Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The good old days

Benny here...

The Postal Service has a rich history of more than two centuries. Of course, I'm a big part of it -- and so are you.
We have some employees retiring in the next few months and years. Maybe you'll be able to reminisce about the good old days by visiting the Postal Musuem online.

What do you remember about the good old days? Comment here.

Friday, May 27, 2011


Zipology 101
by Professor Larry Shafer, Retired,
Cape Girardeau, MO

Until 1963, mail in the U.S. was simply addressed to the city and state. This was an efficient system until mail volumes began overwhelming the system.

That year, the Zone Improvement Program (ZIP) was introduced. It was an improvement over a smaller numerical system that some large cities were already using.

What does each number of the ZIP Code represent?
Digit one — The United States is divided into 10 regions. The New England area was designated as Region 0 and then the rest of the country is broken down from east to west numbering 1-9.

Digits two and three — Each region is broken down into sections that comprised the next two numbers in the ZIP Code, so mail could go to sectional centers.

Digits four and five — Finally, each office within the section is given a number that was represented in the last two digits. Usually, the largest office in the section is usually designated as the first, or 01, office in that sector. The others within that section are alphabetized and given successive numbers.

Digits six through nine — This worked reasonably well, but mail volumes continued to grow. Eventually, the simple five-digit code could no longer meet the demands of the service. In 1983, the nation’s addresses were broken down to an even smaller level and four additional numbers assigned. This was accomplished by taking every block face in a given city and assigning it a “ZIP+4” segment code. Additionally,  aapartment buildings, office building floors, and cluster boxes each have their own unique 4-digit code.

Eventually, two more digits were added, which allows Delivery Point Sequencing to sort the mail directly to
the address.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Falling number of employees

The Postal Service saw its highest career employee complement — 797,795 employees — in 1999. Since that time, through attrition, the complement level has decreased to 583,000 employees (as of Dec. 31, 2010) and delivery points have increased by 17 million nationwide, from 134 million to 151 million in the same timeframe.

That's pretty good, isn't it? Increasing delivery points while reducing employees. Do you think the public realizes this? Any other thoughts on this fact?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

"Not Going to Pay It" -- We might forgo prepayment requirement this year

According to various news reports, the Postal Service might not pay the $5.5 billion annual obligation to the Treasury Department for the prepayment of healthcare benefits for future retired employees.

“We’ll pay our employees, we’ll pay our suppliers, and we won’t pay the government,” PMG Pat Donahoe said at the National Postal Forum. “We have contention as far as owing that. Disruption in mail delivery won’t serve the government or the stakeholders.

Under the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006, the USPS is required each year to prepay about $5.5 billion to cover the health care benefits of retired employees until 2016.

What do you think? It looks like the only way to comply with the law is not make payroll or not pay our suppliers. What other options should we consider? Is this a good idea? Leave your thoughts here.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Find a Post Office, a grocery store or an ATM that sells stamps -- and more

Here's a pretty interesting tool to tell you about the location of postal services in your neighborhood.

By visiting the USPS interactive map and entering a ZIP Code, you can find all kinds of postal information.
"Where's a collection box?"
"Where can I buy stamps?"
"Where can I send a package?"
"Where's nearest APC?"
and much more...

The only thing it doesn't tell you is where you left your keys.

That's another federal agency's job.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Your Postal Podcast v. 36

A simple plan for small business mailing

Making direct mail marketing simpler than ever for small business owners is the focus of this month's edition of Your Postal Podcast -- available now at http://www.yourpostalpodcast.com/.
Listen to find out how businesses are using the new "Every Door Direct Mail" program to target inexpensive mailings to specific delivery routes, without the need of a permit or address list.

Also on this month's program: A recap of the 19th Annual "Stamp Out Hunger" Food Drive, as well as a summary of recent postal headlines. 

For a transcript of the latest program, please click here

While at www.YourPostalPodcast.com, you can also catch up on previous shows. All 36 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 editions.

Mark Weingartz, owner of Dan’s Barber Shop and Mankato, MN, Letter Carrier Kim Roy take a peek at Belle Mar Center’s Every Door Direct Mailing.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Filing a Postal Service change of address shouldn't cost more than a dollar!

There seems to be a somewhat shady deal out there that nabbing some customers who are looking for a way to file their change of address orders online.

There are websites that mimic the USPS change-of-address process -- and charge fees as high as $30. They might look postal, but they aren't.

The Postal Service charges $1 for identity verification when customers change an address online using its Official Change of Address order or when they call the Postal Service at 800-ASK-USPS to request a change.

Or, customers can just get a change of address card from a retail lobby.

Why pay for something we do for free? Have you used one of these services? Any of your customers? Comment here.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Push, pull, or drag -- The postal vehicle fleet is aging

The average age of our 192,000 delivery vehicles is around 20 years old. And there's really no plan to replace any of them.

