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26 April 2006

Banish the Post Office queue

Every time I go to the post office there's a queue. No matter how much they try and keep the queue length down, inevitably you get stuck behind someone doing something complicated with a bank account, car tax, recorded delivery and so on. This morning there was at least 10 people in the queue and only 2 people serving.

I've come up with a solution to queuing for those of us with simple things to do such as post a letter or parcel, it's called weigh and pay and it's done by a machine.

  1. You place your letter or parcel on a set of scales to weigh it.

  2. You then indicate where you are sending it.

  3. You are then automatically given a list of postage options and expected delivery dates and choose one.

  4. You then pay for the postage, via an electronic payment method

  5. The stamps or postage vouchers are automatically printed

So simple, why has no-one thought of this before? It would create an express queue for people wanting to do simple things and the post office needn't even be open - ideal for post offices in supermarkets where the supermarket is open and the post office is closed.

The machine to do this is similar to the one you can use to buy train tickets with - select destination, available fare and payment method except the post office one has a set of scales built in. It isn't much different to the in-house systems available to businesses, so why is the post office so reluctant to make it available to the public and save the public's time?

There you go, I've just saved people worldwide millions of hours of time standing in queues. contact me if you want to send a donation...

Next please!


Anonymous said...

Why not do what I do? - weigh your package on the scales in your house an d use the Royal Mail SmartStamp program to print your stamp onto a sticky label - slap it on your parcel and put it in the post sack at the counter.

Don't remember the last time I had to stand in a queue in the PO because of this.

Craig Cockburn said...

Smartstamp costs money on top of the postage and you need a PC and a reliable set of scales. My kitchen scales don't go up to the sort of weights I need for parcels, so whilst this solution may be suitable for some it's not really as mass market as what I was suggesting.

Anonymous said...

Slight flaw in your design. I arrive with a lightweight parcel or a push down the scales a little with my hand, I then get a 'stamp' and pay for that weight, then I stick it on my other, rather heavy parcel and save a fortune in postages costs!

Craig Cockburn said...

The comment from zimmy isn't very relevant as the same situation currently exists with parcels with insufficient postage. The recipient either pays a fee or the parcel isn't delivered. I can't understand how it would be in the sender's interests to cheat the system?

Anonymous said...

Yes it is relevant. Currently it is the person at the post office who watches you put the parcel on the scales and reads the value from it. Perhaps in many cases the parcel weight is not checked again and so may be delivered?

Your system has no verfication and is open to abuse. I would assume that is why it is not in place already.

Craig Cockburn said...

I've had enough letters with insufficient postage to know that letters are weighed, so I would certainly think that parcels are. May vary in different countries but the trust system already works in the UK for businesses who have similar devices in house.

Craig Cockburn said...

Despite the people here saying "won't work" etc blah blah, I think the proof is in the picture.

Here it is.

Craig Cockburn said...

This system is now in use in London in post offices.

So much for the "that'll never work" comments above.

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