Jul 14, 2013

Where do letters to Santa and God end up?

Media Invite
(Daddy tours)

For over 150 years, SingPost has been faithfully provided a delivery service to all of us in Singapore and even in today's digital age, SingPost is constantly seeking ways to reinvent itself to meet the changing needs of its customers. For one, who still sends self-penned letters to friends or even the almost extinct pen-pal though snail mail?

So in order to stay relevant, SingPost has to actively upgrade itself and offer new services to its customers. One such innovation is the POPStation (Pick Own Parcel Station) which allows customers to collect their parcels 24/7 at their convenience. A more major change is its S$45 million upgrade of its mail sorting infrastructure over the next 2 years, and I was fortunate to be able to get an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the mail processing flow last month.

It was certainly an eye-opener to be able to view the mail sorting process in its entirety and I most certainly did not expect the machines to be that advanced to be able to read the handwritten address on the envelopes. Oh and here's a tip - an address on a dark-coloured envelope may not be read by the machines easily, which may in turn lead to a delay in delivery. So it is better to use a white or light-coloured envelope!

But for the truly bad illegible handwriting or the extremely bulky mail, those would still have to be sorted out in the old-fashioned manner.

The most interesting part of the tour though has got to be the Undelivered Room.

On a daily basis, SingPost receives about 14,000 items that are not deliverable due to incorrect or inaccurate address, no postage address, illegible handwriting... or to someone who just does not exist.

Yup, these are actual letters addressed to Santa Claus dropped into the mailboxes. Out of goodwill, SingPost consolidates these letters every year and sends them to Finland.

However, sending letters to the recipient addressed below is a far trickier prospect.

These letters will remain at SingPost's HQ at Paya Lebar for three months before they are eventually disposed of.

Thanks also to the tour, I learned a few more interesting little-known facts about Singapore's postal services:

  • Singapore's first postmark was recorded in 1829.
  • Postage stamps was used for the first time in 1855. These were Indian stamps inscribed in he denomination of Indian currency and overprinted with diamond dots to indicate that they were sold in Singapore.
  • Everyday, SingPost handles over 3 million mail items and more than 85% are automatically sorted to postmen's delivery sequence.
  • Each postman covers an average of 30km daily.
  • Singapore is divided into 83 zones and mails are distributed through seven regional SingPost offices islandwide.
  • The oldest post office in Singapore today is Geylang (opened in 1930).
  • The most isolated posting box is on Pulau Ubin.
  • Over 8,500 non-mail items such as wallets, passports, driving licences, etc were found in the posting boxes last year, and were returned to the relevant authorities where possible.

So the next time you order something from your fave blogshop, chances are your package will have experienced the full mail sorting process at SingPost!

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Ally said...

Hey.. thanks for sharing this information. I din know they use machines to read handwritings. A lot of manpower must have been cut off.

Cheekiemonkies said...

Hi Ally,

Glad to know you enjoyed the post! Thanks for dropping by! :)

adeline said...

Hi .... Hmmmm responding and commenting 3 years late ! I wonder if you would know if Singpost allows for private groups to take a Behind the Scenes Tour of the GPO these days ? We are a group of mums with kids 6-12yrs. TIA for your advice and connections where possible !!!

Kelvin Ang said...

Hi Adeline,

Thanks for leaving a comment.

Unfortunately, I don't think SingPost is currently organising any tours. Perhaps you can email them directly. Thanks!

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