12 May 2004
BONN – Insisting that books are a waste of wood pulp, mail carrier Deutsche Post is refusing to reprint its guide to German postal codes, saying letter-writers should either look up the codes on the internet or phone a hotline for help.
Elderly Germans who have never used the internet complained, and raised a petition to parliament in Berlin.
Now Deutsche Post is planning an opinion survey to establish whether Germans really want a fresh edition of the 1,000-page guide last printed in 1993, when the Internet was in its infancy, according to the newspaper Berliner Kurier.
Stockmarket-listed Deutsche Post said the survey was in line with a recommendation from the petitions committee in Berlin. Parliamentarians said many people did not own personal computers.
Deutsche Post ran off 40 million of the books in 1993 and distributed them free to every German household so that people could look up the five-digit postcode for every town and village. German codes resemble the five-digit ZIP codes used in the United States.
Eager to please shareholders, the mail carrier is reluctant to spend millions of euros on another giveaway. A Post spokesman added that postal codes were constantly being altered, so the book would also be out of date before it was even printed.
A call to a friendly voice at the hotline costs just 6 euro cents. Call-centre staff also offer advice on the correct stamp to put on the letter.
Subject: German news