A POST office mix-up left hundreds of South Tyneside customers without a service for four days over the bank holiday weekend.
Front counter workers at the Keppel Street branch in South Shields took part in a day of industrial action on Saturday, and the branch was also closed on Sunday and on Bank Holiday Monday.
But a message posted on the front door had indicated it would be open for business yesterday.
That proved incorrect when a further day’s strike left the premises shut.
Confused customers have delivered a stinging rebuke to Post Office bosses.
Communication Workers Union (CWU) employees are taking part in the continuing action in a bid to force a U-turn on plans to franchise 70 high street and city centre “crown” branches.
They claim the plan would “rip the heart” out of the network.
One of those customers inconvenienced by the closure was Sandra Wilson, 58, from Harton, South Shields. She popped along to the town centre branch to have an envelope weighed – but found the doors locked.
Mrs Wilson said: “If I put a first class stamp on it and that doesn’t cover the cost the person at the other end will have to pay all the postage.
“It’s really annoying, there’s one sign saying the branch will be open and another saying there may be industrial action.”
Staff at the Keppel Street branch have taken part in seven separate days of industrial action this year - although the branch is not one earmarked for transfer.
A spokesman for the Post Office said: “We apologise for any confusion which may have been caused. The branch was always set for closure on Saturday and Tuesday as a result of industrial action.
“Perhaps there was some confusion as a result of the Bank Holiday Monday coming between. We can only apologise for that mistake.”
The Post Office says it has already received 150 expressions of interest from retailers keen to run post office services in their stores and the crown branches are expected to transfer to successful retailers before April 2015.
Six years ago, 85 crown outlets were closed in the Post Office’s last plan and 70 – including Newcastle city centre branch – were moved into WH Smith stores.