An open letter to Latvijas Pasts

Dear Latvijas Pasts, 

Having lived in Latvia for almost four years now, I truly thought that I had scraped the bottom of the barrel when it came to deplorable customer service. However, on Thursday afternoon, your Čaka Street branch plumbed new depths. 

It being Mammy O’Grady’s birthday next week, I thought I’d be a good daughter and send her a card. Naturally, in order to do this, I would need a stamp. I popped into your Čaka Street branch on my way to a lesson, and was rather surprised to see that you’d done away with the 3 or 4 button system. Now there was just one button to push to get a ticket. Push it I did, and then I waited. And waited. And waited. 

When no new customers were called within 15 minutes, I left, vowing to return on my way back from my lesson. My lesson with Dangering complete, I went back. I pushed the button again and got my ticket. I was number 310. 295 was currently being served. I sat and waited. And waited. And waited. (And sweated. Ever heard of air-conditioning?)

45 minutes later, they were serving number 206 but I’d had enough. No new customers had been called in the previous 15 minutes as both (yes, there were only two members of staff) assistants were dealing with customers who wanted to post multiple packages. I wasn’t the only person to leave without doing what they had come to do. Six or seven usually placid Latvians also lost patience and left. 

I have previously compared the speed at which Latvians move to that of a severely hungover slug. I now take this back. In fact, I reckon slugs probably make jokes about the speed at which Latvijas Pasts workers move. 

However, for once, I don’t blame the staff members. I blame your ridiculous system, or lack thereof. What’s especially mind-boggling to me is that you actually had a system that worked, then got rid of it. Why, WHY, would you do that?

As for Mammy O’Grady, I’ll be hand-delivering her card at Christmas as I’m not wasting one more second of my life in any of your ‘fine’ establishments. It will probably be faster that way anyway.

Yours sincerely,

Linda O’Greidija. 

About BerLinda

Adjusting to life in Germany, after living in Latvia for four years. Should be easy, right?
This entry was posted in Humour, Latvia and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

156 Responses to An open letter to Latvijas Pasts

  1. Pecora Nera says:

    It sounds like Latvia has copied the Italian system. We stupidly opened an Italian post office bank account, when we realised how hopeless it was, it took me 5 visits and 3 weeks to close it.

  2. barbedwords says:

    At least you’ll soon be in Berlin, where I imagine the Post Office will work with speed and perfect efficiency 🙂

  3. so many hours wasted in the post office. ugh. im sorry that it makes me feel a little better to know there is worse than the belgian system. i’m so ready to get out of here. but i wont be going there 😉

    • Expat Eye says:

      Anna and Simone are going to brave it 😉 What a weekend – and end to Expat Eye on Latvia – that will be! 🙂

      • Wait whaaat? I’m totally jealous of Anna! I get to meet her on Friday! I don’t know Simone. And wait – the end?? I totally missed something!!

      • Expat Eye says:

        Yep, I heard you guys were meeting too! I’m sure you’ll have a blast! Simone = Lady of the Cakes. The weekend = cake and beer fest 😉
        Well, I’m moving to Germany in September, so there’ll be no more evil eye on Latvia 😉

      • Will you keep up blogging? Where in Germany? You’re moving closer and I’m moving away 😦

      • Expat Eye says:

        Ha ha! Are you doing that on purpose!?
        Berlin 🙂 And yes, I’ll keep up blogging – I’m sure the Germans do lots of weird shit too 😉

      • you’ve been on my top list of who to meet for almost two years – you’d have been a reason to stay! oh man. im jealous. i’ve heard berlin is exceptional.

      • Expat Eye says:

        It’s definitely worth a trip if you have time before you leave! It’s a great city 🙂 And wow, I’m honoured 🙂 Maybe I’ll come visit you – in your mystery destination!!

      • we have 3 weeks and justin is in busy season for 2 of them so we’re done traveling. such a bummer. um, yes. absolutely please. can we convince you to come to the states? we’ll bribe you with beaches and bbq.

      • Expat Eye says:

        Done 🙂 It’s been ages since I was last in the States! Would love to go back!

  4. Kaufmans Kavalkade says:

    Can’t you buy stamps at the local 7-11dijia?

