The United States Postal Service — the quasi-government agency who vows to deliver letters, cards, and packages through snow, sleet, hell and high water — reported a record loss of $3.8 billion for the fiscal year just ended. They accomplished this despite budget and employee cuts, office closures, and, of course the old stand-by, a rise in postal rates. Naturally, everyone is offering their theories as to why the USPS is doing worse business than American auto makers and the major banks.
One major reason — e-mail — is a no brainer. There is also the competition from other ground carriers: UPS, FedEx, et al. Financial transactions through the Internet are also taking a bite into postal revenue, since many people are not sending their payments through the mail. This is common sense, as is my own personal theory as to why the post office is losing money: their service is shit!
In recent years, the postal system has lost three of my payments – one being the mortgage. Then, just a few months ago, they failed to deliver a credit card bill to my address. Since I never received a bill, I didn’t send a payment that month and I got slapped with a late fee. Fortunately, the credit card company was very understanding and waived the fee — after two or three phone calls. With job performance like this, it’s no wonder that many people are paying their bills online.
Then there are the glaring incidents in recent years regarding mass third rate advertising mailings. In these cases, the local postmasters - under pressure to keep the mail moving, and their bonuses coming to them - resorted to stashing these mailings in tractor trailers behind their offices. The trucks were stacked floor to ceiling with brochures and ads which local businessmen/women depended on to get delivered to sell their products.
This action involved a lot of faith in the postmaster, namely, praying like hell that no one would ever figure why the tractor trailers never moved from their spots. Unfortunately, someone eventually went to the media where all hell broke loose. By my count, this has happened at least twice in recent years: Landover, Maryland and Philadelphia. I forget the outcome of the Maryland case, but when the Philadelphia postmaster was found out, the post office sprang into action. Taking a cue from the Roman Catholic Church’s traditional (until a few years ago) resolution of their pedophile priest problem, the US Postal Service reassigned
What else could the postal service do? Dismissal of the postmaster would have amounted to an indictment of their corporate culture. Actually, a few indictments might not be a bad idea. Perhaps the postal service (that last word should be used very loosely) would finally get the message that they are no longer serving the American public’s needs.
Anne Marie has noticed that her company is not getting the bills from their vendors. There again, no bills received, no bills get paid. Her business is solving this problem through, yes, you guessed it, paying their bills electronically and receiving bills via e-mail or fax.
Complain? Yeah, right! I filled out forms for the three payments I mentioned earlier in such a way that the post office could surely locate them, even with the billions of pieces they handle every year. The forms were detailed with the size (in inches) of the checks, a description of the check backgrounds (Poker Dogs, of course) and the check amounts. There is no way they could fail to find these checks — if they would only take the time to look for them.
I only say that because I filled out those forms three years ago, and I’m still waiting to hear from the post office. I think I might have better luck finding Jimmy Hoffa or Amelia Earhart for all the effort the postal system puts into resolving customer complaints.
So, happy trails to the postal service! Without a drastic overhaul of your corporate culture, you deserve the one way ticket to business oblivion!
*I know, I know! I’ve written hundreds of cranky rants on this blog, but starting today we’ll start counting them. Enjoy!(Thanks for reading! Please remember not to fold, spindle, or mutilate your letters; the USPS will do it for you for $.44!)