By Nawara Fattahova
KUWAIT: There are no shortages of complaints about Kuwait’s troubled postal service. It is well known that the system is slow, outdated, often misplaces or loses mail and packages, does not run efficiently and is not customer friendly. In the latest challenge to postal service customers, those who rent postal boxes are now losing their boxes without notification and without warning. Postal service managements at locations around Kuwait are closing boxes with expired subscriptions and renting them to new subscribers due to the growing demand – but without first informing the previous subscribers.
There are 68 post offices around Kuwait. One of the oldest post offices in Kuwait is the Salmiya Post Office, which has 3,000 PO boxes. The number of boxes in other post offices may differ. The failure to renew subscriptions or even warn current patrons is based on a decision by the ministry of communication to change the keys of all boxes with expired subscriptions, whether rented to new customers or even the same customer with a new contract.
Subscriptions for PO boxes are typically paid annually. But as often happens, a subscriber may forget exactly when the subscription expires. In this case, a note would be placed in the box to warn the subscriber that the rental is up for renewal or about to expire. But this is not happening. Instead, no notice or warnings are given. All post office box subscriptions that expire are canceled and the box is rented to someone else, even if the person who has used the address for years tries to renew and pay the fee.
This reporter recently discovered that her postal box rental had been terminated – without warning or notice – immediately after the subscription expired. When she tried to pay and renew the subscription for her PO box, which had been rented by her parents for over 50 years, she was told that the subscription was terminated and she can’t renew it unless she gets a new key, although her key is still functional.
The employee also told her that keys are not available and that they have no clue when they will receive them from the ministry. “Keys for the boxes are not available now. We ordered them from the ministry almost two months ago, but haven’t received them yet,” the post office employee said. So someone who has lost their box and wants to subscribe to a new box can’t even do that. Letters arriving to the box to the canceled boxes will be returned to senders.
Another subscriber lost her box after using it for over 30 years and was told it was given to a new subscriber. This happened last month when the post office received 20 new keys for boxes, which were immediately rented to new subscribers. While it is fair to rent boxes that go unpaid to new subscribers, at the least current subscribers should receive a warning notice in advance that they need to renew, or risk losing the box.