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BPO launches marketing campaign

Bermuda Post Office has launched a marketing campaign encouraging residents to send overseas purchases home via the mail, using language previously denounced by the Progressive Labour Party.

Flyers have been sent to homes across the Island advising people to “make your overseas travel affordable and stress-free by sending your extra items and purchases home by parcel post or express mail”.

On October 1, the PLP condemned a member of the One Bermuda Alliance for suggesting residents should buy goods overseas and post them home.

An entry on the party’s blog said constituency 13 election candidate Anthony Francis had made a “gaffe” by encouraging Bermudians to “Buy USA and ship their goods back to Bermuda by Post”.

The party quoted Mr Francis, IT manager for the Post Office, as telling people to make “overseas travel affordable and stress free” by sending “your extra items and purchases back home through the Post Office”.

The blog entry said: “Bermuda’s retailers are hurting and 4,000 retail jobs hang in the balance. Instead of positively encouraging Bermudians to Buy Bermuda, the OBA is encouraging Bermudians to buy American and skirt customs duties.

“The OBA says that they put Bermuda first but when you examine their policies closely you’ll see it’s an empty sound byte (sic). If there’s one thing the Opposition and Government should come together on, it’s the need to BUY BERMUDA to help save our stores and save 4,000 jobs.

“It’s a shame that the OBA is turning their backs on shopkeepers and their employees by encouraging Bermudians to shop outside of the country.”

The blog said the suggestion by Mr Francis wasn’t his “first gaffe”, as he’d earlier said he was to run for the OBA in Devonshire South Central, when he’d actually been chosen for Devonshire North Central.

The Post Office campaign has been launched as a new higher rate of customs duty comes into effect at the airport, in a bid by Government to deter people from shopping overseas and instead “Buy Bermuda” to help local retailers. The flyer lists many of the items travellers might be tempted to buy while abroad, such as clothing, jewellery, computers, cameras, vitamins and toys.

It details how using the postal service to import such goods to Bermuda can be much cheaper than bringing them in through the airport, where the rate of duty rose from 25 percent to 35 percent on November 4.

The flyer adds: “Whenever possible, support Bermuda’s economy and buy locally.”

No one at the PLP could be reached yesterday for comment on the flyer, which uses almost exactly the same words attributed to Mr Francis. It was also not possible to reach the OBA candidate.

Shadow Finance Minister Bob Richards said Government needed to “decide exactly what its policy actually is”.

He said: “It is not helpful to Bermudians if their left hand does not know what the right hand is doing. It is understandable that the Post Office is encouraging people to use its services, seeing that it is a large annual drain on the public treasury. However, these mixed messages show an absence of high-level strategic planning.”

OBA leader Craig Cannonier added that the Post Office campaign suggested it was aiming to compete directly with private firms offering the same service.

He said such businesses “may find it disturbing that Government is directly competing with the private sector who is under tremendous pressure trying to survive”.

Charlie Swan, elected as a United Bermuda Party MP, said he saw nothing wrong with the Post Office campaign.

“I don’t think they are encouraging people to buy stuff overseas,” he said. “I think it’s more like people who do buy overseas are going to do it anyway.

“They are trying to encourage people to use the services of the Post Office to import it. I don’t see anything wrong with them promoting that fact.”

Acting Postmaster General Wayne Smith said any comment on the marketing campaign would need to come from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, which is responsible for the Post Office. A Ministry spokeswoman said yesterday: “The Minister does not deal with the day to day [running] of the Post Office and thus it would be unreasonable to think any answers will be available until Monday.”

Useful websites: www.bpo.bm, www.plp.bm, www.oba.bm.

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Published November 12, 2011 at 6:35 am (Updated November 12, 2011 at 6:35 am)

BPO launches marketing campaign

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