The Rowdy One

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The USPS is a MESS: The Post Office Sucks Pondwater

If the United States Postal Service was a real business, operating under real, non-government-subsidized conditions, it would have had to close its doors eons ago.

Several times a year, we get a disturbing clear bag placed in our mailbox containing only the cover of the one of the magazines we receive. Printed on the outside of the bag is text that says something to the effect of: "We're sorry but our automated processing system ravaged your mail beyond recognition. Now, all that's left of your magazine is its cover. Uh, sorry and stuff."

Yet somehow, the endless stream of credit card offers and pleas to borrow tens of thousands against my mortgage always seem to make it in tact.

May it never happen that you need to actually go into the post office and speak to A LIVE HUMAN BEING. At our post office, while at least 10 postal employees are milling around at all times, there are only 2-3 that are actually capable of helping anyone do anything. The best, and perhaps only, USPS advancement in its history is the automated stamp machine. Oh, and maybe the self-adhesive stamp.

And if you are there near closing time, peace be with you. I once arrived at 5:55 p.m. and at 6:05 p.m., while still in line, I was told I'd have to come back tomorrow. Then the last remaining teller pulled the Metal Screen of Death to the floor, locked up, and left.

Just tonight, I got in line at 5:40 and waited until 6:20 to ship a package. The guy two people behind me was wearing a FedEx employee badge.

"You should know better than to come here," I remarked after about 20 minutes of waiting in a line of discouraging faces that would have made the line at the DMV look like Times Square on New Years' Eve.

"Yeah, unfortunately I have to pick up a package," said the guy, still managing a smile. "These guys could learn a lot of best practices from us."

Indeed. At 5:55 tonight, one of the three open windows closed, despite a line of 12 frustrated customers negatively committed to their USPS package. Then, one of the two other window attendants announced, "I can only take debit cards here." I was waiting for the person at the last remaining open window to announce, "And I can only help people under 4 foot 11."

Our USPS branch can't correctly manage a "hold mail" order ... we are still regularly getting mail for people who lived in our house moons ago ... and to top it all off, we now get our mail delivered in a centralized postal box a block away, instead of at our door.

As a proud American, I don't think that the USPS should be allowed to carry the name Unites States anymore. It doesn't deserve it. Maybe that's why most people now simply call it by its acronym. But that's not enough. Let's change the name to the United Arab Emirates Postal Service ... or something more descriptive like: Delivery Of Packages Entirely Suspect. Then, I'd be cool with it going by its acronym.

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  • The UAE Post Office? LOL. Everyone from the Middle East are terrorists, or so was implied during the ports debacle. Funny how that same logic doesn't apply at the airport as they're strip searching 86-year-old grandmothers. But I digress.

    Privitizing USPS should be 2nd only to privitizing the Dept of Education.

    I wonder what Ben Franklin would do with his invention today?

    By Anonymous Kevin, at 11:02 PM  

  • It's all the USPS rules for saving money that causes these problems. I work in a tiny Post Office that has recently gotten a young Postmaster who wants to move up the ladder. As an office, we are now forbidden to do anything that could cause us to go over our scheduled times by even one minute, as it will affect her budget (overtime measured in minutes) and her bonuses and promotions.
    We used to be able to go out of our way to help people & we like it that way. Now, with the new cost cutting measures, I have to determine how much I can get away with before I go over my 'evaluated average time' to do everything I do, or risk losing my job. I try very hard to get people what they need. Remember, we need our jobs, too. If I push too hard to do things the old fashioned way, I am given what they call written remedial training.
    The automated equipment ruins your mail because it saves them money to have a machine sort it rather than pay me to do it. The ads come into the offices run on the credit card or whoever's machines, not the USPS. It is their machine, made just for that type of mail. It is already sorted by the company it is coming from, that's why it's rarely damaged.
    I used to be proud if a letter came in just for Grandma with our zip code if I could take the time & look at where it was coming from & get the letter to the right person. I am now forbidden to even look at it. My job is to get out of the office and get back in as soon as I can with what they give me. I don't even see the letters that are addressed improperly. Not even given a chance to get it where it belongs. It sucks, we hate it. I have no answer for how it will get better. Privatize? They will really worry about the bottom line. Do you think a corp will want to pay overtime so we can actually do what we can to help people? To millions of people working windows a few minutes later or out on the routes to try to give better service?
    Once a year, they count every piece of mail I take to the street & every thing I bring in to be mailed. They time every move I make & that is the time I am to keep, no matter how much comes in, no matter people needing special help, no matter the car breaking down, etc. You are to keep the same average time every day. God forbid if you go over the evaluated time. You will be reprimanded. Go easy on the workers. Most wish it were different.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:55 AM  

  • A fish rots from the head down, so it's no surprise that the USPS MESS is leadership driven.

    By Blogger The Rowdy One, at 8:25 PM  

  • Hey have you tried to deal with USPS automated system? This is a real invention they system has emotion. This computer gets angry to me when I ask customer support? Wow amazing!

    By Blogger Penguin Teeth, at 12:45 PM  

  • Couple stories of mine, related to values we appreciate in a business. Lets take cost; yes if you just factor in the cost of shipping items they may be slightly less than the competors...but what about the tax money that goes into this system, lets face it these people are making well above minimum wage...and for the customer service, they dont deserve it! Accuracy and dependabilty are laughable, I've read about numourous people complaining about the tracking system. Here's one; if there so good...Last time I bought something on ebay, the seller (not my choice) decided to use USPS. It was a tube and when I received it, it was empty...Some where along the line in processing, the item had fallen out, no one had detected it?!? I called off and on for a week, and no one chould find it. Because instead of someone detecting right away and hence narrowing the search, it could have been anywhere. I'm going to stop here, and tell one more story about there speed. I recently moved and at the same time submitted a "change of address". They told me that it would take 7-10 days for the change to take place, however they didnt say that they would hold my mail during that time. AT roughly the same time I put this change through...I also changed banks, and thus had to change my direct deposit. Meaning that I would receive a paper check, and of course it would go through the USPS. Lets see, can I grab your check and hold it for 7-10 days...I think not, and if this was a private company no one would stand for this, but because its the government we just shrug our shoulders. If this was a private company, they would have the latest tech and this process would be over-night. I talked to customer service and they told me when my mail would be received (eight days from my normal payday) at my new residence...Meaning the computers have made the changes, however after talking to a manager at the local office, he tells me that they have to make the little yellow lables. So mean while I'm broke as hell...waiting for LITTLE YELLOW LABLES. I used to think that there was nothing wrong with the USPS...until I accually had to deal with them. Thanks for letting me rant.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:46 AM  

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