UK Post Office Software Bugs Likely Created False Financial Shortfalls, Imprisonment
July 9, 2013 10:45 AM
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Investigations are still ongoing, but the Post Office has cleared all sub-postmasters of the financial shortcomings
A buggy software program in the UK Post Office system may have caused financial issues for many sub-postmasters.
Sub-postmasters, which are not employed directly by the Post Office but run smaller offices around the UK, have been accused of financial shortfalls in their offices for years by the UK
itself. As it turns out, these shortfalls didn't really exist -- they were falsely created by bugs in the company's accounting software.
The software is the Post Office's Horizon computer system. It processes all transactions in the sub-postmaster offices and is reported to the Post Office.
Horizon has been notifying some of the 11,500 branches that they've had money shortfalls as high as £9,000. According to the sub-postmasters' contracts with the UK Post Office, they must pay the difference when shortfalls occur.
This has led to many problems for sub-postmasters, such as debt (for having to pay the difference themselves), imprisonment and loss of contracts.
However, independent investigation company Second Sight was employed to look into the problem after many sub-postmasters started complaining that these shortfalls can't be real.
Second Sight found bugs in the Horizon system, but no systematic problems. Further investigation is required, but so far, reports are leaning toward
as the culprit for the shortfalls.
The UK Post Office has cleared the sub-postmasters of these losses, no longer seeing them as liable. But over 100 sub-postmasters are looking to sue the Post Office over the prosecutions that have already occurred.
Many sub-postmasters have had serious financial problems with the trouble caused by Horizon. Jo Hamilton, who used to run a sub-post office in South Warnborough, Hampshire, is just one of these cases.
"I got to the end of one week and I was £2,000 short so I rang the helpdesk and they told me to do various things and then it said I was £4,000 short," said Hamilton. "They then said I had to pay them the £4,000 because that's what my contract says - that I would make good any losses. Then while I was repaying that it jumped up to £9,000."
The UK Post Office insists that its Horizon software is effective, but plans to boost training and support for the system.
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7/9/2013 4:08:28 PM
I know it is fun to poke the old USPS, and I've done so myself. Tons of bloat, and horrible unions/pensions.
But when you think about it, they offer a service that will drive by your house 6 days a week to check if you have anythihg to send (even if you don't). Then if you have a letter they will deliver it usually within 5 days directly to the door of anyone in the lower 48 for just $.46 cents.
Now I ask you how much would you charge to do that for me? Bearing in mind that you are required to come every day even if I only use your service a few times a month.
UPS and FedEx sure the heck won't do it for that, they require I call and tell them to come get something. A subtle difference that has HUGE impacts on operations. It is why the USPS absolutely must have bulk mailers, otherwise all that driving around looking for a little red flag is a massavie waste. Why we can't just acknowledge this and allow them to pickup on call like their competitors, and cut out Saturday as well, is beyond me. Only in the most remote areas are they not requied to go house to house.
7/17/2013 2:53:37 PM
If you're a business customer who ships a few packages a week, UPS will certainly visit you any day to see if you have anything to pick up. I know they've done this for at least 40 years or so..
Of course they won't do this for residential.
"Mac OS X is like living in a farmhouse in the country with no locks, and Windows is living in a house with bars on the windows in the bad part of town." -- Charlie Miller
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