My Beef with the Post Office

Ire at the post office isn’t a new thing, but it seems to me that in recent years they deserve it more. I attended a postal conference where I sat at a table with higher level post office managers. At the time I had been involved in a direct mail project that had such little response that we questioned whether it was actually mailed. So I asked, “Is it possible that the mailing didn’t go out?”

“Not likely,” I was told, but “anything could happen.”

Really? I was taken aback. “What about the mail carriers creed, ‘Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds?'”

“Well, that really isn’t the post office motto, it is just an inscription written on the General Post Office building in New York City.”

“So what is the post office’s obligation to deliver the mail?”

“To use our best efforts in processing and delivering in a timely manner.”

“And if the mail doesn’t deliver at all, what recourse does the injured party have?”

“None.”

“You mean my customer spent over $15,000 in postage, which we strongly suspect went awry or somehow undelivered and they can’t even get their money back?”

I suppose proving mis or un delivery is the bugaboo. Just a terrible reponse doesn’t prove anything. We can say that the list was carefully selected. We can say that the package was attractive and inviting. We can say that the offer was good, but none of that constitutes proof. We offered to go to the post office and search to see if we could find the pieces, of course, that wasn’t allowed. The only course of action really allowed was to sit and stew.

If you haven’t noticed, the post office got a pass on postage rates a couple of years ago. What that means is that whenever they want to raise rates they don’t have to go before a government regulatory agency and prove why they need it. The result? Every year since the cost of postage has gone up, and the service–well how has your service been–noticeably improved?

This News Release was issued by the post office March 20, 2009. Release No. 09-028

Postal Service Continues Aggressive Steps to Cut Costs

Closing administrative offices, eliminating positions, offering early retirements

WASHINGTON — With no signs of economic recovery in sight, the U.S. Postal Service is taking bold actions in response to its ongoing financial crisis. Today the Postal Service announced it would be closing six of its 80 district offices, eliminating positions across the country and offering another early retirement opportunity. These actions are expected to save the Postal Service more than $100 million annually.

The six offices closing — located in Lake Mary, FL; North Reading, MA; Manchester, NH; Edison, NJ; Erie, PA, and Spokane, WA — house only administrative functions and will not adversely affect customer service, mail delivery, Post Office operations or ZIP Codes. The functions of these six offices will be assumed by 10 district offices within close proximity.

Additionally, administrative staff positions at the district level nationwide are being reduced by 15 percent. More than 1,400 mail processing supervisor and management positions at nearly 400 facilities around the country also are being eliminated and nearly 150,000 employees nationwide are being given the opportunity to take an early retirement.

In the past year the Postal Service has taken very aggressive cost-cutting actions, including:

  • Cutting 50 million work hours;
  • Halting construction of new postal facilities;
  • Negotiating an agreement with the National Association of Letter Carriers that adjusts letter carrier routes to reflect diminished volume;
  • Freezing salaries of all Postal Service officers and executives;
  • Instituting a nationwide hiring freeze;
  • Reducing authorized staffing levels at postal headquarters and area offices by at least 15 percent;
  • Selling unused and under-utilized postal facilities;
  • Adjusting Post Office hours to better reflect customer use; and,
  • Consolidating mail processing operations.

The Postal Service is streamlining operations and improving efficiencies across the board in order to protect its ability to provide affordable, universal mail service. By modifying networks, consolidating functions and restructuring administrative and processing operations, the Postal Service is adapting to meet the evolving needs, demands and activities of its customers.

My question is if they have found ways to save $100 million dollars a year, do we get a decrease in postage? I wouldn’t count on it. What I would count on is in May of 2010 there will be more increases.


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