Dear Post Office,
I’ve heard that you’re struggling.
I get that. People are mailing less, writing fewer letters, paying their bills on line. Instead of sending vacation postcards, people just update their status on Facebook.
You are fighting against it, of course. Over the past year, you (somewhat) successfully avoided hundreds closures and consolidations. You’ve raised stamp prices (again) to help combat a $15.9 billion loss.
But with mail down and expenses up, it’s an uphill battle.
So how does this fit in with your strategy?
The other day, one of my employees carried 54 envelopes to our local branch a few blocks away.
Each envelope contained our annual report and weighed 8 ounces. According to our calculations, they would cost $2.30 each to mail for a total of $124.20.
That may not be a large sum when you are ending the year almost $16 billion in the red but every little bit helps, right?
He took the envelopes to the counter and asked for stamps. The postal worker told him that she didn’t have any.
Not that she didn’t have the right denominations of stamps or enough stamps. She said she didn’t have any stamps at all.
I find this hard to believe. Less than a week before Christmas and the post office was completely out of stamps?
He asked if she could print out those little labels with the postage on them. She said that she didn’t have time to meter all those envelopes.
In her defense, there was a line. But then again, there is always at this particular post office. I blame that on the fact the workers all move very slowly, but I’ll admit that I could be wrong. Maybe we just send a lot of mail in this town. It wasn’t one of the post offices on the closure list, after all.
My employee stood for a moment, waiting for her to offer another option. There had to be one. The post office can’t refuse to take mail, can it?
After a long silence, she asked him to move along and take his envelopes with him. So my employee carted them back to our office.
We ended up hand delivering a bunch of them and shipped the rest with UPS. They all got to their destination eventually, but with no help from the post office.
Why would a struggling agency turn away perfectly good mail? Why would a post office be out of stamps, or unwilling to sell stamps? Why couldn’t she take the mail and check then meter the envelopes later?
Suddenly that multi-billion dollar loss all makes sense.