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From Norfolk RCC
Consumer Focus is calling for improvements to the new Post Office Local (PO Local) model, if it is to work better for consumers. The call comes as a new report from the watchdog – ‘Open all hours’ – shows that while the new model has potential benefits, there are unresolved problems which need to be addressed, if consumers are to get the full benefits which major changes to the UK’s post office network can deliver.
From summer 2012, the Post Office’s Network Transformation will see one in five sub-post offices convert to the PO Local model as part of the largest set of planned changes in the Post Office’s history. Most sub-post offices currently operate as part of a small shop, but have a separate post office counter with dedicated staff. The Locals model will see post office services delivered by trained shop staff from the main counter of retail outlets such as convenience stores or petrol stations, rather than from a separate dedicated post office area.
Many post offices are economically unsustainable, so Consumer Focus recognises a new approach is needed. With around 2,000 PO Local conversions, these changes provide a major opportunity for improvements. The watchdog’s report shows that PO Locals offers many positives for customers with greater convenience and extended opening hours, which were welcomed by the vast majority of consumers (eight out of ten of those surveyed).1 However, based on customer research and mystery shopping at 105 branches currently trialling the model, the research also shows a number of areas which must be addressed if the new model is to meet consumers’ needs and deliver a consistent and reliable service.
The current trials are intended to identify areas which need attention as the Locals model develops and Consumer Focus has carried out this research to assist Post Office Limited in this endeavour and we recognise that it is taking action on some our findings.