Post Office Ltd is the provider of retail post office services in the United Kingdom. The Post Office offers communications products such as stamps and shipping services. However, throughout their time the Post Office has gone on to provide a whole wealth of services to the public with money, such as banking and foreign currency exchange, telecommunications, landline services and broadband internet. Previously part of the General Post Office, Post Office Ltd is now owned and managed by the British Government’s Department for Business, Innovation and other Skills.
Post Office Ltd was previously part of a larger company called the General Post Office, which also incorporated the delivery service known as Royal Mail. Having been established in 1660 by Charles II, the General Post Office later dissolved in 1968 and became named the Post Office Corporation. In 1986, Post Office Counters Limited was created. It was a subsidiary that was wholly owned by the Post Office Corporation. However, in 2001, when the Post Office Corporation became renamed to Royal Mail Group, it was renamed and rebranded as Post Office Ltd, as it is still called today.
Telecommunications was introduced into the Post Office in the 19th century. Originally telecommunications began with the telegram, and The Telegraph Act 1868 bestowed the right to the Postmaster General, allowing him to purchase telegram companies across the UK. Telephones were introduced shortly afterwards in 1878 when the General Post Office started up its own telephonic communication business. This became a possibility after a court judgement was passed, incited by the Postmaster General, ruling that telephone conversations were considered to fall under The Telegraph Act, therefore enabling the Post Office to acquire independent companies that provided telephonic services. This put into fruition a process whereby the General Post Office licensed to them all networks relating to telephone communication.
Following the Second World War, telephone communication began to boom, creating growth within the General Post Office. Due to the hardships and damage caused by the war, the system itself needed a great deal of investment in repairs and much of the hardware was out of date and needed replacing.
In 1981, telecommunications became separated from the Post Office. The British Telecommunications Act was brought in which created a new, separate company called British Telecom (BT), which was tasked with dealing with telecommunication systems and provisions.
The Post Office remained out of the telecommunications business until 2007, when it signed a deal with BT Wholesale. The deal allowed the Post Office to resell BT Wholesale’s services for phone and broadband. The four-year deal was worth £750 million. The packages themselves were not of good value, and never really breached through the 500,000 million customer mark due to the low usage allowances and the poor customer service.
By 2012, the phone and broadband services offered by Post Office through BT had become untenable. With low customer ratings and poor technological advancement, the Post Office were behind in the broadband race. While competitors had moved forward to offer ADSL 2+ technology, the Post Office was still offering original ASDL services with an 8Mb cap on data allowance. Due to this, Post Office Ltd dropped BT Wholesale as their service provider.
Sending mail, although it still happens on a large scale today, is somewhat of an old technology. With the Post Office late to the game offering broadband services, while failing to provide services that supported up to date technology, they are not aiming their packages at high-flying technology whizzes. Post Office Ltd broadband is very much grounded in the people’.
In 2007, Post Office Ltd launched television campaigns with the tagline 'The People’s Post Office’. The campaign aimed at playing on the humour surrounding local British people and their quirks. The campaign aimed to play down any marketing glamour, and instead showed the reality of day to day life in a post office. This has been the marketing angle used for their target audience ever since.
While Sky aims to connect with the educated, upper class and more technologically-minded, the Post Office targets its broadband services to the demographic profile of people who already use their services. This would include people who do not have a sound background in internet usage, with no need for large data allowances and high speeds, such as geriatric consumers or people who do not use a computer very often.
Moreover, advertising campaigns from the Post Office tend to utilise offline methods, rather than capturing their market through online campaigns and social media marketing. Where Plusnet and TalkTalk tend to focus on convincing customers to switch through social media campaigns offering lower prices, the Post Office tends to limit its advertising to in-store displays, on television, and through bus stop adverts. This shows that Post Office are trying to target first-time internet consumers who are late to the game, and therefore have limited need for advanced technology in their lives. This is further exemplified by the fact that the Post Office doesn’t offer fibre optic broadband, making an executive presumption that its target audience would not be in need or be interested in this service.
The Post Office Safeguard technology that is added to the broadband package includes safeguarding methods for preventing children from seeing obscene and illicit content while also allowing parents to control social media and gaming website viewing during scheduled times, to prevent children from becoming distracted from their homework. These added features show that the Post Office is attempting to target families with children, especially younger children.
Post Office Ltd provide limited options in regards to broadband. Firstly, they do not offer fibre optic broadband and currently, there appears to be no move to start this process or to offer it anytime in the future.
The Post Office offer only one internet package called Broadband Premium. Up until recently, they offered another package called Broadband Essentials, which was a combined broadband and call package. The package, which allowed 10GB data usage a month while including free weekend and evening calls, has been discontinued, most likely due to the low data allowance limit causing it to become defunct in today’s society; most other internet providers do not limit data allowance.
Due to this Post Office Ltd now only offers one internet deal, the Broadband Premium Package. This type of internet is called ASDL and works using your existing copper telephone lines, using a microfilter to divide the sound frequencies, differentiating between phone calls and internet data.
This package includes line rental and combines broadband and telephone services. The package provides unlimited data allowance, bringing the Post Office to a level playing field with its competitors. For first time buyers, the package costs £20.99 per month on an 18 month contract, going up to £26.99 per month following this. The package boasts download speeds of up to 17Mb depending on your area while including free Post Office SafeGuard internet security technology. When you switch to using this package, Post Office will send a free WiFi router, while providing free support from their UK based call centres from Monday to Saturday from 8 am to 8 pm. You will be charged £6.95 delivery charges for the router but it fits through the letterbox, so you won’t have to wait in for the postman. The call package includes free weekend calls to UK landline phone numbers.
