After my bad-product-rant about the U.S. Postal Service I got an excellent response from my friend, the experienced Postmaster (thanks Val), and it sheds a whole new light on what is going on, and what is going to come when all the post offices are shut down. Here is her response:
I for one, can agree with you that the Postal Service is guilty of inefficiency to the nth degree. As I assess this management flaw, I see it stemming from a military style beginnings. Veterans, most without business or people skills ( whom I have all my admiration for duties served) were always and still are given employment preference over civilians. Even civilians who scored higher on entrance exams. This resulted in a business approach that was not typically user-friendly. It is therefore a little ironic, that for generations, people have seen their mail carrier, postmaster and local post office as touches of home town personal hospitality and service (the main reason I have remained in a rural post office).
Sadly, as technology takes over these personal services, you are given the responsibility of knowledge of product, guidelines and service. You trade service and knowledge for supposed convenience. Your experience is living proof that there is a price to be paid for gain. This convenience is not really designed for the occasional mailer, the novice if you will. It is for eBay, Amazon, online sellers. These mailers have a scale at home….as you can see they would need to. I have always told my “postal” colleagues that it is not the job of the customer to know postal procedure. That is our job…but…for that expertise you must come in to the post office. People come to me all the time for mine….but in the larger post office….one with lines…..the days of an under-appreciated clerk taking the time to help you package and ship your package, are over. A sign of the times….coupled with poor management…..and you were the victim. She…like you…had to assume you knew what you were doing and that your honesty prevailed when you handed over the package. (It’s 13 ounces and over for personal presentation at the counter. This is a security precaution put into place after 9/11, the unibomber….and the anthrax mailer). Again…signs of the times. Perhaps the whole idea of mailing was meant for simpler times.
You should have consulted your “dear friend” in the postal business. I would have gladly helped you out. The flat rate packages do not need to be prepared at the post office. You can have the boxes shipped directly to you free of charge (a poor business choice if you ask me) or go into any post office and pick up what you need to take home any time. The boxes and envelopes are free.
Feel free to use FedEx. You’ll run into a new set of frustrations, one of which is inconvenience in locales….and you’d better have better scale skills by then as well. Tip…if you think it’s 4 lbs, you should pay the five-pound rate. Your scale does not reflect the ounces over, which put it at the next pound rate. Your method was cursory, but in line with what you were saying…what does the USPS expect? Of course people are going to screw up. We hold you accountable for that. That is a mistake.
Now…they are preparing to take away the last vestige of good professional customer service by closing the small post offices. They will begin turning over the retail and service end of things, to local business people, by placing them in their already existing store fronts. They are calling them V.P.O.’s Village Post Offices. This is an attempt to make the public feel as though the small town touch will stay the same.
If you think things are bad now – just wait.