In April, the Postal Service will be raising rates yet again, in its never ending, and futile, attempt to make ends meet. But even the powers that be in that monolithic organization know that simply increasing prices is not enough to cover their huge budget shortfalls, including a record $8.5 billion in losses in fiscal year 2010.
Last month, the Postal Service announced that it will be closing as many as 2,000 post office locations, beginning in March, and is looking at closing or cutting services at thousands more. Postal officials blame increasing use of e-mail and online bill payment methods, as well as increasing costs, for their financial woes.
All that may be true, but here’s an idea; instead of cutting back on service and locations, why doesn’t the Postal Service start taking care of its customers, and start offering real service, for a change!
Face it, the Postal Service is not user friendly, and has not been for a long, long time. In our business, we send out large amounts of mail at post office all over the country. This is always an adventure, because post office rules seem to be made on an individual basis, and not only are they different from one post office to another, sometimes they are different from day to day in the same post office!
Case in point – Monday, when I was at the post office, I told them that I would be bringing in several hundred First Class flats to drop off, that all would have metered postage on them, and asked where they wanted them. I was told to bring them into the lobby and ring the bell at the service door near the retail counter.
Yesterday I did so, and the clerk on duty very rudely told me that I should have brought them to the loading dock in the rear of the building. I explained that I had been told just the day before to bring them to the service door, and she basically called me a liar.
We have several Canadian subscribers, and some post offices require us to put a Customs declaration form on each envelope going to Canada, while others take them off and tell us it’s not necessary.
Postal regulations say that anything that weighs over 13 ounces and has stamps on it must be handed to a postal clerk, but that metered mail can be dropped into any post office box. But at a post office in Texas, the postmaster said that not only did I have to stand in line to hand the items to a clerk, even though we use metered postage from Stamps.com, he also told me that he would not accept my metered items, because we did not have a local address.
At the post office in Denton, Texas, we were told that they would not accept a General Delivery package mailed to us, and that we must rent a post office box, even though we were just passing through town. A post office in Florida refused to give one of our friends, whose first name name is Robert, his General Delivery mail because it was addressed to Bob, and his driver’s license did not say Bob.
Eleven days ago we mailed a First Class letter from Arizona to California, a distance of 390 miles. It still has not arrived. I could have walked there in that time!
I could give you a dozen other examples, but you get the idea. If a retail business treated its customers in such a manner, they would be closing their doors before long.
The postmaster in our old hometown was one of my closest friends, and I knew firsthand the problems he had, dealing with spoiled employees who didn’t want to do a lick of work, and were secure in the knowledge that their strong union would back up their grievances if he so much as talked sternly to them. One woman was off for over two years on disability following a leg injury, which happened when she got mad and kicked a piece of equipment.
But in that time, my newspaper covered several bicycle races she competed in. When her last appeal failed, and she was ordered to return to work or lose her job, she stayed less than two months, then went out on another extended paid disability leave due to her “mental stress.”
Maybe if the Postal Service would get rid of the deadwood like this woman, and the rest of their lazy, rude, incompetent employees, and start taking care of its customers, they might be able to turn things around. But we all know that will never happen. Government agencies are not known for their enlightened thoughts.
Tags: bicycle races, Customs declaration form, disability leave, e-mail, First Class mail, General Delivery mail, Government agencies, incompetent employees, loading dock, online banking, paid disability leave, Postal officials, postal rate increases, Postal Service, Postal Service budget shortfalls, postmaster, rude postal workers, Stamps.com