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NZ Post – how to lose business and alienate people

29 January 2019 3 comments

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As reported in early 2017, Kiwibank and NZ Post continue to split their business, moving their retail postal and banking services into separate facilities. According to an un-named NZ Post spokesperson;

“NZ Post and Kiwibank are two independently run businesses, which currently share premises in some areas. With the longer-term strategies of the two organisations heading in different directions, it is now an appropriate time to review co-location.”

Even as NZ Post and Kiwibank were “un-co-locating”, the spokesperson also said,

“We are committed to providing postal services across New Zealand. What we are increasingly doing across our network is looking for local businesses to partner with to help us deliver postal services.”

A further 801 outlets are already “franchised” to supermarkets, book stores, pharmacies, dairies/superettes, stationery stores, video shops, etc.

For some reason, partnering with retail outlets was a better prospect for NZ Post than with an established bank. It is unclear why partnering with a pharmacy or video store is preferable to a bank – especially a major New Zealand-owned institution such as Kiwibank.

According another NZ Post spokesperson, New Zealand Post general manager of channels, Janet Selwood, said;

“In terms of the new outlet, we certainly provide a lot of training to our new partners and then on-going support for them. It’s not just about providing stamps – it’s about providing all the services that are currently provided.”

This is not true.

Splitting Kiwibank and NZ Post was recently carried out in Wellington’s eastern suburb, Kilbirnie and CBD location in  Lambton Quay.

In the former, NZ Post has vacated it’s co-located building with Kiwibank in Bay Road, Kilbirnie, and franchised it’s operation to “Paper Plus” – situated immediately next door to the now-stand-alone Kiwibank operation;

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Kiwibank (right), with NZ Post agency at ‘Paper Plus (left)

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When this blogger went to re-register his car at the Kilbirnie NZ Post/Paper Plus agency, the response was that they no longer offered that service. I was advised to travel to the nearest provider for vehicle re-registrations at VTNZ. This was in Adelaide Rd, Newtown;

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The distance was several kilometres away.

Vehicle registration is a significant responsibility for most New Zealanders. With 4,154,891 vehicles registered in New Zealand  by 2017, reducing NZ Post’s service in this area would be a major inconvenience for many people. To compound the problem, the policy of offering the registration service does not appear to be standardised throughout NZ Post outlets.

A phone call to another agency in Upper Hutt (approximately 30km north of Wellington) confirmed that the Upper Hutt NZ Post in that town will register cars.

Curiously, Upper Hutt NZ Post is also franchised to Paper Plus – the same retail-chain in Kilbirnie that refused to offer car registration.

So much for NZ Post assuring the public that it would not be “closing or downgrading” services to any areas. Provision of services now appear to be  haphazard.

Ironically, a Kiwibank-branded ATM remains situated within the NZ Post/Paper Plus outlet;

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Apparently co-location of a machine was considered acceptable – unlike the humans associated with both businesses.

Elsewhere throughout the country, NZ Post announced late last year it would be closing the last seventynine of it’s remaining company-owned retail outlets. Petone, Stoke, Johnsonville, South Dunedin, Moray Pl, Dunedin North, Mosgiel, and Te Puke are amongst NZ Post and/or Kiwibank branches fated for closure.

For many small towns and rural communities, NZ Post and Kiwibank are the last remaining essential service left to them. Closure or down-sizing is not a blow that such communities will handle well. When the State retreats from such small communities the sense of alienation is palpable.

Perhaps one of the worst ill-thought-out de-couplings between NZ Post from Kiwibank  occurred in Lambton Quay, in Wellington’s CBD.

Until last year, the combined NZ Post/Kiwibank outlet was situated at 94 Lambton Quay.

This blogger went searching for NZ Post to purchase postage stamps. Trekking along most of Lambton Quay, the prominent Kiwibank street signage was a welcome sight;

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Until, that is, this ominous notice was sighted in the window advising NZ Post customers “From Thursday 27th September 2018, bill payments and postal services will no longer be available at Lambton Quay NZ Post & Kiwibank, only Kiwibank services will be available“.

