By Clive Turner
I suppose as Christmas approaches we all hope our Christmas cards will arrive at least before the New Year. But as a family whose invitation to a Golden Wedding invitation arrived exactly one year and seven months after the event, we might be forgiven for feeling just a little disillusioned with our mail service in Cyprus.
That said, it must be made clear there are examples of incredible postal triumphs where letters and magazines have got here within just a few days, and that is true conversely for outgoing mail too. But unhappily, year after year, letters and cards and magazines do seem to take a long while to make it to the island.
It is particularly disappointing with regard to weekly and monthly magazines where much of the content is news and current affairs related. I found some of these magazines get routed through many countries before they reach Cyprus, and this I do find puzzling.
I discovered after extensive research that in the case of the UK postal service, it blamed our island’s administration, and then in turn, the island predictably blamed the UK’s system of route choices to get mail here in a reasonable time frame. I had some interesting correspondence with the UK Royal Mail’s Chief Executive Officer, a lady of great charm and a pleasing willingness to help improve our experience. I also had an interview with the Paphos Postmaster – actually a Post Mistress – whose willingness to improve matters matched her UK’s colleague in the business.
Both ladies did much to look into the myriad reasons why the shortcomings affect us so regularly here but to be fair it seems that each end has its faults, although it is certainly true both ends try valiantly to provide a service of which they can be proud. In the case of Cyprus it comes down to staff shortages as much as for any other reason.
There is a company called Moonpig.com which claims to get its card products to recipients on time – otherwise they refund the cost of their product to the sender. But my enquiries revealed that there are several countries in the world where Moonpig regularly expect problems with delivery despite doing all they can to anticipate and avoid those problems. And unfortunately Cyprus is one of those countries where they all too often experience disappointment.
So quite what happens to mail both in and out of our island is a conundrum. It’s a riddle wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma, slightly to misquote Sir Winston Churchill in an entirely different context.
Of course this is why so many of us now increasingly rely on email (and even this has its glitches and limitations as we all know).
We live on an island well served by a number of airlines and there are plenty of flights between here and the UK. It is not as if we are at the end of the world. How other expatriates fare in terms of mail to and from Cyprus it would be interesting to discover, and perhaps the Cyprus Mail blog will reveal some examples. . . If any reader would like to write to me with their own observations, that would be an interesting addition to the research.
My email address is at the end of this article.
There are people who have their mail delivered direct to their homes and many others use a mailbox service – for a fee – but which makes for the more consistent and swifter service is open to debate. At one time in Cyprus mail was delivered by the local dust lorry, but that fell into disuse a long while ago. I have no information about how well that worked. Are there readers who remember it?
What does work well is the standard of post office counter staff. Most people would agree that by and large they prove friendly, helpful, and entirely co-operative. Yes, queuing up for stamps pre-Christmas can be a bit of a time consuming task, but that can be overcome by getting this done well before November!
However, Moonpig’scomment show that we have a way to go to catch up with other countries’ mail-handling. But then we have a Government which prides itself on being a forward-looking, progressive, and efficient Administration – don’t we?