What has happened to Marlborough’s sole surviving Post Office? It’s now closing early with no warning, shut at lunchtimes – all the times when customers actually want to use it. Long queues, inexperienced staff – in short, customers can ‘go whistle’.
Although the Post Office is advertised as being open between 06:00 and 22:00 seven days a week, in practice this is pure fantasy.
My recent experiences: last Friday – wanted to post a small envelope, first class, that contained an item thicker than a normal which needed to go through the Post Office ‘tester’. Arrived just before 5pm only to find a scrawled note stuck to the glass informing me (and others that arrived at the same time that they ‘had closed early, at 4.45’.
I then went to the dedicated Post Office counter at the front of the shop – but it was unmanned. Finally I managed to get a member of staff to man the counter but they were unfamiliar with the Post Office procedure and although, eventually, the cost of sending this small – 60 gram – item was established (£3.55) I had to pay by card as the cash drawer couldn’t be opened.
Then earlier today (Monday), at lunchtime, I drove to Marlborough to try to send another small package, this time first class with ‘signed for’ receipt. But at 1.48 the Post Office unit was closed, another hastily scrawled note was affixed to the glass informed me (and the other seven people already waiting in the queue) that they were closed between 1pm and 2pm for lunch. The front (Post Office) counter was unmanned, one member of staff was using the other and that queue was stretching deep into the shop.
I decided not to wait, but returned twenty minutes later to find the unit open but the queue of customers now stretching right back into the main area of One Stop. Only one counter out of the four appeared to be serving customers.
Guessing that the queue would take maybe half an hour or more I gave up, drove the four miles home and then repeated the exercise later in the afternoon. Arriving early, with plenty of time to spare before the advertised closing time the queue was only a dozen long, two counters were being used (out of four) so the wait was (only) fifteen minutes.
The advertised opening times (06-22.00) are based on the front counter being used, but that is for a limited range of services and experience shows that staff aren’t familiar dealing with even simple requests.
Have I just been unlucky? Maybe, but feedback from other ‘customers’ indicates otherwise. A Post Office counter service is a necessary facility, a vital route to critical services for some, but in Marlborough, at present we are being short changed.
(name and address supplied)