It's that time of year again, when the Royal Mail publishes its tables of the best performing post offices in the country, and mail users frantically check to see if they are living in an area with a good postal service.
This year, unsurprisingly, Box Hill came top of the list again, with an impressive 99.1% successful delivery rate, which will come as no surprise to the penpushing residents of nearby Dorking. Languishing at the bottom of the table is Salford in Manchester, which has a shockingly low delivery rate of 98.5%. Thefts and stray dogs have been blamed for the poor performance. It is likely that Salford Post Office will be relegated this year, with remaining employees being moved to Dorking. Box Hill, on the other hand, will qualify to perform in a new Europe-wide post office performance tournament.
The Royal Mail has emphasised the importance of the league tables, saying that post offices should be able to compete with each other for customers. One spokesman said that once the Royal Mail is privatised, the system will be "every post office for itself," with little communication or cooperation in between them, so they need to be able to look after themselves.
Customers are also keen on the league tables, particularly those of an obsessive-compulsive type. Indeed, so valued is a good post office that house prices are notably higher in well performing areas.
However, critics have ridiculed the idea of comparing post office statistics, because they all go through the same central delivery system. Social commentator Laura Pollocks said, "Having a good mail service should not depend on where you live. As it is, the quality of the Royal Mail is something of a postcode lottery. Literally!"