Before NT POL reigned supreme with a brand of terror tactics. Either improve your standard or else we will close you down and there were certainly times this did happen although you really had to be fairly inept to have this happen to you. To be fair to POL they did give SPMRs every opportunity to improve and provided extra training when required.
But that was in the time when the main income for a subpostmaster came from the Post Office. NT changes that around as I have said elsewhere. The Post Office in these new PO Locals is a mere add on to an already successful business.
For POL to persuade these businesses to take on a Post Office Local in the first place they had to convince them that it would be financially viable. Extra footfall would result in increased retail sales plus of course payment for ‘every’ transaction they performed. POL provided new businesses with estimated income based on the old post office turnover as well.
Even taking all of these wonderful financial incentives for many new PO Locals it would have been a close run thing whether or not it would be financially viable.
A couple of years on and with the benefit of hindsight all is no longer rosy for these Local operators. The rewards promised didn’t live up to expectations and the hassle of dealing with POL and their products suddenly make it no longer worth the effort.
PO Locals are closing now on a daily basis – a clear indication that worse is to come as the ones closing are the ones that have been in the game long enough to realise it is no longer worth it and can see the declining income and increased hassle coming.
All of this of course is bad news for POL but even worse for the Post Office customer. POL can no longer enforce Branch Standards by means of coercion. “You want to take the Post Office away?” – be my guest is the reply.
Reports of operators not opening the hours they are contracted to are many. POL of course know exactly who these branches are by checking Horizon and could call in all their contracts tomorrow. Of course they won’t and they also will not reveal just how widespread the problem is.
Post Office customers are also being treated differently at the counter – the retailer wants to sell profitable items before he wastes his time on a Certificate of Posting for which he gets paid nothing. He is not going to spend much time either on learning the new ‘rules’ that Post Office put out every week in Branch Focus and then change them the week after because they made a mistake.
With high turnover of staff in Convenience stores, training of staff to operate the Post Office side of things becomes a real issue in terms of time and expense.
Branch standards can only suffer as a result and the raison d’etre for Branch Standards is to ensure customer satisfaction of level of service.
It is one almighty mess and one that is about to get a whole lot worse.
I was thinking of what I might write on this blog in the future and one topic that springs to mind is “No Going Back” – how to revert out of the NT tragedy. I have never given that much thought as I didn’t think we would ever get to that stage – well we are past that stage now and serious thought must be given to reversing the process before it is too late.