  5. wasd says:

    Not shure about my fellow latvians, but I avoid Latvijas Pasts if there is an alternatives like UPS or DPD or whatever who is not part of Latvijas Pasts.

    • Expat Eye says:

      I don’t think I’ll have to use them again before I leave anyway – but at least they replied. Step up from 😉

  6. 1WriteWay says:

    How funny (not really, but you know what I mean). This Saturday I went to my Post Office branch to mail a small book to a friend in Canada. I picked up a cushioned envelope there and went to the clerk. She started to ring me up and then informed me that I needed to fill out a declarations form. Okay, fine, I thought I might have to but wasn’t sure. No big deal. She told me to step aside and fill out the form, which I dutifully did, moving myself to a section between her and another clerk. Then she walked away. I thought perhaps she went to the back to fetch something. I finished my form and then repositioned myself. And waited. And waited. I could see my charge for the envelope was on her computer so she had started to key me in. And so I thought I should wait rather than start over in the line. And I waited. Finally one clerk leaned over to help me, saw that the other clerk had started to key in my purchase and said the clerk should be back soon. (This clerk was very nice and juggling a growing line of customers while she tried to help me.) And I waited. Finally, another clerk came over to help. He also saw that the clerk had left in the middle of a transaction, smiled and said she must have gone on break (wtf) and would be back in a couple of minutes. He asked the other clerk to help me in-between her customers. Both of these clerks were very nice, but I was seething. Finally, the other clerk (not the first one) was free to help me. She was smiling and friendly the whole time but obviously frazzled because I had to remind her twice to charge me for the envelope. I am a very honest person. And cheating the PO out of $1.59 was going to make me feel better. As we were finishing up, the first clerk appeared and started to help another customer. Perhaps not suprisingly, she didn’t seem to notice that I was still at the counter. She had to have cleared my transaction in order to help another customer, otherwise that person paid $1.59 for an envelope they didn’t purchase. Granted, my experience was not as bad as yours. It was one visit, and all told I was probably waiting 15-20 minutes. Still, I hope I never see that clerk again! Going to the Post Office is something I’ve always enjoyed doing. When I was a wee thing, it was the only means of long-distance communication I had (yes, dear, personal computers, the internet, none of that was around when I was a child). Anyway, leave it to Latvia to give you one more reason to be glad you’re leaving 😉

  7. Jeans from scratch man! :) says:

    And yes, what i like most about this post is your signature, Ms O’Greidija! 🙂

    • Expat Eye says:

      Paldies! I thought you’d like that 😉 I’m Latvianising myself 😉

    • Bob L. says:

      Ms. O’Grady (!) is not the only one with those views about the Pasts here!! I’ve just come back from the local Post Office and my blood pressure has been driven to alarming heights!
      I HATE having to use the damned ‘service’ – or having to go anywhere near the place!!

      • Expat Eye says:

        They actually looked into it! Reply copied and pasted below! Take care of your blood pressure, Bob 🙂
        First of all, we would like to apologize to our customer for the situation that occurred, because waiting for such a long time is definitely unacceptable. However, we cannot quite understand how such a situation could arise. Based on the information specified in your blog, we have checked the CCTV record of the operation of the specific post office during the period of time mentioned by you: on that day there were three postal operators’ desks open in Riga post office No. 11 from 12 PM to 3 PM, and there were 15 customers at the same time in the customer area only for a short while. During the rest of the time there were three to five customers in the office. Besides, at some moments there were no customers at all. Obviously, all the customers who visited the office at that time used time-consuming services.

        Latvijas Pasts provides customers with a variety of postal services which take some time to process. For example, collecting of a shipment will certainly be much faster than processing of registered mail to be sent or subscribing to newspapers and magazines.

        It should be noted that there tend to be a lot of shipments and customers in some post offices in Riga on the first days or the last days of the month. Many of such customers are elderly people to come to the post not only to receive a shipment or send mail to someone, but also to pay bills, collect their pension or use some other of the services available. The employees of Latvijas Pasts help such customers fill out the required forms and patiently explain how to pay the bills and so on. Therefore, the servicing may take a little longer, and in such situations we ask the customers to be more tolerant.

