CUSTOMERS at Northampton's main town centre post office have hit out at its new owners, claiming standards have fallen and waiting times have increased.
Many people using the St Giles Street branch have criticised Primeco, claiming it provided poor customer service.
They said queues at the branch had got longer – at times stretching for 45 minutes – forms were not always available and some staff appeared to be poorly trained.
But owners Primeco said it was aware of the difficulties and was working hard to make improvements.
One businessman, who asked not to be named, said: "We always used them when the old lot were there as we always got a good service. But since this new lot took over, it's been an absolute disgrace.
"Half the new workforce don't seem to be properly trained and many of the others are slow," he claimed.
In August last year, the franchise to run the post office was awarded to Torquay-based company Primeco.
Communication Workers' Union branch chair Lee Barron, who opposed the move, said he was not surprised about complaints of falling customer service.
He said: "All the evidence from across the country shows that when a private franchise takes over, customer service declines as a result.
"The public service ethos is lost, because it is essentially a private company, which is running postal services with the postal services coming second."
Steve Whittaker, area manager for Primeco, admitted there had been problems since the take-over. He said the branch had experienced severe staff shortages and a high turnover of new staff.
Mr Whittaker added: "I'm aware of the problems in Northampton but we have an experienced manager on site and a deputy manager who was working there under Royal Mail.
"We've had a lot of new staff and it takes a time for them to build up confidence and experience."