I’m sure by now everyone has heard the news the United States Postal Service has made the big decision to cease saturday delivery. It seems they have been threatening or considering the move for some time and there was even question as to whether the USPS had the authority to make the decision or was that a decision only Congress could make. I hear that some Congressmen disagree with the Postal Service about the authority but nonetheless, they have made the decision. The only question, is stopping Saturday delivery enough to preserve an institution such as the postal service? I’m wondering if stopping Saturday delivery will even begin to correct the problems associated with the Postal Service. It leaves me wondering, can the United States Postal Service be fixed or has it’s time come and gone.
The first time I really remember noticing the Postal Service was in the early to mid 90s. I noticed that the Postal Service was sponsoring the Olympics and Lance Armstrong’s cycling team. I thought to myself, why in the world does a government entity have to employ a marketing strategy that includes multi-million dollars sports sponsorships and endorsements. I found this particularly odd. The Lance Armstrong deal was worth $10 million or so a year. Also the USPS signed on as a major sponsor for the 1992 Olympics at the tune of around $90 million dollars. After five years and $140 million of taxpayer money to gain sponsorships and endorsements usually reserved for Fortune 500 companies you would think it made a positive difference. Not exactly, the revenue of the USPS dropped approximately $13 million by 1996. They say “hind-sight” is 20/20 but I think this was one of the most ridiculous and ill-managed decisions in the history of the United States government. I would have thought there would have been some public outcry about the need (or lack there of) of the endorsements and sponsorships. It begs the question, “why would a government agency need a campaign that marketed a service in which the government had a monopoly”? You see the USPS has a monopoly on most, if not all mail. Unless someone can prove me wrong the USPS has a statutory monopoly on first class mail and other small enveloped mail. Packages are another issue. USPS wants you to believe that their package shipping is cheaper and offer these gimmick “if it fits, it ships” deals where anything can ship for a flat rate if it will “fit” in one of their predetermined size boxes. What I have found is that the boxes seem intentionally odd sized and very few things I have tried to ship will fit in them. Also they seem cheaper than their competitors but by the time you add the “bells and whistles” such as insurance and tracking that come standard with UPS, the cost is usually more. Even if the cost was a wash, anyone who has had any interaction with the Postal Service knows that their customer service is an ABSOLUTE nightmare. So if the cost of shipping is anywhere near the same, most people are going to avoid the USPS altogether.
Also as they cease Saturday delivery and continuously raise the price of a stamp, the USPS states that it cost the USPS around $1.50 per mail item. What I would like to know is how much of that $1.50 is the result of absurd union influence on employee pay and benefits? I know, I have seen a federal employee benefits chart and postal employees benefit packages are separated from other employees and are somewhat better. For example comparable health insurance for postal employees is approximately 15% cheaper than any other federal worker. It puzzles me as to why the USPS workers are entitled to be required to pay a smaller portion of their premium than other federal employees. This is just an example of government unions and how they are just not compatible with federal service. If someone has a different opinion or believe I wrong, please let me know.
For years I lived in a very rural area that had a local Post Office in the community. The office only had one full-time employee and she was the postmaster. She had been employed by the USPS for years and was paid well. The crazy thing is the postmaster lived about 30 miles from the post office. The lobby hours extended past the service counter hours so they had to pay someone to lock the lobby every night. So instead of hiring a local person who was not a postmaster, and much cheaper for the USPS , they over paid a postmaster to travel 60 miles a day plus a local person to do nothing but lock up. The bad part about it was the fact that when the local person was not available the postmaster would lock the lobby when the service counter closed, without notice, denying mail to a majority of the community. Later they announced that only the lobby would be open on Saturday and that the service window would be closed. So afterwards every Saturday the postmaster would drive the 30 miles (one way), sort and post the mail, and then sit there behind the service counter until the lobby closed and then locked the doors and left. You could walk into the office, check your mail, and wave to the postmaster on the other side of the closed glass window. If you received a package or something registered you could show her the notice through the window, but she couldn’t help you because she was “closed”. It was one of the most ridiculously stupid things I have ever seen. Why would you cut service without cutting cost. Someone please explain that one.
Remember earlier when I was talking about customer service. Have you ever heard of those UPS Brown Stores? For those of you that haven’t they are “store faces” owned by UPS that offer shipping / package solutions as well as a place to receive packages to be held. These locations also have PO boxes they rent for a premium price. As a matter of fact the last time I checked the monthly rent on a UPS/Brown store PO box was almost as much as the yearly rent on PO box at the local Post Office. Yet, the last time I checked, almost all of the boxes were currently being rented. What?? Why in the hell would someone pay that much per month when you could get one at the post office for a fraction of the cost, or for that matter delivered to your home for free? You see the way these boxes work, the postal service delivers the mail to the UPS store who in return place it in the customer’s box. The only reason I could understand why ANYONE would do this is level of service and convenience. Which is almost non-existent at your local post office. Again, please someone tell me I’m wrong.
Now some of you are probably saying that all I am doing is complaining without offering any solutions to the problem. First of all I’m not sure the postal service can be corrected and if so it will take compromises by both citizens and postal employees. It would take monumental changes to create any real difference. One thing I have always wondered is why do you get mail delivered to your house for free (regardless where you live) yet you pay to go where they sort the mail anyway. Does that make any sense whatsoever? Shouldn’t it be the other way around? Any other service would be the opposite, personal service at your home would involve an extra fee. So maybe we should look at charging a yearly fee for home delivery and if you don’t won’t to pay then go pick up your mail yourself. Depending on how far you live from an incorporated area should determine your yearly fee. I currently have my mail delivered to my house, not because I don’t won’t to pay for a box, but because any way to avoid the circus they call a post office is what I want. If the box was free and delivery was with a fee trust me I would be paying. Another way would be to alter the way “junk mail” is handled. First of all junk mail should have its own class such as first class, media mail, and others, except it should cost a premium. That would eliminate the needless BS bulk the Postal Service is responsible for and the ones thinking it was important enough would pay more. Maybe that would generate more revenue, I’m not sure. It would be worth consideration. These are just several suggestions that could help get the USPS on the right path
Now as I’ve stated earlier I’m not sure anything could repair the disarray that the postal service has become. Sometimes I wonder if one day our children will talk about the United States Postal Service like the Pony Express. Don’t get me wrong, I like the fact that my mail is delivered to my door six days a week (soon to be five) for absolutely free. I very seldom use the mail myself so a book of stamps last me longer than it takes to raise the price of a stamp. I’m just afraid that the time may have come and gone for the United States Postal Service.
What say you.
I’m the MODERN DAY MACHIAVELLI!