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The SA Post Office - A Return To Core Values

15 November 2012, 09:40
And those core values are, of course, incompetence, theft, lack of service and dishonesty.

A number of you will remember those sad, dark days of 2008. Theft or "loss" of items by the SA Post Office became so bad that big online stores, in particular amazon from the USA and Blackstar from the UK, felt they had no choice but to blacklist South Africa and refuse to ship there. This made the news worldwide, although of course Radio 702, whose "independent" news happened to be sponsored by the Post Office when the story broke, decided to report that people were somehow bypassing customs and the mail sorting centres, getting the parcels and reporting them stolen.

In fairness, since that incident the Post Office had tried to improve. In the last four years I have had no issues, with not one parcel failing to arrive. That seems to have changed in the last month.

Some four or five items of mine are now two weeks past the expected delivery date. It is fun asking the Post Office what the problem is.

To be honest, the staff at the branch and indeed the people on the customer help desk have tried to assist. The problem, it seems, resides at their "international hub".

I have the direct number for several staff members there, as well as the general switchboard. Frequently the calls do not get answered. When they do get answered, the response is "we cannot assist". They advise you to send the details to their customer services email address. When you explain that you did that a week ago and have not got an answer, they just end the call.

What is going on here? No doubt several people will - rightly - comment on the disasters they have had with the Post Office of late. The utter humiliation they experienced at having the country blacklisted, though, surely taught them to get their act together? It certainly seemed that way to me for a fair while.

I have no idea if their international mail depot is current having a secret strike, if everyone has been fired or taken leave, or if they've just decided to start stealing again. I do know that all items ordered online do need to go through customs and SARS, so if it is a problem of theft then alarm bells should be ringing, considering who must be involved to get away with it.

If I do not start getting some of my parcels within the next week then I suppose it's off to ICASA to wait for no response, then off to the Universal Postal Union with the matter. I suppose I had better contact the suppliers too, getting a refund instead of the desired products and sit and watch as yet again SA is blacklisted.

Part of me really hopes it's just a staffing or system issue. If it is that, though, and they can't take out an advert saying "sorry, we are experiencing delays and will resolve them soonest", then there is all you need to know of their claims of honesty towards customers.

No wonder so many of the kids today simply download stuff rather than order it, just rather steal it yourself instead of paying for someone to steal it from you.

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