Friday, July 30, 2010

How about a half-off sale?

One Nebraska Postmaster wrote me about increasing volume.
Here's what she had to say:

"Yes, I think the postage increase is too high. What happened to the supply and demand? We can't make that work with out both of those things out there. We need to create that situation.  Volume is better.

What would happen if the Post Office had a half price sale? Every letter mailed on the 13th of the month could be mailed for half price. That would create some volume. Yes, people would send all the mail on the 13th, but so what. It doesn't hurt us to work a little harder once in a while."

What do you think about this idea? Comment here.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Hunting for the box

Found this on "There I Fixed It"
Would you stick your hand in this?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Scout salute

Yesterday, the Scouting stamp was released, dedicated at the National Scout Jamboree in Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia.

It coincides with the 100-year anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America,
An estimated 110 million Americans have been Boy Scouts, with more than two million achieving the highest rank of Eagle Scout, including astronaut Neil Armstrong, former president Gerald Ford, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and basketball Hall of Famer and former U.S. senator Bill Bradley.

Scouting runs deep in our national consciousness. Many people treasure the scouting experiences of their own past, or that of siblings, parents, or friends. What’s more, scouting calls to mind the simpler times of a nation shaped by the frontier.

You might be asked why the stamp doesn't say "Boy Scouts." It's because the stamp is intended to to honor the youth scouting movement in America -- for both boys and girls.

Since the 80's, the Postal Service has had a policy not to honor organizations with stamps of their own -- there's just too many worthy candidates and not enough stamp issues. But they do honor "activities," and scouting falls in that category.

Click here to see a slide show of all past scouting-themed stamps.

What do you think of the new stamp? Is it selling in your office? Comment here.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Happy birthday to us!

Benny here. On this day in 1775, the U.S. Post Office was established by the Second Continental Congress. I remember the day just like it was yesterday.

As you know, I was appointed the first Postmaster General and I put into place many of the foundational aspects of today's mail system.

Prior to the establishment of U.S. Postal service, few American colonists needed to send mail to each other. Most mail was sent across the Atlantic. There were no post offices in the colonies, so mail was typically left at inns and taverns.

I had already served as a colonial Postmaster for Pennsylvania, but the British fired me for my "revolutionary activities."  I think they didn't like the fact that I made fun of their pretty red uniforms! Before I got "downsized," I produced the first rate chart, which standardized delivery costs based on distance and weight. Pretty smart?  Too bad I didn't think of , "If it fits, it ships."

By time my tenure as the U.S. Postmaster General was over, I had had established regular routes from Florida to Maine and regular service between the colonies and Britain. I also had established 75 Post Offices across the land.

So, you can thank me now or you can thank me later! 

Monday, July 26, 2010

Identity theft and the mail

The Mail is Safe

According to the Federal Trade Commission and several of its studies, stolen mail accounts for only a minuscule portion - two percent or less - of all identity theft.

Most identity theft occurs through other sources, such as stolen credit cards, internet fraud, via theft of identity through on-line and commercial transactions, personal acquaintance or family members stealing identification, and other sources.

Do you agree with this? Do you know anyone whose identity has been stolen through the mail? Click here to comment.

Friday, July 23, 2010

"Not on my route!" -- Carrier has saved three lives

USA Today wrote a story about Akron, OH, carrier Keith McVey, and it's a good one.

Over the years, the 53-year-old carrier has helped save three people while on the job.

Last week he performed CPR on an unconscious man on the side of the road.
Two years ago, he pulled a drowning girl from the lake.
Twenty years ago, when a teenager tried to take his life by jumping off a bridge on a snowy winter day, McVey talked him down.

A big Benny Salute to Keith McVey!

Comment here.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

What would you give up?

One reader sent me this note. "I want to go on record and volunteer a cut of $.50 an hour if means we can save the Postal Service and my job."

The reader goes on to say that if all 600,000 plus employees did that over the course of a year, that would add up to a bunch of zeroes. And there are other things, like vacation days that some might be willing to sacrifice.

Of course, many of our benefits are the same ones given to all federal employees, so that may not even be possible. And pay and other benefits have been won throughout the years through negotiations at the table. So, this may not be realistic.

