Don’t relaunch Ipostel, instead let it go or just reboot it

The only presence of Ipostel in my neighborhood

In the digital world of today, the old-fashioned mail service continues to be neccessary for many, but its main priority is not longer letters or bills but to deliver packages of all sizes.

The other day I went to pick something up for a relative in a private courier service and the line-up was pretty big. That made me wonder: What happened to our public mail service, Ipostel?

It’s not just alive, but will be now relaunched… as part of a new Chavernment mission.

Before I continue, let me share a brief experience I had with Ipostel: When I traveled overseas years ago, I sent some postcards to family and friends. Some of those postcards arrived to their destinations months after I sent them. Months after I returned home. Some didn’t make it at all in the end. Who knows where they ended up?

As its name says, the Postal & Telegraph Institute is the Venezuelan postal authority in charge of regulating all mail services but it also provides services of its own, being part of the mail history in our country. They still do telegrams though, even if the rest of the world is leaving them behind. Maybe our hipsters are using them.

With the technological advances and the competition of private companies, is there some room for Ipostel? Yes. But there are some problems that must be solved first.

One of them is something common in the public administration in Venezuela: Owing workers big time. Ipostel’s collective bargaining agreement (CBA) has been expired for almost 20 years and employees have made their unconformity heard. By April of this year, no renovation was achieved, just like other 300 CBAs in the public sector.

Ipostel has admitted that its infrastructure needs renovation and it requires a better vehicle fleet. But the postal service has also deliberately shifted its role to rather serve the government than the citizens: Helping with the missions, making alliances with other public agencies, even doing its part in supporting the “fatherland’s candidate”. One thing they haven’t stop is keeping an eye on the competition, with a little help of its friends.

So, that could be the reason of why my electricity and phone bills are arriving so late…

Months ago, JC wrote a post about if public utilities could be considered something “strategic” to a country. I can tell you right now that Ipostel doesn’t fit that standard.

What to do with it then? Letting it go is the most obvious idea. The regulatory role can be passed to a Ministry and the rest can be left to companies already in the market. The other option is to basically reboot it: Strip it of the regulatory role and make it more efficient, focusing in some particular services and dropping the rest. From there, the company can stregenthen its own capacities and give a better service to customers.

The key is that Ipostel can’t stay just as it is. Postal services which waited too much to adapt are now struggling to survive. One example: The United States Postal Service.

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  1. The Canadian government mailed me 2 envelopes for tax purposes on Jan. 16 – they still have not shown up.

    One large problem with IPOSTEL is that if there is any hint of something valuable in the envelope or package they will open it & steal it. This may be as a result of no CBA for 20 years. With this culture now well in place there is no hope for IPOSTEL. They will keep right on stealing everything.

    The best thing would be to just close them down & let the private companies take care of everything as they now do.

    We have not received a CANTV bill in 2 or 3 years. I have a feeling they just throw them in the garbage. When we do get a piece of mail it’s months old.

  2. I don’t know about postcards, but if it is an international letter or a package, you’d be equally well served just throwing your precious cargo in the the garbage. I post what?…

  3. “that could be the reason of why my electricity and phone bills are arriving so late…” Do people still receive and pay their bills through the mail? I haven’t mailed a check in years. All my bills are “paperless.”

    • Those with Internet can get their bills online. But many people in Venezuela (who don’t have Internet) still use the old-fashioned way.

      • Also remember every time you do something they ask for a copy of your phone or electric bill to prove your address – open a bank account, get a phone line, get a visa.

        To open a US account or provide proof of foreign residence for tax purposes they ask for original bills with your address.

        Always a problem,.

      • The old fashion way being: to go to their office and pay -after standing in line for a while. No such thing as paying by regular mail in Venezuela, at least during the last half of a century 🙂
        Although, some utilities can be paid at the bank in cash, no need to have an account. But then again… the lines are always a pain. Generally going to the bank is a terrible idea. Last week I went to cash a check, I had over 90 people ahead of me.

        • Its better to have the utilities fee debited from you checking account or charged to your credit card, you can also pay them online through some banks. There is something very ironic regarding IPOSTEL and paying utilities, in order to pay your electricity in the bank you need the bill that comes through the mail, but the bill never arrives on time, so you have to go EDELCA;s office to pay your service.
          The bottom line is that there is no justification for the existence of IPOSTEL, you have a company that is costing the state millions of dollars and who’s not providing a service to anyone , no one that I know uses IPOSTEL to ship packages or documents and for a good reason, is not that they are slow, the documents never arrived or arrived with the content stolen.
          At least in other countries there is an excuse for having a public mail office that offers a cheaper if slower service than a courier, but who actually delivers what its ship. But IPOSTEL
          serves no one.

