We are leaving our current rental soon, so I made one of my very infrequent visits to the local branch of the French post office, La Poste, to activate the change of address I had made online. I should add that this service had a price, 30 euro, which I think is a lot.
Nevertheless, I find La Poste a happy place. Branch staff have always been extraordinarily polite and helpful when I’ve failed to understand the French system for getting the right stamps or sending a registered letter, so I don’t have the feeling of dread going there as I do other places of business, say, the bank. (I have been contemplating a post on French customer service, but I want to avoid a rant.)
They are there to serve! To make your life easier! You can use La Poste as your low-fee bank, and your email box. Hundreds of branches across France are sites for economically taking your driver’s test (“passer le code de la route”). It provides a digital safe for the many important documents required for one reason or another on a regular basis by the French bureaucracy (identity card, proof of residence, pay slips). For seniors, La Poste offers a simple, app-enabled touch-screen tablet with a SIM card for WiFi everywhere.
And there’s more.
For older seniors, there’s a new amazing service called “keep watch over my parents.” Sign up, and a postal delivery person (“le facteur”) will make an in-person visit to your parent every week. They will have a chat about what’s new, how things are going, what problems the parent might be having, and consequently the facteur will summarize the chat to the adult child subscriber. Combined with the in-person visits is a 24/7 hotline for emergencies. And the parent gets a monthly magazine, Famileo, customized with personal news and photos. You can get all this for as little as 20 euro a month. What a wonderful supplement to the measures adults take to keep their elderly parents safe and healthy, and in their own homes as long as possible.
La Poste is a vital part of a French neighborhood, a community hub of sorts, an administrative service with a human touch. Would this approach work in the US?
Thank you !
La Poste also has cell with Internet services. Dirt cheap (€18:month)
Ah yes. And you are a user, as I recall.
Would it work in the USA? Guess I’d better ask them, not that a small local outpost could change the nationwide system. Our own P.O. is supposed to be the oldest still-operating branch in the country. Woodrow Wilson transformed the second floor inti his summer White House back at the turn of the 20th century, as his wife and daughter were impassioned hangers-on of the sculptor across the river, Augustus St. Gaudens, and the art colony that had grown up around him.
At the moment, our postal service is struggling, kept tentatively alive by a contract to deliver those endless Amazon orders, including on Sundays. Sounds like France’s post office is going the entrepreneurial route even more ambitiously than ours is. I wonder if it’s still taxpayer funded. Our post office of course is forced to earn its own living independent of tax dollars.
The US has stopped innovating in social services, and other areas. The US post might look to what other countries do. Maybe they have already.
Not sure I can see this happening in US. As for french banks I must say that ours (Credit Lyonnais) has always been extremely helpful. We even dealt with them last year while traveling and we’re able to get everything handled. It probably helps to deal with a very small town branch.
Agreed, a small town branch is a different case.
Very interesting to know more about “La Poste”. My faith in the Canadian system declined abruptly about 30 years ago when I went to the main post office in a city of 300k souls only to be told that they no longer sold stamps, for those I had to visit small postal shops embedded in grocery stores and the like. In the UK, they used to have home delivery six days a week and it was said that a letter posted before 9:00 a.m. would reach its destination the same day anywhere in Great Britain (England, Wales, Scotland). I wonder if this is still the case?
I doubt it, Ian.
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I’m way impressed and even touched by La Poste. This is so humane, so wise. Wow. Glad you’re reporting such things to us, Kathleen! And some more good news…Dems are currently surging in some Virginia polls. B.
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And I forgot, now that the French can file taxes online, the Poste has a service where someone helps you do that.