One item for discussion lately has been the number of postal outlets. Some say we need fewer, since people can buy postage from grocery stores and at usps.com. Other say we need more, to increase our presence.
There has been a change in our facility mix.
Since 1970, the number of traditional "Post Offices" has declined 15 percent, from 32,002 to 27,161. During the same time frame, the number of Post Office Branches and Stations has gone from 3,869 to 4,828. That's an increase of 25 percent.
Community Post Offices and Contract Postal Units have dropped from 7,241 to 3,834. That's a decrease of 45 percent.
What do you think? Do we more facilities, or less and why?
I personally would not like a Walmart or Target employee to be handling my PO box mail. If the Postal Service starts closing small post offices- where does the PO Box section go?? Inside a grocery store?? I want dedicated, trained personnel, who have taken an oath, who are trained, supervised and knowledgeable about the Post Office to handle my mail. I know that the employees at my local office do not gossip about my mail, and I feel safe with them handling my incoming checks, personal items, and parcels. I see no problem with other outlets selling stamps, but to have them accept parcels, understand the correct class of mail, put the correct postage on them and service PO boxes- NO WAY. Half of them can not make correct change, let alone understand the complicated services the Post Office provides.
When small post offices are closed their mail is usually delivered by a rural carrier, which some customers like because it's delivered to their house instead of them having to go to a PO to get it. But, having postal services in stores, gas stations, etc. can make it more convenient for larger towns, but small towns don't have those businesses and it is harder for them to do business with the post office then. Even though rural carriers are post offices on wheels, many want to mail a package or get a money order and aren't comfortable with leaving money for them in their mailbox or don't have it ready when the carrier comes by. These are the same customers that don't have computers to use usps.com. And, like the person above, I know from experience that employees in retail stores aren't trained well enough in postal services to offer the correct service or apply the correct postage. There is also high turn-over and a lot of the employees really don't care about selling postal products to do a good job. Will Postal Inspectors have the authority to police them? Selling stamps is one thing but knowing the difference between Certified and Registered or Priority and Express, what can be Insured, how to handle Express and International mail so it's dispatched properly, how to educate customers on proper packaging, why we need to ask the HazMat questions - those are just a few of the things only Postal employees know well enough.
How about instead of 5-day delivery, we just convert house delivery to curbline and/or ndcbu?
Closing some small Post Offices would be acceptable if there are others within a few miles. However, closing rural PO's that are 30 to 60 miles from the nearest town would be a huge blow to these communities. I agree that employees of private companies won't handle the mail with the same sense of responsibility and care that USPS employees take. Also, with complicated rate changes and confusing parcel size and shape regulations, there is no way the proper postage will be applied
If we are going to provide shipping products/services within other commercial/retail facilities, why not use APC's? Let the business sponsor part of the cost for the equipment [applied advertising/cobranding],like "coke" machines.
Leave the small city PO's alone. The cost of operation for lower level Post Offices is a tiny fraction of the big PO picture, but priceless to the community itself.
It's a bit insulting to suggest that store clerks in a Target or WalMart would be capable of doing the job we do, with all the complexities of rate changes and shape-based pricing, not to mention protecting the sanctity of the mail. These stores have too high a turnover rate to instill the trust that the USPS has worked hard to acquire. The only way a scheme like this would work is if postal employees were working in these units.
With a virtual enterprise where a user can identify himself and authorize to pay over a mobile or phone call or mobile app, even one postal facility is not needed to enable this except to do all of its internal operations. How much of cost savings we can achieve if we can do this?
We might save some money with mobile apps as suggested above but it would be a very small amount since the percentage of the population that used mobile phone apps is still pretty small. It would cost a lot of jobs too, so is the author of that suggestion willing to be the one to give up his? APC's in retail outlets is a better idea but there are still some people who resist the "self-service" idea. Ever been behind someone in a self-service cash register that can't figure out how to work it? And, again, there is the probability of customers not paying attention to size, shape, class of mail, etc. The cost savings would have to be weighed against the lost revenue to determine how much we want customers to "do-it-yourself."
There is a reason we have been rated the #1 trusted (government)agency for 5 years. We care about the people we serve. "If" we set up Postal services in any store or retail facility it should be with Postal employees ONLY. I had to take a test and and pass one of the most through physical and drug test I had ever had to go through.(Does Target or K-Mart go thru drug test?) Then go through 3-5 days of window training. Vehicle training as it was cross crafts when I was hired.I am a Postmaster of a small rural community and with all the training we have to go through daily and the placards changing, I can not see a 18 year old clerk at the local Target/Walmart etc. caring enough. Who is going to train all these clerks on how to handle the mailing of letters(are they over 1,2,3.5 ounces),is it a flat or a parcel,1st class or Priority. It will cost so much more to train these people than to keep a small office open. Are they going to do away with all the logs we have to fill out daily. I recieved 7 e-mails just today with changes and updates that I have to reply to Blueshare that I trained my employees on by close of business tomorrow. Are we using the right Placard etc? Besides making sure my PMR & carrier knows how important it is to scan all parcels AAU/notice left/delivered. I just can't see this happening to "OUR POSTAL SERVICE".
Yes, I think it is a good idea to be more visable to the public, as long as postal employees are running these in store postage counters. I believe time has come to go to the customer instead of making them come to us at our postal facilities. Makes sense.
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