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Angus Kerr
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Open letter to Mark Barnes, CEO of the South African Post Office

03 October 2017, 15:53

Dear Mark

Let me say first of all that I am a big believer in the Post Office. I order a fair number of packages from eBay and other Chinese internet shopping vendors. These vary from hobby toys to musical instruments and accessories. To date, the Post Office has never failed to deliver these packages. Even during the strike of late 2014, the items I was expecting were faithfully delivered, and in good time too.

However, recent developments and delays have shaken my faith in the Post Office to the core. The source of this seems to be the black hole of the Post Office, JIMC – the Johannesburg International Mail Centre.

In this modern age of information, packages can be tracked, as you know. It is as simple as installing an application such as 17Track (or the South African Post Office’s tracking app) on one’s smart phone, and entering the tracking numbers. In the country of origin, one can track the item as it is collected, processed and finally sent via airmal to South Africa, a 7-10 day process.

Once the package leaves the country of origin, no further information is received until it is scanned in at Joburg. This ‘In Transit’ is a limbo status, where no one knows exactly where it is, except that it has officially left its destination, has probably been delivered into a pile of packages in a receiving warehouse somewhere in JIMC at OR Tambo Airport, but has not been officially been scanned into the South African mail system.

The last time I ordered a package (maybe a year ago), the delay between the package leaving the country of origin and being scanned at JIMC was at most 10 days. Once it is scanned at JIMC, the recipient has a sense of confidence that the package is in the system and will eventually be delivered.

Recently I ordered some hobby toys for my son’s birthday. The packages left China on 17 August 2017 and entered the ‘In Transit’ status. To date (3 October) they have not been processed at JIMC. That is, one can only assume that they have been sitting in that same pile of unprocessed packages at JIMC for 45 days at least, (over 6 weeks!).

However, other packages that left on the 13th of September were already processed at JIMC by the 27th of September. That is more like the delay that I would expect (14 days).

I am only writing this because I am desperate. Until these packages are scanned at JIMC, no-one knows where they are. My son’s birthday has come and gone. Calls to the customer service yield no more information than that which the tracking apps on my smartphone can give me.

So I would like to know the answers to the following questions:

  1. Is there a problem, such as a six week plus backlog, with parcel processing at JIMC?

  2. If so, what is being done to resolve it?

  3. Why is it that certain items are received and processed more quickly than others? This would suggest no control on incoming mail in a proper FIFO arrangement that ensures a consistent turnaround.

  4. Are any KPI’s in force to ensure some kind of quality in parcel processing delivery in South Africa?

  5. What permanent solution is being implemented to ensure reasonable processing delays?

I know that you cannot trace my particular parcels, since they seem to still be at the bottom of the pile at JIMC. But I am sure that you will agree that the service being experienced by myself as a customer, who has no other alternative but to rely on the Post Office, is far from satisfactory.

I am now in a dilemma. Since I have not received the items I have ordered after almost 8 weeks, I have every right to take that matter up with the supplier and demand that they reship the items. But that is unfair, because the delay is not their fault.

Eventually, when enough people like myself take this last drastic step, suppliers will no longer ship to South Africa because of the risks involved in non-delivery of the items.

I can only assume that the volume of parcels is only going to increase. I have no idea what revenue is being received by the Post Office, if any, for parcel processing. I am fully prepared to pay a premium or processing fee on my parcels to ensure that they are delivered timeously.

Please help! I am sure this can be fixed.
Disclaimer: All articles and letters published on MyNews24 have been independently written by members of News24's community. The views of users published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. News24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.


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