French postal workers can scan priority letters for you at your home

The move is part of several to make the post service more accessible to people without internet skills or technology

Catching your postal worker on their route means they will now help you scan and send letters from your home
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Postal workers will be able to visit to scan and send priority letters directly from private home addresses from next month, La Poste has announced.

When a postal worker is delivering mail on their route, you will be able to ask them to scan a letter with the new digital red stamp.

“All you have to do is let the postman know when he's passing by, or you can call 3631 to see your postperson the next day for them to collect the letter,” said La Poste chief Philippe Wahl in an interview with the regional media Ouest France.

The move comes in response to backlash over the introduction of the new digital red stamp, which has seen a very slow uptake compared to its physical predecessor.

What is a digital red stamp?

Earlier this year, the e-lettre rougereplaced the classic red stamps, which denote priority letters in France.

The change meant users wanting to use the service had to purchase the online service through La Poste’s website, then scan and upload their letters online, where they would be printed and dispatched by a post office close to the recipient’s destination.

Letters sent using other stamps are still able to be physically deposited in a postbox.

This digitisation received criticism, both over potential confidentiality breaches, as well as how it may prevent those without internet infrastructure or skills from using the system.

In the first two months of the digital stamp, only around 3,500 were being purchased per day, compared to the 750,000 physical red stamps purchased a day in 2022.

Read more: Slow uptake for La Poste’s new digital stamps in France

The figure has not sufficiently improved over recent months, however – Mr Wahl said less than 7,000 digital red stamps are now purchased daily – with the new change a bid to increase the number of people using the service.

Read more: Can I still use my stock of French red first class stamps?

How will it work?

The ‘Facteo’ device used by postal workers on their route to scan letters and confirm deliveries will be updated with software that will allow them to scan priority letters using a digital stamp.

Users will still have to buy a digital stamp online, but instead of scanning the letters themselves, can ask the postal workers to do it for them.

The rest of the process remains the same – once scanned by the postal worker, the letter will be sent to a post office close to the letter’s final destination, where it will be printed.

“The Conseil d'État has just published a report on last-mile public services. It states that we shouldn't have 100% digital services because they are exclusionary,” said Mr Wahl.

“It also says that La Poste… must be used in the public policies of the future, particularly to support the ageing population and combat loneliness,” he added.

The service will be particularly useful in rural areas, where people tend to have a friendly relationship with their postal worker.

“We need to see this transformation of La Poste as a desire to remain on the ground, even if letters are disappearing, so that we always have a service that is both physical and digital,” he added.

Another change in La Poste’s strategy

The change is the latest in a series of moves by La Poste to refocus attention on where it is most needed – in particular, rural areas.

This includes the reopening of rural post offices, or extending opening hours in rural post offices, where in-person services are more important for elderly and sometimes isolated populations.

It will include post offices being kept open for longer including on Saturdays.

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