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NZ Post trial leads to sluggish snail mail

By Michele Simpson

Friday 24th March 2000

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State-owned New Zealand Post has problems with domestic late mail delivery to contend with as well as international holdups getting post to the US.

NZ Post is trialing a centralised servicing system in Northland whereby all mail, even if it is going down the road, is sent first to Auckland to be sorted through a new optical character recognition machine.

But the public has been enraged by delays which stretched to several weeks even though in some cases the mail was being sent only 500m down the road.

Kaitaia's Northland Age has reported how the mail delays were causing problems for Kaitaia Hospital informing patients of appointments.

In another example an invitation to a Christmas function, posted in November, took until February 29 to travel from Kaitaia to Whangarei.

NZ Post said there were some hiccups in the initial stages of the trial, but they had been sorted out. The problems resulted from badly addressed mail, NZ Post said.

The new technology machinery means mail can be sorted by a machine instead of by hand. When the trial finishes, NZ Post plans to evaluate its success.

Meanwhile, it said the international problems holding up mail to the US would be eased by re-routing mail to other American cities. US Postal Services has admitted major delays with international mail coming to the US via Los Angeles. Backlogs and congestion have seen a build up of mail, proving a nightmare for internet companies and businesses relying on NZ Post to get mail to the US.

"Alternative delivery arrangements have begun through other cities to avoid delays of two weeks or more," NZ Post planning manager David Espie said. He hoped the changes would mean a return of mail delivery in the US from New Zealand of between four and 10 working days.

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