        Lately, the number of small packages sent via Latvijas Pasts has increased, however customers do not always come right away to pick up their shipments, so all uncollected items are stored in the post office. This can lead to situations when customers do not go to the post office to pick their shipments gradually over a period of time, but show up at the same time, for example, on the first days of the month. Besides, customers sometimes forget to take the informative letter with them and do not know the shipment tracking number. In such cases, it takes a lot of time to find a specific package or a small package among several hundreds of shipments. This can cause queues forming in the post office from time to time.

        Taking into consideration the above mentioned information, we have now launched a pilot project in the biggest cities of Latvia, which involves the creation of a separate queue for the customers who want to collect their registered mail at the time when there is the greatest flow of customers in the post office.

        However, currently we have no plans for creating and maintaining a separate desk where customers could only buy stamps and envelopes, because first of all, this service is not in very high demand in the post offices, and, secondly, maintaining of such a separate desk would not be cost effective for the company. It is no secret that the amount of the traditional postal services is decreasing in the whole world each year and companies operating in the postal sector are looking for ways to earn money by offering customers a variety of other services in order to be able to keep up the entire postal network in general and provide postal services throughout the country at uniform tariffs, including in rural areas. This problem is particularly acute for such a small country like Latvia, where the population density and the number of people are decreasing and the spending power is not as high so that the postal services alone could bear the high costs of maintaining the post offices.
        That is why we try to distribute postal items, such as stamps, also in places where they are most in demand and where there no as time-consuming services as the ones provided in Latvijas Pasts offices: any customer can purchase
        stamps at Narvesen points of sale, bookstores, special philatelic stores and selected hotels, as well as on our website

      • Bob L. says:

        I’ve read the reply – and it sounds like something produced by an automaton – and a bureaucratic one at that! The solution to too many parcels awaiting collection is rather obvious, but perhaps the slow movers and thinkers aren’t all behind the Pasts counters – DELIVER the damned things, like any other decent postal service does!! Or perhaps there is no word in the Latvian language which translates to ‘service’!!

      • Expat Eye says:

        Ha ha! I think you should write to them too! 🙂

      • Bob L. says:

        I did!! Over a year ago – and it was ignored. Possibly because I sent it from their web-site – where no-one else could see it and agree with it!! Devious so and so’s! (Jeez! I’m being polite to them!)

        Time for bed! That might bring my blood pressure down!!

      • Expat Eye says:

        Ha ha! Sleep well!
        They seem to respond to Twitter – don’t know if you’re on that!

  8. Jeans from scratch man! :) says:

    Linda, everything in our lives is a result of our attitude and way of thinking. Take it easier! 🙂 Don’t spoil your day or more on such a small thing! Just buy your stamp anywhere else and leave your card in one of yellow post boxes which can be seen on the streets. Be happy and smile, and what’s most important – as a result Mommy O’Grady will be happy about you and the card she will receive much before The Christmas!

    • Expat Eye says:

      Mammy – she’s not American 😉
      And I’m sure I could go into Latvijas Pasts with the most positive attitude and way of thinking in the history of the world – and still be ready to kill someone by the time I left 😉 But I’ll try harder in future, Jeans from Scratch Man (wonder who that could be!) 😉

  9. Pingback: it’s not about the exercise | my year[s] of sweat!

  10. bevchen says:

    I buy stamps online. German post office employees are aloooow as well, at least in the two branches I go to. The one near the train station is particularly bad. If I’m approaching the front of the queue and see that I’m going to be stuck with one old guy my heart sinks.

    • Expat Eye says:

      Yeah, there’s always a random old guy! The guy in the one closest to my house in Dublin could talk for Ireland, so I go to the one slightly further away but infinitely faster!!

  11. Anna says:

    Oh man, I’d have lost my mind. Though Russian post isnt much better, so I always allow myself an hour every time I need to go there – you never know how long the line might be.
    The slug joke – precious!

  12. NancyTex says:

    What a wonderful, wonderful place to live. I can’t imagine why you’d ever considering leaving, Linda.

  13. Hand delivery. Yes, well, let’s call that option X. I reckon you should make a number of copies of the card. One, you keep for hand delivery. The others, you attempt to deliver by various alternative routes.

