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Published 6th August 2006, 3:53pm

The Cayman Islands Post Office is making plans to open on Saturday by the end of summer.

The postal survey, which was conducted from 28 April through 5 May showed that, while six out of 10 customers are able to complete their postal business during regular hours, 69 per cent of respondents still want the Post Office to open on Saturday. The alternative, extended weekday hours, was selected by 53 per cent of respondents. Only 39.2 per cent said they could not complete their postal business during regular hours.

Opening hours on Grand Cayman are typically about 8:30am until 5pm, though it does vary. East End and North Side close for lunch between 12 noon and 1pm. Hours of operation also vary on Cayman Brac and Little Cayman.

More than 1,500 people completed the survey. The Post Office rewarded customers who returned completed surveys with a newspaper, coffee, and a Post Office mug.

The survey had three main objectives: to see whether customers need extended hours or if they can complete their postal business during regular business hours; to establish whether Cayman Islands residents want home delivery of mail and parcels and whether they would be willing to pay for such a service; and to see whether postal clients are satisfied, and if not, what is required to meet this objective. It also asked customers how often they visit the Post Office, what postal facility they use, and what tasks they are unable to complete during regular hours.

About one-quarter of respondents (23.7 per cent) visit the post office once a week. The Airport Post Office is the most popular facility with survey respondents, with 39.8 per cent; General Post Office came in second with 29.9 per cent; and SMB was third, with 26 per cent. The tasks that most respondents are unable to complete during regular hours are purchasing stamps (30.9 per cent), followed by dealing with parcel post (27.2 per cent) and using Registered Mail (28.9 per cent).

Regarding home delivery, 876 respondents said they do not want home delivery and 1010 people (66.3 per cent) said they would not be willing to pay for that service.

Some of the answers are contradictory - on the one hand, the Post Office staff received high praise; on the other hand, some respondents said that counter staff needed better customer-service skills. Some customers asked for stamp vending machines and more mail drops, whereas others requested tracking of parcels, Express Mail Service, and to collect parcels at any post office.

Postmaster General Sheena Glasgow thanked all those who completed the survey and said that she was not totally surprised by the results.

"The results show areas of both strength and weakness. Initiatives such as Saturday openings and customer service training for front line staff will be addressed by the end of the year. The introduction of stamp vending machines is being considered, but customers should be aware that there are 22 locations on Grand Cayman where customers can purchase stamps outside the post office," she said.

Ms Glasgow is also looking at the possibility of establishing a service whereby a customs-cleared parcel can be delivered directly to a customer's home or office. A larger facility at Savannah is also in the planning stage.