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Going Postal

December 5, 2011

The following blog is mainly for the benefit and interest of fellow cruisers who may possibly encounter similar problems.

Last Sunday after the weekly barbecue, there was an informal liveaboards’ meeting to discuss issues over postal deliveries because a number of people, including ourselves, have failed to receive items of post, be they parcels or letters, sent to them at this marina.

There are a number of problems:

1.       There appears to be no proper postal address for the marina, despite it having been established for three years now.

2.        Post received at the marina is not sorted or held securely but is dumped in an unlocked cupboard in the laundry room.

3.       The unsorted post in the laundry room goes back months, even years and maybe 80% is monthly bills from Vodafone and the other mobile companies for people long since gone.  It is therefore a bit of a nightmare trying to see whether you actually might have any post in amongst it all.

4.       If a letter or parcel is sent by recorded delivery and/or there is any import or other charge to pay, the item must be collected from the post office in town. This is fair enough and in these circumstances, the post office issue a notification slip to the marina, however …it would seem that most postal workers here in Messolonghi cannot (or will not) read the Roman alphabet (or at least they are not confident about it) so when something needs to be collected but is not addressed in Greek they simply write “Marina” on the notification slip.  Quite a number of these totally anonymous slips were in among the accumulated post in the laundry. 

 

The postal backlog in the laundry at Messolonghi

Even for Greece, I find it quite astounding that such a haphazard arrangement is in place.  Most liveaboards depend on their winter address for the delivery of important items from home eg. Things from the bank and boat parts which are frequently much cheaper or only obtainable to buy at home & have sent out.

One couple here have tried to sort things out.  They took all the notification slips up to the post office and were told that those parcels/letters had all been collected.  Mind you, this  was slightly unreliable information since they speak no Greek and the people at Messolonghi post office speak absolutely no English.  Later they sat chatting about the problem with the marina bar owner, Demitri, and he offered to collect the parcels once a week and we could collect them from him, paying him 2 Euros per parcel for his trouble, having first signed a disclaimer form. 

When this became general knowledge quite a number of people were not impressed with this arrangement for various reasons:

  1. it had been made without general discussion and agreement from the liveaboard community
  2. those expecting a lot of parcels would find the arrangement unacceptably expensive
  3. it is insecure and a huge responsibility for Demitri – but most importantly …
  4. it should be the marina’s responsibility to look after our post and is part of the basic service we expect to be provided when we pay to stay here.

The meeting last Sunday could possibly have become very heated and chaotic but thankfully one man took command of it from the outset, calmly detailing all the issues and dealing with them one at a time.  Thus, thankfully, a fairly amicable agreement was reached without too much discussion or heartache. 

It should be explained here that the marina is jointly owned by Jo, a Dutchman and a Greek guy, Yanis; Jo seems to run the finances whilst Yanis is responsible for the operational side.  It was generally felt however that Jo was more likely to appreciate our problems with the existing arrangements.  One of the liveaboards, Dutch herself, offered to email Jo, explaining the difficulties and asking whether a couple of liveaboard representatives could meet up with him to discuss possible solutions.

Several people were fairly pessimistic about our chances of actually managing to improve things; those who were here for a second winter gloomily said that the matter had been raised before, to little effect.  It was therefore something of a surprise when Jo responded within 24 hours saying that a PO Box was to be set up for the marina and one of the staff would collect the post from there every day.  Of course we are all delighted but it remains to be seen when or if this will actually be implemented.  Even then, I personally feel that several of the issues itemised above have still not been resolved.  Still, it’s a step in the right direction.

It has to be said that, on the whole, there is little interest here in providing very much customer service either by the owners or the staff, who of course take their cue from their employers.  Once you have paid they very largely lose interest.  For example, there have been quite a few problems with the washing machines taking double payments from people’s payment cards.  Initially they would recredit cards, albeit rather begrudgingly.  Lately however, people have been told that the directions for the use of the machines are clear and therefore any difficulties in this regard are their own problem; further reimbursements will not be made.

This unhelpful attitude is not as unusual as you would hope.  We have now encountered it to a greater or lesser extent in all three of the marinas where we have over-wintered and in a number of other harbours and marinas that we have visited during the summer months.

Despite all of this, I have to say that we absolutely love being here in Messolonghi and these small irritants are completely outweighed by all the plus points, viz:

  • great liveaboard community and lots going on including tours of the local area available with an English speaking guide
  • beautiful countryside around
  • well located for cruising the Ionian, the Gulfs of Corinth and Patras, the Peloponnese and access to the Aegean via the Corinth canal
  • a busy, very-untouristy Greek town just 20 minutes walk away (& even quicker by bike) and best of all …
  • the price is right!

We are very much thinking about coming back here again next winter.

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4 comments

  1. Sounds like you are having a tough time of it at the moment sure it will get better


    • No not tough, just a minor frustration!


  2. Scream and scream until your sick and stamp your feet till they bleed that will make them all behave



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