Machines replace people in Barking post offices

MANY elderly people, who have for years drawn their pensions at the post office and paid their bills promptly in cash, must be bewildered when they are expected to make payments using machines. They cannot pay by direct debit, nor receive their pension mo

MANY elderly people, who have for years drawn their pensions at the post office and paid their bills promptly in cash, must be bewildered when they are expected to make payments using machines.

They cannot pay by direct debit, nor receive their pension money by bank automated transfer, because they have no bank accounts. A short walk to the local sub-post office to draw their pensions and pay their bills became replaced by a much lengthier one to the main post office, and a long queue - thanks to post office closures which Margaret Hodge at first opposed but later, as a Minister, supported. Now they are confronted by machines.

A machine is often not an adequate substitute for a human being. Citizens cannot argue with a machine as to whether the sum which is demanded of them has been correctly calculated, or is payable at all. To do this they will no doubt need to join a queue of people with similar queries - a lengthy queue, because of the relatively few human beings still available.

The council seems to assume, incorrectly, that everyone has a computer, and has entered the electronic age. It has conducted on-line polls from which many elderly must have been excluded.


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It could cut staffing expenditure more effectively by getting rid of some of its overpaid fat cats instead of the much lower-paid clerks who are at the sharp end of the service and provide the friendly human contact which many people, including the elderly, need, but which is not provided by machines.

Oh, of course, we have to pay fat salaries in order to get the right people, don't we?

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Anthony Richards,

Wilmington Gardens - Barking

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