Has the Postal Service Lost Its Zip?

Excuse my logic but it’s not surprising that the United States Postal Service has been forced to close many facilities recently.  Don’t misunderstand this blog. I am not gloating.  As a kid I greatly enjoyed collecting plate blocks of commemorative stamps and also First Day covers, which were special editions of new issues mounted on decorative envelopes.  My memories of collecting stamps with my father and grandfather are cherished.

Yes, I think it is sad that just like newspapers, the venerable Postal Service may be put out to pasture.  Yet, in many ways it has only itself to blame.

True, the advent of Email, Pay pal and other electronic methods of transmitting information has greatly dug into the Postal Service business and it can’t be blamed for something it had no control over.

However, there are glaring problems with the Postal Service that it does have control over yet continues to ignore.

It has huge overhead to pay because of gargantuan pensions it must pay former employees.  From the mid 1900s until recent years, everyone wanted a postal job because they knew how lucrative the retirement package was.  These former workers are living longer putting a drain on the already cash strapped agency. 

Second, my own experience with the Postal Service on many occasions has shown me that it is not as reliable as it once was (unless when I was a child all this was going on even then and I just didn’t realize).  People call printed mail “snail mail,” and oft times for good reason. 

Here are some cases in point.

One time I walked out of my side door and past my front lawn and there was a large stack of mail (about 20-30 pieces) lying on my grass.  It wasn’t mine. It didn’t even belong to anyone on my street. It had just been dropped there very carelessly.

I am constantly (I mean at least once every two weeks) getting mail delivered to my house that is not mine.  Sometimes it has a completely different address which makes it ludicrous.  Yet even when it has my address but is for someone other than my name I find it rather curious. You see when I mark this kind of mail “return to Sender” and re-mail it at my post office often times it comes back to me two or three times.  Can’t these people read?! 

Is this eagle an endangered species?

 

Then I can recall how I lost a great deal of business thanks to USPS.  My Dad and I were under contract with a textiles company to get them government contracts.  We needed to get at least $500,000 worth of business for this company in our first year in order to be renewed.  There was this state government bid we were going after.  It was in one of the southeastern states as I recall.  We put our bid package together and I brought it to the Post Office.  I clearly asked the clerk if using express mail when it would arrive at the bid room.  He guaranteed two days. I only needed it to arrive in three.  It arrived in FOUR.  We were disqualified. The most upsetting thing was when they tallied the bids, our bid would have been the lowest.  It was a $240,000 contract.  Because we lost that contract, we didn’t make our quota with the textile company and it ended what could have been a successful business partnership.

Did I mention that my postman always seems to be talking on a blue tooth when delivering my mail? Shouldn’t his mind be on his work? Maybe that’s why I keep getting other peoples’ mail as mentioned before.

Then there are the lines at many post offices.  This is not the poor postal clerk’s fault. It’s management’s.  Be that as it may, when you make working people wait twenty, or twenty five minutes to be served, they’re going to become disenchanted with your business.  If you ever want to hear a wide array of muttered curses and catcalls, just go to your post office during lunch hour. If it’s one of the crowded ones you’ll get what I mean.

This cranky old blogger’s last gripe concerns something that took place about 15 years ago.  I was driving my relatively new minivan down a side street and suddenly a postal vehicle just pulls out of its parking spot and side swipes me.  I mean the driver couldn’t have possibly looked out her side view mirror for she would have seen me.  I called the police. They came and I said I thought I smelled alcohol on her breath but they refused to issue a breath test.  They acknowledged that it could have been her fault. Here’s the kicker though.  At least at that time, under some provision of Title 19 from the Code of Federal Regulations, the Postal Service vehicle was not liable for damages caused by an accident, even if it was the postal worker’s fault.  So I had to shell out nearly $1,800 for repairs.

Through it all, I hope the Postal Service survives.  However, I hope they get their act together or it may be a short lived encore.

 

Copyright 2011; Greg S.

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  1. #1 by Ninerz on January 9, 2012 - 7:44 pm

    LOL you had an incident with a drunk postal worker? I never knew this.

    It saddens me that the postal industry is failing for two reasons. First, I love snail mail. I enjoy sending and receiving a letter every now and then. Second, I always wanted to be a postwoman and drive a postal truck if all else fdails, if I decide I hate law school, etc. I’m not sure why but the job always seemed appealing to me, especially on sunny spring days.

  2. #2 by Aaron Poplawski on September 14, 2012 - 3:40 am

    Im not sure why I ran across your blog, but I did. I am a mailman, although we use the more non-sexual orientation of letter carrier. I find it very troubling when good people that truly like ‘snail mail’ feel as you do. For the life of me I cannot fathom how your carrier would have dropped a bundle of mail on your lawn, especially given that it was not yours. I certainly hope you called your post office and notified them. Most people dont want to get their letter carrier in any hot water but it does need to be addressed if you get sub-par performance, especially for an employee drinking on the job as in your other situation. This person should be fired and very well may have been. In my office it is a strict no-no to talk on the phone unless you happen to be on one of your two authorized ten minute breaks. The vast majority of people in my district are very professional and provide top notch service. There are always a few bad apples in every bunch, no matter what line of the service industry someone was to look, but the standards of a government employee should be a notch higher in my opinion.

    You are absolutely correct that our leadership and the help of Congress has sent the USPS down a hard road. In 2006 the PAEA was passed. This meant that we needed to have an excess profit of 5.5 billion dollars a year yet there was no provision as to how to come up with this money. The price of stamps was not raised by Congress, no true plan was in the works, just the mandate to pre-fund retirements for 75 years. This would fund the retirement of people that werent even born yet. Since we run as a service and not a for profit company, to raise rates to fund this retirement is pulling a fast one on the American people. We should not be charging anything more than to cover operational costs, thats the bottom line.

    The ‘lucrative’ pension postal employees get is decent at best in todays standards. Most, if not all retirees currently in the retirement system did not pay into and do not receive Social Security benefits. I am of the batch under a FERS program and will rely mainly on my own 401k type investments and SSI benefits. In nearly 13 years my TSP (401k) has pretty much been a sinking ship although I will continue to have faith in a rebound. There is rumor that our entire TSP accounts have been borrowed by our good ol’ government. Of course I hope this is only a rumor but it wouldnt completely surprise me if this was true.

    Lastly, I would like to comment on being a postal worker as a back up plan. When it is sunny and 70 I have one of the best outdoor jobs that exists. We are timed to an 8 hour standard on these days, with a light mail volume. The problem with that logic is that when it is 98 degrees with a blistering sun or 11 degrees with sub-zero windchills we are expected to maintain that same speed. I do actually see these extremes in Michigan. Any logical person could tell you this is not possible. Logic being the key word, which leads right back into our leadership sending us down a hard road. Given all this, I still love my job and providing the great service my customers deserve.

    Thank you for being loyal patrons

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