John Potter, U.S. Postmaster General, is widely quoted today as saying that the USPS must “consider everything” in fixing the revenue shortfall and losses facing the USPS. He is then quoted as discussing options such as closing branches to allow contract locations inside grocery stores and other retailers to provide more of the services that the Post Office now provides. He also is discussing eliminating Saturday delivery.
His focus is on efficiency given the decline in usage of the USPS due to the increased use of email. Those all may be good ideas, but the USPS still suffers from “monopoly mentality,” and their people and processes are too often focused inside-out rather than outside-in (from the customer’s perspective).
Two recent and separate examples bring this point home. A friend recently went to the Post Office to obtain a passport, which is the way it is done today. Upon completion of the application he attempted to pay for it by credit card. He was advised that the USPS does not accept credit cards for payment of passport fees. Since he did not have any checks or enough cash with him, he left that section of the Post Office, stood in line and bought a Postal Service money order, which he paid for with a credit card, and took the money order back to the clerk and paid for his passport fees. Go figure?
We ship books ordered from our office via USPS Media Mail. Our office manager recently discovered that the stamps sometimes did not stick to the envelopes we were using, so he went to the Post Office to inquire how to solve the problem since the packages were being returned to us undelivered for “postage.” He had considered taping the postage to the envelope (a standard bubble envelope purchased at the office supply store) and was informed, in no uncertain terms by the postal clerk, that such action was unacceptable. She did not threaten him with arrest, but did make it clear that the package, with clear tape over the postage, would not be accepted by the Postal Service.
He asked her for other suggestions which met with a curt response that basically suggested that it was his problem to solve. He advised her that his solution was going to be to use FedEx Ground in the future. She wished him “good luck with that.”
While we are not a large shipper by any means, there will be fewer packages from our office going by US Mail and a few more by Fed Ex. And undoubtedly the Postmaster General will believe this was beyond their control and will need to be addressed with cost-cutting.