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Author Topic: Why the USPS is failing!  (Read 1499 times)
BjornBee
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« on: February 14, 2013, 11:22:55 AM »

Last week I went to mail a bubble mailer as I have done a thousand time before. It measures 9x6.5x.5  and weighs 2 oz. I usually request it be sent first class parcel, which allows me to buy delivery confirmation which is considered an "up charge". the postage is 2.07 plus .90 cents for a total of 2.97.

The "new" post master said to get delivery confirmation, I would need to upgrade to priority mail, making the shipping fee close to 6 dollars. I said I did not want that. She said if it was a certain size envelope, it would either go "large envelope" for $1.12 with no delivery confirmation, or need to go priority for 6 dollars. I sent it for $1.12 although anyone who sells on EBay knows to never do this.

I pointed out that I had mailed for years the same package and that all the other clerks did that. She said that if they charged the wrong amount, that was not her problem. I reminded her that they were HER employees.

So I went home and contacted customer service who is listed on the USPS website. Both agreed with me. They suggested that I go back and plead my case with the post master before opening a case with the regional supervisor through consumer affairs.

She stood her ground even though I pointed out that the mailing requirements was for what was allowed to be classified as "large envelope" and that there were no restriction on what is called a package, and that it clearly states "parcel" is ANY mailable item lightweight and of general merchandise.

I went home and contacted consumer affairs. They then contacted a "shipping specialist" who is familiar with the 1200 page shipping manual.

The debate centered on whether a bubble mailer could be requested to be mailed as a package, under the parcel category, which would allow me to purchase delivery confirmation.

They said because it was less than 3/4 in thick, it had to be sent "large envelope. If it was not 3/4 inch thick, I would have to make it 'rigid". They rationalized that they need it a certain thickness to bypass the automatic precessing machines. But that did not hold water as I could keep it the same thickness and add a cardboard insert and make it rigid, keeping it less than 3/4 inch and then qualify for the parcel rate and classify the mailer as a package.

Two days into it, with 6 different postal employees all divided on what to do, they came up with the following:

They admitted the website was wrong.

Customer service was wrong. Although they rationalized that these "people" never worked in  a post office and were clueless. They are by the way private "contractors".

At least three pages on the USPS website are wrong and needs corrected.


The bubble wrap mailer would need to be rigid or more than 3/4 thick to NOT qualify as a "large envelope. Even though there is not a description of what makes a package....a package.

I would roll up a paper towel and stuff it into the mailer, making it more than 3/4 inch thick, and thereby making it a package qualifying it to be mailed a "parcel".

When the dust finally settled, and as I was back in front of the post master, I said the following:

You do realize that for a customer to "up charge" a sale of 1.12 to a sale of 2.97, I am forced to stuff a one by one piece of foam or a rolled up paper towel into my shipping mailer. It does not change the mailing cost. It does not change whether you can process it in a machine or not. All you did was increase land fill matter.

She said they "were happy to be an assistance to me".

In the end, I need to put in a piece of foam making it too thick, or place a piece of cardboad making it too rigid, making it something other than a large envelope. It makes no difference whether it goes by machine sort or not. I would mail the same package for the same price as I have done for years, and the postal service through their "green" initiatives, increased land fill matter.

And that is a small piece of why the postal service is going under.

And why I will be visiting the local UPS and FedEx stores to see what they offer for my heavier packages.

All I wanted to do was up-charge my shipping cost from 1.12 to 2.97.

But as the consumer affairs stated...."it was a shame that this could not of been handled differently!". The post master must be so proud of herself.  grin
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Vance G
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« Reply #1 on: February 14, 2013, 11:33:18 AM »

Yesterday  it cost me $8.25 to mail two pounds of creamed honey to a cousin.  It is really sad to think how much economic activity is being squelched by the horror that our postal system is becoming.  They are trying to catch the efficiencies of those in Canada I suspect.  It is a good thing that the 2500 pages of health care law and its reams of enabling regulations now being written by fools and poltroons is an entirely different matter!
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kathyp
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« Reply #2 on: February 14, 2013, 02:32:05 PM »

our little town has a mailing center.  it has UPS and USPS and something else.  last time i was sending a box to the grandkids i stopped in there just to do a price comparison.  most of the time, i just go the the USPS.  they are closer.   turned out the the difference in cost for the size and weight box i was sending was close to 20 dollars.  + UPS got it there faster.

