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An Post - national infrastructure?

  • 06-12-2016 11:10pm
    #1
    Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 17,139 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Sam Russell


    Is An Post part of the national infrastructure?

    Should it be saved by some form of national subvention?

    Should we pay through the nose for postage?

    Will raising the price of stamps yet again kill the postage service?


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Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,229 ✭✭✭ LeinsterDub


    The it's the heart and soul of rural Ireland brigade will be around shortly.

    To answer the question no it's not infrastructure. They should increase the price of the stamp to cover there operations costs, develop other revenue streams and rationalise the network of both offices and boxes


  • Registered Users Posts: 17,519 ✭✭✭✭ Idbatterim


    why does increasing the price always seem the solution? where is the point of diminishing returns? we are seeing the same now with Bus Eireann and allegedly it also requires attention. Are the staff and pension cost reasonable would be the first thing I would look at...


  • Registered Users Posts: 6,700 ✭✭✭ plodder


    They should be able to set their own prices now though. The monopoly thing is kind of irrelevant given the alternatives that people use noawadays. Probably not going to stem the decline in the flat mail business long term, but might help short/medium. Can see the PSO being gradually dismantled as well. Daily post deliveries to every corner of the land is a luxury that will be harder to justify in future.


  • Registered Users Posts: 881 ✭✭✭ Bray Head


    Imagine householders had to install a postbox at the entrance to their property like in many parts of the western world.

    This was floated in the 90s I think but was shot down from predictable quarters.


  • Registered Users Posts: 881 ✭✭✭ Bray Head


    plodder wrote: »
    They should be able to set their own prices now though. The monopoly thing is kind of irrelevant given the alternatives that people use noawadays. 

    There is an alternative for sending a Christmas card from Cork to Galway? Please do tell.....


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  • Registered Users Posts: 68,333 ✭✭✭✭ seamus


    There are actually a few private postal operators, but they're mostly operating in the cities.

    Overall, it's an interesting question. In any case, it's clear that there's a big problem in An Post; mainly that they're poorly positioned to compete against both the other operators in the market and the technologies making them redundant.

    They've been very slow to adapt to the changing market and their past form doesn't give me any reason to think this will change. They will continue to fall further behind the curve and the union will do its utmost to resist all change until the day when it needs to shed half its workforce and undergo major restructuring just to break even.


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,229 ✭✭✭ LeinsterDub


    Bray Head wrote: »
    There is an alternative for sending a Christmas card from Cork to Galway? Please do tell.....

    Email, DHL, Moonpig ..


  • Registered Users Posts: 881 ✭✭✭ Bray Head


    seamus wrote: »

    They've been very slow to adapt to the changing market and their past form doesn't give me any reason to think this will change. They will continue to fall further behind the curve and the union will do its utmost to resist all change until the day when it needs to shed half its workforce and undergo major restructuring just to break even.

    This is dead right. In some countries Parcel-Motel-type operations were set up by the USP itself in secure locations around post offices. This presumably means that the benefit is captured by the USP rather than a third party.

    An Post occupy (rent-free by the way) prime retail positions all over the country and have been absolutely dismal at using these for other retail opportunities. You can't even buy an envelope in many post offices which is just bizarre. 

    I've posted elsewhere that their choice of locations for post boxes doesn't have much of a logical basis, and that they do not even provide a map or list of them on their website.

    It is hard to feel sorry for a company with such a poor commercial mentality.


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,229 ✭✭✭ LeinsterDub


    Idbatterim wrote: »
    why does increasing the price always seem the solution? where is the point of diminishing returns? we are seeing the same now with Bus Eireann and allegedly it also requires attention. Are the staff and pension cost reasonable would be the first thing I would look at...

    An Post and BÉ aren't comparable. BÉ's service hasn't been replaced but An Post's has.

    Diminishing returns doesn't apply here the forward march of technology is the issue. Their core business has been gutted by a service that infinitely better and free and they missed the boat of delivering packages. Even if An Post were to allow me to post stuff for free I'd very rarely need their services.


  • Registered Users Posts: 6,700 ✭✭✭ plodder


    Bray Head wrote: »
    There is an alternative for sending a Christmas card from Cork to Galway? Please do tell.....
    Does anyone care about the Christmas card market? I think it has dropped off in recent years. Remember when people used to send holiday postcards as well? Can't remember the last time I sent or received one.

    At one time postal services were considerably more comprehensive than today, with two deliveries per day in a lot of places. I remember hearing the story of a Dublin hospital consultant who would post a card home to his wife every day telling her what time he'd be home at. The telephone killed off that use case. The internet is killing off the remaining use cases for flat post, and even telephony itself is going the same way as a way of earning revenue. These activities are being made obsolete by technology.