    For example, put one in a bottle and toss it into the sea. No, actually, don’t do that – there’s enough rubbish in the sea. Give it to a backpacker heading vaguely west-ish. Put another in a park with a teddy bear dressed as a postman and a little explanatory note encouraging people to give the bear a hand. And… I feel there should be at least two more options…

  14. TRex says:

    Hmmm, there are plenty of differences between one location and another methinks. My local in Babīte can be super slow depending on who is front of you in the queue as they sell office “stuff” as well. But Tukums has these automated bins (for lack of another word) outside the Rimi where you can self-weigh/send packages and I assume, purchase stamps although the actual postage station is much more convenient. I’ll check when I’m there tomorrow just out of curiosity as I’ve not seen them elsewhere.

    I hope you purchased more than one stamp? 🙂

  15. astrameklere says:

    Linda, ask for stamps in any Narvessen! No queues, no worries. And yess – our post is slow, and it is because of their outdated and unefficient systems. Did you know they almost went to bankrupt a couple years ago? 🙂

  16. andrisbb says:

    Only one word describes this – foreigners 😀 You live in Riga for four years now and manage to pick a worst LP branch, while there is 5 smaller branches around without queuing systems and other fancy stuff, where you can just pop in and post your card immediately

    • Expat Eye says:

      Heh heh, foreigners 😉 You’re so Latvian 😉 This one was on my way – I passed it around 4 times that day! And in my defence, there were plenty of sweating, frustrated Latvians there too 😉
      And I like the fancy stuff 😉

    • Bob L. says:

      That’s just crap! My local Post Office has no queueing system and as a result it’s usually chaotic!! I dread having to go into the place!
      I have never before seen a Post Office where people go to the counter with ‘something’ to post – and the staff make up a parcel for them!! It’s incredible! I am sure there are other Post Offices in this world where the clerk would throw the ‘something’ at the customer if they were asked to do that sort of thing!
      They also seem to have a system of their own where ‘pensioners’ are given precedence over everybody else! One old biddy walked in, and instead of joining the queue, she announced that she was 60 and was too old to stand in line for three- quarters of an hour! I couldn’t find the Latvian words to tell her that I was 75 – and giving her, and the useless staff, a stream of invective in English wouldn’t have done much good!
      Long live DHL – and similar!

      • Expat Eye says:

        Ha ha! I would have loved to have seen you screaming at a Latvian pensioner! 🙂 Great to have you back! I’ve been meaning to send you an email to see how you were! We must meet up for a beverage before I leave! 🙂

  17. I thought I was being hard done by a couple of weeks ago when I had to wait ten minutes in the post office while several people were handing in passport forms (using the new post office checking service) and someone was having trouble sorting out insurance. I realise now that some people would dream of being served so quickly!!

  18. They’ve taken lessons in Toledo!!!

  19. Well over here Paštas can be both a pop in and out affair, or might take quite a lot of your time. Problem is that Post now offers more additional services than just regular postal ones. One might just buy some stamps and post or receive a parcel, or they might be there to take a loan or pay their bills, etc., etc. So if you happen to pop in when the majority of other customers ahead of you in a queue are paying some bills, then this means really long waiting time for you, plus if it’s summer and hot it gives you a chance to enjoy some sort of smelly sweat sauna gratis. And trying to get to the end of the line and finally get your parcel or send anything on a fist decade of any month might be a mission impossible sometimes, cause quite a lot of pensioners here are there to draw their pensions and then pay their bills. The other reason for slowness is that quite often post’s employees are literary snail slow with their typing.
    Good news is that there are some postomats (postal automats or whatever they’re called), using which you can send and receive parcels and never have to queue as well as can do it 24hrs round

    • Expat Eye says:

      Yeah, I think I chose pensioners’ hour 😉 God knows what they were doing but each person took at least 20 minutes. If you just want to buy a stamp, it’s so annoying! Don’t you have automated ticketing systems in LT either? I really can’t understand why this branch did away with it – it worked just fine!

