I write to update you on the situation regarding the announcement on Wednesday 21 October that Royal Mail will be launching a national ‘Parcel Collect’ service. This is further to the messages from the NFSP that have been shared on our social media channels this week.
Let me be clear – the NFSP is unhappy about the Parcel Collect service itself, and we are unhappy with the way Royal Mail made this announcement. We have told Royal Mail as much and informed them, along with Post Office Ltd and Government, of the anger and frustration subpostmasters are feeling over the introduction of this service. The NFSP was of course aware that a trial of the service was taking place in Bristol, and many members from around the country had contacted us about it - but the rapid acceleration to a national roll-out was unexpected. We see this as an unacceptable way for Royal Mail to treat the 11,500 post offices that act as a salesforce for its products and services.
The fallout from this will continue for some time, I have no doubt. A complicating factor is that the contents of the new agreement between Royal Mail and Post Office Ltd are not available yet; right now we don’t know how subpostmasters will be affected.
With that in mind, I want to outline what the NFSP is doing, and what you can do to help navigate through this frustrating and challenging situation.
What the NFSP is doing
- We have been providing a positive message in local and national media about the quality of service customers receive at their local post office. We have been using the slogan “branch is best” to support this.
- We are working with Post Office Ltd to ensure that post offices are effectively promoted going forwards and that customers are encouraged to make use of their local post office.
- As well as providing a positive message about post offices publicly, we are fighting your corner in our dealings with Royal Mail, Post Office Ltd and Government on this issue.
- We will be organising a national web event in the near future to discuss issues around this development and mails more generally as the important Christmas period draws closer. Details of this event will be made available in due course.
- We will keep you updated with the latest information on this and all other issues through the NFSP WhatsApp groups, NFSP member Facebook group and by email.
What you can do
You have every right to be angry – so let’s use that energy to make the best of this situation. We’re saying “branch is best” and we must make sure that every customer knows that.
- If you are asked about the new Parcel Collect service by a customer, tell them that the best service they will receive is from your post office.
- With you there’s no additional charge and no limit on the number of items accepted.
- You have the knowledge and expertise to ensure the customer gets the right service.
- While home collection might sound convenient, you are open throughout the day so there’s no need to wait around for a postie to call. If needed, tell your customers about the quietest times of day to visit your branch.
- You offer banking services, bill payment and much more besides. Depending on your retail offer, you may offer a comprehensive range of packaging and stationery to support customers with putting together their parcels.
- You are at the heart of your community – you support local residents and businesses. By supporting their local post office, customers are supporting their community.
- Keep being the best at what you do. You and your teams are mail experts and you offer great service – so don’t compromise on that quality of service. We have seen a minority of subpostmasters on NFSP WhatsApp groups talking about ceasing to segregate mail items properly as a means of retaliating against Royal Mail. We urge you to keep performing segregation properly. Poor segregation will affect the service your customers receive and could damage their trust in your post office. Furthermore, we are, as a network, working towards achieving the £6.2m in bonus payments for hitting the mails segregation targets – the NFSP implores you not to undermine these efforts.
- There have been reports of Royal Mail operatives requesting to leave Parcel Collect items with subpostmasters. DO NOT accept these items. This is unacceptable and you are under no obligation to do so as this is not a service that you are being paid for. If you receive any such requests, please report it to the NFSP at firstname.lastname@example.org
- However, if a customer brings in a parcel because they have missed their Parcel Collect collection time, you can accept this but remember to scan the 2d barcode and provide a certificate of posting as this will trigger a payment to you. Remember, most customers will not know the difference between Post Office and Royal Mail. Giving customers the best service possible will encourage them to continue to use your branch.
- Bring customers into your branch through every means available to you.
- Advertise your post office and retail on social media. Spread a positive message about what you offer on your local Facebook groups. Post Office Ltd are working on materials for you to use, we encourage you to take these up. Email email@example.com to access the ‘We are Post Office’ app.
- Update your Google My Business Page so that customers know when you are open, your exact location and what products you sell. Post Office Ltd are offering advice and support with Google My Business – email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Be ready for Christmas – more customers will be shopping locally this year and shopping early to avoid the crowds. Make sure you bring them in by making your post office visually appealing and the destination for Christmas posting. The NFSP has put together a great deal on Christmas point of sale materials – see here for more information https://nfsp.myprintdesk.net
At times like this it is important that we stick together and stay united.
If you haven’t done so already, do join the NFSP Facebook Group (www.facebook.com/groups/NFSPmembers), and join your local WhatsApp group (email email@example.com with your FAD code and mobile number).
Chief Executive Officer