The Post Office Drop & Go Service
The Post Office have launched Drop & Go, a service that offers business customers and a fast track pre-paid card system to send their mail. If you’re an online seller that visits the Post Office on a daily basis this is the perfect service for you.
The new Drop & Go service, currently available at over 2,200 branches across the UK, offers an efficient mailing option for small businesses that regularly spend more than £20 a week on postage.
Small business customers will be able to simply hand over their mail at the fast drop counter and swipe their pre-paid Drop & Go card. The new service will ensure that you no longer have to wait for your packages to be processed at the counter.
The Post Office, now independent of Royal Mail, is the largest retail network in the UK, with over 11,500 branches. Having had the frustration of standing behind an eBay seller while they post their parcels (and suffered the complaints from the frustrated queue behind me while I posted mine), it’s good to see that there’s a Drop & Go Post Office close to me in Thatcham. You can find your nearest Drop & Go location on the Post Office website.
To sign up for the service simply visit your nearest Drop & Go Post Office. Once you have your Drop & Go account simply top up regularly, fill out your daily manifest and drop your parcels at the Fast Drop counter in your nearest participating Post Office.
I really hope that the service is offered at all Post offices, including rural offices because like Chris I have caused the occasional queue and have generated a few minor moans about eBay sellers.
However my rural post office is run by my best mate and he assures me that without eBay and Amazon sellers even more rural offices would close.
I have been using Drop & Go (Drop ‘n’ Go?) since 27/12/2012 at a small village Post Office with great success. I was the first local DropGo-er and I think I am still the only one.
Not being at the counter when the processing is done has thrown up some anomalies that I have dealt with and others may learn from. I should point out that 99% of what I send is international and under 40g.
The finer points of the postal manual are not universally known and, to overcome this, in addition to the required information, I list the price I am expecting to pay and I specify where I want Letter/Large Letter and not Small Packet.
The letter/packet thing has been the biggest issue by which I mean genuine misunderstanding not argument or disagreement (me being correct because I had looked into it in detail).
Internationally, above 100g the letter/packet prices are the same but below that, letter is cheaper and there is no functional difference in the specification of allowed content. Some say ‘Letter’ ‘should’ contain correspondence, which can mean ‘invoice’ but that is as specific as anyone has been.
When ‘discussing’ this point with counter staff who have been trained to ‘upgrade’ to Small Packet for international items if it ‘looks like’ a packet (no, I am not joking), I point out that the upper limit for Letter is 2kg or 5kg for paper only. Hardly a pure ‘personal correspondence’ category.
Also watch for European issues. Many staff genuinely thought Russia was Asia, for PO purposes, not understanding that the PO’s ‘Europe’ is not the same as the EU or geographical Europe.
It took about 2 weeks to settle down and now it is smooth sailing.
Rural Post Offices Rock!
I’m intrigued by this new service and have a few of questions – the Royal Mail website mentions that there’s no need to queue, just “hand over your post at the counter”.
How do you get to the counter without queuing?
Are you paying RM normal mail prices?
Also, ref international mail, are you saying that you’re able to get away with sending an item (not a letter) that weighs say 39 grams for 87p to a Europe if you include an invoice. We would normally pay £2.70 (£2.50 franked).
1) At my PO, I just avoid the queue and drop my stuff at the parcels hatch.
2) Normal RM prices.
3) Yes in principle but your weights are off.
Europe (not just EU)
Up to 20g = £0.87
21g – 40g = £1.28
Rest of World
Up to 20g = £1.28
21g – 40g = £1.90
4) There is no way the PO can know what is in the envelope. The most they can do is ask about a letter/invoice but they would have to take the customers word.
Thanks for that ref. 4 – I mis-read your original message – I thought that you were sending packages, not envelopes.
Do you pay at the parcels hatch? and don’t the people in the queue get annoyed that you’re queue jumping?
Drop n Go Intro
1) Fill in the application which they type into the system.
2) A DnG card is issued which they top up from a payment card you designate
3) There is an official DnG Manifest form which is quite badly laid out and which I have replicated on the computer.
4) Fill in the manifest and take, with letters/parcels/whatever to designated PO.
5) In my case, abandon items in parcel hatch, have cheerful yet surly exchange with staff (its a game we play) and walk out smiling.
Thanks for all the info.
We currently frank our mail and having seriously considered Drop and Go I cannot see any advantages for us to change this.
We take our mail sack to the post hatch, but there’s no manifest to complete in detail and handover and no card payment to be made, plus it’s a lot cheaper than normal mail.
The only on going cost for us is £25.00 a month to hire the franking machine, and then labels and ink. Two cartridges of ink lasts us about 14 months, and the labels work out at £0.01 each.
So I suppose it’s down to what you prefer and how much mail you send.
When you say “drop my stuff at the parcels hatch” does the counter assistant stop serving the customers in the queue and give you priority and accept the packages through the hatch into the secure area?
Or are they left on the customer side until the counter staff have spare time to take the packages through the hatch into the secure area.
And what about recorded items that need to be scanned?
Clearly, it is a layout of the counter thing.
