In Derry City’s main Post Office yesterday, I presented a small parcel for postage. The clerk behind the bandit screen asked where it was going.
‘County Westmeath,’ I replied.
She consulted her screen and commented, ‘Air mail.’
Thinking I had misheard, I repeated, ‘Air mail?’ – adding that question mark of astonishment.
The clerk then explained that this postage to Westmeath was 'across the border' and so classified as an ‘international delivery’. As such, it incurred the same charge as a delivery 'anywhere else within the European Union'.
In other words, mailing a small parcel to Bridgend in County Donegal, just one mile out the road from Derry, incurs the same cost as mailing it to Bucharest. Meanwhile, the same parcel could be delivered as ‘domestic’ mail to Brighton or Lerwick at a fraction of the cost.
Somewhat stunned, I forked out the £7.85 demanded and my parcel was dispatched for its ‘flight’. I immediately regretted that decision. In future I’ll deliver myself – almost free of charge – to a post office in Lifford to conduct similar business.
You’ve got to be on top of your game when you’re living on the Border.