But it's a good question worth discussing. What you give up, if anything? Comment here.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Postal flea markets

The ideas keep rolling in. One reader wrote in with this intriguing idea:

"What do you think about opening postal parking lots on Sundays for flea markets?  We could charge up to $25 per parking space or even more. The money could go to cover expenses of outside maintenance on our facilities or other operating expenses."

Do you like it? Comment here.

Or maybe you have your own Big Idea? Send it here.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Teach them young

Gisenia and her puppy Dalilah took a few minutes in Old Town, Scottsdale, AZ, to mail a postcard.

She's the daughter of Tucson Letter Carrier David Tom.

Do you teach your kids how to use the mail? Comment here.

Photo by Rodger Freitag

Monday, July 19, 2010

What's your sign?

Throughout the 235-year history of the Postal Service, we have used just three logos.

The official logo from 1775 - 1970
When Benjamin Franklin was named postmaster general in 1775, he distributed leaflets throughout the colonies with a woodcut image that depicted a post rider on horseback with saddlebags carrying mail. In 1837 Postmaster General Amos Kendal directed a change in the seal for the Post Office department. It was Kendall’s vision to show a post horse galloping with mail bags and a rider on top, encircled by the words “Post Office Department, United States of America.

The emblem remained the same until 1970, when President Nixon signed into law the Postal Reorganization Act that converted the Post Office Department into an independent agency of the Executive Branch of government. The United States Postal Service emblem featured a bald Eagle poised for flight sitting above red and blue bars. In between the bars were the words “U.S. Mail,” and surrounding all of the elements are the words “United States Postal Service with nine five – pointed stars.

The official logo from 1970-1993
The emblem remained the same until 1970, when President Nixon signed into law the Postal Reorganization Act that converted the Post Office Department into an independent agency of the Executive Branch of government. The United States Postal Service emblem featured a bald Eagle poised for flight sitting above red and blue bars. In between the bars were the words “U.S. Mail,” and surrounding all of the elements are the words “United States Postal Service with nine five – pointed stars.

In October 1993 Postmaster General Marvin Runyon unveiled new corporate guiding principles and a new corporate signature. The Postal Service’s Vision and Guiding Principles” statements were a combined effort among leaders of postal unions, management associations and postal management designed to focus the organization on the needs of our customer. The corporate signature evolved into a more modern looking version of the former eagle emblem. The signature highlights the Eagle’s head and beak leaning into the wind.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Now that's funny!

The "Sunday Funnies" stamps were issued today and were kicked off with a dedication ceremony at The Ohio State University, home of the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum.

The five stamps honor Archie, Beetle Bailey, Calvin and Hobbes, Dennis the Menace and Garfield, so it's fitting that the ceremony's guests include Beetle Bailey creator Mort Walker, Garfield creator Jim Davis, Dennis the Menace artists Marcus Hamilton and Ron Ferdinand, Archie newspaper strip writer Craig Goldman and Calvin and Hobbes editor Lee Salem.

Archie debuted in newspapers in 1946. A typical small-town teenager 17-year-old Archie Andrews was torn between haughty brunette Veronica Lodge and sweet, blonde Betty Cooper.

Beetle Bailey first appeared in September 1950. Possibly the laziest man in the army, Private Beetle Bailey is an expert at sleeping and avoiding work.

Dennis the Menace follows the antics of a good-hearted but mischievous little boy who is perpetually “five-ana-half” years old.
Garfield first broke onto the comics page in June 1978. The crabby tabby lives with Jon Arbuckle, a bumbling bachelor, and Odie, a dopey-but-devoted dog.

Calvin and Hobbes first broke into the comic world in 1985. It explores the life of six-year-old Calvin and his tiger pal, Hobbes. The inseparable friends pondered the mysteries of the world.

In 1995, the Postal Service issued a “Comic Strip Classics” collection in 1995 that hailed such old timers as Snoopy, Little Orphan Annie, Dick Tracy and Blondie.

Some comic fans of Doonesbury, Far Side, Dilbert, and For Better or Worse wish they had a stamp, too.

What's your favorite comic strip character and why do you think it should get a stamp?