Post Office Ltd do not offer any form of business broadband package, which is not surprising as they do not tend to target businesses. Equally, this would require offering large data packages, which seems not to be within the current capacity of the Post Office's operations.
When considering the advantages of installing Post Office broadband, it comes down to three main things. Firstly, Post Office broadband is relatively cheap. While it may not seem to be as cheap as other broadband providers, this is because other providers offer poor deals for their basic packages in a ploy to make you upgrade. The Post Office package provides you will unlimited data allowance whereas cheaper packages from other companies will have stringent download limits. Equally, the line rental is included in the price, which cuts the cost of having to add line rental. Moreover, the deal includes a call plan, unlike most other providers. There are barely any other providers that enable you to have free weekend calls for such a low price, with the option of upgrading to unlimited free calls for as little as £7 a month. This makes them cheaper than BT.
Secondly, the broadband package offered by the Post Office Ltd has no data usage limitations. For such a competitive price, it is refreshing to see that the Post Office are offering comparable deals to other internet service providers, making their package competitive. While it is usual for most packages to provide unlimited data usage, Plusnet’s basic business package does put limits on data allowances. While the Post Office’s package is residential, it’s unlimited data allowance may make it a better option for small start-up businesses looking to find an internet package, rather than being limited by data in a specific business package. One thing you need to be aware of though is that the package’s unlimited data usage allowance is subject to fair use only’. This means that if you are downloading a lot of data or streaming constantly, they may put a stop to your allowance or you could incur excess charges that are likely very expensive. This is not usual though and isn’t something to worry about for the standard user, especially those that are targeted as potential Post Office Broadband customers.
Lastly, the free internet security system is a bonus. Internet security, such as this, can be very expensive but is vital to protecting your family. With free security from Post Office Safeguard, which helps to keep your children safe from inappropriate internet content, while also helping to manage their browsing. Equally, it protects your computer from viruses and spyware, meaning you don’t have to fork out for an expensive virus program such as McAfee or Norton, and you don’t need to worry about being hacked, having personal data stolen, or having your files destroyed by a virus. The system works with three functions: Homework Guard, which can block social media sites and gaming websites during scheduled hours, meaning your children cannot be easily distracted from other important tasks; Kids Guard, which blocks certain websites such as pornography, website involving drugs or other illegal substances, gambling website, and generally illicit or obscene content; and lastly Virus Guard which safeguards against incoming viruses or spyware which may damage your computer or any devices which happen to be attached to it.
One of the most prominent complaints which surface regularly about the Post Office and their internet provision services is the poor customer service. The quality of service is terrible, often leaving people on hold for very long periods of time, while not speaking in a professional tone to others. Many people have complained that when they contact the support services, the advisors can offer no guidance or expertise. Equally, there have been problems of the support department not picking up the phone or the lines being bad.
Moreover, while advertising download speeds of up to 17Mb, many reviews and complaints have surrounded the fact that people are experiencing download speeds of around 2Mb. While there is a disclaimer on the website that talks about the variation in the speeds dependent on the distance from the exchange point, quality of the phone lines, and the area in the country, this seems to be a common problem among Post Office customers who have switched to their broadband services.
More worryingly, last year there was a hack on the whole Post Office Broadband system which stopped all routers from functioning, leaving broadband customers with no internet for days. The Post Office released number in excess of 100,000 customers being cut off from the internet. Not only is this utterly inconvenient, it also poses questions about the security of Post Office Broadband and the safety of the user in regards to data protection. During this time, there were multiple complaints about the lack of communication from the Post Office on the issue.
If you are considering purchasing to Post Office Broadband, it is a pretty simple process. The first way to do this via the internet. On the Post Office website, they have four step sign up process and promise to have you up and running in fourteen days. If you are switching your service, they promise that there will be no disruption to your internet provision in that time, and you will not notice the switch over.
If you are applying online, you will need your current phone number. If you do not have a current landline, they will need to install one, which may incur extra charges for the connection process, and you will need to dedicate a time for the engineer to come to your house and implement the system for you. Once they have established if you have a landline, they will ask for your personal details, followed by a confirmation of your order, leading you to a payment screen.
Alternatively, if you are a first time buyer and do not have access to the internet to purchase Post Office broadband online, you will need to either call them or drop into the store. The process will be very similar to the online process over the phone. Alternatively, visit the counter in the Post Office and they will provide you with an application form to fill out, or they may fill it out directly for you on the screen.
Overall, the Post Office internet is not the most advanced package on the market today. While it provides an average deal, it does not supply any leeway or offer anything extra other than the basic internet package. However, if you have few requirements and are not looking for an extremely large package to compensate for online gaming of TV streaming, this simple package will do the trick. Aimed at the everyday Post Office customer, this package is a reasonably good deal, priced competitively, with unlimited data usage like most other providers. The safeguarding tools make it a good choice for parents and families. Be aware of the fair usage policy and be prepared to encounter poor customer service if something goes wrong with your package. Equally, there may be issues with the download speeds to ensure that if you are switching to Post Office Broadband, you are in an area where the service and signal are of top quality. Make sure you test this first using our broadband postcode checker.