National Event - 4 November 2020

 Here's the recording of the National Postmaster event from 4 November.


Your questions answered

We received lots of different questions at the Postmaster event covering a range of themes. Answers to your questions are below. Please continue to revisit this page as we’ll be posting more responses in the coming days.

Travel

Having lost a lot of sales on travel money and Sainsbury’s don't have any, when am I likely to get my travel money back?

We are continuing to manage Post Office Travel Money across varying UK government Covid-19 guidelines. The latest travel restrictions have continued to move our trading volumes back towards March levels, however  current business performance means there is no change yet for branches where we have temporarily paused some travel money services. We will continue to monitor performance and will keep postmasters updated regularly.

Why are WH Smith’s still getting better currency rates when they slashed their hours over lockdown and regularly win the worst customer service award on the High St. Support the growing offices and not your big partners who don’t care.

WH Smith branches do not get preferential rates. Rates can differ because of local competitors in the immediate vicinity; we don’t use any other factors such as branch type.

Wouldn’t it be more beneficial for the network as a whole if the exchange rates advertised on POL for foreign currency be the same as in branch rates?

As the market leader our customers expect us to have a multi-channel offer. Our online rates need to be at least comparable with other internet providers as online customers will generally use comparison websites to choose a provider. Online we do have a minimum order value of £400 that we don’t have in branch and the much higher transaction values that we get online do give us room to be more flexible with the rate, just as we do in branch for orders over £500 and £1,000.

Almost 90% of people who order currency online choose to collect their money in branch and research we carried out showed that almost 90% of people who used the service stated that they would not have chosen to go into a branch if the service was unavailable. This is also supported by average transaction values - our average online transaction is approximately three times higher than our average transaction in branch. This suggests that the majority of online customers aren’t customers that branches are losing to online - they tend to be customers branches are gaining and being given the opportunity to offer related products to.

Horizon Shortfall scheme

When we will get the Historical Shortfall funds? It could help in this difficult time if we can get it as soon as possible please.

We’re sorry if you’re still waiting to hear from the scheme about your application. While it’s difficult to give an accurate estimate, it could take several months to reach a decision in individual cases depending on factors such as the complexity and the level of supporting information. Please rest assured the scheme is progressing all applications as quickly as possible and will contact you if further information is required for your claim or when an outcome is reached.

Financial services

Can remuneration credit for sales of the New Capital One Credit via the online platform be reintroduced for branch referrals. We have had to field a lot of queries about the BOI card switch to JAJA and are now having to field a no of complaints about JAJA. An opportunity clearly exists to promote and sell the new card and obtain valuable income to help offset the significant drop in the current climate.

We are aware that marketing cards in branch could be a great opportunity. We are hoping to reintroduce the ability to sell cards in branch and for Postmasters to be remunerated for their work later next year. Any questions/complaints about Jaja should be directed to them directly. Customers can of course apply for a new Post Office credit card.

Banking services

Watch a video of Director of Banking Services, Martin Kearsley answering questions on the below themes.

  • ATMs
  • Our new Drop & Go-style business banking deposits service, TimeSaver
  • The Banking Framework
  • The Post Office card account (POca)
  • Access to cash

Watch video: Your Banking questions answered | One Post Office

Identity services

In my branch I have the space and the need for an AEI machine as the nearest is around 30 miles away. What can I do to get one in branch? I feel for my customers travelling so far when I can have the volume of customers to warrant it.
Thank you for raising interest in expanding services for customers. As you will be aware, AEI is in a limited network of branches, which are positioned to provide as wide an accessibility as possible. In the current operational environment, we are not expanding the AEI network. The need to expand such services will be reviewed when demand returns to more normal levels.  Whilst we cannot commit that any future additions to the network would be at your branch, we can assure you that your branch will be considered with all other locations and allocation of services are discussed with Area and Regional managers, to ensure local conditions are also taken into consideration.

I would like to ask why only a select number of Post Offices have been given passport services by the way of tablets for submission. We were the best in passport turnaround however it has been passed over to a different office. Further to this ATM closures is leaving us very unstable. What is the certainty for us as in usual sub postmaster and our future?

The introduction of tablets as a technology solution is new and although initially being used for passports, has wider potential for other services. As with any new service, we need to get as much information as possible on their successful use in as wide a selection of branch types as possible before we can decide on how we take the development forward. We appreciate that it was disappointing  that your branch was not part of the current activity and whilst we cannot commit services to specific locations, we can assure you it will be considered for the service along with other branches should this be expanded further.

Marketing

Why does Post Office as a company not advertise on prime time TV - help boost footfall amd help educate the nation on what we can do and what services we provide?

TV advertising can be expensive and can cost up to £2million to produce and broadcast. That is a lot of money, particularly at the current time. We must continuously monitor and decide where best to invest money and we understand the importance of promoting products and services at this time of year. We’re here to help you promote locally to your communities, for example by creating ready-made social media posts which can be shared through our We Are Post Office app in addition to branch marketing. 

Can you explain why the general public still do not understand the fundamental difference between us at Post Office and Royal Mail? Surely a campaign explaining this to the public would help SPMR's in branches. Another key marketing requirement in my opinion.

We sell many of Royal Mail's products and services, and owing to our long history with them, it is understandable that customers continue to see the connection between Royal Mail and Post Office. For the majority of customers, accessing Royal Mail is done through Post Office. As our range of other services become better understood and utilised, the differences between the two brands will become clearer. 

We also have limited marketing budgets so we need to use those sensibly and rather than pushing and promoting that we’re different businesses, it’s important we focus on promoting the products and services that can help customers and drive sales. However, we are working with the PR team to explore PR initiatives that could help explain to customers the difference between POL and RM and how we work together. 

Supply chain

Post Office Ltd stopped providing PBNE and it’s taking a longer time for business banking - is there an easy solution or is there any replacement of PBNE?

We have taken out 20 tonnes of plastic (enough to make 2,400,000 plastic carrier bags) from the network, however we appreciate that this has caused a problem for some Postmasters. We are currently working with the NFSP and one of our multiple partners to understand the impact further from your point of view. Before Christmas we will launch a trial using paper bands with a small group of Postmasters. We also need to further understand how branches that don’t require a PBNE manage this. We welcome other solutions from Postmasters too, please email your NFSP representative.

Ordering non-value stock has not been arriving, is there an issue with stock levels at the moment?

We are aware of some issues with delays in stock delivery from our Swindon stock centre during the early weeks of lockdown. We sent out more items this year from April to September than in the same period last year, but with around 30% of our team unable to work due to shielding for much of that time. Around 11 million items of PPE have been distributed from Swindon, including screens, masks, visors, hand soap, wipes and sanitiser, as well as floor stickers and posters. The carrier networks, especially Royal Mail, also had large backlogs which caused further delays. Orders leaving Swindon on time averaged over 98% from July to September so there’s no reason that you should currently be experiencing any delays to your stock orders. As part of an improvement programme, and thanks to your feedback, we are setting up better analysis on delivery performance so that we can minimise delays or problems with orders once they leave Swindon and are on the way to branches.