An Inconvenient Truth

Nope, not the movie - though it seems I missed Earth Day yesterday...

The very inconvenient truth is that the postal service can't be trusted. In any form or variety.

Here in South Africa post is not sacred. Theft is rife - it's a help-yourself fiesta out there. We have a number of varieties of postal services, from small independants to larger franchises, to the main Post Office proper.

In recent months we have had a lot of problems with a franchise branch. Postnet Somerset Mall has lost our post, returned it to the sender as "unknown", sent things surface mail when we paid for registered airmail, over-charged for postage of other things, and made weekly magazines simply vanish for months on end. At least one important overseas parcel has gone missing - while others sent a week or two apart arrived suddenly together. There's something very dodgy going on there.

Favourite Man favoured the smaller official Post Office branch just down the road - which had its share of incompetance, but at least they got things done. Mostly. Forwarding of mail from one box to another not included.

We've recently moved over to the local central Post Office nearer home. We generally haven't had any problems sending or receiving stuff from them. Until today.

Two weeks ago I sent a registered mail item to someone in Johannesburg, a small padded & secure envelope containing something they had bought and paid for. It arrived - or at least the empty envelope and my note arrived. The contents are missing. Gone. Stolen.

So now it's the back and forth of him lodging a complaint there, handing in the envelope to form part of an investigation, me filling in forms and claims etc here, and general to-ing and fro-ing while I fume furiously at the untrustworthiness of whoever did this.

Perhaps I'm living in la-la land, but I believe in trusting until proven otherwise. Well, it's otherwise. Trust broken. Suspicion installed.

The trouble is there are NO other options when it comes to mail - every single company has shown their bad side, and most just go through a central sorting office anyway. Short of carrier pigeons (which could be shot down and eaten by the hungry) or pack mules (hell, we'd save on petrol!) how does one send things by post and actually have it arrive on the other end????

No wonder everything's going electronic. Then again... that's not exactly secure either, is it!

So Favourite Man gets on the line to the head office in Pretoria and speaks to Security. Or tries to. After holding for who knows how long, a young chick answers the phone, lets him tell the entire tale of woe, and then says "Sorry, but the Security people have all gone to Bloemfontein for a hearing - oh, and where is Somerset West (our town)? And can you please phone back another day? I'm just here to take messages"!

I tell you, there are some things that are so ridiculous that you just have to laugh, or you'll cry on your keyboard and short out the entire organization.