February 03, 2004

Swedish Girls

With eager anticipation I raced home last night. My mail order Swedish bride had arrived. Sure she's a little different to your average Swede (click the extended entry to see what I mean).

What is amazing is the speed with which Luuka arrived. She was sent from Sweden on January 29th, last Thursday. She arrived her in Hong Kong at our apartment in the mail on Monday, February 2nd. Regular mail. Not express or courier. Regular mail.

Which lead me to think why is that so amazing? After all, the flight from Sweden to Hong Kong is perhaps 14 hours. With a window to get the package from the post office to the plane, and another window from plane to post box here in Hong Kong the whole process really shouldn't take much longer. But Post Offices, for years, have managed to get away with slow delivery. Why should a package take more than a week to go by air mail from Sydney to London? The flight takes 24 hours - the rest shouldn't be more than a day either side.

I'm going to use Australia as an example. I know in Australia the Government forbids competition with Australia Post in packages under a certain weight (I think 100 grams). In other words the vast majority of letters. Yet in areas where Australia Post competes with couriers, they are no cheaper or faster than the competition. So what benefit is there in having a monopoly provider of postal services? None, except it enables the Government to keep open post offices in places (read country towns) where they otherwise wouldn't survive. That's not to say that Australia Post is slow - most letters arrive within 2 business days and stamps are not expensive. But why should they maintain a monopoly? Why should my letters take a week to get to London? In areas where Postal companies compete packages seem to take a lot less time.

It's another example of a Government monopoly that could do with a dose of competition. But then the Government couldn't extract large "dividends" each year.

Goddamn, she's a cute Swede, isn't she?


Posted by Simon at February 3, 2004 11:43 AM | TrackBack

Probably underage, though.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at February 3, 2004 01:01 PM

There is a vast deal you don't understand about the nature of moving parcels and letters around the country and around the world.

Countries where the post office doesn't have a monopoly are hardly better off, for example a certain country that has different mail boxes depending on which company you are sending the mail through. Where the government remains the major shareholder (not neccessarily a majority though), basic services can be guaranteed in rural areas while still allowing the 'efficiencies' which inevitable follow privitisation.

If Australia Post didn't have a monopoly on standard letter delivery, it would indupitaly lead to slower mail delivery times and more expensive mail. Why? Because the fixed costs - particularly the sorting equipment - are high, and having rival companies does not mean halving of costs. If you assume a rival takes half the business, an Australia Post truck still needs to go to all the same postal boxes as there is still mail at each. That means you still have the same number of trucks and same number of staff. Plus the rival company has the same costs now as well. More costs = price increases.

A huge difference between Asia/Europe and Australia in terms of delivery is distances to travel. Depending on who sent the bear to you, it probably was driven around Europe before being flown to HK, possibly via Singapore. Firstly, the distance is less than a flight from Sydnbey to London.

Secondly, the number of deliveries being made is far greater throughout Europe and Asia. Think about how many flights there are each day between Europe and Asia, and within each. Each of those has limited space for freight, so given the large number, a fair bit can be moved. But how many flights are there from Australia to Europe? Not so many, and again, that means limited space, so your package - being shipped cheaply - will keep getting passed over for priority posting (people who paid more for it).

You have a tendancy on your blog these days to lash out at everything you don't understand. You are becoming an angry, angry man. I pity you, and hope this has embiggened your soul.

Posted by: paul at February 3, 2004 01:05 PM

Heh. I was wondering, so I checked the email address.

Posted by: Pixy Misa at February 3, 2004 04:35 PM

"Embiggened"? Simon, you let your siblings use words that don't exist?

The mail system in the US is utter rubbish. Christmas last year my mother tried to ship me the same box twice, and both time the Swedish and U.S. governments mucked it up. It finally made it to me in June that year.

Nothing drives me crazier than the postal systems. But hey-Luuka made it in what appears to be record time.

Posted by: Helen at February 3, 2004 05:00 PM

Pixy - it's amazing isn't it? It seems like the man from TNT is defending Australia Post. His arguement is perfectly cromulent.

Posted by: Simon at February 3, 2004 05:07 PM

After my last commentfest I'm gonna keep this one short.

I absolutely agree.

Post and package handling should be (fully) privatised. You get better results, faster service and lower costs. Plus you may actually get to lose Tom Hanks on a desert island one of these days!

(from one who has suffered at the hands of Royal Mail for a great many years!)

Posted by: Robert at February 3, 2004 07:39 PM
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