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Several possible options for NZ Post agencies were listed. The closest one appeared to be something called “Capital Office Supplies” at 114 Lambton Quay. Which was odd, as I had just walked along that part of the street and I had seen no indication of a NZ Post anywhere in that vicinity.

I retraced my steps, until I came to this NZ Post sign. Can you see the NZ Post sign in the image below?

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The NZ Post agency/Capital Office Supplies was not located on Lambton Quay proper. That is why it was not readily visible to anyone searching for it. The NZ Post signage in the above image (located beneath street signs for “Mason’s Lane” and “Pedestrian Access to The Terrace“) is wholly inadequate.

NZ Post/Capital Office Supplies is not visible on Lambton Quay – because it does not front onto one of New Zealand’s busiest retail/commercial precincts.

NZ Post/Capital Supplies is located down this alley;

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Even on closer inspection the NZ Post agency sign is difficult to make out in the gloomy light of the narrow alley;

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It simply defies understanding that any executive working for NZ Post would have thought that this site would be an ideal location for a postal agency.

And it doesn’t end there.

Once I bought the stamps, I was directed to the nearest posting boxes. Which was located…

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… opposite to the Kiwibank back at 94 Lambton Quay.

With the amount of walking I did that afternoon, I might as well have hand-delivered the letters myself. Any notion of “customer service” appears to have been discounted.

For a SOE that is fast losing money on it’s postal services – $39 million for the year ended August 2018 – NZ Post’s policy to de-couple from a well-established, highly prominent bank usually located on prime retail land, beggars understanding. How does one generate foot-traffic down an alley-way, compared to a highly-visible street frontage outlet on Wellington “Golden Mile”?

In November last year, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern responded to concerns that communities were losing their postal and Kiwibank services, or seeing those service downgraded;

“There are changes afoot that I have had concerns about; it is because the environment’s changing and people aren’t using those postal services in the same way. We are looking at how communities can still have banking services and postal services.

But with some of the changes we’re seeing, we do have some concern over loss of service and banking services as well.”

The Coalition government had better take notice of what is happening. This is a repeat of the late 1980s, when Rogernomics was rampaging through the country, gutting services; de-regulating imports which resulted in business closures and job losses; and a retreat by the State from communities that relied heavily on those services – or the money that was injected into local businesses.

The Opposition National Party has been exploiting planned closures of Kiwibank and/or NZ Post outlets. Nelson MP, Nick Smith, has been prominent and vocal in actively campaigning to save the Stoke branch of Kiwibank;

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In a press release on a National Party website, Smith lamented angrily;

“My job is to hold the Government to account for its promises. This Stoke closure contradicts the Labour/NZ First Coalition agreement that commits to expanding public services in regional New Zealand. It is hypocritical of Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones to have decried other bank branch closures when he is the Associate Minister of State Owned Enterprises that owns NZ Post and Kiwibank. Mr. Jones’ public comments indicate he is unhappy with the decision to close in Stoke Kiwibank and PostShopwith a strong community campaign he could use his powers to have the decision reconsidered.

We call on as many people as possible to join this campaign and to save the Stoke branch of Kiwibank and PostShop. These State Owned businesses need to get to the message that they exist to serve the community that owns them.”

And perhaps, this time, Dr Smith has a valid point when he rails against a possible broken promise from the Coalition Governmen; “This Stoke closure contradicts the Labour/NZ First Coalition agreement that commits to expanding public services in regional New Zealand. It is hypocritical of Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones to have decried other bank branch closures when he is the Associate Minister of State Owned Enterprises that owns NZ Post and Kiwibank”.

Smith’s “inner social activist” came to the fore at a public meeting in Stoke, where he called for public opposition to NZ Post/Kiwibank’s planned closures.

“I call to all businesses in Stoke to boycott the request for agency. Do not buy the line that they are the same. The postal services you receive at an agency in another shop are not as focused on the public as you would see in a dedicated service.”

Which is deeply ironic as Dr Smith should also be reminded that it was his government that created a Deed of Amendment and Restatement with NZ Post on 12 December 2013. This Deed specifically permitted NZ Post to use “service points [agencies]  hosted in other businesses“;

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The Deed was signed by Dr Nick Smith’s colleague,  then-Minister for Communications and Information Technology, Amy Adams.

