Parcels and lost letters from La Poste: “Sometimes I can’t finish my rounds”, confides a postwoman

It has never cost so much: the red stamp went to 1.43 euros on January 1, 2022. A way to compensate for the drop in mail flow with a 20% decrease over one year. La Poste therefore has fewer letters to distribute, but at the same time more and more French people complain of ending up with mail that is late, or even never delivered.

>> “I feel like they’re kidding me”: why so much dissatisfaction with the delivery of parcels by La Poste?

To realize the anger of users, we went to a small town in Essonne. By going door to door in a housing estate, there are many testimonies on the problems of mail delivery. “I had a death announcement in my mail dated December 17 and I received it almost a month late”, says one of the inhabitants.“On January 6, I received an invoice posted on December 17 and to be honored before January 1”, laments another.

Recipient errors, delays or disorganization? To see more clearly, franceinfo followed Cathy, a postwoman for thirty years.

At 10 a.m., departure of the bike tour. First element to understand the distribution problems, a few months ago Cathy’s job changed: “We arrived in the morning, we sorted the mail ourselves. Already, there was no error. Then, we prepared our rounds and our recommendations. Then we went on our bikes.” But today, this organization is over.

To cope with the drop in the flow of letters, La Poste is reorganizing itself at the moment. From now on, postmen no longer prepare their bags. He picks it up ready made. A sorting center takes care of it with a lot of temporary workers, with little training, resulting in longer days for Cathy: “Even me, who has thirty years of experience, I have to run to finish the tour. Sometimes I can’t finish…” At the end of the day, Cathy finds herself each day with a pile of undelivered letters piling up on her desk.

This reorganization is not working according to several postal workers we contacted. But La Poste does not stop there, the group has also canceled tours all over France. It’s still about saving money. There are half as many rounds in Cathy’s sector and to compensate, the remaining rounds are lengthened.

If Cathy does not manage to finish, the situation does not improve when it is a temporary worker or a CDD, without experience and without knowledge of the terrain, who inherits the tour. Example still in this town of Essonne, in a sector where temporary workers follow one another: “Recently, a package of letters was found on the street by a couple, who delivered them on Sundays”, says a resident. Letters abandoned by overwhelmed postal workers. Cases are increasing across the country. You should know that the use of temporary postal workers has exploded in recent years. Moreover, currently, a thousand missions of this type are offered on the site of Pôle Emploi.

Covid-19 has also disrupted mail delivery. La Poste is slowed down by the absences of its employees, specifies the management which has also refused to speak at the microphone of franceinfo. But at the same time, the group has seen its parcel deliveries soar with a 30% increase in 2020 with the increase in online shopping. From now on, priority is given to parcels, deemed more profitable by the group.

To camouflage the failures related to the distribution of mail, La Poste has a technique as explained by Arnaud, postman in the South-East: “When the situation becomes critical, La Poste brings in a super-roller or super-roller. He or she rotates and does not distribute everything, but the users on the first days are reassured. They say to themselves that there is the yellow car and that they will no doubt get their mail. This is what we call, in postal jargon: ‘the yellow car effect’.”

But this effect only lasts for a while, and the anger of users remains. So what to do? La Poste is losing money with mail: 13% drop in turnover in 2020 on distribution, a drop that has continued for ten years. To limit damage, the State has planned to pay 500 million euros each year to ensure the universal postal service. Translation: ensure a minimum service.

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