Our main post office is, unfortunately, franchised to the Co-operative chain of grocery stores (The Co-op). What used to be a well run office,based elsewhere, with efficient and knowledgeable staff under Post Office management, is now nearly a pathetic shadow of its former self. Customer service is dire. This is true to long running form for the Co-op in my experience. Customer and staff care are not too high on their agenda. Many good full and part time, long-serving, experienced post office counter staff have left the Co-op in the last six months, in ire, at the way they have been treated and neglected.

Recently, I waited in a queue snaking to the door, late afternoon, after the time, the day’s post would have been collected. Why? There were two counter staff working, one of whom was inexperienced and had an obvious arm injury. The remaining four service points were unstaffed.

The Co-op, have decided that the way to deal with the under-staffing of the main post office, is to reduce the number of service points, so that the lack of staff will not be so obvious!!!

In the middle of all the chaos, an open ended booth has been erected in line with counter service point four. The booth allows driving licence applications to be made and photos to be taken for the licences. If anyone has any difficulties, the post office staff are expected to assist from the counter side of the booth. Therein lies the rub; what staff?

My guess is, the proposed physical reduction in size of the post office counter will work down from the booth that has been installed. The booth effectively blocks out your view of the counter and its staffing.

I could go on to describe the permanent gap in the ceiling tiles, allowing drips of water to fall into the long term fixture of the bucket at ground level; the queue barrier has now been diverted (at last) around the bucket, instead of, as it was, going ‘through’ it. (Never mind all the electrics).



  1. Approaching the MP and the MSP may be on the cards. One, the MP, lives locally and when he’s not at Westminster, must use our apology for a Post Office. His family certainly do. I don’t know though, if remonstrations via members of the various Parliaments, may get us very far with the Co-op. It is a pity that the staff who resigned, have not made representations. That would be a very powerful tool.

  2. I bow to your knowledge.

    I thought an American main P.O. I visited, in Boston, was odd, but on reflection, it was a matter of systems, and displays different to our own. It had very slow service, (whereas a little local one was really slick) but you got all you needed and in reasonable conditions.

    As for reducing counter service points to hide under-staffing, it beggars belief! Such ideas, more worryingly, will spread.

  3. The main thing is, they should know that we are not fooled. It always annoys me too, when there’s a long queue and very few counters are staffed. Even more annoying is when somebody pulls down their blind but remains at the counter. I know they have other work to do but surely when the PO is supposed to be open for business they should be available.

  4. Knowing, unfortunately, does not sway the bosses to change matters.

    Last December, in the middle of the Christmas rush, with queues almost to Timbuktu all day, and three people working, I vociferously bent the ear of the store manager. Finding the usual platitudes did not pacify me, I then met a brick wall when I asked for regional office contact numbers …..I could email, I was told. I dug my heels in, saying that, a) staff should not be under-supported, as they obviously were, and b) customers deserved better treatment…and one way or another, I was going to *speak* to someone with clout. I heard further emollient statements that didn’t work, and he knew it.

    There were some infirm people needing to sit, so I queued for a couple of them. I hope some other people offered the same help, after I’d gone.

    By mid afternoon, I found that the queue, though still existing, was not as long, there were more staff working, including the P.O. manageress, (who was not an expert at the counter work) and there was a more realistic workload for the counter staff. The queue was steadily moving. Customers were less frustrated. Up till Christmas 2009, the counter remained better staffed. Now, this year, we have the new constraints with losses of experienced staff as well.

  5. Mighty recession is going to be an excuse for all sorts of ‘recreations’, (some interesting no doubt), hopefully, some innovation, and a lot of hardship where it broadly hurts, and also where it hurts most.

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