Welcome to third day of this week of busting postal myths. We are echoing the points made in PMG Jack Potter’s Washington Post editorial earlier this month.
Monday, we talked about the “taxpayer supported” myth.
Yesterday we busted the “inefficient” label.
Today, we’ll address Myth #3: “The Postal Service is not reliable.”
Independent quarterly surveys have us at all-time highs for service. In the last quarter of 2009, on-time overnight delivery of single-piece first-class mail was at 96 percent for the fifth straight quarter.
In almost every circumstance, if you put a stamp on an item, it gets there. Yes, some of us have personally experienced mail loss, but many have gone a lifetime without an issue.
Considering that we handled 170 billion pieces of mail last year, the number of mishandled pieces is miniscule on a percentage basis. We deliver consistently, reliably and safely.
What do you think about this myth? Comment here.
Tomorrow's myth: "The Postal Service is harmful to the environment."
I guess our reliability is determined by the yard stick we use to measure it. We created the EXFC and commonly use this as our yard stick. So yes, 96% on time is considered successfully reliable. Yet we have no "guarantees" on most of our products, such as first class letter mail. If we send a letter from point A to point B and it does arrive, we are successful and reliable. The fact that two letters mailed from the same two points took different time periods to arrive should not be used to determine our reliability. To get guaranteed delivery times, our customers pay extra and if we meet those guarantees…then again we are again successful and reliable. When I mail a letter, the only expectations that I have is to have it arrive as addressed in a “reasonable” amount of time.
I don't want to pick on you too much because I am a huge fan of the USPS and rarely have a negative personal experience, but timely delivery cannot be the only criteria of reliability.
Two days ago, I received about 80% of a postcard, with the other 20% presumably jamming a machine somewhere. A lot of my mail is partially eaten by the machines. Once I even got a mailpiece (inside an envelope with a preprinted apology for the mishandling) onto which a beverage had apparently been spilled, while the piece was in the mail stream.
It's hard for me to believe that "a lot" of your mail is partially eaten by the machines. In my 59 years, it happened to me once.
The reason USPS is sometimes considered unreliable is because people only talk about the few instances when something arrived late or was damaged. When people receive mail timely the majority of the time those experiences are memorable - the exceptions, bad or good, stand out. And human nature seems to dictate that complaining is more popular than complements. On the other hand, though we may have a higher reliablity score than some industries, the remaining 4% of mail that is not delivered correctly or timely equals hundreds of thousands of pieces of mail. There is no such thing as 100% perfection all the time but it's something to strive to get as close to as possible. BTW, for myself I've only had a handful of items arrive damaged or late in over 40 years and I can honestly say at least half were my fault for not packaging properly or for some addressing problem. I've noticed more than a few times that when someone is waiting for something that "should have been here" you can check the date on the meter or postmark when it arrives & it was not mailed when they claim it was - or it was addressed incorrectly.
I agree that our customers' memories of getting mangled pieces of mail stand out in their minds more than the hundreds of pieces of mail they receive intact...yet, they still recieved that mail.
To Chris Overstreet, I, too, find it hard to believe that "a lot" of your mail arrives damaged, and I believe you suffer from the condition I describe above! As for the letter you recieved with something spilled on it, it's not a given that it happened during processing and within the post office. I collected mail out of my collection box one day, and local kids had dropped a not-quite-empty soda can into the collection box, soaking a good portion of the mail! Arrrrggghhh!!
Even when this happens, the customers receive their mail.
I get a lot more mail than the average person; I send out 5-10 pieces of personal correspondence per day, and receive a similar number per day. More mail, more opportunities for mishandling?
I think we are pretty reliable and like so many already said, we hear more about the "few" pieces rather the other mail they get all the time. However, I must remind people that if they went to the store and bought something, they would expect to get all of it. Would you like 98% of a pair of pants or go to a restaurant and get 98% of the meal. I know it is comparing apples and oranges but isn't that what our customers do? I am very grateful for the service 98% of the time. Too bad I received an insured parcel yesterday and the contents were damaged (as was the box). I doubt it was accepted in that condition and there was no note on the box as to how it happened.
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