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Tuesday 3rd February 2015

4454/17373
I am spending a lot of time in the Post Office because of all the ebay stuff I now have to send off. Though actually I am mainly spending time there because the Post Office is so inefficiently run that queuing time can push towards hours rather than minutes. I am pretty much convinced that the Shepherd’s Bush Green post Office is the portal between Earth and Hades. It would explain the deranged people and the atmosphere of pure dread and evil and the loss of all hope. 
I was heading up to the Apple store to have a one to one session about how to use Garageband and iMovie (so I can make more efficient podcasts and internet sketches) but had a good half an hour before my appointment. I wondered if I might use that time to post my parcels out. I knew that that kind of time window was likely to be insufficient. Last week I had queued for well over half an hour (as detailed in Warming Up) but I might get lucky. If not I could always return after the appointment, but imagine if the stars aligned and I only had to wait twenty minutes or less to give this business my money…. And when you write that down or say it out loud you start to see how ludicrous all this is. What other business would not only keep you waiting for that long to carry out a transaction, but also lull you into a position where you expected and accepted that length of wait. If there is that kind of demand for your services then surely you employ enough people to ensure that everyone is served quickly and efficiently and thus increase your brand’s reputation and make more money. In the Apple store, where I was heading next, there are almost as many staff as customers. Sometimes it’s so busy you have to wait a few minutes to catch someone’s eye, but if you’re proactive you will usually get to talk to someone straight away. And Apple are consequently making so much money that it has actively become a problem for them. So why is the Post Office so totally shit and depressing. It can only be because it is directly connected to Hell and Satan’s influence is forcing misery on everyone.
I queued patiently, with my eye on my watch, and the queue moving very slowly. Only three of the dozen windows were open, but each of them were dealing with difficult issues and there were about 20 people ahead of me. I noticed an old woman sidling up behind me, clearly intent on stealthily and gradually pushing in in front of me. Every time we moved she moves a little bit further forward, presumably thinking if she cut line by playing human statues I would forget that she hadn’t been in front of me all the time. I made a point of moving in front of her and she began remonstrating with me. English was not her first language so it was hard to understand why she thought she had the right to go in front of me. All she said was the word “stamp”, but I also needed to buy stamps, as I imagine many people did. I don’t think wanting to buy a stamp gave you precedence. I told her that I couldn’t let her go in front of me as I needed to get away for an appointment, but she just pulled a furious face and continued to sidle. But it didn’t actually matter as all three counter staff were now dealing with even more complex issues and even though I was now third in the queue (or fourth if the old woman succeeded in her quest) I realised that my chances of getting to the front in time were too small. I had queued for 25 minutes and not got served. HOW CAN A BUSINESS WORK LIKE THAT? ARE THEY DELIBERATELY TRYING TO FAIL SO THEY CAN BE PRIVATISED LIKE THE ROYAL MAIL?
As always, no blame can be given to the staff here, who have the patience of saints, even though they work in the vortex that leads to Hell. There simply aren’t enough staff. I didn’t want to use the self-service machines because I wanted to send some of the items by special delivery and wanted to be informed of the options. I have tried using the service where you print up your own labels at home, but it didn’t always work and again I wanted to get things tracked properly so wanted to do this via a person. As I tweeted my despair people suggested other better services to use. Companies who will even pick up your parcels from home to deliver them for you. 
I knew that if I waited I might just get to the front of the queue in time to then run to the Apple Store, but I also knew that it would involve some kind of scene with this determined old woman. I bailed out. I had wasted twenty-five minutes of my day.
After being treated very well at the Apple Store I gave the Post Office another go. There were 20 people ahead of me, but this time the queue was moving very fast. I had complained to @postoffice on Twitter and wondered if I had got the manager into trouble. There were still only three counters open, but they were slicing through the customers like butter, especially the highly efficient counter #6. I was at the front of the queue in just over ten minutes, which felt like a major victory, until you remember that that’s ten fucking minutes, for me to give money to someone for providing a service. As I was live tweeting @postoffice seemed delighted by this speed. But it’s still pretty shit if you think about it. And when I got to the front the super efficient counter #6 walked away from his post and then counter #4 became available, but got a phone call. I wondered if they knew that I had been causing trouble and were going to make me pay. There was no point in posting my items, they were all going to end up in a bin. I ended up waiting for 14 minutes. I had queued in that post office for 39 minutes of my day. In order to give them £35 (which made their service cost less than a pound a minute, which is extremely good value, if they’d seen me straight away I would have paid £35 a minute).
I don’t know if Ian Post Office reads my blog, but I would love to know what the thinking is behind this abysmal service. If I got it right straight away and you’re in the magnetic thrall of Satan then stay silent and I will know that that’s the reason. 
After I wrote about the branch in the Metro I had been asked to go along for a grand opening of a new improved Post Office as a guest of honour. I didn’t want to be associated with that, but it was meant to introduce sofas and a ticketing system and that was going to happen last September. But it never came to pass. 
A ticketing system would be nice, but just employing three more people per shift would probably sort out your problems. I am going to continue to use the Post Office merely so I can life tweet my experiences each time (and probably then turn them into a sitcom). As a comedy writer the experience pays for itself. But any sensible person would move their business elsewhere, forcing the Post Office to go out of business and free their poor beleaguered staff from the Hell that is their terrible, understaffed, over stressed job of dealing with the worst people in the world, the British public.


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