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Friday, October 23, 2015

Postal franchises get new lease of life

To deal with the challenges of running post offices, the Department of Posts has chalked up plans for a robust franchise system.

Part of this move is the rejuvenation of existing postal franchise services and introduction of new ones in developing areas.

In Anna Nagar and Ayanavaram, where postal franchises had closed down as residents preferred to visit post offices, the concept has to be revived and re-introduced.

According to the Department, new franchises were opened a week ago in Secretariat Colony, Kilpauk and Arasankazhani in Thazhambur.

These franchises function like post offices by accepting letters, booking speed posts, registered articles, money orders and selling stamps and providing retail services.

They however do not offer services related to savings bank or other financial schemes.

Department officials note that the number of franchises has dropped over the past few years due to poor patronage and an increase in the number of post offices.

Some franchises closed down as their commission was based on the volume of business, and was not fixed.

But, the demand for postal services in a few parts of the city, especially those on its fringes, still keeps the franchise system alive here.

K. Suresh, who runs the postal franchise in Secretariat Colony, Kilpauk, said: “I decided to open a franchise as customers at my browsing centre requested one, after the Medavakkam tank post office was merged with the one in Kilpauk. They would otherwise have to travel to the Kilpauk post office that is over two km away. This franchise will serve areas like Ayanavaram and Kellys.”

Officials of the postal department recall that every postal division had five to six postal franchises. Now, it has decreased to two.

Fear of delay

The fear of delivery delays among customers was another reason why postal franchises dwindled.

However, as the Department faces space crunch, especially in fast-developing areas on the fringes of the city, postal franchises seem to be best bet to reach out to customers.

Mervin Alexander, Postmaster General (Chennai City Region) said that of the 20 outlets in the city region, including Puducherry, nearly 15 are in Chennai.

“Every year, we plan to allot more franchise outlets. Those in Nungambakkam, Royapettah High Road and Tiruvallur Bazaar are doing well. We plan to open two more this fiscal,” he said.

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