Accessibility at post offices
Post offices are valued and frequently used by disabled people. Almost 3 in 10 (29%) disabled people say they use a post office at least once a week or more, compared with just over 2 in 10 (22%) non-disabled people.
We wanted to better understand the accessibility of the post office network and the impact it has on disabled consumers. So we asked disabled mystery shoppers to visit over 400 post offices and tell us about their experience.
This report [ 1.9 mb] has 2 key findings. The first is that accessibility varies across the post office network. Despite some examples of good practice, such as staff interaction, provision can often be inconsistent. For example, in 44% of visits shoppers with compatible hearing aids were not able to use a hearing loop.
The second is the importance to disabled consumers of providing information on the accessibility of branches. Post Office Ltd (POL) does not provide any disability information on its main online branch finder, unlike other companies such as DPD and Collect+ (POL has some branch accessibility information hosted elsewhere, but it is extremely difficult to find and some of it is now out of date).
Post Office Ltd demonstrates in its comprehensive accessibility guidelines that its intentions are to provide good disabled access at all branches. However, this research, as well as previous Citizens Advice research, has shown that standards too commonly slip in the post office network. The problem lies in the implementation of those guidelines and POL does not currently have a systematic process to maintain and monitor disability access.
We shared our findings with POL in February and made 2 recommendations:
Post Office Ltd should introduce a spot check or audit process to monitor the accessibility of post office branches
Post Office Ltd should update the accessibility information available on post office branches and embed this into the standard branch finder
Since presenting our findings and recommendations, POL has committed to monitoring the accessibility of its branches through visits to a sample of branches. It’s also committed to updating its accessibility information and attaching a link to it on the main branch finder. But to properly address our concerns, POL needs to provide greater clarity on its proposals.