Montreux, my home, my paradise.

Montreux, my home, my paradise.
Montreux at dusk

24 February 2013

A great "Service Public": The Swiss Post

I remember when I was young. Like in many countries, public administration was something "sleepy". If you worked for a goverment agency, your salary was not that high, but your were assured for a lifetime employment. For us, the clients, we hesitated to go to a government office because, often, it was cumbersome or you were not well received. We had state enterprises that were there and did their work. Just did it and we had to abide with it. Over the years things changed. Government agencies pay now well and that has the effect that people search to work for them.

Like in almost every country, Switzerland had its classic state entreprises: The railways and the post. At that time, it was called PTT: Post, Telephone, Telegramme. The railways "SBB" has changed into the probably most efficient railroad company in the world and is the backbone of our public transport system. I already have written extensively about it, The PTT was split into two: "swisscom" for telecommunication (a very modern, efficient and dynamic company) and the "Swiss Post". Today, I would like to dwell on them.

The "Swiss Post" is touching everyday the life of thousands of people in Switzerland. If, basically, one thinks that their main job (and it is a main job) to distribute only mail, you are wrong. The enterprise is offering a wide variety of services that go far beyond the traditional "post office". And those services are delivered extremely efficiently, with no flaw and very reliable. And if, in very rare cases, there is a problem "Swiss Post" has a wonderful customer service you can call. When you talk to them, you feel that they are very solution oriented and at the end, when you hang up, you feel good.

We have our famous banks in Switzerland. Big ones, world reknowned ones. And, as we know, banks that have been in troubles, for many years, for various reasons. Me, I had some issues with my bank many years ago. I was utterly displeased. I needed an alternative and I opened a "postal checking account", a service from the Post.

Today, it is called "PostFinance".

                                            Copyright photo - Die Schweizerische Post

Let's be simple and not loose to many words: For me it is the best finance service I ever have known. Reliable, easy, performant and a must in one's daily life. I have exactly, and even more, services than I would have with a bank. I pay my bills (most of them come electronically to my postal account and I just click for payment). When I am making transfers to a foreign bank account, anywhere in the world, the beneficiary is credited withing 2 days. Sometimes I have to send money urgently to someone. For this, there is Western Union. But I don't need to go to a Western Union office. I can do the transfer straight from my post account. And the fee is cheaper.

                                                 Copyright photo - DieSchweizerische Post

Needless to say that I can go to any ATM and withdraw funds. "PostFinance" is so efficient that more and more people are leaving the banks and go to "PostFinance" who is now offering a wide range of services, including mortgages. A real good alternative to banks and I am convinced that in a few years, they will be THE bank.

Most of the people in Switzerland live in an area of one third of the size of Switzerland. This regions is called the "Mittelland" or "le plateau". It is well developed with an as well developed public transport system. But then we have the rural and the mountain areas. Here, people need transport too.

                                            Copyright photo - Die Schweizerische Post

There comes in the service of the "Swiss Postal Cars". Modern vehicles are transporting people and mail.

                                            Copyright photo - Die Schweizerische Post

The yellow busses, and they are many of them, strengthen our public transport system. The deserve villages in the "Mittelland" and they go high up into the hidden mountain valleys. And it is not that you have one bus on Monday, one on Wednesday and one on Friday. They are running with frequent departures. When you go, for instance, to the railway station in Sion, the capital city of the Valais canton, you see dozens of postal cars waiting for the trains to arrive and to carry the travellers immediately to their destination.

Let's not forget the "classic" service of the Swiss Post: The mail.


                                            Copyright photo - Die Schweizerische Post

Everywhere we have to boxes where you drop your letters to be sent.          

                                            Copyright photo - Die Schweizerische Post

Modern distribution centers sort letters and parcels and they are delivered to their destinations within the shortest time possible. We have two possibilities: The A mail which is delivered the next day and the B mail, a bit cheaper, and delivered within a few days. When I send my income tax return, I use B mail.


                                            Copyright photo - Die Schweizerische Post

Needless to say that the Swiss Post is as efficient when it comes to international mail. Letters from the USA reach me in about 3 days, parcels from order I made with Amazon come within 7 days. And the good part is, I do not have to worry about customs clearance, the Post takes care of that. When the postman delivers the parcel at my home, I just pay him the custom duty, if there is any.

I would like to end this story about a service the Swiss Post provides, which for me is an absolute hit: The Swiss Post Box. This service is my "life saver". As I am most of the time outside of Switzerland, I always have (had) unpleasant letters when I came home. Reminders of unpaid bills, important documents I did not fill in in time and so on. When, a few years ago, the post launched this service, I subscribed to it immediately.

The system is simple: You get a particular address with a box number. You communicate that address to everybody (or the ones you want to). Mail is sent to that address. Then the Post sends you an email that you have received postal mail. The email has a photo of the enveloppe. Then you tell the Post what to do with it. Either to destroy it (which is not advisable when it is your income tax bill) or to send it to a different address or to open and scan it. If you chose this, you will get a day later an email with the letter in PDF format. If you receive a registered letter, they can open it too. But if you think that it is too confidential, you tell the Post to send it to a different address. The same works with parcels. Those you have to send to a different address, because I think it would be difficult to scan the content of a parcel into a PDF :-). So, you have complete control over your postal mail when you are absent and wherever you are in the world. There is no problem of confidentiality, the Post guarantees secrecy.

And here is the best part of Swiss Post Box: The Swiss Post is offering this service also in France, Germany, Italy and Austria. If you, fellow world roamers and travellers, think that this could be of use to you, you can find all the details on www.post.ch.

That was now a long post. But then, I had many things to say about the Swiss Postal service. The Swiss Post, a true giant. A good one too. A wonderful service provider, close to the people.




9 comments:

  1. It certainly sounds more awake than the French postal service who are now trying to get rid of first class because they just can't deliver in time. We have excellent service in the two post offices that we use because our friends work there!

    The Swiss post box sounds like an excellent idea.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous21:40

      Well then, try it out the "Swiss Post Box". Do you know who in the sorting center opens your envelope and scans its conten? Hope, it is not the same person who opens the envelope, takes out the money, and throws the envelope away. Good luck anyway.

      Delete
  2. Sounds like a great system. Here is the U.S. the Postal Service is going broke raising prices and doing away with Saturday delivery.

    An Arkies Musings

    ReplyDelete
  3. seems like a good system i will be moving to swiss soon for vacation have some family there :)

    ReplyDelete
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  8. Anonymous21:35

    Sorry, but I do not know in which Switzerland you live. The railways are in a mess (always way too late), the Swiccom phone company is very expensivee and has got a lousy service, the Swiss Post Office is woefully inefficient (a letter from Geneva to Zurich takes three days (if it does not get opened at the sorting office). I just have unsubscribed from the Swiss Post Box, since my correspondents do not understand its strange address. Also, it is much too expensive. Sorry, but I think you live in a kind of sugar candy Switzerland, far away from the reality.

    ReplyDelete

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