Wednesday, 16 September 2009


It was Saturday morning and I needed to post a letter. The problem was that it was for Australia so I would have to go to the Post Office for a stamp. I probably don't need to tell you what it's like in a Post Office on a Saturday morning! There's usually at least a 10-minute queue and often a lot more than that. So I arranged to meet my wife in the coffee bar and asked her to have my usual Americano ready. Then I trudged into the Post Office with a sense of foreboding.

Guess what? There was no queue at all. Not one person. Had I hit lucky? had everyone become invisible or abducted by aliens? Had they just closed and forgotten to shut the door? - None of the fore-mentioned.

I was met by a lady greeter. 'Good morning - what is your business here today?' I showed her my letter to Oz. 'That can be done at one of our new machines' she said, waving her hand towards some rather daunting hi-tech machines with a screen and buttons and stuff. She saw my look of anxiety and led me over to one of them.

'Pop your letter on the scale' she said pointing to the scale which I hadn't even noticed. 'OK its under 20gm. so it will be the cheapest category - she then pressed a space on the screen marked under 20gm. and there was a notice which popped up saying the cost was 90p. 'If you are happy with that press 'Print Stamp'.' I did and my stamp was printed and dropped down into the slot. I stuck in on the envelope. 'Now post it in the slot here' she pointed again. Once again I had failed to notice that each machine had its own post slot attached. Job done and in all it must have taken less than a minute!

I thanked her and she resumed her position as a new customer came in. I watched for a while and realised that there were four possible places for customers to go. There were the usual service counters, a business pay-in desk, a parcels desk and the long rank of new machines which I had used. The lady greeter directed each new customer to one of these four. Then I realised that I was now competent in using the machines so wouldn't need her help next time so part of her function was to 'train' customers for future visits.

So I must give credit where credit is due. The Post Office has got its act together and we can reap the benefit. The only downside was that I had to buy the coffees because i got there before my wife did!


  1. I haven't seen machines like that in our Post Office. I guess that's progress, although I can't help thinking that by showing the customers how the automated machines work, that lady is slowly doing herself out of a job...

  2. That is great. Wonderful post.
    Seems like more things are getting automated and having people to people contact is a thing of the past.
    Take care