Junk mail, courtesy of the SA Post Office

by Maskil on October 24, 2008

These images illustrate what our nearest SA Post Office mail collection point looks like after a few hours misuse by the public, and particularly after a weekend without being swept.

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I’m a little disgusted with the residents of our middle class suburb for fouling their doorsteps in this way, but a large part of the blame lies with the SA Post Office. Not so much for failing to keep the place clear, but for failing to provide a way to opt out of receiving junk mail in your Post Office Box (this is what 90% of the litter consists of) .

Most companies that make use of the Post Office to send out junk mail (e.g. newsletters, catalogues, etc.) give you a way to opt out of receiving their “literature”. As PO Box owners, however, we are not given the choice as to whether we would like to receive junk mail or not. Presumably this is deliberate; most people would probably choose to opt out of receiving these (mostly worthless) flyers, which would impact on the revenue SAPO presumably derives from this “service”. Seeing as SAPO is incapable of delivering any real mail (e.g. that book you ordered from Amazon.com), this is a serious problem.

The mechanics of allowing box owners to opt out of junk mail deliveries should be very straightforward; simply place a red sticker alongside the (internal) number of anyone opting out. Junk mail is then placed only in those boxes that have not been flagged with a red sticker.

(In the meantime, if you don’t want that junk mail, and you don’t want to drop it in the bin or take it home and recycle it, why not just push it out through the back of your box into the mail handling area? At least the mess will be out of sight and the mail collection point will still look neat. As a customer, you can presumably also insist that SAPO not deposit any junk mail in your box. Even if there’s no way to achieve this in practice, perhaps the message will start to get through.)

While I’m on the subject, here are a few other things I’d like to see at all SA Post Office mail collection points countrywide:

  • A counter or table to allow customers to sort through their mail before leaving the point
  • A box or slot to re-post mis-sorted items, i.e. items that have ended up in the wrong box, but within the same point. Many, but not all have this
  • A box or slot for items that need to be returned to sender or that have been incorrectly delivered (e.g. the wrong post office). Once again, not all have this
  • A recycling bin (not an overflowing garbage bin) for junk mail and other unwanted mail items

These few simple measures could help improve SAPO’s service and reputation, keep mail collection points neat and tidy, and improve the customer’s experience at the point. If anyone at SAPO cares about stuff like that…

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