now my domestic packages go UPS. 

overseas is still less USPS, but not by much.
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.....The greatest changes occur in their country without their cooperation. They are not even aware of precisely what has taken place. They suspect it; they have heard of the event by chance. More than that, they are unconcerned with the fortunes of their village, the safety of their streets, the fate of their church and its vestry. They think that such things have nothing to do with them, that they belong to a powerful stranger called “the government.” They enjoy these goods as tenants, without a sense of ownership, and never give a thought to how they might be improved.....

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Michael Bush
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« Reply #3 on: February 14, 2013, 04:12:27 PM »

They've cut the hours way back now, but our local post office has excellent service and a very helpful person (the only one in the place).  It probably makes a difference when everyone in town knows you and you know everyone in town... Big city post offices, on the other hand, do tend to be impersonal and inefficient....
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« Reply #4 on: February 14, 2013, 05:28:14 PM »

The usps is a sign of inefficiency.They needed more and more resources for an evershrinking  volume of mail.
 I live in a small town . When we moved to another street in town,the postal employess would put a sticker on our mail with the forwarding adress. The mail got sent 100 miles to get put through a canceling machine and then brought back and hand sorted again to the box it needed sent to. It should have been able to be moved from old address to new address in housew without leaving town for a 200 mile round trip. Funny thing is all my bills came late and junk amil with my old address always got their on time (sales fltyers and such).
And now imagine they are broke because they actually have to fund the pensions they promised.   Go figure!!!
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sterling
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« Reply #5 on: February 14, 2013, 07:14:59 PM »

81% of the USPS cost of operations is payroll and benifits to employies.
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hardwood
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« Reply #6 on: February 14, 2013, 07:17:52 PM »

They are not as profit  driven as private shipping companies...too much waste.
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"In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the person's becoming in every facet an American, and nothing but an American...There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn't an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag...We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language...And we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people."

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« Reply #7 on: February 14, 2013, 09:23:41 PM »

I would really like to have a serious discussion as to why the federal government needs to be managing the delivery of mail. I find no reason whatsoever that a private company couldn't do it for less with better service.
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AllenF
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« Reply #8 on: February 14, 2013, 10:08:41 PM »

Mike, after all that crap you went through to get no good answers at all, I wonder if you might have a class action law suit against the postal service. 
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kathyp
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« Reply #9 on: February 14, 2013, 10:11:32 PM »

Quote
I find no reason whatsoever that a private company couldn't do it for less with better service.

probably not the door to door daily service we are used to.  we have some of the cheapest mail costs that i know of. even less than mail service that is subsidized by their governments.

the biggest problem with USPS is that they caved to workers demands.  what is sinking them is legacy/labor costs.  because they are not supposed to get tax money, they must raise rates and/or cut services to make money and meet costs.
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.....The greatest changes occur in their country without their cooperation. They are not even aware of precisely what has taken place. They suspect it; they have heard of the event by chance. More than that, they are unconcerned with the fortunes of their village, the safety of their streets, the fate of their church and its vestry. They think that such things have nothing to do with them, that they belong to a powerful stranger called “the government.” They enjoy these goods as tenants, without a sense of ownership, and never give a thought to how they might be improved.....

 Alexis de Tocqueville
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« Reply #10 on: February 15, 2013, 06:33:19 AM »

This is what you get with government civil service jobs that only require twenty yeas of service for retirement regardless of age. I think some have double dipped through the different agencies.
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indypartridge
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« Reply #11 on: February 15, 2013, 06:40:28 AM »

I would really like to have a serious discussion as to why the federal government needs to be managing the delivery of mail.
United States Constitution explicitly gives Congress the authority to establish post offices, although contracting a private entity would probably be constitutional.  Thomas Jefferson didn't like this clause (Article 1, Section 8, clause 7) - it was supposed to be a source of revenue for the new government, but Thomas believe it would waste money instead.
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kathyp
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« Reply #12 on: February 15, 2013, 09:41:40 AM »

