Going to the Post Office is never high on my list of things to do. The only plus point about going to my local one is that there's a really good charity shop next to it. The downsides are that the parking is horrendous, it's always got ridiculously long queues full of deeply slow and annoying people and, after a couple of not-very-good dates with the man that works there, it's now somewhat of an awkward experience to step foot in the shop. I don't go there unless I have to.
Christmas is a-coming and that means things need to get sent across the country to various pals. Once I've done all the hard work of wrapping the presents and festooning them with curly ribbon, what's the alternative to a trip to the Post Office? For me, a nice stroll to the local offy. No, not to buy booze to dull the pain of queueing to send the parcels. To use the Collect+ service.
It came across my radar at some point earlier this year when I was returning yet another ASOS order. I really don't have much luck with buying things from there. A good 70% of what I order ends up going back. Anyway, I saw it listed as a return option, whacked my postcode into the search box on the Collect+ website and found out that there's a shop close to my house that's part of the network. Ever since then I've been using it for online shopping returns and even the odd order collection.
Woo, pretty parcels! I don't like sending boring brown boxes to people.
Earlier this year I started using them to send parcels too. So much easier than going to the Post Office and way more convenient as the shops tend to be open early and stay open till late, plus they're open at weekends. The prices are really reasonable too. In the interests of strict fairness I should point out that I'm not entirely au fait with current Royal Mail parcel prices but judging by the grumbling I've heard from friends, I believe they're now pretty expensive although they would probably have the edge on smaller, lighter parcels. There are two options with Collect+ : delivery to a store close to the recipient is a flat £5.29 for up to 10kg and delivery to a house varies from £4.89 to £9.29 depending on parcel weight and how quickly you want it to get there. Print out a label, whack it on the parcel and then trot round the corner, admiring the pretty houses as you go.
I haven't had a problem with them so far so it's a definite thumbs up from me. Char got the email to say her parcel had arrived today and had a bit of a 'mare when she collected it, having to wait almost an hour for them to locate the flipping thing but I think that's more due to the ineptitude of the staff in the shop she was collecting from rather than a flaw with the service as a whole.
ps - This post was written and waiting to be published with no involvement from Collect+. I subsequently got talking to them on Twitter and they very kindly offered to refund the cost of both parcels. I'd have published this without that though - it's a dead handy service and if you don't know about it already I hope it's been useful!