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La Poste

January 20, 2010

For those of you not aware the Post Office in France has two services.  The Post Office part, which is pretty straightforward, and also a bank.  Up until recently this meant that everyone queued up in the same line.  The old ladies taking 40Euros out of their savings account, people sending packages overseas, people sending certified mail you name it they were there.  La Poste finally realised that this is not so great for the client, and so they have a new set up, which I got to test today.

The new system is the following.  You arrive at the post office and are (hopefully if the post office is not packed which is rarely the case) are acosted by a ‘greeter’ that has a mini work station.  But at this mini work station they can only do so many things.  For example today I needed a Chronopost envelope, 3 carnets de timbres*, and one mandat cash**.  I was sort of in luck as I got there right as they reopened after lunch so I was one of the first 5 people or so.  The greeter could meet 2 of my 3 requests.  The Chronopost envelope and the carnets de timbres.  I bought those from her and then got back in line, to get the mandat cash from one of the ladies at the guichet.  For my particular situation this new system was not really all that great.  I really ended up waiting in line three times.  Once to meet the greeter (if you just hop in line for the next window you get in trouble), once while waiting for the only window to free up, and then once again with the greeter as I was able to stamp my envelopes, put the mandat in the Chronopost envelope, and had to get everything actually sent off.  I understand what they are trying to do.  If I had only wanted one book of stamps I would have been rather pleased.  But in my case it meant waiting in 3 lines, paying twice, trying to hurry because of all of the lines, and all this with a baby in the baby carrier.  But this system is better then what they had before.  I have waited forever to get a recommandé because of an old lady that wanted 40Euros from her account.  At least now from what I could tell they are rather on the ball about that.

Thankfully I rarely have to go to the Post Office here.  When I need stamps I buy a ton so I don’t have to go back for a few months, and we have the best facteur*** ever.  When we were both gone all day he would save my packages for me in his truck until Saturday to leave them while we were here.  He even takes stamped mail that needs to be sent to the post office if  you clothespin it to your mailbox flap!  (Because, yes, for those of you outside of France the postman doesn’t usually pick up mail to be delivered.  You have to put that in a special box in town…  For those of us a little out in the boonies if you aren’t going in town for the day, it is a pain to get something in the mail!)

*stamp books

**money order

***postman

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