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Have Hampstead and Highgate post offices forgotten it’s Christmas?

PUBLISHED: 18:11 21 December 2011

Hampstead post office

Hampstead post office

Archant

Hampstead and Highgate post offices may have missed the memo that Christmas is coming, according to frustrated residents faced with long queues and 40-minute waits.

We may live in a digital age, but snail mail lives on at Christmas time as post offices experience much more traffic than usual.

In the past three years, sub-post offices have closed in England’s Lane, Highgate Village, and Belsize Park – dramatically reducing services in the area.

Although union strikes in June secured the jobs of postal workers across the city, the fall-out from closures is still affecting Royal Mail.

Amanda Muzangi, 40, returned to Hampstead Post Office twice last week to find just two workers tending to scores of impatient customers.

The care assistant, of Ryland Road, Kentish Town, said: “I needed to post a letter, but I couldn’t stand in the queue for that long.

“It’s impossible at this time of year. You can do self-service for packages but you can’t do self-service for letters.”

Jake Ward, 36, of North Hill, Highgate, said “chaos” ensued at closing time in Highgate Post Office last week, when dozens of people left empty handed after a frustrating 40 minute wait.

The annoyance of post office users has also surfaced on Twitter, which is awash with complaints aimed at local Royal Mail services.

Sarah Heseltine, of The Mount in Hampstead, contacted Hampstead Post Office directly on Twitter with a sarcastic season’s greeting claiming the branch was “completely taken aback by the unscheduled and unprecedented arrival of Christmas this year”.

The 34-year-old, who works in communications, told the Ham&High: “There was a very disgruntled queue, made up mostly of people who don’t have the option of going to the Post Office on weekdays as they’re at work.

“Only two counters were staffed. At one point the woman in front of me said, ‘This is like pulling teeth without anaesthetic.’”

Royal Mail have conceded the need to improve the service.

A spokeswoman for Royal Mail said: “Customer service is obviously hugely important to us, and we are constantly looking at ways to improve it. That includes looking at waiting times in branches, and we will do everything we can to keep those times to a minimum.

“Post Offices can get very busy at times, especially in the run-up to Christmas, with some transactions taking longer than others.

“We are committed to doing all we possibly can to provide each and every customer with a first class service.”

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