Click here and tell us what you think.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Negro Leagues Baseball Stamp is a special hit with Birmingham employee

Cleophus Brown played in the Negro Leagues
Birmingham, AL, Motor Vehicle Driver Cleophus Brown, who played in the Negro Leagues as a first baseman and left-handed pitcher, will help dedicate the stamps at a ceremony today at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, MO.

Brown, an employee since 1980, works at the Birmingham, AL, Main Post Office. He played professional baseball with the Louisville Clippers and Birmingham Black Barons in 1953-1955. His fastball was once clocked at 100 mph and he was a noted hitter.

“I am thrilled about the event,” Brown told USPS Link. “I enjoy baseball and I’m proud to be part of its history.”

For more photos of Brown, click here.

To comment, click here.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Clinton, Madison, Franklin....the ultimate popularity contest

Here are the ten Most Common Post Office Names in 2010:

Clinton, 26
Madison, 25
Franklin, 24
Washington, 24
Chester, 23
Marion, 23
Greenville, 22
Springfield, 22
Georgetown, 21
Salem, 21

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Deep Green

The U.S. Postal Service has a green newsroom, a one-stop shop for all our environmental information.

There you'll see photos of  energy-saving vehicles and facilities, green products and services, and a time-lapse video of the construction of New York’s largest green roof, the Postal Service’s green newsroom is its newest, most informative site to visit on Earth Day.

On the site you'll get answers to the questions:

· How big is the Postal Service’s carbon footprint?

· How is the Postal Service decreasing its carbon emissions?

· How many hundreds of millions of dollars in energy costs has the Postal Service saved since 2007?

· How many hundreds of thousands of tons of waste did the Postal Service recycle in 2008? (Hint - enough to fill America’s tallest building.)

· How are expired or unwanted pharmaceuticals safely discarded with the Postal Service’s help without harming the environment?

Monday, July 12, 2010

This old mailbox

Family Handyman magazine recently featured different uses for old mailboxes. Some of their readers used them to place gardening gardening tools, gloves and other small items in.

The magazine went on to suggest that it be repaint and mounted in a garden with complimentary colors to match the surroundings. And all those small garden items will always be there for you when you work in your garden.

So, do you use old mailboxes for “something creative” around the house/garden area too? If so, send Benny an e-mail and make sure you send a photo, too.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Rural Carrier logs 500,000 miles on one vehicle

Photo courtesy Subaru Insider Magazine
Ken Boss, a rural carrier in Salina, KS, recently hit the 500,000-mile mark in his 1999 right-hand-drive Subaru Legacy.

He was recently featured in a Subaru owners magazine.

He puts 200 a miles a day on the vehicle, 147 of them are on the route and the rest are commuting to his workplace. He gets about 25 miles to the gallon.

According to Boss, the car still has the original engine and transmission. He's tracked 167 oil changes over the years.

"That car has never left me stranded on the route," he said.

Do you know of anyone who has driven further in a vehicle delivering mail?

If you are a rural carrier, what's been your favorite vehicle?

Comment here.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Children and postal vehicles

Photo by Tom Caulkins
School is out, and here's some good driving tips and an idea sent in by a reader:

  • Whenever there’s a ball rolling in the street, there’s likely to be a child following it. Slow down and prepare to stop quickly.
  • Pay attention to the lone child walking along the street. Drivers are more likely to overlook a single youngster than several together.
  • Be aware of children on roller skates, skateboards or roller blades who often roll onto streets from alleys or driveways.
  • Look out for bicyclists — especially young or new riders. Give them plenty of room.
  • When mail is out of sequence, never back up to re-deliver a missed box. Get out of the vehicle, secure it properly and walk to the missed box if you can do so safely.
  • Never give mail to children while inside a vehicle. If children approach the vehicle, get out and ask them to move away. Double-check the area surrounding the entire vehicle before resuming delivery.

One reader wrote in and comment on the the limited visiblity on our postal vehicles and suggested that we install back-up cameras in all our postal vehicles? Worth it? Comment here.




Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Postal regulatory commission issues pension overpayment report

Last week, the Postal Regulatory Commission submitted an independent report on the overpayment of Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) benefits paid to former Post Office Department employees.