      • not around where I live, but some might have, cause the system varies with every branch. In the one closest to me they used to have a window with a buzz button separately for customers who want to receive their parcels or signed for letters and it worked like a charm. Then they closed that separate service, and now whenever I get a notice of a parcel awaiting for me I have to wait in a line every single time for at the very least some 10 minutes, while previously it took like a minute tops. But, hey, that’s Post for you, and I can only be happy that however bad the service is it ain’t yet even close to that of ‘Going Postal’ by Terry Pratchett 🙂

      • Expat Eye says:

        I really understood the phrase ‘going postal’ for the first time that day 😉 It’s not normal to want to strangle a pensioner 😉

      • haha, I think you’ve just officially been Latvianised today 😀 and this urge is a clear proof of that

      • Expat Eye says:

        I need to leave 😉 I don’t fancy Latvian prison much either – I think Irish prison is like a holiday camp in comparison 😉

    • Bob L. says:

      Why doesn’t the Latvian Post Office actually DELIVER parcels? They seem not to want to deliver anything bigger than a letter! The senders of parcels addressed to me have PAID for it to be delivered to me!!

      • Expat Eye says:

        Yeah, and it’s a pain to have to go to the PO to have to pick something up! And everything I’ve ordered so far would have fit into my post box!

  20. Diana says:

    Awwww….Elvis was such a cutie…I really enjoyed that video. Now on to serious stuff – – – I guess post offices all over the world are nuts. In fact, I started writing a post just yesterday while I was waiting IN the post office, because we had been in there so long! Anyway…..I must admit that I hate the Italian post office…at the same time..I could probably write a pretty amusing book on the stuff that goes on in there…..sometimes it seems like “The Three Stooges.”

  21. Mārčuks says:

    Hmm, maybe You can buy a stamp in Narvesen, +Punkts or something similar? There must be if I remember correctly.

  22. Mārtiņs says:

    You chose the worst branch (I think it’s Marijas not Čaka street) the smallest and the busiest.
    No queues on Brīvības street near Cēsu street, for instance.

    • Expat Eye says:

      The one on Čaka used to be fine! And it was on my way – I’d have to go considerably out of my way to go to that one – but it probably still would have been faster 😉

  23. Inga says:

    Plan a trip to the countryside, there is no queues in my village!

  24. severin says:

    By the way, did you check urine curves on WC in the post office? Without this detail your letter seems not completed.

  25. pollyheath says:

    Better than Russia where they haven’t even attempted to update it since the 50s. You just stand in line and try to elbow butting babushki.

    • Expat Eye says:

      Ha, yeah, at least we can sit down! We do have a fair few rude old ladies here as well though – I don’t even feel guilty about elbowing any more 😉

      • pollyheath says:

        You can’t feel guilty or you’d spend days rather than hours queuing (as you Brits insist on saying/spelling).

      • Expat Eye says:

        Ha ha! What do you say? Standing in line?

      • pollyheath says:

        Yes! I’d heard of a queue from reading, but the first time I ever heard a real person say it I almost lost it. The best part is asking my students to pronounce it.

      • Expat Eye says:

        Ha, yeah, koo-ee-oo-ee 😉 Spelling it is also fun!
        I didn’t realise it didn’t exist in American English! No wonder most of my students prefer American 😉

      • pollyheath says:

        Koo-ee-oo-ee and zed basically kill British English!

      • Expat Eye says:

        Yeah, that, and we have rules for conditionals 😉
        If I would have seen you, I would have said hi – ARGH! What is that!?

  26. rigaenglish says:

    Should have gone to the one in the station. I posted a letter from there yesterday afternoon to the UK. In and out in 10 minutes.

  27. I can send her a card from here pretending to be you? May be a bit weird but it’ll probably get there on time.

  28. lizard100 says:

    Postal service here varied. They introduced tickets when there were big post offices because queuing was difficult.but now they’ve closed most of those.

  29. Paul says:

    Ha! Canada Post was like that decades ago. Then they privatized and sold franchises and the service is superb. Many maligerers of employees met their uncerimonious end. Ha!

    • Expat Eye says:

      I’d sack everyone in LP’s management if I could 😉 Maybe they could get a team of monkeys in as consultants – they couldn’t make it any worse 😉

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