Friday, January 9, 2009

Inefficient Postal Services

Inefficient postal services

Dr P Vyasamoorthy

Strangely, Postal services in India have taken a laid back attitude after the courier competition stepped in. Go to any post office – the service is abysmally bad. Should citizens tolerate it? Aren't we entitled to a better fare?

I went to the Head Post Office in Secunderabad. I wanted to find out where I could buy E-Post pre-paid coupons. I checked persons after persons – (eight of them to be precise) - no one had any clue as to what it could be.  E-post , for those readers  who may not know, is an Internet based message sending facility. Using this you can send a letter to your friend's regular postal address to anyone who does not have email. You type in the message in E-post website using your prepaid account. Address it to the concerned recipient's post master's Email. That post master will take a paper print and have it delivered to the addressee as a local post through post man. Delivery is fast – same day. It is cheaper than courier for routine letters. Extremely ideal for reaching almost anyone with ease of sending letters right from your desktop. Somehow this facility has not been sufficiently publicized. To avail this facility you need to buy pre-paid coupon at Rs 250 or so. This coupon is said to be available in major post offices. (For details see: 

My attempts to buy these coupons simply frustrated me, to say the least and finally someone told they have stopped the service. The postmaster was not available to verify whether this is true. If this is true why not delete info on e-post from their websites?

In the same post office, I wanted to get a cheque book issued for my SB account. The concerned staff asked me to come the next day! I insisted on waiting and collecting as I am residing far away from HPO. After 45 minutes when I check up he wakes up and says "Sorry Sir, Many are on leave today".  I managed to get it after another 20 minutes waiting. Even in public sector banks you may get a cheque book in about 10 minutes.  To customers who had to withdraw heavy amounts (above Rs 20000), cash is not given but only cheque is issued. But this cheque will be ready in 90 minutes as declared in a notice!!  Although many postal services have been computerized you still have to wait in different queues: one for NSC / SCSC, another for pass book updating and another for SB accounts.  Can they not offer all services in the same counter?

In Picket (Secunderabad) post office I gave my SB account and SCSC passbooks for updating. I was asked to come the next day. He showed me a bundle of some 50 passbooks he had collected!! They never attend to simple things the same day. Talking of delivery of letters, it is better to say nothing. Nowadays they combine all letters and deliver them in bunches twice or so per week. Years ago there were three deliveries daily. With automation setting in and the users dwindling down I do not understand why they can not improve their efficiency rather than allow it go down so low?

I find the main reason for low usage for postal services to be lack of awareness. They do not realize that aggressive marketing is needed. Staff has to be motivated and re-trained.  But one thing I can say without grudging: Most of the staff members are polite, despite work pressure and do try to help. The system as a whole has to be overhauled to deliver better and faster services.

1 comment:

  1. You are right. Our Postal Service requires ovrerhauloing. I am receiving ordinary dak, sometimes after 2 months and Spped Mail after 10-12 days!! I took up under RTI with Principal Post Master General, Maharashtra Circle but no improvement. Reply was of general type that it should reach in time as per this Rule etc. Unless, all citizens wake up & take up, no improvement can be brought about.