Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Soon with real snails

Snail mail: It used to be a sarcastic joke, but in New Zealand, soon it will be real. Well, the pace will be; I don’t think any actual snails will be used.

From mid-2015, New Zealand Post will be able to drop standard mail delivery in urban areas from six days to only three. This change doesn’t affect parcels or “premium” delivery items, just standard mail. This was first talked about back in January.

One important thing to note is that three days is the minimum—NZ Post can deliver more often than that. However, in a blatant case of pandering to its base, the National Party-led Government has said that delivery in rural areas must be at least four days a week. Why the special treatment? Communications and IT Minister Amy Adams told TVNZ’s One News:
“There can be no doubt that rural communities are more reliant on postal services than perhaps some of their urban neighbours where there are better communication alternatives.”
This woman is responsible for IT? Seriously?! Does she not know that rural communities also have this newfangled thing called The Internet? Using it, people in rural areas can, just like their urban neighbours, receive things by email, make bill payments through Internet banking and do all sorts of things that used to be done by post alone.

Of course Amy knows all this: She was just being extremely disingenuous. The issue here isn’t rural communities being “more reliant on postal services” (because they’re not), the issue is that rural communities are the base of the NZ National Party, which will be in a very tough election campaign next year. National is already in trouble in urban centres, so they can’t afford to piss off their core voters, every one of whom will be needed if National is to cling to power.

So, the extra day of standard mail delivery for rural areas has nothing to do with their needs: It’s about National’s need to shore up its vote. It’s politics, pure and simple.

This is supposed to be reviewed again in five years to see if technology has further eroded the need for mail delivery. I can say with absolute certainty that it will have, and the frequency of delivery will be cut again. Once they start cutting standard mail delivery, businesses and their customers will find ways to do without mail service, and so, they’ll need even less and that, in turn, will lead to further cuts. My best guess is that standard mail delivery will be gone entirely within seven years.

I don’t think I’d even notice. We get only a couple bills by post now—the rest are either emailed or viewable online. If I could be bothered, I could easily change it so all our bills are emailed or online, but I haven’t gotten around to it. The reality is, were it not for those rare bills, I probably wouldn’t even notice that we don’t usually get any mail at all.

So, standard mail delivery soon really will be “snail mail”, and the old joke will be the new reality. Progress, eh?

The photo at top is a modified version of a photo available from Morguefile.

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