A watchdog has called for improvements to three new-style post offices in the West Midlands following complaints from consumers.
Over the last two years, 50 pilot Post Office Local (POL) stores have opened across the UK to replace traditional sub-post offices.
The scheme forms part of a major overhaul of the post office network in a bid to halt its decline, which included 5,000 post offices – 26 in Birmingham – being closed in 2008.
Sites featuring POL stores include Selsey Road, Edgbaston; Rounds Green, Oldbury; and High Street, Abbots Bromley, Staffordshire.
If they are a success, they will be rolled out across the UK, replacing around 2,000 sub-post offices.
However, a study by Consumer Focus found over half (53 per cent) of the POL users it quizzed were forced to use bigger post offices as their POL did not offer a service they needed, such as applying for passports, paying a bill or sending heavy packages abroad.
And 43 per cent said they felt POLs didn’t offer enough privacy for making financial transactions, while 38 per cent said they felt the service they received was poor and 28 per cent claimed staff experience and knowledge was not up to scratch.
Andy Burrows, regional spokesman for Consumer Focus, said: “Before POLs are rolled-out nationwide, it is vital that the Post Office delivers a model that meets its customer’s needs, both now and in the future.
“Although our research highlights some plus points, there are also many warning lights which must be urgently addressed.
“This is a massive shift away from traditional sub-post offices and millions of customers shouldn‘t be asked to sacrifice quality of service for the sake of convenience.”
He said the Post Office should increase the range of services on offer at POLs and improve staff training.
A Post Office Ltd spokesman said: “This scheme is simply a way of providing Post Offices that offer more convenient opening hours to customers and enable the operator to make a good return on running the Post Office within his or her store.
“Research such as that included in Consumer Focus’s report will help us as we learn from our pilots.”