Thursday, June 30, 2011

What's your favorite stamp?

The readers of Linn's Stamp News selected the Animal Rescue: Adopt a Shelter Pet stamps as their overall favorite United States Postal Service stamp issue of 2010.

So, what is your all-time favorite stamp from the past and why do you like it so much? Comment here.

See the polling data from last year here.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Your Postal Podcast -- 75 million flat tubs!

This month's edition of Your Postal Podcast -- available now at – celebrates two postal milestones.

The audio program’s first story marks the completion of the 75-millionth flat tub made for the Postal Service at a Minnesota factory. You’ll also hear an Iowa postmaster reminisce about the changes she’s experienced during 50 years on the job. As always, the show concludes with a roundup of recent postal headlines.

For a transcript of the latest program, please click here

While at, you can catch up on previous shows.  All of the podcasts can also be downloaded free at the iTunes store or via any other RSS feeder.

Please click here to share your comments and ideas for future podcast editions. Thanks for listening!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

What's in the box?

Photo by Dotti Gramke

Carmin Gramke is looking for that special piece of mail.

Care to comment?

Monday, June 27, 2011

An older workforce

Did you know that almost half of the U.S. Postal Service's employees are over 50?  And our average age is 53, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.

According to Dead Tree Edition, the Postal Service's proportion of over-50 employees is 10 percentage points higher than any Fortune 500 company and nearly double the average, according to a recent study.

What do you think about this statistic and trend?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

FER-get me not -- USPS Makes a statement

Yesterday, USPS said it’s suspending the employer’s contributions for the defined benefit portion of the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS).

The reason? To conserve cash, to pay creditors and employees.

The payment is about $115 million every payday and should free up about $800 between now and the end of the year. It doesn't affect matching funds or the 1 percent automatic payment to TSP.

The Postal Service has a surplus of $6.9 billion in payments to FERS.

What do you think? Should we quit paying the money until we have caught up? Is this a smart move? Other thoughts?  Comment here.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Banking by mail - the hard way

The Postal Service once transported an entire bank through the mails by Parcel Post. In 1916, in order to save transportation costs, a merchant named W. H. Coltharp sent a bank in small packages through the mails by Parcel Post from Salt Lake City to Vernal, Utah.

Although the transportation of the 80,000 bricks over the 427-mile route caused some problems for postal authorities (at the time no road existed from Salt Lake City to Vernal), not a single brick was lost.

 When Postmaster General Albert Burleson learned of this incident, he instructed postal regulations be rewritten to prohibit such large mailings.

His letter announcing these revisions, ended by stating, "It is not the intent of the United States Post Office that buildings should be shipped through the mail."

Even today, customers occasionally send their belongings by mail in order to save moving costs.

But since 1916, no buildings have entered the mailstream.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Advertising -- Do you like it?

One clerk wrote to me, aghast at the money we spend on advertising. The ever-present Letter Carrier Al is grabbing attention through television and print advertising. To this one employee, it seems a waste, especially when supplies are cut back, hours reduced and operations contracting.

But one Montana Postmaster wrote with an opposite opinion.

"My post office is in a very small community and the one thing I have learned in the last seven years is that people don't read or have time for sales pitches. The Priority Mail advertising has educated customers to the level that they very rarely ask for Parcel Post mailing."

For her, it's money well spent. "National advertising works hand in hand with local Post Office service."

What do you think? Should we curtail advertising until we get our finances in order? Does it bother you that we spend million in advertising, yet we are rationing basic office supplies? Are the two even compatible? Comment here.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Caption contest: Little shopper

If you were writing a caption for this photo, what would you say? Add your suggestion here.

Photo courtesy Tammy Rokusek

Friday, June 17, 2011

Cell phone ban? Smart?

It's against postal policy for employees to talk on a cell phone while driving a postal vehicle. In many states, it's illegal.

Do you think this a good policy? Why? Comment.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Spreading our wings

The Postal Service sells stamps and products in a variety of places - ATM's, grocery stores and now select Office Depots.

Where else could we expand our services? Are theree businesses that could especially help stock, sell and promote our products?

Do you see expansion as a good thing?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Dispute on Five-Day delivery savings

The Postal Service thinks that by going to five day delivery, it will save $3.1 billion.

The Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) thinks differently. In their March 24, 2011 advisory opinion, they estimated there would only be $1.7 billion in net annual savings.

USPS has challenged the findings in these specific areas:

* $760 million in savings from increased city carrier productivity and efficiency under a five-day schedule that the PRC didnt' account for.
*$260 million in highway transportation and mail processing economies associated with one less day of street delivery that the PRC underestimated.
* $386 million in annual revenue loss that the PRC assumed.

What do you think the savings will be if we go to five day delivery? What will the cost be?

Comment here.

The whole USPS report is here.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Lightning strikes

Benny here. Take it from me and my kite and key experiment that lightning is no laughing matter.

Did you know lightning is a greater danger then floods, tornadoes or hurricanes? So, if you are caught outside in a thunderstorm, try to take shelter in a building or a vehicle until the danger passes. If you cannot find shelter, stay away from any tall objects-flagpoles, tress, towers or metal fences. Golf clubs and fishing rods are prime conductors.

And if you are home, stay away from windows, fireplaces, plumbing and electrical appliances that are plugged in. Avoid using the telephone until the storm passes.

