By Lehlohonolo Lehana.
The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) has published new draft regulations aimed at improving the service of post offices around the country.
In an explanatory statement, Icasa councillor Dr Charley Lewis said that the regulations are being proposed in direct response to complaints received about the postal sector.
"There are a number of complaints or matters that require the attention of the authority within the postal services sector. It is therefore important that we undertake this process in order to ensure improved service levels, as well as to set turn-around times for complaints handling," he said.
Lewis added that the post office services the poorest and most vulnerable sectors of the population, especially communities in rural areas, where the service may differ compared to the one rendered in urban areas.
"It is therefore required of the Postal Services Licensee to provide good quality services to all communities, irrespective of their social standing, where they are situated, the languages they speak, or any disabilities they may have, "he said.
Alongside administrative changes such as the correct display of business hours and postal codes, the regulations also state that queues must be significantly cut down at post offices around the country.
"Customer service time should not exceed seven minutes for postal services," the draft regulations state. "In the instance that queuing time exceeds seven minutes, the licensee, or the person delegated by the licensee, must intervene to address the issue in the interest of customers."
Other changes which have been proposed include:
- The post office must implement an electronic system for payment of postal services;
- In the event that the post office is to relocate or permanently close, the licensee must display such a notice for the customers at least 60 days before such closure or relocation;
- The post office relocation or closure notice must include the location of the nearest post office;
- A post office must communicate with its customers in English and any other official language that is dominant in the area where the post office is situated;
- The post office must collect and submit quarterly reports on customer complaints that they receive;
- Staff at all post offices have a thorough and accurate knowledge of their products and related services;
- Staff must wear corporate clothing and name tags;
- Personal information of a customer must be processed in accordance with the requirements as set out in the Protection of Personal Information Act;
- Customers must be made aware of insurance facilities for lost or damaged letters or parcels, when entering into postal services transactions.