We spend about $750 million a year maintaining vehicles. To buy new ones, according to the Government Adminstrative Office, would cost about $5.8 billion. They also estimate it would cost $3.5 billion to refurbish the fleet.

Maintaining these older vehicles is becoming an issue. The GAO reports that 77 percent of our fleet costs less than $3,500 a year in maintenance, about three percent required more than $7,000 a year and 662 vehicles cost more than $10,500 a year to maintain.

Complicating things, is the lack of any U.S. auto maker that manufactures right-hand drive vehicles.

And of course, we have no money.

What do you think we should do? Comment here.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Chew on this: How to Avoid Being Bitten

This week is Dog Bite Prevention Week.  Here are few tips:
• Don’t run past a dog. The dog’s natural instinct is to chase and catch you.

• If a dog threatens you, don’t scream. Avoid eye contact. Try to remain motionless until the dog leaves, then back away slowly until the dog is out of sight.

• Don’t approach a strange dog, especially one that’s tethered or confined.

• People choosing to pet dogs should obtain permission from the owner first and always let a dog see and sniff them before petting the animal.

• If you believe a dog is about to attack you, try to place something between yourself and the dog, such as a backpack or a bicycle.

Have you ever been bitten? Got any other tips you can add? Comment here.

Photo by Lorna Hunter

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Albuquerque , NM, Claims and Inquiry Clerk Jose Hernandez recently had an interesting mystery on his hands. Three diaries, dated 1923, 1924, 1925, come across his desk. They had been separated from the packaging and Hernandez resolved to solve the mystery.

A diary with a letter postmarked 1923
The last name in the diaries was a unique one -- “Hertwork.” There were none in any of the local phonebooks, but Hernandez did notice postmarks stamped inside the diary from Glenshaw, PA. A call to the Glenshaw Post Office came up empty, but they referred him to a local newspaper, the Pittsburg Post-Gazette.

The reporter did some research and actually found the person who sent the diaries. She was clearning out some estate holdings of a relative.
The author of the dairies was a water pipe builder and he had scribed many measurements and detailed information regarding his work. She thought that the author's great-grandson, Roy Hertweck, who also does occasional plumbing work, would be interested in the dairies so she mailed them to him in Albuquerque .

The story ends well. Hernandez called Roy Hertweck, who was delighted that the diaries were found. Above and beyond. That's what we do!
 Claims and Inquiry Clerk Jose Hernandez with Customer, Roy Hertweck
as he is reunited with his Great Grandfather’s diaries.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Bumper Crop -- Food Drive nets millions of pounds of food

Saturday was the annual NALC Food Drive. What kind of response did your customers show? Any good stories you want to share? Click here.

Photo by Al Turner
Denver Carrier Ya Lin with some of the food
she collected from the 19th Annual NALC Food Drive

Friday, May 13, 2011

State stamps by the sheet

When the PO issues "state" stamps, why do they have one sheet with all 50 states? People want to advertise their own state not all of the others.

Roger Toomey from Creighton, MO, suggests that we issue individual state stamps by the sheet. And he goes a step further.

"We should sell those state stamps only in those states," he writes. "If a collector wants all 50 they have to make contact with others in other states and make exchange through the mail."

What do you think? Good idea?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Big. Bigger. Biggest. Postal losses mount.

The Postal Service ended the second quarter of fiscal year 2011 (Jan. 1 to March 31) with a net loss of $2.2 billion, compared to a net loss of $1.6 billion for the same period last year.

A looming issue is the Sept. 30 $5.5 billion payment to the federal government, prefunding future retirees' health care. PMG Pat Donahoe has said "USPS will be forced to default," absent any legistlative changes.

“We are committed to working with Congress and the administration to resolve these issues prior to the end of the fiscal year,” he said.

Mailing Services revenue of $14 billion decreased $568 million, or 3.9 percent, in the second quarter of 2011, compared to the same period a year ago. Mailing Services volume of 40.7 billion represents a 3.1 percent decline from the same period a year earlier.

Shipping Services revenue of $2.2 billion increased 5 percent or $105 million compared to the same period a year ago. Shipping Services volume of 352 million pieces represented a 3.5 percent increase compared to the same period a year earlier.

The USPS second quarter financial news release and a copy of the second quarter financial results are available on the Postal Service website usps.com.

Care to comment?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Every Door Direct Mail -- Is It Working?

As you may know, the Postal Service is testing out an urban and suburban simplified address service for small businesses, called Every Door Direct Mail, which waives permit fees and requirements for individual addresses for businesses to run local advertising campaigns.