    I agree with you about An Post in the past, whatever about their attitude today. When I started working in Dublin city centre (years ago) you would actually have to take time off work to buy a stamp, with post offices closed at lunchtime, and not able to buy them anywhere else. Crazy stuff.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 881 ✭✭✭ Bray Head


    Delivery of flat mail is a natural monopoly. There is a social benefit in having near-universal next-day delivery. This is recognised in the EU legislation. Every member state as a USP. I think there is merit in some subsidisation of the service. Not everyone can (or wants to) live in a city.

    That doesn't mean that An Post shouldn't try to be more efficient or commercially minded in places where they could be.


  • Registered Users Posts: 5,654 ✭✭✭ screamer


    Both organisations suffer from overpaid staff and under utilisation of services.
    We don't need daily postal services. Every 2nd day would be fine and the staff would need to have their hours cut to match (queue the fecking unions) but that's the reality of it.
    As for BE and especially the expressway services problem is that most people need a car to drive to get the bus. A car in rural Ireland is a necessity and with it now so expensive to tax insure and run a car there's no way a car owner will also fork out for a bus ticket and I don't blame them.


  • Registered Users Posts: 68,333 ✭✭✭✭ seamus


    There might be some benefit in reducing the red tape around sending flat mail. Eliminate stamps and replace it with some kind of self-franking mechanism where a small unique QR code can be printed or otherwise attached to the envelope. Make flat mail completely free provided that it includes one of these codes (so volumes of mail can be monitored for abuse).

    Where you've got an octogenerian sending their Xmas cards and still wants to use the post office, they can just go there and get a box full of stickers printed for free with their own QR code on it. Or even have it sent out to them.

    There will come a point, if it hasn't come already, that the cumulative cost of handling flat mail outweighs the revenue that stamps are bringing in. It costs money to administer the whole stamping system, from the raw printing to the rental and staffing of post offices. Eliminating stamps and just having the state fund the delivery of flat mail might actually be more cost effective in the long run.


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,229 ✭✭✭ LeinsterDub


    seamus wrote: »
    Eliminating stamps and just having the state fund the delivery of flat mail might actually be more cost effective in the long run.

    I would hazard a guess the the cost of printing and selling stamps is one of the smallest in the An Post cost base and due to their opening hours most people get stamps from their local shop as opposed to a post office. The biggest cost for An Post is sorting and delivering of mail followed by the cost of Post office's *


    * pure guess work but this feels right


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,229 ✭✭✭ LeinsterDub


    Bray Head wrote: »
    There is a social benefit in having near-universal next-day delivery.

    What is said benefit?


  • Registered Users Posts: 23,321 ✭✭✭✭ lawred2


    An Post lost 12m last year

    Forgive me for thinking that that's not exactly a huge cost to pay for what is really a very good and reliable public service.

    Especially when politicians can magic up billions when it suits to bail out private enterprise that serve little public purpose or serve very few common goods.

    Just like Bus Eireann - 6m losses to keep some of our rural towns and villages connected? Sounds ok to me!

    Hundreds of millions and tens of billions can be found when it suits certain interests... This is chump change stuff.

    And I'm no public sector luvvie either...


  • Registered Users Posts: 881 ✭✭✭ Bray Head


    Bray Head wrote: »
    There is a social benefit in having near-universal next-day delivery.

    What is said benefit?
    Social inclusion.

    Many people (most of them old) still write letters to each other. It is the same argument (although a bit weaker) for subsidising the TV license for older people.

    Many businesses rely on it to a certain extent even still. Certain types of correspondence (in the legal field) demand originals.


  • Registered Users Posts: 881 ✭✭✭ Bray Head


    seamus wrote: »
    There might be some benefit in reducing the red tape around sending flat mail. Eliminate stamps and replace it with some kind of self-franking mechanism where a small unique QR code can be printed or otherwise attached to the envelope. 
    This is cool but every so often I buy a bunch of stamps, leave them in the drawer, and put one on whenever I need to post a letter.

    I don't want the hassle of printing every time I want to send a letter.


  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 17,139 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Sam Russell


    An Post, in conjunction with Postbank (Belgium) was set up as a joint venture between An Post and Belgian bank Fortis in early 2007. (In May 2009 French bank BNP Paribas took control of Fortis.) Postbank was closed in 2010, as the joint venture was dissolved.

    Postbank was a brilliant service that would suit An Post. It was a deposit taking service, offering good interest rates, and allowed withdrawals on a Saturday, upto quite a large amount without notice. It was beginning to venture into giving credit and debit credit cards, and expanding into a full banking service.

    It could be used by Dept of Social Protection for the payment of all their payments and An Post would benefit by retaining the business of social welfare. Many of the functions of Credit Unions could be incorporated into it as well. This would also allow a safer place for bachelor farmers to keep the few bob rather than under the mattress.

    The NTMA could be brought into the underwriting of the service and handling the back office functions.

    I could never understand why it was just closed down with all the deposits returned. The infrastructure is still in place, I would think.

    Could it be restarted?


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,229 ✭✭✭ LeinsterDub


    Bray Head wrote: »
    Social inclusion.

    Many people (most of them old) still write letters to each other. It is the same argument (although a bit weaker) for subsidising the TV license for older people.

