Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Post Awful

So I had to go to the post office today. They tried to deliver a signature-needed package yesterday morning and I wasn't here.

Well, actually, I was here. In my office, at my computer, at the time listed on the notice left in the box, hearing aids in. The front doorbell did not ring, neither did the dogs carry on as they are wont to do when somebody comes to call. To be fair, the carrier could have stopped at the front gate, and maybe the wireless bell wasn't working, but whatever the reason, I had to go and fetch my package.

Like most Americans, there are two places I avoid whenever possible: The DMV and the United States Post Office.

I arrived, there was a line -- there is always a line at the post office -- and fortunately, I didn't have a clocking ticking. Five windows, but only two clerks working them.

The guy at the front of the line apparently had a postal problem so complex that it took both clerks fifteen minutes (by their wall clock) to solve it.. This guy seemed to have trouble figuring out how to fill out a form. The clerk kept trying to educate him in the ways of the government bureaucracy, when all he needed to do was say, "Put the check mark right there, because that's where it has to go."

While the fourteen -- no, sixteen, no -- twenty-two of us waited. Like standing in line behind some dweeb at McDonalds who looks blankly at the server and says, "What do you recommend?" Christ Jesus man, it's McDonald's, not Commander's Palace! Get a Big Mac and fries and get out of the way!

There must be a section of Hell that involves standing in lines all day every day, and when you get to the front, the window closes ...

People wonder why the USPS is losing money. I don't wonder at all.


Jay said...

my wife went once and two clerks were helping a similar number when one of the postal representatives announced suddenly, "I'm going to lunch," and got up and left.
Customer Service is the name of the game these days and that wasn't it.

jks9199 said...

Y'know... We could solve the unemployment problem if we were simply to pay people to be in line.

Of course, I think the Post Office and DMV do that already!

I had to renew my driver's license last week. The "40 minute" estimated wait took 2 hours and 40 minutes...

I really suspect that before long, specific government business is the only thing that'll be keeping the Post Office doors open. UPS, FedEx, etc. and email do many of the same tasks... cheaper & easier!

AF1 said...

You know what the Repuglicans will say about this don't you? Why would you want the same outfit that runs the post office and the DMV so well to run healthcare too?

Anonymous said...

Well, sorry for the bad experiences. Most people that work with me in the post office do their best, but like any huge organization we have good and bad apples. We are hurting and We really are trying to do our best to keep customers and provide excellent customer service. That is tougher to do now simply because of the cuts in manpower, that is the #1 way the usps is trying to stay solvent. Also keep in mind that UPS,Fedex, and DHL use us to save money. they give us packages to deliver to those places they don't want to go. they don't have a universal service commitment, we do. As to how well we are run? compare us to any other country's postal service and i think we do pretty well, usually you are going to pay more and have slower turn around times. Again sorry for the bad experiences folks. Langdon

Dan Moran said...

I think we're a generation away, but the postal service is probably going to cease to exist except as a deliverer of packages. I pay my bills online, I check my bank balance online, I do a fair amount of my shopping online ... I haven't used my actual street address for a few years for much of anything except parcel deliveries. Newspapers, magazines, and books are all about to go digital; no need for them to go through the post.

If the postal service can't deliver packages competitively with UPS, FedEx, DHL, etc., we'll shut it down.

I bought a car 2 weeks ago -- an 8 year old Jaguar Vanden Plas with 34K miles on it, and I recommend this to everyone, not that you can find one with that low mileage unless you're lucky and handsome like me ... anyway, the DMV is as horrible as I remember. I had to get my driver's license reissued too, I was out of the country and they cancelled it on me for not appearing in court ... but the driver's license was reissued for $55 in about 5 minutes, and the car registration still isn't finished, because I didn't have Form XA-stroke-39-stroke-22-biteme filled out correctly ...

It might be another generation before we can register our vehicles online, but I have to figure that's coming too. I won't miss the experience of standing in that miserable line, I'll tell you that.

Steve Perry said...

We're spoiled up here in Oregon -- we can vote by mail, so those lines are gone.

And I'm not saying that the post office doesn't manage to get things done -- my mail usually arrives here six times a week just after midday, most of it junk, and my local carriers smile when they see me.

But if you have twenty people standing in a line at the local Safeway, they call in more cashiers. While we had those two clerks wrangling with Joe the Dullard, a third clerk cycled out from the back, asked if anybody had a special delivery letter or package. Nobody did, so he turned around and went back into the bowels of the building. I guess because he was the Special Delivery Guy Only.

It's not a joyful job, and I always make a point of saying something nice to the clerk when I get to the window "Hey, are we having fun yet?" that usually gets a smile. I said that yesterday, and the woman who got my package grinned and said, "In this place?"

Worse on the other side of the counter, I suspect, than my side.

Pretty much the only person I correspond with via papermail these days is my mother, who refuses to get a computer.

Now and then, you hear about somebody running amok with a gun and shooting fellow employees and I'm not surprised to hear that it's sometimes described as somebody who went postal.

Mike said...

Out here in rural America (no broadband, no cell phones, no cable) the USPS is still fairly important and, from what I've seen for the last twenty years, is doing a good job. For example, I ship my artwork via the USPS because they're doing a far better job than UPS in my area: on the whole, breakage is much lower, rates are lower and the items get delivered on time. In the few cases I've had where there was damage, the USPS (and this includes international shipments) was far easier to deal with than UPS and promptly paid the insured value, too. All in all, I'm happy with the service I get, but I admit that in a county with 8500 people a line at the post office is unlikely.