which will come tomorrow with the postman.
So much as I appreciate the local postmen and women in their post offices…they are no help to me…sad…It HAS to be online for me in the future.
I didn’t get round to putting my prices down when they dropped a bit in April. I use 95% first class small package. So will do the same this time and keep my prices the same until the next change … which I imagine will be April again.
Probably break even over the year
I absolutely loved my Post Office when I lived in the village of Caerwys. It shared a shop front with a speciality Butchers and a tiny convenience store. I always used to nip in for a chat and some gossip and to post things too obviously. Now I live in a nearby larger town and still use the Post Office here but it’s not got the same personal feel. Small village life used to revolve around the church, the pub and the Post Office… all are struggling (says the teetotal Atheist!) and in larger towns the local library is all but disappeared too. Everything to do with Community is being allowed to slip away. So sad.
My very local post office has already closed when the couple retired. The next nearest is a short drive away, just a counter in a shop, but positioned so the owner can serve post office and grocery customers at the same time - he can actually reach one till with each hand!
The real post office is in the next village. Once again the staff are really friendly and helpful, but I don’t know how long they can last. While I was waiting to post a 15cm cube parcel I looked over at the postal supplies shelf - to buy one empty 15cm cube box from them is £2.99 before adding any postage or putting anything inside. I’m afraid I can’t swallow that, I buy bulk online, sorry!
I would like to use the “tracked” service for my small letterbox type items. I feel really bad forcing people to mess about with redeliveries or going to a depot to “sign for” something, but small does not necessarily mean cheap so I need proof of delivery. The last time I checked this was still an online only service, so I’ve resisted so far.
Used to always use mine. Queue was often out the door. Didn’t stop them closing it though. Nearest now isn’t in walking distance for those like me with health issues or the many elderly who live in my area and there’s no parking (all yellow lines) so the post office themselves have forced me to purchase online.
I much prefer to use a post office anyway rather than buy postage online. The only exceptions have been large, heavy parcels where I’ve needed collection because of not being able to manage to carry them. I just hope access to a post office will continue. With so many bank branches closing they offer even more essential services.