The Post Office wants to deliver all small parcels — but can’t even keep the lights on
MyBroadband testing revealed that the SA Post Office, which wants a monopoly on all parcel deliveries under 1kg, cannot even effectively provide basic postal services.
Post Office CEO Nomkhita Mona recently reiterated that, by law, they are the only institution allowed to deliver packages under 1 kilogram.
Mona said legislators created this law to subsidise services that the Post Office cannot deliver profitably.
Many stakeholders, including courier companies and ecommerce shops, warned that implementing this ban would cause chaos in South Africa.
They argue the Post Office is not capable of efficiently delivering packages under 1 kilogram, which is why courier services are so popular in South Africa.
MyBroadband decided to test the SA Post Office by sending packages from Centurion (where the SA Post Office’s head office is based) to Gqeberha (where its CEO Nomkhita Mona hails from).
The Post Office advertises four services for small parcels.
- Ordinary mail service — deliver packages in two to three days and should be the least expensive option.
- Registered mail service — similar to the ordinary mail service, but with tracking.
- Speed Services Courier — a separate courier service operated by the Post Office.
- EMS — used for international parcels.
Our test focuses on local parcel delivery, which involves sending parcels via ordinary mail, registered mail, and Speed Services.
Sending packages using the Post Office turned out to be easier said than done.
The first Post Office we visited had no power, even though all the other shops in the centre had electricity. This typically happens when the landlord cut the power because of outstanding rent.
Because the Post Office branch did not have power, they could not send any parcels.
The second branch we tried had power but also had a very long queue. We had to wait 40 minutes before receiving service.
When we reached an agent, she told us that they do not send small objects in envelopes, even though it would fit in an envelope and was within the mass and size limitations.
She said a padded envelope was necessary, but the branch did not have any of these envelopes in stock. The only service they could provide was a courier bag with Speed Services.
We eventually visited Post Office branches eight times. Here is what we found:
- Two branches were temporarily closed, with no explanation why they were closed or when they would reopen.
- Two branches were without power.
- Two branches had queues of at least 30 people long, with very slow movement.
- Out of eight separate visits, we were only able to send a parcel 5 times.
- None of the Post Office branches had the required padded envelopes for use as part of the parcel service.
- Two separate Post Office branches directed us to buy padded envelopes at PostNet, and then return to use their mail services.
Through sheer persistence, we were able to send parcels with all three domestic options.
The ordinary and registered mail process was identical, except we received a tracking number for the registered mail parcel.
The ordinary and registered parcels cost R66.90 each to post, while the speed services courier is R45.76 for the Counter-to-Counter service and R50.85 for the Counter-to-Door service.
An interesting note is that all the insurance options on parcels have been suspended until further notice. It means that no refunds will be given for lost or damaged items.
MyBroadband asked the SA Post Office about these problems, but it did not respond by the time of publication.
Tracking of parcels
MyBroadband’s Post Office parcel test includes tracking parcels to determine where bottlenecks may occur.
For this tracking, MyBroadband uses a specialised IoT GPS tracker with long battery life.
We will provide a report after the testing has been completed, but as a taster, here is the tracking of the Speed Services package over the last week.
The Speed Services package was sent on Monday 8 November, and by Wednesday 17 November has reached Gqeberha but has not been delivered to the recipient yet.
Package sent from Post Office branch in Centurion
Package making its way to Gqeberha
Package movement in Gqeberha (on its way to a residence close to Sea Otters Lodge)
Now read: SA Post Office wants R8 billion from government