At the moment the post is collected no earlier than 5.30pm each weekday and 11.30am on Saturdays. From mid-September it'll be collected no earlier than 9.00am each weekday and 7.00am on Saturdays. And this sounds plainly ludicrous. What's going on?
Ah yes, the Royal Mail are planning to save money by not collecting mail from about half their post boxes at the end of the day. The postie in his van will only visit certain boxes, and all the rest will be collected by the delivery staff at some point during their round. Collecting could be at the end of the morning, if the delivery round is long, but it could be eight hours earlier than now if the acts of delivery and collection are combined.
We're not using postboxes so much any more, with email and other electronic communication long ago taking the place of the written word on paper. Parcels remain popular but tend to be sent via post offices, and a diet of greetings cards won't keep the Royal Mail in business. And OK, so many organisations still like to send us printed material, but they don't use postboxes, so maybe their days are numbered.
Nothing arrives at its destination any later, sure, but you'll have to get out much earlier in the day to make sure your letter's in the box on time. And that's ridiculously earlier on a Saturday, which essentially means the weekend no longer has a collection service at all. What's disappearing here is the ability to turn round correspondence in one day. I remember when my letters arrived at breakfast time, and then I had the entire day to get my response into the box. Now I'm lucky if my mail's arrived by lunch, and by then the only collection of the day will most likely have gone.
Post box times will only be getting earlier in urban and suburban areas where the density of boxes is relatively high. There'll always be a box within half a mile with an end-of-the-afternoon collection time, so all you have to do is go to that instead. The Royal Mail saves tons of money on a pointless collection service, and you'll merely be mildly inconvenienced every time you post a letter. It sounds fine, except that's a round trip of up to a mile, which adds up over a year, and you might be old or disabled making the extra journey really quite impractical.
I tried ringing the number, and got an automated message urging me to check the Royal Mail website for more details about the changes. I'd already tried that, but all that's available is general advice and absolutely nothing geographically specific. You'd think a postcode query database cold be available online, but no, the only way to find specific details is to ring up, which is hardly a money-saving option. And when I tried on Friday the office was closed, as presumably it will be until tomorrow.
We live in an age where efficiency has become more important than service. The modern mantra of "we simply can't afford it" means we're all enduring cutbacks these days, because cutting back is the default austerity option. A lot of decisions are being made in many public services to scale back, and services lost may never be recovered. And of course the Royal Mail is now a private company so can make decisions without public redress, and if that means a less good customer experience, so be it.
This looks like bad research being twisted to fit a management narrative. Of course 91% of users don't choose their box based on collection time, and that's because collection times always been at teatime or later. But people will mind a lot more when they have the choice to post a birthday card either one day earlier or half a mile down the road. Plus I still have no idea where my nearest late posting box will be. No "clear sign-posting" has yet appeared, only existing guidance that a box a mile and a half away gets a collection after half past six, and no way am I walking that far.
Erosion of service begins on September 15th. It's not the end of the world, it may not even inconvenience you at all, but it is another small round in the death of a national service by a hundred cuts.