PENSIONERS cried out in disbelief when they were told the average waiting time at Worcester's main post office was four minutes.
The reaction came during a special Worcester City Council scrutiny meeting organised to address the difficulties experienced by people using the post office on the first floor of WHSmith.
Since the branch was opened in the store on May 22 last year, there have been many complaints about waiting times, and disability groups have repeatedly called for action over access.
When pensioners were told that a mystery shopper had recently recorded an average waiting time of four minutes, one woman shouted out: "What time of day was that taken because I would zoom in at that time?"
John Dutton, senior account manager for the post office, promised to address some of the issues raised during the meeting but stressed the store was compliant with fire regulations and the Disability Discrimination Act.
"We have 5,500 customers that walk through that door each week and we really do take the service seriously," said Mr Dutton.
"I am not going to rest on my laurels.
"Information from the mystery shopper says it is good but we will continue to monitor it."
He said that their aim was to make sure customers were served within five minutes.
Many post office users raised concerns about the lift being too small, regularly being out of action or used by WHSmith staff to move merchandise between floors.
Mr Dutton said since the branch opened the lift has been out of order seven times this is categorised as an engineer needing to be called.
He gave his personal guarantee if people are trapped in the lift they will be able to call for assistance and he would make sure an emergency post office counter is operated in the event of a lift break-down.
Concerns were also raised about people queuing in the chicane.
Councillor David Clark, who was speaking as a representative from Age Concern, said: "A lot of the elderly have wheelchairs and to negotiate the chicane in order to get to the counter is impossible."
Mr Dutton replied: "I thought the access was pretty good in the branch.
"I will review that layout and if there are obstructions we will move them.
"We would not expect people with scooters to negotiate that, we would expect them to use the counter at the end."
He accepted this was not adequately signposted and he would seek to get it changed.
Worcester News, 30th April 2009