Friday, March 09, 2012
Ransomed by the Post Office
“This is an example, sir, where ignorance is no excuse.”
You might think I was being apprehended by the police for a crime of some kind. But no. I was collecting a birthday card sent by a friend with a first class stamp on it but withheld by the Post Office on the grounds that it was the wrong size.
It was square and, according to the man behind the Post Office counter in Evesham, it did not conform to the required shape and size to qualify for a mere first class stamp.
He demonstrated how it would not fit the Post Office’s standard letterbox sizes and said such templated letterboxes had been sent to every house in the country.
I protested I had never seen one but he had no sympathy. English card-manufacturers warned customers if their cards did not conform to the Post Office’s demands, he said.
Clearly I was being sent a foreign card. How exciting. (Actually it was bought at Marks & Spencer and seemed to have no warning about its shape and the dangers of being held to ransom by the Post Office.)
If I wanted the birthday card, I would not only have to pay the excess 22p which my friend had failed to cough up. I would have to pay an extra £1 on top of that as a handling charge, for causing the Post Office so much inconvenience.
Of course I coughed up but not before complaining about what a rip-off the whole system was.
But as we all know, the Post Office is not any ordinary business which aims at pleasing its customers and encouraging them to continue using its services. It’s a State monopoly determined to exploit its position for all it’s worth, for as long as it can, for the benefit of its employees.
As the man handed the envelope over to me he declared: “This is an example, sir, where ignorance is no excuse.”
I was so shocked I laughed. Does he think he’s a policeman or some court official or some jobsworth handing out a parking ticket? Does he think my ignorance, or that of my friend, is my fault rather than a result of his organisation’s pathetic attempts to con the public?
“That is so fxxxing rude,” I told him. Rather than prolong what could have turned very nasty, I decided to leave. But I am still seething.
Why can’t we privatise the whole organisation? At least then its employees might give some sort of thought for the poor ruddy customer.