E tū Union national organiser, Joe Gallagher, pointed out the inevitable consequences of National’s actions;

“What everyone missed [at the time] is the Government allowed NZ Post to reduce the number of corporate shops they were required to have, as long as they provided service points. What you’re seeing now is all that being bled through into the system.”

I wonder if Dr Smith shared this item of information with the good people of Stoke on 23 November, last year, when he addressed a public meeting of concerned citizens? His chances for re-election in 2020 might be dented if this fact became more widely known in his own electorate.

And lastly, we come to perhaps the most ‘Monty Pythonesque‘ of  NZ Post’s current policies…

In early December last year, this blogger visited the Kilbirnie NZ Post/Paper Plus agency to post a Christmas parcel for a friend. The cost of postage came $17.00.

I had $8.00 in postage stamps which I offered to stick on the parcel, and would pay the remaining $9.00.

I was informed by the staffer behind the counter that postage stamps could not be used for parcels. They could only be used for envelopes containing letters.

It defies belief: postage stamps are no longer accepted by NZ Post to be used to send a parcel through the postal system.

Add that bizarre policy to everything described above, and the inevitable question arises: Are our political leaders waging a covert campaign to undermine and destroy NZ Post, as happened with Solid Energy under National’s watch?!

It is difficult not to come to that conclusion. In fact, I wrote to the two ministers in charge of SOEs pointing out NZ Post’s strange policies;

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from: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to: “Rt Hon. Winston Peters” <winston.peters@parliament.govt.nz>,
“Hon. Shane Jones” <shane.jones@parliament.govt.nz>
date: 5 Dec 2018
subject: NZ Post – customer service?

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Rt Hon. Winston Peters
Minister,
State Owned Enterprises

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Hon. Shane Jones
Associate Minister,
State Owned Enterprises
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Kia ora Mr Peters and Mr Jones,

I am writing to you regarding a curious incident yesterday at a Kilbirnie Post Shop agency.

I was posting a parcel and the overall cost came to $17.

I had postage stamps with me, so was going to place them on the parcel, and pay the balance, to make $17 in total.

I was informed by staff that postage stamps can no longer be used for parcels – only for letters.

Are you aware that postage stamps (sold by NZ Post) can no longer be used on parcels delivered by NZ Post?

It seems bizarre that NZ Post has enacted such a policy; in effect not accepting one of it’s own systems to make a delivery. It would be like a bank not accepting cash to pay for a service.

It is unclear how NZ Post’s policy serves customer’s needs. Especially as their postal numbers are falling.

I look forward to your response to this issue and whether you will instruct NZ Post to change this policy.

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Regards,
-Frank Macskasy

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I have yet to receive an answer. Perhaps the reply… is in the post?

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References

Fairfax media: Kiwibank suffers growing pains as it splits from restructured NZ Post

Fairfax media: Union says more Kiwibank branches will shut as NZ Post separates

Mediaworks/Newshub: ‘Challenging times’ – 79 New Zealand Post shops to close amid Kiwibank changes

Ministry of Transport: Annual Fleet Statistics (p57)

NZ Post: Upper Hutt Paper Plus

Scoop media: New Zealand Post to close 79 shops

Radio NZ: Kiwibank customers ‘appalled’ by branch closures

Otago Daily Times: Closure of NZ Post, Kiwibank branches confirmed

NZ Herald: Kiwibank set to close Te Puke branch, new PostShop outlet sought

Fairfax media: Call for NZ Post agency partner boycott to stop Kiwibank’s Stoke closure

National: Public Meeting to Oppose KiwiBank Closure/Postshop Downgrade

NZ Post – NZ Government: Deed of Amendment and Restatement

Fairfax media:  Union says more Kiwibank branches will shut as NZ Post separates

Additional

NZ Post: History of New Zealand Post

DPMC: Ministerial Portfolio – State Owned Enterprises

Previous related blogposts

Solid Energy – A solid drama of facts, fibs, and fall-guys

A positive indicator for NZ Post…?

