Thursday, October 04, 2007

Industrial suicide

I remember the early days of fax machines in the 1980s. They seemed a good idea, but you could never rely on the other party owning one, so it was all a bit stop start. My office in The Borough, just south of London Bridge, had a telex machine installed in one of the administration rooms. Then, one month, everything changed and during the course of a week or two the fax took over and a dust cloth was thrown over the telex.

There was a postal strike and pretty much every business owner in the country who didn't already have one went out and bought a fax. The Royal Mail never won back the business it lost during that short period, and it has been in decline ever since.

There's another strike starting today. With almost impressive dishonesty, this is presented as follows:

Two 48-hour strikes are planned. The first will begin at lunchtime on Thursday 4th October and ends at lunchtime on Saturday 6th October. The second will begin in the early hours of Monday 8th October, ending in the early hours of Wednesday 10th October.
There are no deliveries after noon Saturdays, so from the point of view of the consumer this is a continuous strike from Thursday to Wednesday. This will be followed by weekly strikes for the foreseeable future.

I am adding new instructions to all communications with my customers. Until now, some have paid by internet banking (bacs) and some by cheque-in-the-post. I'm going to change my system. All invoices and correspondence from my business already go by email. Now I'm going to alter the terms of business so there's a surcharge (small) for cheque payment, or a discount for bacs, depending how you want to look at it. I anticipate I'll be getting more than 95% of payments electronically by the end of this month.

This isn't because I'm anti-Union (although I am), it's because I don't want to be inconvenienced by the mail service and have the opportunity to make alternative arrangements.

I won't be the only one doing this. Yet again, a trades union is committing suicide. Good.


Vindico said...

Very good point. I was speaking to a business colleague today who is awaiting payment for various services via cheque in good old snail mail. He will consequently be moving fully to eletronic payment after this fiasco and royal mail will never win back that business.

Longrider said...

I have two main customers. One already pays me via BACS. I'll be encouraging the other one to do likewise. I already send my invoices electronically.