Tuesday, May 21, 2013


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Hello World,
I had a very unique experience today at the post office when I went to send a mail. Click here to download the pdf version of this post. This post office is a government post office located near Blue Star bus stop of Anna Nagar, Chennai. I am not sure but I guess it is called the Anna Nagar Sub Post Office. Cutting to the chase here, I did not carry an envelope for my mail, hoping that I can purchase one at the post office counter. The lady at the stamp-sales counter said she doesn’t have any envelopes except the smaller inland letter envelopes (commemorative). A first I thought maybe they ran out of stock and I just coincidentally went there on an empty day but I was wrong. The lady at the stamp sales counter said they don’t sell any envelopes other than the small one she showed me. Here’s an image of a similar envelope:

I did not know what to say. I thought maybe I was asking for envelopes at the wrong counter and the express mail counter would have the envelopes for express mail and I was wrong again. That counter was the only place where we can purchase postal stationery and all they had was stamps and one kind of small-sized envelope. When asked, the lady promptly replied that they don’t receive any other kind of postal stationery and they just sell what they are supplied with. Sounded fair but still incredibly stupid as that post office is one of the bigger post-offices in the region and it controls the smaller post offices around. All major postal transactions can be made at that post office. A separate section for handling business post, separate section for passport submission/verification and a separate section for bulk parcel service are just a few of the many specialty amenities that post office has, something that other small ones don’t. People usually go there when they are not sure if the smaller post office in their locality would handle a specific postal need. That’s the reason I picked it too. But I was wrong with my assumption.

I asked the lady at the stamp sales counter why they are not selling envelopes she replied saying that it would be nice if they send them supplies but unfortunately it is not happening. This is something that needs careful analysis.

A citizen cannot satisfy his/her postal needs at a government post-office and has to depend on a private vendor for a commodity as simple as an A4 sized envelope and the reason for this is because the concerned post office does not receive the necessary supplies for sale. All this happens in 2013, more than six decades of freedom, technological advances and a whole lot of crap that is often associated with fast-developing economies. Let’s get down to the basics.

The possible reasons, in my opinion, as to why a significantly bigger post office does not have envelopes for sale may be (but not limited to):
1. There is no standard procedure in the postal department’s processes for the purpose of defining a minimum re-order quantity to be specified and the subsequent batch of new stock to be ordered by the postal units on a regular basis.
2. The postal department’s administration has formally decided to take down the envelopes product line from their offering owing to a cost-based business decision.
3. The employees of the concerned post-office have colluded to bring down their work load by not ordering select set of stationery and just sell with a limited stock of stationery and maintaining an official stand that those products they don’t request are not demanded by citizens and therefore not needed for sale.
4. The concerned post office administration has colluded with private “fancy” stores who specialize in postal stationery and are located very close to the post office, where the products offered by the “fancy” store is deliberately not sold by the post office in exchange for a financial favor from the private “fancy” store.
5. The postal department’s administration has taken bribe from private sector entities to deliberately create demand for envelopes and related postal stationery so that the private sector entities can get the corresponding supplier contract from the postal department for the printing and sales of envelopes and related postal stationery.
6. Superman and Spiderman betted on an IPL game and their bookie got caught by the Indian Police and therefore the Indian Postal department removed the postal envelopes from its outlets as a mark of protest, demanding the retrieval of the money that rightfully belongs to Superman and Spiderman. (Since we are discussing possibilities why not use superheroes too? )

Now taking the reasons one by one, the 1st reason of no standard procedure is quite improbable simply because the Indian Postal Department has grown so big and sophisticated that it now offers almost all premier mail services. A public utility department cannot grow so big and diverse without having standard procedures in their process design. The question definitely rises on why would the standard procedure not be strictly implemented…….or to put it in a different format…what is the standard procedure for implementation of standard process design and how does the feedback system work so that the administration gets to know when a part or whole of a standard procedure is deliberately ignored by the concerned process owner in the Indian Postal Department????

The 2nd reason of the Indian Postal Department knowingly removing the envelopes from its product offerings due to cost-reasons is quite implausible since Indian Postal Department is not a profit-oriented organization where the primary purpose of the existence of India Post is service to the citizens of India and not financial profit. Even if by some weird reasoning, the envelopes are removed from the product line, it cannot happen without a proper replacement for the products being removed. After all, we are talking envelopes, not Jaguar cars with Tata Sky connection. It is only simple. More cost, remove product, and replace the removed product with a new cost effective one. In this case the citizens need to be informed timely via suitable public service announcements. But nothing like this happened and therefore there is no cost-decision nonsense that might have caused the vanishing of envelopes from Anna Nagar Sub Post Office in Chennai.

The 3rd reason of the post office employees colluding among themselves to bring down work load is just impossible as avoiding the sale of little postal stationery is not going to be of much use. They can very well damage some equipment and avoid one or more service offerings to the citizens. A simple “machine-out-of-order” reply can shoo off citizens and the post office employees can enjoy their reduced work load. Given that most of the postal processes are still done the old-school manual way, there is not much equipment that they can trash. Also such an act has very little chances of impacting the availability of envelopes in the post office.