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 22 January 2019.

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Categories: The Body Politic Tags: ,

National whines about Cullen’s appointment – they should know about cronyism

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When it comes to a repulsive cocktail of double standards, self-interest, and hypocrisy, National is the party that just keeps on giving…

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from: Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to: Listener <letters@listener.co.nz>
date: 25 November 2017
subject: Letters to the editor

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The editor
The Listener

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On 23 November, the Coalition government fulfilled another of it’s election pledges. Finance Minister Grant Robertson and Revenue Minister Stuart Nash announced that Michael Cullen would head the planned Taxation Working Group to look into issues surrounding a fairer taxation system.

National’s political strategist and former minister, Steven Joyce responded with a predictable jerk-of-the-knee;

“Sir Michael is many things but a politically independent voice on taxation policy he is not. Let’s face it, he was Labour’s last Finance Minister and one of the key coalition negotiators for the Labour Party.”

Joyce’s reprehensible swipe at Cullen’s appointment was hypocritical for two reasons.

Firstly, it was National that appointed Cullen  as deputy chairman of NZ Post in April 2009. By November 2010, then SOE Minister, Simon Power, had promoted Cullen to Chair of NZ Post, saying;

“I look forward to working with Dr Cullen to develop NZ Post’s strategy to accommodate declining mail volumes and a challenging financial environment.”

Secondly, when it comes to cronyism, National is hard to beat. Just some of their political appointees include Jackie Blue, Wyatt Creech, Mervyn English, Sir Wira Gardiner, Catherine Isaac,  Judy Kirk, Richard Long, Wayne Mapp, Stephen McElrea, Jim McLay, Belinda Milnes,  Ravi Musuku, Brian Neeson, Kerry Prendergast, , Katherine Rich, Jenny Shipley,   Ken Shirley, Roger Sowry,  and Penny Webster.

One of National’s worst instances of cronyism was the hugely wasteful, so-called “Rules Reduction Taskforce“, which produced it’s “loopy rules report”. Half the “Taskforce”, appointed by Paula Bennett in 2014, consisted of former National MPs such as Tau Henare, John Carter, and former party candidates Mark Thomas and Ian Tulloch. They were each paid $500 a day.

Eventually the “Taskforce” reported that many of the contentious bureaucratic regulations  did not exist in reality. They were urban myths.

Thank you Steven Joyce for reminding us how National excels at cronyism.

-Frank Macskasy

[address and phone number supplied]

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Further on the issue of the so-called Rules Reduction Taskforce”, Green Party MP, Julie-Anne Genter,  said at the time;

“We’re getting to that point where the National government is losing all perspective or sense of touch with reality – when they think it’s okay to pay their former MPs or candidates and donors to undertake what’s ostensibly some sort of taskforce work, it’s really just an exercise in PR and spin.”

That little exercise cost taxpayers a cool $750,000.

Around the same time, the Wanganui Chronicle reported that community NGOs were suffering badly, with several such as Relationships Aotearoa and the YWCA, closing entirely;

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Fellow blogger,  Curwen Rolinson, was also less than impressed at  Joyce’s naked hypocrisy, pointing out on Facebook;

But hold on just a moment. I’ve literally lost count of the number of consultative bodies and even straight-up *Inquiries* that the National Party *quite pointedly* staffed the chairing of with their own people, flunkies, and other such questionable appointments.

I mean, as an example of this – their placing of John Shewan at the head of the group convened to look into slash “dispel” the perception of New Zealand as a tax-haven, for instance, was quite directly a case of placing a fox in charge of a hen-house [Shewan’s private sector activities including quite a spate of tax-“consultancy” and linkages to a series of potentially dodgy international firms in this regard].

Or, worse, the series of appointments of [now Dame – guess why she got the gong, eh?] Paula Rebstock to head Inquiries into everything from Peter Dunne’s ‘alleged’ leaking of materials around the GCSB’s illegal conduct through to the ‘Leask’ affair concerning MFAT information being anonymously passed to the Labour Party.