In my case, the hatch is a deep recess immediately next to the primary servers position and depositing a bag of mail (with occasional darkly muttered oaths) are enough to signal the staff that there is mail and for them to signal me that they are aware of its presence.
True, it is still on the customer side for the seconds between me letting go of the bag and the hatch being opened but I feel okay about living with the risk.
One problem with sending “letters” containing small goods overseas, is that there is no customs label. This can cause delays.
There is if you put one on – I always have.
Surely there is no customs label needed for the EU?.
I put the customs label on the back if there is no room on the front.
No Customs Form needed for EU.
I notice also that Royal Mail are charging customers to collect goods from Post Offices now. I missed a special delivery parcel on Thursday and as normal expected it to be at my local rural post office, went down to collect it to be told it is 20 miles away at the local sorting office. I want to collect it from the post office I will have to pay extra….what a waste of time and total stupid!
I’ve already had the card for ages and put £100 on it. But, the only time I was going to use it I was told they might not be able to get my parcels done in time for the last collection as someone else had just dropped 120 parcels off! So, I queued as normal and just paid off the card. I haven’t bothered since! 😡
I was actually bliddy annoyed. Oh and anyway, you still have to sort of queue to get them to scan the card and next time you’ve got to get your COP back from them and the stupid forms for it only have 10 rows and are yet another PDF doc and you have to queue up if you need to top the card up or they won’t take them.
In most small and sub-post offices there is no ‘fast-track’ counter, often there is only one counter open!
So, not exactly the useful alternative I was hoping for!
I expect different POs deal with DnG in different ways.
My PO hangs on to the card so I do not need to stand around to be scanned.
I have created a replica of the DnG Manifest online (in Google Docs) and I just copy and paste the addresses then print the form out before going to the post.
I can imagine it not working in some cases but for me, it is bliss!
I have been using a version of drop and go for about 5 years with my local post office. I have a trust relationship with them – they know me and what I am worth to them, so they keep me happy. I just drop off a sack of parcels with a part filled cheque inside. I collect proof of postings next day when I drop off the next days bag. No queuing for me and less hassle for them.
I used to use pay and go in a large branch with a queing system then just drop them over the counter between customers and get the receipt stamped which was pretty quick. Post increased so I asked if there was anything better, i was given a drop and go leaflet, did the research and it looked right for me. Took my first load to Bradford Post office today only to be told by the counter that I still need to queue to drop the bag off?? Nicely worded email sent to the post office asking them to explain how a service which is supposed to save me time takes 3 times longer. They even told le they were short staffed, if they treated the paying customer properly they may have more profit to employ extra staff.
I have used this and it was working great at first (a bit embarrasing jumping the queue and getting funny looks. But then near christmas they said it had to be in by 2pm not 3pm as we had agreed as they were busy for christmas. If we don’t get it in by then it is would be processed the next day instead. Then they said we couldn’t drop off on a saturday, even first thing as they are only open half day. Now they are saying we can’t drop things off on a monday, any time, and the stuff dropped off this monday didn’t get processed as we had agreed and yet I marked them all off as sent on ebay on monday and only found out today (thursday) that they hadn’t gone until tuesday. Some of those customers were from friday after 3pm. So now they say I can’t post from friday after 3pm until tuesday morning? And obviously they have to be packed and ready before 3pm to be in by then, will have a lot of unhappy customers. They don’t seem to realise that I could simply go back to queuing up again and they would have to process my mail whatever time, or day, that I go in. They suggested drop and go so they could process it at a quieter opportunity so queues didn’t form behind us, although it is handy, we didn’t mind too much having to queue because the post office is local and only really gets busy at christmas. By the time we have checked weights and written out the manifest, sometimes it would be quicker to just post as normal. We spend about £500 a month with them so you would think they would want to be more flexible than to cut out 2 of the 6 days we can post items. WE used to post monday, wednesday or thursday and then friday or saturday. We cut it down to monday or tuesday and then friday.
I have now spent the afternoon considering using collect+ for some parcels and just printing royal mail postage labels myself through paypal and then dropping off the items that way. The post office don’t get the money this way and will then have to stamp certificate of posting etc but take no money from me. I would rather not do that as we have always had a good relationship but lately it seems like we are their least priority. I don’t expect to be top priority, just equal to their other customers who might just be queuing up for a stamp!
Absolutely confident that there is an idea for a Monty Python sketch in there somewhere!
I’m from the Post Office, and really interested to read the comments about our Drop & Go proposition (both positive and negative ones).
I’m also really keen to get involved and address some of the specific branch issues mentioned here which I’ll do my best to resolve.
@Mark – happy to listen to your feedback about the manifest if it makes it easier for you, and other eBay sellers. It’s now in an editable format on the Post Office website which is a new step forward – is there anything else we need to change to make it even simpler?
@Darren – can you confirm which Bradford branch this is happening at please? I’ll give them a call and just clarify what should happen.
@caz – Firstly, apologies for the really poor experience so far. If you can confirm which branch you’re using, I’ll give them a call to see what they can do to help you. Drop & Go isn’t a service only offered on selected days.
Again, thanks for the feedback – really appreciate it, and I’ll do my best to get these things sorted!