An Open Letter to the United States Postal Service

Dear United States Postal Service,

 

I don’t mean to be one of those guys who just blindly complains about the mail. I actually have a friend who is a postal worker and by all appearances is a pretty good one. I have heard stories of the rigors of the job, and I’m sure from time to time, it’s easy to just plain fall behind on things. I get that.  I have it myself. I recognize that by and large, things basically get to where they’re supposed to go. However, I have a few issues with the speed, quality of service, and price involved these days, based on my experiences. So, USPS, please pardon my gripes and discontent…but there are some things we should really get out in the air.

 

As I said, stuff usually seems to get where it’s supposed to go…but lately, it hasn’t been getting there on time, at least for me. I’ve been getting things late that are clearly postmarked as having been shipped days and even weeks earlier. I’ve been getting delays on track-able packages. In fact, right now I’m waiting on a package that’s been sitting in Earth City (less than a 15-minute drive from my house) for two days, with a noted “expected delivery” date of 3/5/09. Why it takes (presumably) three days to make a 15-minute drive, I’ll never know, unless it’s just that those mail-carts seem to be so underpowered (I mean seriously…I could out-run one on foot if I had to).

 

Look, I know that I’ve just fallen prey to the “I want it NOW!!!” mentality that is so prevalent in America…but in this case, I think I’m justified. I ordered this stuff over a week ago and it’s been a stone’s-throw from my house for two days (and presumably will be for three, given the “expected delivery” date). Had I used FedEx or UPS as the shipper, it would have been on my door step within two days…probably even overnight. And I know they’re not any less busy than you are, USPS. You’re in the same basic business. Those guys are just faster…shoot, even DHL’s coming up in speed, until they put it in the hands of the local post offices. That’s a shame.

 

Okay. If it were just the speed-issue, I guess I could let it go and only send things through the US Mail like birthday cards, letters, and stuff that it doesn’t matter if it gets anywhere on time, as long as it gets there. (I do almost all of my bill-paying online now, by the way, since I don’t trust the US Mail to get my payments in on time, after some recent close-calls.) However, I have other issues as well…and one of the big ones is the overall quality of service I’ve been experiencing lately.

 

Things have gone downhill, folks. In the past year, my delivery time has been changed from “noonish” to somewhere between 3-4 in the afternoon, depending on when the person whose been doing it lately gets over to me. I can deal with a shift-change, but this person honestly seems like she just takes a LOT of breaks rather than she’s just running late some days (and she usually has appeared slightly unkempt when I’ve spoken to her). It’s at least an hour-margin, and is often more. One day last week, the mail didn’t show up until almost 5:00. That’s just plain unacceptable, USPS. Bad form.

 

It’s not just the carrier, though. If it were just my particular letter-carrier, I could write it off as just a bad hire who will eventually be found out by her supervisors. Unfortunately, though, it seems the supervisors are setting a pretty bad example for the workers, as evidenced by a recent trip to my post office to send a package.

 

Okay…you’ve got four windows and only open TWO, but that’s nothing new. We’ll ignore that…but what I refuse to ignore is when the line is stretching out of the front door and the second window CLOSES for the teller to go on break. Uhh…no. That’s irresponsible and just plain unkind. I know you deal with idiots every day, pretty much non-stop…but when it’s so bad in there that people actually BOO when they close the other window, you’re doing something wrong. (I’m serious, people actually booed.) What ever happened to being staffed well enough to avoid that kind of thing? Or what ever happened to a worker helping out their fellow worker and not sticking them with dozens of (by that time angry) customers? Guess that break was more important, huh?

 

Plus, when you actually GET service, it’s often terrible! I reuse boxes for shipping back stuff (especially from my office). It’s one of the few things I do that comes anywhere near “going green.” Plus, it’s cheaper than buying new ones all the time. I get that I have to cross stuff out and makes sure all the barcodes and whatnots are covered or blacked out. A little annoying, but I get it. However, I recently had a teller refuse me service because there was writing on the package…when I inquired about what the crap she was talking about she pointed to the bottom of the package, where it read what kind of envelope it was, had a patent number for the envelope, and said “Please Recycle.” Upon asking to speak to her supervisor, I was informed that she WAS the supervisor, which if true speaks volumes.

 

First of all…neither UPS nor FedEx makes you black out ANYTHING since they slap on their own labels anyway…but beyond that, if there’s something printed on an envelope that is part of the packaging, you don’t get to complain. That’s roughly akin to me having bought a USPS box from the post office, then having the teller scold me and make me black out the USPS logo. Ever since that experience, I’ve been taking my packages to the UPS Store…without even one problem, which is actually pretty shocking considering how bad THEY were a few years ago (they’ve really turned their game around, though).

 

So two strikes…wanna try for three? Okay…how about the price? Considering the stellar [sarcasm] service noted above, you’d think that at least the price would be reasonable, right? Nope. Postal rates have been climbing higher and higher in the past few months (and years…I remember getting stamps for a quarter about five years ago). And why? If you dig for an explanation, you eventually find that the bottom line is that rates are going up because less people are using the US Mail as a form of communication; instead using e-mail, fax, texting, Facebook (etc), UPS, FedEx, and so on to get the job done.

 

Gee…I wonder why…

 

So, dear dying form of communication, I hope you can turn things around. I really do. I’m pulling for you. But it’s a long road ahead to winning back the trust of the masses like myself who are very discontent and who are now pretty much only receiving ads and a few bills (which I could and do also access online and rarely even open anymore). Maybe people would write more letters if we could afford to send them and if we knew they’d reach people. Let’s face it, you’re pretty much only in business now because people still have magazine subscriptions. Unless you make some SERIOUS changes, you’ll soon have gone the way of the telegram. (Stop.) I sincerely hope that doesn’t happen. In this economy, it’d be good to know at least a FEW things will last…and until recently, I always thought that the post office would be one of those few…but I’m afraid you’re on the bubble. Please don’t go over the edge.

 

Respectfully-ish Yours,

-Derek

3 thoughts on “An Open Letter to the United States Postal Service”

  1. i’ve read this several times and each time, i laugh again – i’ve been to my local post office three times since last thursday. and every single time, i leave with a headache (either from the lines, the fight with the postal clerk, or the sudden drop in my checking account – seriously)
    i feel justified knowing that i’m not the only one who doesn’t like the USPS. and i didn’t even have to sign my name at the end of your open letter.

  2. oh! i know you don’t name where you work, so let me be vague: i’m coming this weekend to visit your metropolis and will be at your place of work on friday. are you going to be around? i’ll pop in and distract you; i might even be good for some dry, morose musings about life.

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