  4. One fundamental issue that prevents Venezuela from having a decent postal system (private or public) is the lack of a comprehensive address system. If reforms happens, that’s where it needs to start IMHO.

  5. A key function that the mail service could have if functioning adequately is cutting down the amount of hours needed to do any bureaucratic procedure. Think of Europe, Switzerland and Germany in particular; where the postal service actually grew stronger with the passing of time. The reliability of the Postal Office has allowed for the majority of transactions to be done per mail. I’ve been living in Germany for about a year and a half now, and in all that time, I’ve been more times to the Venezuelan Consulate to work out some Cadivi-related disaster than I’ve been to a public German office (even though I’ve moved three times, and am a German citizen -therefore having to abide to German bureaucracy as well). I got my ID card per mail, send all my bills, complaints, documents, and whatever I need to; all with a quick 20 minute stop at the post office. No need to go downtown at 5am and stand in line until 9am which is when the Ministry of *insert particular need* is open to the public -if everybody is on time and in a good mood, mind you-.
    The modern need for an efficient postal service is that of decongesting the system of needless bureaucratic processes, and freeing up people so they have time to either be productive or spend money, which is after all what any country needs.
    And as I said some months before, I do think us Venezuelans have to aim at reaching German-Scandinavian standards. To improve and become as good as you can, you have to do you best and learn from the best. Decades of imitating a rather unsustainable political-economical-social model such as those from the US, Spain, Italy (the first our main cultural target; the latter two the inherited culture of a good portion of the country), has led us to frankly a waste of time with sporadic brilliant achievements (think how seldom the number of truly great artists , scientists and athletes we have is; the number of Jesus Sotos or Andres Galarragas/Omar Vizquels we have).

    • That’s the way it is in most of Europe, efficient or inefficient government, even Italy and Spain have robust postal services if nothing else works, and they work nicely enough, pity for parts of the central bureaucracy that are behind the times. You can even pay bills and get debit accounts and cards at the Post Office if you wish. Fine for 1950-89.

      The better organized European governments and enterprise are even moving away from sending paper around and going full speed ahead with apps on smartphones, digital signatures and identities, postboxes, billing, receipts, tax returns, medical histories, library loans, all functions, even bus and train tickets can be electronic on a smartphone! Of course you can get an appointment via mail with a government agency employee.

      What I can say for Venezuela is that maybe we should begin skipping IPOSTEL but… DAMNIT! We have CANTV Socialista y Revolucionaria to take care of all those things, do we? do we??? :'(

  6. Rodrigo’s point about an address system is very important, yet many, many years ago mail was delivered to each and every home on a regular basis with little problems.

    Our postman drove a 3 wheeled Harley Davidson with a box over the rear wheels and featured a reverse gear too.

    You can see a similar bike here:

    IPOSTEL, run correctly, should still be considered a strategic service that should break even, neither losing nor earining a profit, since it is a public service.

    The US Postal service is hurting big time, much of that to do with declining use as people continue to use electornic means to communicate and pay bills, but also because it is being drained of money by the government as well.

  7. I think that under a different and more enlightened government, as people transition from informal employment to formal employment, informal housing to formal housing, informal use of utilities to formal use of utilities, etc., and as they truly begin to be treated like citizens and enjoy the rights and are subject to the obligations of citizens, a public postal service that worked might actually be worth improving and developing.

        • There’s the attractive lack of formality in venezuela of course, where houses are painted bright colours and have names instead of numbers, then there’s the informal economy which is yes- a stake in the heart. Hay un camino.

          • And I thought our system of giving names to buildings and houses was utterly stupid. These guys are the world champions.

            Still paying attention to what “conducto sanguíneo” spews here or elsewhere?

          • Johnny Walking, the more you bring up conducto sanguíneo the more you remind everyone that you not only did you fail in trying to discredit a medical doctor for the mere use of the phrase, but that you are so stubborn that, even when faced with dictionary definitions, even medical ones, that support the use of the phrase, you still refuse to accept that you were wrong.

            You, as Syd, seem to focus on putting down people more than putting down arguments. Also as with Syd, keep it up, because I don’t mind.

