It never ceases to amaze me how a visit to a foreign land can allow you to judge what you have (or don’t) in the way of services at home. My recent visit to the USA has provided one such moment of enlightenment…
While in Florida we needed to use the United States Postal Service – on the face of it a much less ‘obvious’ service to the one we have in the UK (split between Royal Mail and Post Office) – but a service covering the entire 50 States of America. Finding a post office wasn’t as easy as it is in the UK – they tend to be larger and fewer in number and designed for vehicle access. But, once inside we couldn’t have found them more helpful or polite. My son was looking to send some things to California with a self addressed envelope for their return back to the UK.
This wouldn’t be that straight forward to achieve in a UK post office, but for a foreigner in a US post office it was very daunting to say the least. The counter staff were however unbelievably helpful, and patient. We also had to fill in a customs form and they helped with that as well. While this was going on the queue in the post office was building, but no one had a problem – least of all the staff.
Contrast this with my recent Royal Mail and Post Office experiences in the UK;
1. Posting a package to my brother from the local post office. The staff were almost totally silent, the task was achieved swiftly, but with almost no eye contact or comment! – I felt as if I was ‘in the way’.
2. Collecting a package from the sorting office at Incinerator Road in Nottingham (with a ‘you were out’ card that had been left at my house 3 days before) – guess what – it wasn’t there, despite the card saying wait 24 hours. The staff informed me that this ‘wasn’t unusual’, but that the system was due to be changed which would make it ‘better’.
It is now 7 days since the card was left and the package still hasn’t appeared (although I have visited numerous times and they do have my number….) – I get the feeling the staff aren’t concerned – or is it that they don’t care? Consequently I now have no faith in the UK mail system – something that I find very sad for what was once a central part of the fabric of British society – but is now more of a joke.
What ever happened to customer care and service from the Royal Mail – can they really expect people to invest in them if they are privatised? Perhaps the US Postal Service could take them over and teach them a few basic lessons in customer care……