Last Monday saw up to 114 main Crown Post Offices (those usually found on High Streets) closed or facing disruption due to a strike. Around half didn’t open at all, which meant shoppers planning to use the service to pay their vehicle tax, obtain an international driving permit, send a MoneyGram or simply mail a parcel, were left stranded. Up to 1,500 members of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) were striking over pay.
On Thursday 14th of July, it was the turn of the smaller sub-Post Offices to experience disruption, as Post Office (PO) supply chain and admin workers also went on strike. This impacted 11,500 PO counters across the UK.
Fortunately, the parcel price comparison expert ParcelHero says that shoppers now have far more choice about accessing services that Post Offices previously had a monopoly on.
ParcelHero’s Head of Consumer Research, David Jinks M.I.L.T., says: ‘We are all sympathetic to the difficulties of workers struggling to pay rising household bills. However, some Post Office (PO) services are time critical, and customers need to be aware of alternatives to avoid being caught out by the current wave of strikes, or any that may take place in the future. We’ve drawn up a list of our top ten hacks to escape the worst impact of the closure or reduction of services in Post Offices.
1. International driving permits
The country you are visiting on holiday this year may require an international driving permit, which are only available at Post Offices. However, most European countries, including Sweden, Switzerland and Greece, no longer require this permit. Others, such as France and Germany, only require one if you still only have a paper driving licence. Our advice is to apply online for a photo ID driving licence to avoid the repeated hassle of buying international permits. For certain other countries, such as the USA, you must have a driving permit, so plan well ahead.
2. Travel insurance
Also with holidays in mind, some people use POs to book their travel insurance for single trips or annual coverage. However, there are alternatives. Try using one of the many comparison sites, which compare many of the best available insurance policies, just like ParcelHero compares courier services.
Most POs enable you to send money to over 200 countries worldwide using the MoneyGram service. However, if your local PO service isn’t available, don’t panic. There’s now a MoneyGram App on Apple store and Google Play, while MoneyGram services are also available at stores including Tesco, if you still prefer to send money in person.
4. DBS checks
Applying for a job that involves handling finances or meeting people who might be vulnerable in some way? You might be asked for a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check. These can be done at your local PO but, these days, you can cut the hassle and apply for a basic DBS check online.
5. Document Certification
POs can certify documents such as your passport and driving licence, should you need to prove who you are but don’t want to send originals. However, the Government lists a wide range of other certifiers such as a bank or building society official, councillor, minister of religion, dentist, chartered accountant, solicitor or notary, teacher or lecturer.
6. Driving licence renewals
Moved house or need to renew a 10-year driving licence? Some drivers still like to use the PO to do this. However, you can also do this directly by post if your PO is unavailable. Easier still, renew online.
7. Passport renewal
Still with holidays in mind, you can use POs to renew existing passports. However, don’t panic if your local PO is closed or doesn’t offer this service. You can also renew your passport online, and most photo shops and booths now give you a digital code with your passport pics, making online applications even easier.
8. Vehicle tax payment
You can still pay your vehicle tax at many local PO counters but there are several easy alternatives. Call 0300 123 4321 for DVLA’s 24-hour automated phoneline, or simply use its online service.
9. Postal Order
You may think Postal Orders went out of fashion with Billy Bunter, but they are still available from POs. You can still use them to send money to family and friends or even pay for items on eBay. However, these are confusingly old-fashioned. It may be simpler to send a cheque or, better still, use a 21st century alternative such as PayPal, which allows anyone with an email address to securely, conveniently and cost-effectively send and receive payments online.
10. Sending a parcel
Some people still like to send a parcel the old-fashioned way, by queuing at a PO counter. The good news is that there’s an alternative. If you book a parcel through ParcelHero, the courier will come straight to your door to pick up your package for national or international delivery.