Do you know anyone that's using it? Is it working for them? Is it working for us? Leave a comment here.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Prepaid Forever Priority Mail Flat-Rate packaging

Forever Stamps have been a big hit, selling billions since their introduction.

Now, we're offering Forever Priority Flat-Rate Packaging in these sizes and prices:

  • Flat Rate Envelope $ 4.95
  • Legal Flat Rate Legal Size Envelope $ 4.95
  • Padded Flat Rate Padded Envelope $ 4.95
  • Small Flat Rate Box $ 5.20
  • Medium Flat Rate Box (two designs) $ 10.95
  • Large Flat Rate Box $ 14.95
You can buy these in packs of 3, 5, 10 or 25.
They are perfect for  business or home. Just buy them and have them on hand.
How do you think your customer's will react? Good idea? Comment here.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Letter Carrier has been on the route for 65 years

Sunday's Parade Magazine will feature Chapel Hill, SC,  City Carrier Rudy Tempesta, who has been delivering mail for 65 years.

The 86-year old is longest serving letter carrier in the nation.

A Brooklyn native, former local union president, and father of five children ranging in ages 20 to 61, Tempesta had a decorated military career, flying 21 missions as a turret gunner in a B-24, often flying alongside the famed Tuskegee Airmen. He started his postal career in New York City and often delivered mail to the Empire State Building before moving south in 1958. He says he has delivered to most of Chapel Hill in his career and credits a simple technique for staying safe.

“Drive slowly and be careful and anticipate what you’re going to do,” he said upon receiving his Million Mile award two years ago. “And this is a college town, so don’t let the girls distract you. That’s how I do it.”

Check newsstands Sunday for your local paper and the Parade Magazine!

Friday, May 6, 2011

A mail divided

LiteBlue recently went back in time and explored how the Civil War affected mail service.

The internal conflict affected everything – including mail delivery. In 1861, mail service was suspended from the North to the Confederate states. Additionally, Southern postage was not valid on any inbound letter.

The Confederacy established its own Post Office Department and stamps. At first, the upstart service had costs that exceeded revenue by about three times. But eventually, through reductions in service, the gap was reduced.

Of course, even with the ban on cross border mail service, a burgeoning black market was in place, uniting families and friends – and no doubt, conspirators on both sides.

If you are in an old Post Office, which side of the Mason Dixon line was your office? Comment here.

Read the Link Article here.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Cinco deMayo and the NALC Food Drive

The Mount Royal, MN, Post Office is ready for Cinco De Mayo, and with a clever NALC Food Drive twist added.

Retail Associate Richard Rowson and Supervisor, Customer Services Blaine Shelton are ready with chips and salsa for the customers.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Food Drive -- May 14

Food drive pin

Feeding America, USPS, the National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC), the National Rural Letter Carriers Association (NRLCA) and Campbell Soup Company are gearing up for the annual food drive to “Stamp Out Hunger” on Saturday, May 14.

Now in its 19th year, the “Stamp Out Hunger” campaign has become the nation’s largest single-day food drive. In 2010, letter carriers collected a record-setting total of more than 77 million pounds of food donations along their postal routes, pushing the 18-year total to more than 1 billion pounds of food.

Customers can place a sturdy bag containing non-perishable foods next to their mailboxes prior to their regular mail delivery May 14.

Click here for more information on the “Stamp Out Hunger” food drive.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Momma doesn't want an e-card!

Benny here...

Mother's Day is nearly upon us and one thing a few people are doing is sending e-cards.  I won't be one of those. If I sent my mother a lame e-card, she would never forgive me!  She wants nice words, a pretty stamp and a printed card she can show her friends and put on her bed stand.
Card image courtesy of Anna Griffin

Here's a few facts:
  • Consumers purchase an average of 2.8 Mother’s Day cards.
  • Approximately 65 percent of Mother’s Day cards sales occur during the five days prior to the holiday.
  • Mother’s Day is the third-largest card-sending holiday in the United States, with 139 million cards exchanged annually.
What do you think about sending traditional, printed cards for Mother's Day?

Comment here.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Could postal vehicles act as data collectors?

Our vehicles are in many neighborhoods, often driving down nearly every street.

Once man, Michael Ravnitzky, a chief counsel at the Postal Regulatory Commission, told Federal News Radio that he thinks our vehicles could be outfitted with sensors.

The sensors would have radio links and could gather and upload data of all kinds from "weather and pollution, air quality, homeland security information like radiation levels," he said. "They could measure cell phone and broadcast signal quality to make sure that the broadcast networks are operating properly. they could assess road quality so we know which roads need fixing first."

He also suggests meter readings, meth lab "sniffing," and natural gas leak detection.

Ravnitzky talk abouts potential revenue from such a deployment.

His paper on the subject is found here.

What do you think about this?  Comment here.