At what cost to our customers
Postmaster Carol Easton’s branch in Cromford, Derbyshire, is one of a number of retailers in the area, so it is a Local model rather than a Community branch. But her shop isn’t really big enough to be able to modernise and develop its retail offer, so a nearby retailer would offer the best solution. While she understands why, Carol says there are two sides to every story…
I do understand why the Post Office has got to change to become sustainable in the future, but my worry is at what cost to our customers?
We are a small branch that sells stationery and cards, but unfortunately the retail space isn't big enough to generate the income to convert to a Local. I feel as a result of the changes we could lose what is important to both the customers and the organisation.
I live in the village where my Post Office is and I am involved in numerous committees, including the Parish Council and the Royal British Legion branch. I have done my job for 11 years, nine of them as postmaster. It will be a sad day for me if and when the Post Office is moved. Although the new formats mean longer opening hours and possibly seven days a week, it is not necessarily what the regular customers want or expect from a Post Office.
Running the Post Office is a big part of my life. I spend 50 hours a week in branch, but I love my job! The regular customers who come in week after week become like extended family and, as they get to know us, they also come to trust us. At quiet times they will come to ask for help with numerous things, such as a bill they are not sure about. They like the personal service and this is what I think could be lost if branches are put into other retail outlets.
I am not saying that shop staff couldn't do this, but I do worry that what keeps people coming to their Post Office could be lost. That would be sad. Sometimes older people in rural communities can feel isolated and occasionally need a little help.
I am sure there is army of postmasters out there who do exactly the same as me.
This is what makes the Post Office special, and why I decided to take part in the documentary. It will hopefully let people see a small part of what we do! I am not looking forward to seeing myself on TV though as I got quite emotional and cried.
The business is still trying to find a new location for my branch and this does make my job difficult, but until then I will just keep doing my job and looking after my customers.