The 4th reason of the Post Office Administration (that of the Anna Nagar Sub Post Office at Chennai) having colluded with private “fancy” stores is more likely. The lady at the stamp sales counter directed me to a specific fancy store nearby for buying the envelopes. I did not notice the weirdness until I realized that the specific “fancy” store referred was the only vendor selling envelopes and all other types of postal stationery near the post office. Most of the businesses located around the post office are not of “postal stationery-handling” type and the only one that is, sells all kinds of postal stationery. The questions however is…….how did the lady at the post office know the exact location of the store that sold envelopes????  I am sure there is provision in the postal department procedures where supplies may be bought from third party vendors by individual post offices in times of emergency or lack of supplies for sale. If they knew where envelopes are being sold, why the hell did they not buy some stack up their rack that clearly says “Envelopes for Sale” right behind the stamp sales counter, made available in full public view???? Is the “Fancy” store paying the Anna Nagar Sub Post Office (near Blue Star bus stop) a bribe for deliberately not selling envelopes and related postal stationery? Is the Anna Nagar Sub Post Office giving away the postal stationery from government supply to the private “fancy” store in exchange for a good financial gift? This is a suspicious circumstance that we are looking at and it needs to be cleared but we do not have any more facts to proceed further. 

The 5th reason of the entire India Post (Indian Postal Department) being bribed by private parties for subsequent outsourcing of printing and sale of postal stationery to those parties is a little likely one too. This one’s a bit large and long but still plausible. The missing envelopes from the Anna Nagar Sub Post Office however need a rather local silly-crafted reason less intense than a nationwide scandal. I would not consider a nationwide scandal surprising as this is India and this decade has been marked with some historic scandals here that are yet to be comprehended by the Indian citizens. 

The 6th reason is something I, as a mark of respect to all the sarcastic retards out there, leave unanalyzed, so that it remains open for interpretation. Feel free to let your brains fly with the idea, for thinking is the primary platform for freedom of all sorts.

With the intention of being fair to what I noticed, I wrote an email to the postal authorities that I am giving below:
Dear Sir,
My name is Motts (changed for no reason). I am from Crazy Land (again, for no reason).
I visited the Anna Nagar Sub Post Office (near 2nd Avenue, Anna Nagar West, near Blue Star Bus Stop) for sending a set of papers via speed post.
I asked the lady at the Stamp Sales counter for an A4 sized envelope and she said she does not have any. When I asked if she ran out of stock, she replied that the post office does not sell any envelopes except one pre-paid postage envelope (for inland use), quite similar to the image I have attached along with this email.
I did see an "envelopes for sale" right behind her which was large enough to handle a wide variety of envelopes but was completely empty.
When I asked her if it was a coincidence today or is it an usual affair of not offering any envelopes, she replied that they don't receive any other postal stationery (with respect to envelopes) and therefore they don't sell envelopes. She asked me to visit a fancy store nearby where I got my envelopes and then went back to the post office to complete the speed post formalities.
I would like to know if
- Indian Postal Department (or India Post) does not have any set of standard sized envelopes that citizens can purchase at post offices?
- Indian Postal Department (or India Post) has deliberately discarded printing/selling of different sized postal stationery (envelopes especially)?
If so, I would like to know the reason for not making envelopes available for the citizens at the Anna Nagar Sub Post Office?
The reason for the above questions is that, we citizens, tend to depend on our post-offices for our postal needs, now that India Post has almost all varieties of safe/secure postal services and it is quite disheartening to notice that the postal needs of Indian citizens especially those around Anna Nagar Sub Post office have to be satisfied with products from the private sector.
I used to believe that as long as we are going to one of the bigger post offices like Anna Nagar Sub Post Office, we can have all our postal needs satisfied at that post office but apparently, I cannot send any packets/letters at this post office unless I purchase an envelope from a private sector vendor.
Thank you for your time.
-    Motts

The email id’s I sent the mail to are:
Notice the three Gmail email ids. The Indian Postal Department, owned by the government of India has some of its customer grievances email id on regular Gmail just like a common man. The Indian Postal Department definitely has the financial resources to own its own internet domains and email addresses but it has not done so yet. The intention is not clear but in my opinion, the intention cannot be positive. Just my thought.

Now that I have emailed the concerned state and national authorities in the postal department, I don’t think I am going to get any response. But honestly, the only response that I genuinely expect is the re-stacking of all types of envelopes in the Anna Nagar Sub Post Office near Blue Star bust top in Chennai, so that my fellow citizens can continue to walk into the post office without an envelope and still manage to get one that may suit their needs. Until then, before you go to this post office in Anna Nagar, stop by the nearby “Santhosh Fancy Store” that sells the envelopes and related postal stationery. It is a one way route there near the post office and if you miss the store, you will have to drive around the block. Buying your envelopes from any other store would render their business deal with the post office ineffective, only if you have the patience and time for such a thing to deal with the missing envelopes of Anna Nagar Sub Post Office.

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1 comment:

Thanks for the comment!!! Have a good one!!!!