Russian Postal Service – trials and tribulations

Although often maligned, there is no doubt that the Russian Postal Service has made tremendous strides in recent years to modernize systems and improve service.

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For many Russian citizens, the Postal system today often looks like the frequently circulated joke that if one wishes to see what Soviet customer service was like, visit a post office.

Even critics admit that perhaps the crowning accomplishment of the Russian Post was the delivery of some 70 million parcels per month under dangerous conditions to Soviet army units during  the Great Patriotic War (World War II). They just wish it worked as efficiently and with the same sense of urgency today.

Postal authorities point to improvements and say that in reality the system is getting better.

According to the Moscow Times, Russian Post has 42,000 post offices, 380,000 employees, 52 million parcels, and processes 1.5 billion letters annually. Meanwhile, the company received 27,000 complaints, 15,000 burned letters, and 7.5 million rubles of fines in the last six months.

In a report from January of this year, Russia Behind the Headlines wrote that the average delivery time for a package from the UK to Russia is two months. As to frequent delays, many of those are the fault of Customs as the Postal Service simply must wait until each incoming package has been inspected.

There are even delivery games created to play “Postal Express.

Russian Post game

Those critical of the service point to a shortage of employees and low pay thereby contributing to a “why should I care?” attitude among mail handlers and those who make deliveries.

Disgruntled customers went so far as to create a website detailing problems at the service, http://anti-russianpost.ru. That website appears to have been closed but not to worry, there are plenty of ways to hate on social sites such as Facebook (I Hate Russian Post) and vkontake.

If things like low wages and disregard for customer service weren’t bad enough, how is your package treated en route? An online video has “gone viral” as the expression goes when passengers on a train filmed this scene of postal packages being tossed from a train wagon onto the concrete platform in the Siberian city of Novosibirsk.

Postal authorities are currently investigating the Novosibirsk train incident. In April of this year then-Chief Executive Alexander Kiselyov of the Russia Post was fired after several scandals surfaced. It remains to be seen what impact the Novosibirsk matter will have on current director Dmitry Strashnov. Russia has seen five different Postal Service Chief Executives since 2007.

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Need to track a package online? Here is a tracking tool for the Russian Postal Service.