Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Postal Savings Schemes - Big returns + pathetic service

It's ironic that on one hand, the Indian Postal Service - a government agency that runs popular small savings schemes like Monthly Income Scheme (POMIS), National Savings Certificate (NSC) and Kisan Vikas Patra (KVP) - offers most attractive risk-free returns to the tune of eight per cent, and on the other hand offers really sloppy and pathetic service. Does it really make sense going for postal savings?

Most post offices do not have computers. They write pass-books (POMIS) manually; they maintain records in their dirty large gigantic ledgers and then when we go to them for passbook updation, they write down the corresponding figures in our passbooks. No computers, only manually! As a result, they make several mistakes. The onus is on us - the investor - to monitor our passbooks and ensure there are no mistakes. Talk about living life in the 21st century.

The service standards at most of these post offices is pathetic. Some of them talk endlessly on phone discussing thier domestic gupshup and / or are very slow in their work. Although I do know some post office employees that are genuinely helpful and co-operative. 

A post-master recently told me this when I suggested that these post offices should be computerised just like our banks are: "What computerisation (in a tone that suggested that I had majorly offended his credibility)? Even computers make mistakes. Do you think computers do not make mistakes? They are as smart as us; if we make a mistake in programming them, even they will make mistakes." I was -and still am- at a loss of words. 

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