          • “Still paying attention to what…?”
            Periodically, I do charitable work.
            Sister lived in Sn José for a number of years, told me about some of the nutty systems. The LAT article confirmed it, and in turn, flew in the face of a comment from someone who generally never allows room for any other opinions. Hence my need to refute.

          • syd, that’s how you treat those for whom you do charity?! As to generally never allowing room for other opions, projection much? While I’m at it, “need” to refute? Wasn’t it you who claimed I was the one addicted to that? Projecting again in the same paragraph?

          • Johnny Walking, you claim you don’t put me down, yet your comment refers to me and points to my comments as “spew”, and calls for ignoring them. You also claim to ignore me, but you don’t; you replied. Most surprising, however, is how you seem to think that bringing up “conducto sanguíneo” is a matter of pride for you and a putdown for me. Take your meds, doc.

          • Exactly. I utterly ignore the stuff that you spew here and elsewhere. I have zero respect for your idiotic opinions, and you will notice that I am not the only one (You can go to TDE to confirm that). Also, I am not replying to your “comments.” I am just doing so in what appears to be a futile attempt for you to leave me alone. But, you are unable to get the message. So, I will say it for the last time: LEAVE ME ALONE
            P.S.: stop with that UCT nonsense. You have everyone in where you post a comment, rolling their eyes every time you bring that up. A 12 year-old could teach you why that idiocy cannot work.

          • I think that pretty much makes it unanimous. Extorres is a moron, and his “development plan” is the laughing stock of the internet community.

          • Prove your claim: given that you are more than 12 years old, teach me why UCT cannot work. By the way, it’s what I’ve been asking for all along, proving that you are the one to get sidetracked with other topics, such as discrediting others, rather than addressing the matter at hand. Just explain it, and I’ll leave it alone. Until someone does, you’ll keep hearing about it from me, and others who agree with me.

          • Johnny Walking, once again you demonstrate that you avoid addressing the issues, this time one that even a 12 yearold could explain, according to you. Apparently something a 12 yearold can explain is too much for you. And, look, Get a Clue’s mindset in tune with yours; why am I not surprised?

          • And again, you avoid. Perhaps a measure of moronic level is how quickly you learn that namecalling just doesn’t get to me. You’ve been at it for quite a while, no?

            Please, present your UCT explanation.

          • Syd, if you follow the thread, you’ll see that I’m referring to the term informality in the sense that the previous posters meant, at least how I read it. That informality is a consequence of the petrostate as Quico pointed out in this blog a few years back where he referred to the petrostate causing supplicants instead of citizens, another thing mentioned in the same thread.

            How about trying to diminish the intended arguments presented, rather than trying to diminish the persons making the arguments?

          • ET: Classic. Turn against the one who refutes your comment on informality (in the Venezuelan postal system) as a consequence of the petrostate, and perceive the action as diminished characterization.

          • syd, shows how much you are not aware of your own putdowns. The diminished characterization does not come from your comment on informality but from your question, “Where do you find your theories?”, which in a comment about my supposed “informality as consequence of petrostate” being completely wrong is pointing to all my past thinking being wrong. This is just an extension of your previous comments regarding credentials.

            Also, note how you, as is common for you, failed to address the content of my reply and simply focused on the personal. My reply explained that I my use of “informality” was different to the one you pointed out in your article. I was making reference to the examples of informality that had been put forth in the previous comment, not to “informality” in general as you twisted.

            This reminds me of Johnny Walking’s insistence –and yours– with not being willing to accept someone’s valid use of the phrase “conducto sanguíneo”. Which, buy the way, is an example of your lack of willingness to accept other people’s perspectives, and yet another example of projection.

          • Again, syd, you project. I see myself in the mirror; it’s you who doesn’t see yourself. Note how once again, you did not address any of the issues; you only avoid, avoid, avoid. I see why you bully others so much in these comment sections.

  8. It’s a mess. There’s not only the trouble of slow mail, but it’s really too daunting a task to get any package as well. We sent a gift to our relatives on June 14, tracking shows it arrived in Amsterdam on June 20. It then disappears, as there’s no tracking in Venezuela, but Ipostel must have received it on June 28, because then they sent a letter it had arrived, but this letter was received on July 10 (today).

    And the package can only be colleced following this insane bureaucracy:

    I guess they hate us for sending the package, it was just childrens clothes and a few presents, max. value 100-200 dollars.

    • Forgot: Origin was Norway. And I guess we still don’t know if the package has been opened… guess we’ll know it when the timbres fiscales and timbres postales has been found somewhere.


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