Rural mail contractors don’t just bring us the post, they deliver newspapers, courier packages and junk mail too.
It wouldn’t matter if the junk mail came less often, or if it didn’t come at all. But losing Saturday delivery of the paper would be a nuisance and dropping mail deliveries to just three days a week would cause major inconvenience.
Prime Minister John Key and Communications Minister Steven Joyce are wary of the suggestion by New Zealand Post that Saturday mail deliveries might stop or deliveries drop to three days a week.
However, NZ Post is an SOE and the decision is up to its board, not politicians.
Increasing use of the internet and other forms of electronic communication is a major reason people are using snail mail less.
My mother used to write to extended family and friends frequently and when my brothers and I left home we got a letter once a week. It would be rare for anyone to send anything by post that often now when phone calls are much cheaper than they used to be and texts, email, Facebook and other electronic means of communication offer convenient alternatives to letters.
We still send and receive invoices and cheques through the mail but but not nearly as much as we used to because electronic invoicing and payments are replacing paper ones.
We get more give away papers than in the past too – which I see as a sign the rural economy is rebounding; but we get only one daily paper – the ODT – where we used to get The Press as well. Our mail doesn’t arrive until sometime after lunch and we found we’d caught up with most of the news from the radio or internet so were giving the second paper insufficient attention to justify the cost.
We still read the ODT properly but if it came only three times a week we might not which, if others followed suit, would hurt the paper and add to the list of items no longer being delivered by mail.
Alternatives to snail mail are serious competition for NZ Post but reducing service will make it worse.
NZ Post should be working on ways to encourage greater use of its delivery service rather than throwing in the towel and hastening its demise.