The Austrian post office branch near us just closed since the Post decided to sell the building so it could be converted to condominiums. It’s a beautiful Jugendstil building. The photo above shows the tower. The building is on the corner of two narrow streets so it’s hard to get a good photo. It’s sad to lose a convenient post office but I can sort of understand the need to sell valuable property, although it’s another loss for the public realm.
They remodelled the Post Office portion of the building around the time we arrived in Vienna. They added a store selling office supplies, telephones, computers etc. that you needed to walk through to get to the post counter. The funny thing about the remodel was that they did not add the simple queuing principle of one line for all open counters which you see almost everywhere now. So it was roulette as to which line would move fastest. I tried to take a photo of this chaos but it isn’t allowed because the Post Office in Austria also is a bank.
After about two years they changed to the one-line approach, but the funny thing was that many people tried to skip through and pretend that they did not see the signs for the new system (especially women of a certain age!). I have to say that the Post Office workers were generally really good about this and sent the queue-jumpers back.
Anyway, the point of today’s story is that I bought a box of envelopes one day from the Post.AT own label. Today I went to the post office to mail a letter with one of these envelopes and it cost 6.80 Euros, that’s close to $8.80 for a very light letter to the USA. I was a little surprised and asked the person why it was so much. She showed me the sizing-chart that is on the scale for weighing the letters. The envelope is about 2 millimeters too large in width and height to qualify for the 1.70 Euro rate! I did not know whether to laugh or cry.
So, is it smart business to sell envelopes that make customers pay 300% more to mail something? Or, will it just piss us off and encourage (even) more people to use alternatives to the post office? I know which camp I am in.