Professionals say that if a lightning strike is impending, the victim may get a hair-raising tingling sensation. If this happens, it it vital to drop to the knees, staying as low as possible to avoid becoming a target. Do not lie flat.

Any lightning stories you can offer? Any other tips you want to share? Comment here.

Monday, June 13, 2011

LLV, meet your little brother

A photo from Avon Lake, OH, submitted by Joseph Martin.

Friday, June 10, 2011

One Million Post Offices

Our expanded access plan is simple. Partner with local businesses to provide customers ease of access to our products and services where they live, work and shop.

How is it working? Do you see more and more people purchasing stamps, mailing letters and shipping packages without ever visiting a traditional Post Office?

Are there other areas we can expand to? Comment here.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Mail myself to you

Here's a little ditty

I'm gonna wrap myself in paper
I'm gonna dab myself with glue
Stick some stamps on top of my head
I'm gonna mail myself to you!

I'm gonna tie me up in a red string

I'm gonna tie blue ribbons, too
I'm gonna climb up in my mailbox
I'm gonna mail myself to you
When you see me in your mailbox

Cut the string and let me out
Wash the glue off of my fingers

Stick some bubble gum in my mouth
Take me out of my wrapping paper

Wash the stamps off of my head
Pour me full of ice cream sodies
Put me in my nice warm bed

Listen to this children's song here.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

R2D2 - The boxes live on!

(In case you missed the LiteBlue article, it's reprinted below)

Four years ago, the Postal Service launched an out-of-this-world promotion.

In collaboration with Lucas Films, the Postal Service promoted stamps commemorating the 30th anniversary of “Star Wars” by transforming 400 collection boxes into R2-D2 look-alikes — one of the film’s most beloved characters.

The R2-D2 boxes replaced high-volume mailboxes in 200 cities nationwide on March 16, 2007. People were excited to see the hard-working droid accept customers’ mail just like any other collection box, if only until April of 2007, when, the Postal Service began removing the collection boxes. But R2-D2’s service was far from over.

The Postal Service donated the boxes to the military. Now, the R2-D2 look-alikes are collecting mail from troops deployed around the world, from the Marine Corps Air Station in Iwakuni, Japan, to Mildenhall Air Base, England, to locations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“They will stand guard in front of Post Offices and base exchanges, collecting mail and hopefully bringing a smile to our troops who are far away from home and serving their country,” said Lt. Col. Gordon Geison, commander of the Joint Military Postal Activity Pacific in 2007.

Excluding military bases, only a few of the boxes remained in the U.S. and none are allowed to be displayed outdoors with one exception — Roswell, NM — a town famous for its extraterrestrial connections.

“The box is located in front of the Roswell Convention and Civic Center, said Renee Roach, Roswell marketing director. “We absolutely love it.”

Another R2-D2 box is located in the National Postal Museum in Washington, DC. This box includes a plaque bearing the USPS and “Star Wars” logos and is signed by former PMG Jack Potter and George Lucas, the only box with the Star Wars director’s autograph.

Click here to see images of the R2-D2 boxes. Click here for more information about the R2-D2 collection boxes

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Permits - does the system need to updated?

Currently, large mailers are required to have separate permits – and pay individual permit fees – for every location at which they put items in the mail.

If they want to enter mail in Birmingham they need a permit. If they have a printer in Buffalo, either they have to ship the mailpieces to Birmingham to enter there or buy a permit in Buffalo.

At the National Postal Forum, PMG Donahoe suggested a nationwide customer account system to make it easier for businesses to use the Postal Service.

“We would like to get a system where you don’t need any permits, and you can bring in your mail easily wherever you are,” he said.

Speaking to Post&Parcel, he said it could be done through a national billing system using customer IDs. His timeline is less than one year.

What do you think? A good idea?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Meet Sally

Brandi Sandry is a retail associate in Bountiful, Utah.

Her mother, Marion Iacabell,  recently created a lollipop holder for the postal lobby. She created "Sucker Sally," using a customized, authentic letter carrier uniform.

Sucker Sally with Retail Associate Bob Murray
"Sally gets a lot of attention at our Post Office," said Brandy "We've even had customers ask if we are selling them."

Friday, June 3, 2011

The slave who mailed himself to freedom

The story is told of of Henry "Box" Brown who used mail in a most unique manner.

In 1849, the 33-year old Virginia slave decided to mail himself to freedom.

He convinced a shopkeeper to seal him in a  3' x 2' box and mail the package to an abolitionist in Philidephia.

It was a long 27 hours. He was jostled, thrown and shaken all along the way from wagon, to railroad, to steamboat, to wagon , to railroad, to ferry and back tot he wagon.

He didn't lose his sense of manner. When abolitionists pried open the delivery and Brown emerged from the box, his first words were allegedly, “How do you do, gentlemen?”

What do you think? Comment here.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Using our customers in advertising -- A good idea?

We are planning on launching a major advertising campaign this fall promoting the use of the mail as a marketing tool by American businesses.

There's a big opportunity out there. More than 75 percent of businesses don't use the mail to promote their services and products.

The campaign will include television spots and Direct Mail.

One of the ideas is to have representatives of companies talk about their use of the mail and how their business success depends on it.

Do you think these kinds of ads are useful? What kinds of companies would you like to see highlighted? Comment here.