An Post has some priorities it is keen to improve upon.
Irish Country Living queries these priorities with managing director of An Post retail, Debbie Ryan:
What products does An Post currently provide?
An Post provides current accounts, savings, (National Treasury Management Agency range of State savings products), cash, foreign exchange (via a multi-currency travel card which can be prepaid with 24-hour emergency care and helpline), personal loans and credit cards, (in partnership with Avant Money) and BillPay.
An Post personal loans can be for vehicles, holidays, education, home improvements, weddings, insurance costs and funeral expenses. The rate of 5.9% – annual percentage rate APR) – for loans over €20,000 is very competitive. However, for amounts under €20,000, over a five-year term, An Post (7.2% APR) is not the most competitive, with KBC (6.3% APR) Permanent TSB and AIB (6.4% APR) and Bank of Ireland (6.5% APR), better value in the market. With KBC bank you need to hold a current account.
How many post offices are in Ireland?
There are 930 post offices around the country with 46 company-owned by An Post.
The remaining ones operate as postmasters/contractors (95%). According to An Post’s own geographical research, they now have approximately 500 post offices situated in parts of the country without any bank within a 5km radius.
More than 190 post offices have closed since the middle of 2018, which caused much consternation in local communities.
Postmasters in Ireland are contractors and are paid for the transactions in post offices. The fear is as more postmasters retire, the service may be further curtailed which will further negatively impact on small villages and local communities. A Grant Thornton report commissioned by the Irish Postmasters’ Union last year recommended urgent Government investment for the post office network, with an annual Public Service Obligation of €17m needed.
The An Post current account was originally launched in 2017, and recently has been completely redesigned. The app has also been updated with some novel new features.
The account has a €5 monthly maintenance fee, and if you want access to An Post Money Mate, that is an extra €2 per month. There is a €0.60 ATM withdrawal fee (€0.50 if taken out in a post office), with one free withdrawal per week. There is also a charge of €0.50 for any cash or cheque lodgement at your post office.
If you use your card outside the Eurozone, there is a charge of 3%, including contactless/tap transactions. Direct debits, standing orders and all other day-to-day transactions are free.
If you have high usage on your current account, An Post may prove expensive in comparison to other banks, which mostly now charge a monthly maintenance fee that includes all transactions.
There is no overdraft facility available as An Post do not have a full banking licence. So if you switch from another provider and have an existing overdraft you will need to clear it.
State savings with An Post are 100% protected by the State. These savings products are tax free to Irish residents with no fees, charges or commissions. When you save with State savings you are placing your money directly with the Irish Government. Deposit accounts are subject to deposit interest rate tax (DIRT).
Does An Post intend to offer mortgages?
Currently An Post do not provide mortgages, but it is the intention to provide mortgages as a product in the future, according to Debbie.
How does An Post rate with customer satisfaction scores?
CX is a company that publishes a customer experience report each year since 2015 (CXi Ireland Customer Experience Report, 2021). The Irish credit unions and An Post are the only two brands to have maintained top 10 status since the survey started in 2015.
Recently there have been many complaints around the delays in the delivery of mail and packages with the blame being attributed to the stringent new EU custom rules governing non-EU goods, which came into effect on 1 July 2021, due to the impact of Brexit. These delays are due to both an EU customs requirement for additional electronic documentation, and more goods being either restricted or prohibited from coming into Ireland from non-EU markets. Some British retailers are completely unaware of these requirements and have not put in place the necessary online shopping systems for selling to Ireland. Gifts being sent by family and friends in the UK to Irish addresses are also being impacted.
An Post is a vital service in rural communities, especially as it the now the provider of basic everyday banking requirements. Rural communities depend on these services to be reliable, efficient and accessible. The Government’s continuous support and investment is necessary to ensure post offices are not further reduced.