The report was given to Congress, the Office of Personnel Management and the United States Postal Service.
The PRC report finds that an adjustment of $50-$55 billion in favor of the Postal Service would be "equitable."  The USPS Office of the Inspector General reported in January that the overpayment was $75 billion.
It comes down to the costs of retirees who served under the old Postal Department, which ceased to exist on July 1, 1971. Under the reorganziation, those costs were to be born totally by the federal government. A complicated, but apparently flawed system of compensation was constructed and it looks like the new Postal Service has been paying too much.
So, what do you think?
Here are some questions to ask:
Is the premise by the OIG and now the PRC valid?
What are the chances of USPS getting any adjustment?
Should USPS continue with downsizing efforts?
Comment here

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

USPS proposes First-Class postage increase

Today the USPS Board of Governors recommended increasing the price of a First-Class stamp to 46 cents.

The Postal Regulatory Commission must approve the recommended price changes. The increases would not go into effect until January 2, 2011. It will have been two years since the last First-Class price increase.

The price of a postcard would increase to 30 cents. Periodicals would receive an 8 percent increase. Recommended increase for catalogs is 5.1 percent. Standard Mail parcels would increase about 23 percent.

The reason for the request is a projected deficit of nearly $7 billion next year.
2010 Holiday Forever Stamps
We have been hit with reduced volume and increased costs. Although we have been reducing expenses by more than $1 billion every year since 2001, we haven't been able to keep pace with the loss in revenue.

In October, the 2010 Holiday Stamps will be released. They'll be Forever Stamps, which will help with the price transition.

What do you think about this proposal? Will it hurt volume? Will it make a difference? Take the poll in the upper-right corner of the blog.

You can also comment here.

And take a listen to a special edition of Your Postal Podcast, where you will hear an interview with Maura Robinson, Vice President of Pricing and Classification.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Oldest postal employee in nation retires

Chester Reed
Chester Reed has decided to call it a career. The 95-year-old retired last week surrounded by lavish praise from his coworkers and managers.

He was never late. He never called in sick.

With 37 years of postal experience, the mailhandler isn't ready to sit at home. He is planning travel is not going to sit at home. He already has plans to travel to Moscow, Denmark, Sweden and India.

Read the Washington Post story here.

A Benny salute to Chester! Thank you for your service.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Big idea #5: Establish a third kind of mail

In my “Big Ideas” post earlier this month, there were several unique, out-of-the-box suggestions for helping the Postal Service right itself.

This week, we are exploring explore five of those ideas and you can weigh in on each.

Here’s the fifth installment:

Of course, our business is regular, postal mail. And e-mail has taken away big chunk of personal correspondence. Some have suggested a third kind of mail – “Virtual postal mail.”

One commenter said this: “I think USPS should implement "virtual mailboxes" such as Zumbox and Earth Mail. Since it's still in its infancy we should do that, since we can do it better & more securely. Our employees take an oath and are respected more by the public for protecting privacy.”

Another suggested, “Have e-mail addresses linked to PO Box rental with password access, and a terminal similar to WebTV where only the e-mail account could be accessed” in the lobby. And someone else chimed in, “Let’s make e-mail a postal term.”

What if we had physical paper delivery, but also offered e-mail delivery that was tied to the customer’s physical address. The concept is that if say, JC Penny offered to send a catalog, they could opt for either physical or vitual delivery. In either case, USPS would be responsible for the “mailpiece.”

What do you think? Are any of these ideas smart? Are there some good benefits? Is there too much downside? Not enough upside? I want to know how you feel. Just be thoughtful and polite in your response.

Comment here.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Big idea #4: Centralized delivery for all

In my “Big Ideas” post earlier this month, there were several unique, out-of-the-box suggestions for helping the Postal Service right itself.

This week, we are exploring explore five of those ideas and you can weigh in on each.

Here’s the fourth.

One commenter suggested, “Cluster boxes for the entire country. Once we are past the cost of putting boxes everywhere, we would save so much time if we delivered mail into these types of boxes instead of door slots, curbside, and walking routes.”

Another agreed: “Get an administrative law passed, allowing the Postal Service to demand customers position their mail boxes on the street, instead of on houses. Except for aux routes and an occasional, hinterland rural route, a single carrier should be pushing a thousand deliveries/day.”

What do you think? Are any of these ideas smart? Are there some good benefits? Is there too much downside? Not enough upside? I want to know how you feel. Just be thoughtful and polite in your response.

Comment here.