For many people the post office remains an essential public utility. The photo below shows the post office shop on Brunswick St, and the premises appear to be up for lease. There’s no notice in the window saying what is going to happen to the post office, so I rang up to find out and experienced the kind of incompetence that only a government agency can deliver.
First, the direct number for the Brunswick St post office is not listed in the White Pages. When you see the list of post offices in the White Pages, some branches have a direct number and some don’t. It’s not bad data provided by Auspost or a mistake by White Pages.
As I learned on Monday morning, the real cause is the fact that Auspost outsources the running of some post office branches as franchises to private operators. The branches run by private businesses list a direct public number. Those branches owned by Auspost do not. Does this discrepancy help customers? No, it does the opposite.
I don’t care who runs it. I’m a local customer and I want to ask a question that only the local staff can answer. So why can’t I call the local branch and ask my question?
I rang the 13 13 18 number and asked for the direct number of the Brunswick St post office. The Auspost customer service consultant refused to give it to me, and even claimed that it does not exist. They can call the branch with an ‘internal’ number but it has no external or ‘public’ number. I find this difficult to believe.
Then I proceeded to ask my question – what is happening to the branch if the premises are up for lease? Of course the phone flunky, wherever she was, did not know. She sounded skeptical about my claim that there was a ‘for lease’ sign in the window and confused as to why I wanted to know more about it.
I persisted and the flunky put me on hold while she rang the branch on the ‘internal’ number. On the second attempt she got through, asked my question for me, and then came back to tell me the answer.
The premises are up for lease and the branch is moving, but they do not know where to or when. This will be confirmed between now and September. I’m sure I’m not the only post office user curious about what is happening. They should have thought of this and put a notice in the window alongside the curiosity inducing lease notice.
Oh, I forgot. It’s a government agency. They don’t do customer service. They do bureaucracy. Auspost deliberately makes life more inconvenient for customers of branches they directly own. Thankfully, the franchised branches offer direct contact through that revolutionary nineteenth century device, the telephone. When will Auspost learn to offer the same basic service?