Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Mail Must Go Thru, Or the Mail Is Through

The United States Postal Service is struggling and wants to eliminate 220,000 jobs, close more than 300 facilities, and faces another quarter with losses totaling more that $3.5 billion.

It needs to become more efficient with the way it deals with the average customer and two recent instances help me to understand why the USPS is failing. In July I received a postage-paid envelope in my postal box at the local branch along with a note saying that my annual rental fee was due. I immediately wrote out a check for the correct amount, as I have done for more than twenty-five years, put it in the envelope and mailed it.

Two weeks later when my wife Carmen went to check the box, our key wouldn’t work. After she waited in the stamp line and told her tale to the clerk, the clerk said the lock had been changed since no payment had been received. When Carmen explained that we sent a check two weeks earlier, she was also told that if we didn’t make a payment in the next two days, we would lose the box forever. We charged the amount, still wondering what happened to our check and the postage-paid envelope addressed to this post office branch.

We found out three weeks later when we opened the box and found an envelope with the original check inside and a note saying that this check is being returned since payment was already received. No one at that branch could explain what had happened to the wayward envelope.

Yesterday I sat in the side office at the branch with Eduardo, the supervisor, as I tried to find an explanation to another postal mystery. When I had stayed in Henderson, Nevada a few weeks earlier, I had left a pendant behind that had the Chinese symbol for The Way; apropos since I am finishing a book entitled The Oy Way, whose web site is The hotel mailed the pendant to me and when I found their envelope in my home mailbox, it contained the stamped words “POSTAGE DUE $1.27.” However, it did not contain the pendant only the bubble wrapping inside and a neat, square 1 ½ x 1 ½” tear in the lower left corner which someone did in order to steal the pendant, which they did.

Eduardo defended all of the postal employees in Henderson, then Las Vegas, San Jose and in his branch in Santa Cruz. He said that the neat tear and deft removal of the pendant from the envelope was most likely caused by a sorting machine. He vehemently stuck to that explanation no matter what I said, and suggested that I fill out a report describing the pendant and he would send it to the USPS Lost and Found Department in Georgia. Our conversation ended after I asked if there was also a Stolen and Found Department near by.

Raise You A Penny

To solve all of the above problems, the USPS announced today that as a birthday present, it would raise postal rates on January 22, 2012, including a 1-cent increase in the cost of first-class mail, to 45 cents.

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