|Crowd waiting to enter Italian post office|
And delivery service is woefully hamstrung and spotty, too. Mail carriers must provide their own transportation. You may remember the film Il Postino where Massimo Troisi’s character needed a bicycle to get the job because new mail carrier had to deliver mail to Chilean poet Pablo Neruba outside the village. It’s still like that today. I once had a student who delivered mail by bicycle, and I’ve even seen mail carriers riding city busses with their bags of mail.
Don’t get me wrong; the staff is pleasant. It’s just that the system is hampered by too many layers of bureaucracy.
I think the flaws in the mail system actually make the bank system work so well. I say that because everyone, and I mean everyone, must use the post office to pay bills. When you get a telephone or electricity or other bill it is accompanied by a bolletta, a bill which includes the payee’s vital information including name, address, and post office account number. It also includes the payer’s vital information, minus the account number. The payer takes the bolletta to the post office and pays the bill directly into the payee’s account, getting a receipt as proof of payment. In my opinion, this system developed because the mail service is so unreliable.
It is this bill paying scheme that makes the post office so busy. You don’t have to buy stamps or mail a letter there. Stamps are available at tobacco shops and letter boxes are usually outside those.
|Take a number|
This third area works like an express line. As a bancoposta customer, I do any normal banking business here but I can also do some other post office business as well. Thus all the people without accounts who are there just to pay bills have a much longer wait.
Italy is currently undergoing a census. The paperwork can be completed online or the paper forms turned in to the post office. I’ve been procrastinating because the online service wouldn’t accept my password and I shuddered at the postal line. So I was pleasantly surprised when I last went to the post office to pay bills, steeling myself for the business line with the census. I got to the teller for account holders almost immediately, although there were about fifty people waiting for other services. The teller saw my census form, and took it too.
Yea, for bancoposta!