    Many businesses rely on it to a certain extent even still. Certain types of correspondence (in the legal field) demand originals.

    I like CD's and Laser disks will the government subsidise this outdated technology?

    I know no who writes letters. The number of people writing letter is tiny! The number used letters as a vital link to their social peers is smaller again.

    Public services money is limited and their comes a time when the needs of the vast majority should be prioritised over the needs of the tiny minority just like LW252.

    An Post will still be there for people who refuse or can't modernise they will just have to pay more


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  • Registered Users Posts: 23,321 ✭✭✭✭ lawred2


    I like CD's and Laser disks will the government subsidise this outdated technology?

    I know no who writes letters. The number of people writing letter is tiny! The number used letters as a vital link to their social peers is smaller again.

    Public services money is limited and their comes a time when the needs of the vast majority should be prioritised over the needs of the tiny minority just like LW252.

    An Post will still be there for people who refuse or can't modernise they will just have to pay more

    Businesses use mail extensively


  • Registered Users Posts: 881 ✭✭✭ Bray Head


    I know no who writes letters. The number of people writing letter is tiny! The number used letters as a vital link to their social peers is smaller again.
    We can all trade anecdotes. I look at evidence.

    An Post annual report shows 350 million USO mails in 2015. Yes, it is falling rapidly, but it is still a very large number.


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,229 ✭✭✭ LeinsterDub


    Bray Head wrote: »
    We can all trade anecdotes. I look at evidence.

    An Post annual report shows 350 million USO mails in 2015. Yes, it is falling rapidly, but it is still a very large number.

    You started with the anecdotes. I never said An Post should be done away with just pay it's way.


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,821 ✭✭✭ donspeekinglesh


    Bray Head wrote: »
    This is cool but every so often I buy a bunch of stamps, leave them in the drawer, and put one on whenever I need to post a letter.

    I don't want the hassle of printing every time I want to send a letter.

    Used to do this, but every time we need to send something the price of stamps has gone up again. Be easier to print.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 9,769 ✭✭✭ my3cents


    I would hazard a guess the the cost of printing and selling stamps is one of the smallest in the An Post cost base and due to their opening hours most people get stamps from their local shop as opposed to a post office. The biggest cost for An Post is sorting and delivering of mail followed by the cost of Post office's *


    * pure guess work but this feels right

    As all post offices are privately owned businesses running from their own premises how do they affect AnPosts running costs?


  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 17,139 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Sam Russell


    my3cents wrote: »
    As all post offices are privately owned businesses running from their own premises how do they affect An Posts running costs?

    The GPO, and many post offices are owned by An Post and are a cost to run. Sorting offices are also owned/rented by An Post and are a cost to run.

    Sub-Post Offices are normally run by the proprietor under contract with An Post, so a cost to An Post. When sub post offices run at a loss, they are up for closure.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 9,769 ✭✭✭ my3cents


    I don't think there are many post offices left owned by An Post. Our local one ran for years from what was the An Post sorting office but was kicked out last year and is now a privately run post office in a town center shop. afaik neither the manager or any of the staff work for An Post. I'd hardly call it a sub post office when the county council offices are 200 m down the road.


  • Registered Users Posts: 881 ✭✭✭ Bray Head


    my3cents wrote: »
    I don't think there are many post offices left owned by An Post. Our local one ran for years from what was the An Post sorting office but was kicked out last year and is now a privately run post office in a town center shop. afaik neither the manager or any of the staff work for An Post. I'd hardly call it a sub post office when the county council offices are 200 m down the road.
    An Post's annual report says they have about 50 post offices under direct management.


  • Registered Users Posts: 17,519 ✭✭✭✭ Idbatterim


    An Post lost 12m last year

    Forgive me for thinking that that's not exactly a huge cost to pay for what is really a very good and reliable public service.

    Especially when politicians can magic up billions when it suits to bail out private enterprise that serve little public purpose or serve very few common goods.

    Just like Bus Eireann - 6m losses to keep some of our rural towns and villages connected? Sounds ok to me!

    Hundreds of millions and tens of billions can be found when it suits certain interests... This is chump change stuff.

    And I'm no public sector luvvie either...

    100% its a pittance, you know what though, I don't care! Be it down to poor management or no doubt, ridiculous pay, pensions and perhaps questionable productivity. Tell them they break even and that its.. Let them look at their operations or staff costs... this cloud cuckoo land scenario for one set of workers and another set living in the real world, has to end!


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  • Registered Users Posts: 23,321 ✭✭✭✭ lawred2


    Idbatterim wrote: »
    100% its a pittance, you know what though, I don't care! Be it down to poor management or no doubt, ridiculous pay, pensions and perhaps questionable productivity. Tell them they break even and that its.. Let them look at their operations or staff costs... this cloud cuckoo land scenario for one set of workers and another set living in the real world, has to end!

    How is it not the real world?

    That's an overused cliché really.


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