Curwen continued to strip away National’s faux outrage;

Further, if I recall correctly, the previous National Government’s “2025 Taskforce” on pensions and the like was convened to be *chaired by* none other than arch-neoliberal [and former National Party Leader] Don Brash. I don’t seem to recall the National Party raising any issue with “politically tied” appointments to policy working-group style arrangements THEN…?

What’s different about Cullen on the Tax Working Group, I wonder…?

But when it came to cronyism mixed with  commercial self interest, Judith Collins’ involvement in the Oravida milk company scandal was hard to top, as political commentator, Bryce Edwards put bluntly;

Justice Minister Judith Collins has revealed she had a dinner with the head of Oravida and a senior Chinese government official while in China last year and admits she was wrong not to disclose the dinner last week. Mrs Collins has been under pressure to explain her dealings with the milk company Oravida, where her husband is a director;

Perceptions of corruption, cronyism and conflicts of interest can be incredibly damaging to any government, and National will be very wary of a narrative developing that this administration is infected with political sleaze.

Nothing makes a government look more tired, out-of-touch, and arrogant than scandals that suggest governing politicians are ethically compromised and governing in the interests of the powerful rather than the public.

Judith Collins’ milk endorsement scandal is beginning to have a serious impact on the Government’s reputation. But unfortunately for National, there are a number of similar stories dogging it at the moment, and they all come on the back of previous allegations of cronyism related to the scandals over John Banks as well as the SkyCity convention centre procurement process.

The scandal over Judith Collins and her allegedly favourable treatment of the milk company that her husband helps run has allowed National’s opponents to make some strong attacks on the character of, not only the Minister of Justice, but the whole National administration

By August 2014, the allegations of sleaze, corruption, conflicts of interest became over-whelmingly and Collins was forced to step down from her ministerial roles.

There were many other instances of cronyism revealed during National’s nine years in office. Several resulted in ministerial resignations.

If the appointment of a former Finance Minister to a working group focused on Finance issues (ie, taxation) is the worst that National can throw at the new Coalition government – then it is lobbing damp squibs.

Considering National’s own recent murky history, the issue of cronyism is one where it might be wiser to keep a very, very, very low profile.

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Appendix

A roll call of some of National’s cronies – ex-members of Parliament appointed to various government bodies, organisations, NGOs, working groups, etc;

Blue, Jackie

Creech, Wyatt

English, Mervyn

Gardiner, Sir Wira

Isaac, Catherine

Kirk, Judy

Long, Richard

Mapp, Wayne

McElrea, Stephen

McLay, Jim

Milnes, Belinda

Musuku, Ravi

Neeson, Brian

Prendergast, Kerry

Rich, Katherine

Shipley, Jenny

Shirley, Ken

Sowry, Roger

Webster, Penny

This list is not complete.

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References

Fairfax media:  Sir Michael Cullen to head tax working group, GST changes possible

NZ Herald:  Cullen leaves politics for NZ Post role

NZ Herald:  Cullen to replace Bolger at NZ Post

Fairfax media:  Cullen appointed NZ Post chairman

Radio NZ: National accused of cronyism over ‘loopy rules’ report

Wanganui Chronicle:  Concern over lack of funding for NGOs

Facebook: Curwen Ares Rolinson – 24 November 2017

NZ Herald:  Bryce Edwards – The National Government is looking sleazy

Radio NZ: Collins resigns after ‘smear campaign’

Frankly Speaking: Cronywatch

Additional

Radio NZ:  National accused of cronyism over ‘loopy rules’ report

NZ Herald:  Bryce Edwards – The National Government is looking sleazy

Other Blogs

AmeriNZ Blog:  Is John Key’s government corrupt?

The Standard:  Cabinet Club

Previous related blogposts

The Fletcher Affair – a warning for Labour

Doing ‘the business’ with John Key – Here’s How (Part # Rua)

Crony Watch!

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 26 November 2017.

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A positive indicator for NZ Post…?

16 December 2013 7 comments

Taken in a shopping mall in the Hutt Valley today;

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A posting box over-flowing with mail? Could this be a turn-around for NZ Post and a sign of increased business?

As we are all shareholders in the company – let’s hope so!

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