Local Campaigns

Post Offices in St Albans – some good news and some not so good news

In March and April 2017, Citizens Advice in St Albans surveyed our clients and conducted a mystery shopping exercise to find out about the level of services that post offices are providing in the area. The results were mixed.

The post office network is currently undergoing its biggest ever restructuring programme – the Network Transformation Programme (NTP), which aims to maintain the size of the network, while placing it on a more stable financial footing. We wanted to find out about the effect of the NTP in St Albans, and what we discovered was that it has brought some benefits to consumers, but that there have been some downsides too.

The biggest benefit has come in the form of longer opening hours. Many of the smaller post offices offer significantly longer opening hours, including on Saturdays and Sundays, than was usual before the NTP began. These smaller post offices offer most of the services that people use most frequently, so this is a very welcome development.
The less good news is that these same smaller post offices sometimes fail to offer the correct service. Our mystery shopping exercise found that some post offices – in particular those without a dedicated staff member dealing with post office services – often make incorrect recommendations, even for relatively simple requests to send an urgent letter or a non-urgent letter with proof of receipt.

It is also regrettable that two post offices have closed in recent years – the one in How Wood in 2015 and the one in Beech Road in 2017. As a result, the distribution of post offices across the city is very uneven.

Post Office Limited is looking for new premises for both these post offices and we would encourage them to do everything they can to restore services to those areas where they have been lost. We also think Post Office Limited should review staff knowledge and training to ensure customers are provided with the correct product and pricing advice.
More details can be found in the full report. See the local news report about this story here