Quote
require twenty yeas of service for retirement regardless of age.

i'm sure they do.  i know that a lot of military folks do.  they get point toward getting hired, so government jobs are attractive.  i have wondered if they shouldn't make you stay longer for retirement.....but 20 years in the military, depending on what you do, just beats the tar out of your body and sometimes your mind. 
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.....The greatest changes occur in their country without their cooperation. They are not even aware of precisely what has taken place. They suspect it; they have heard of the event by chance. More than that, they are unconcerned with the fortunes of their village, the safety of their streets, the fate of their church and its vestry. They think that such things have nothing to do with them, that they belong to a powerful stranger called “the government.” They enjoy these goods as tenants, without a sense of ownership, and never give a thought to how they might be improved.....

 Alexis de Tocqueville
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« Reply #13 on: February 15, 2013, 09:52:25 AM »

probably not the door to door daily service we are used to.  

Why not? UPS already provides that for packages. I suspect that even if the cost of letters tripled the overall cost to the American public would be significantly reduced.

I think this country needs to take a serious look at the postal service and evaluate what makes sense.

FY12 figures:

Compensation and Benefits                                                    $51.2 billion

Retiree Health Benefits Pre-funding                                       $11.1 billion

Other Non-Personnel Costs                                                     $7.3 billion

Transportation                                                                          $6.3 billion

Depreciation                                                                             $2.2 billion

Total Operating Expenses                                                       $78.1 billion


and they are still losing $15.9 billion per year.
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beeman2009
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« Reply #14 on: February 15, 2013, 09:55:03 AM »

They've cut the hours way back now, but our local post office has excellent service and a very helpful person (the only one in the place).  It probably makes a difference when everyone in town knows you and you know everyone in town... Big city post offices, on the other hand, do tend to be impersonal and inefficient....


Check their website and you will find that starting August 5, 2013 they are ending mail delivery on Saturday for letters, packages will still be delivered.
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #15 on: February 15, 2013, 10:24:55 AM »

Part of the problem with expecting the post office to be profitable, is that congress over the years has charged them with doing things, which are good things, that simply can't be profitable.

First they are the only presence of the Federal gov't in small towns.  It's where you can get tax forms, and passport forms and where you get your passport etc.  These are not Post Office kinds of things, but things that need to be done and made available.

Second, they are charged with shipping books cheaper in order to promote learning and libraries.  So "Media Rate" is not a profitable thing to do, but it does promote books.

Third, they are charged with shipping to APO boxes around the world to support our Military and people serving their country.  This is a wonderful service to keep morale up and keep our soldiers and those supporting them sane.  But it is not profitable.  If they charged what it cost to send things overseas, soldiers would not get much in the way of packages.

There are others, but these are a few of the things they have been charged with that are simply not profitable.

I do think their first mistake was when they started building their business around junk mail.  They should have been trying to compete in the realm of packages when letters dropped off because of email and phones.  Before the advent of the phone the post office was essential to our countries ability to communicate.  After phones it dropped off a lot.  After email it dropped off more.   After UPS and Fed-Ex (before email) it dropped off as well.

Now, rather than compete, they are just going to cut back.  Less hours, less days, less service, less post offices.  That is not how you get a business profitable.  That's how you shut it down.
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Michael Bush
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luvin honey
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« Reply #16 on: February 15, 2013, 01:39:29 PM »

And I thought they were failing because they were forced to pre-fund their pensions a full 75 years.
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« Reply #17 on: February 15, 2013, 02:57:23 PM »

>And I thought they were failing because they were forced to pre-fund their pensions a full 75 years.

I'm sure government retirement benefits have not helped...
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #18 on: February 15, 2013, 03:09:35 PM »

BjornBee:

Something must really be wrong with the postage calculation. I regularly ship my bubble mailers (I have two on my desk right now) and they cost me $1.69 INCLUDING tracking for 2 oz weight. The rough measurement of the bubble package (by my ruler) is 10.25 x 7.5. I sell computer chips on E-Bay and create/print/pay for my postage through E-Bay (and print the labels at the same time). I just drop my mailers in the mailbox and don't have to worry about going to the post office. Somehow you are really being overcharged.


If you ship regularly, there is a guy on E-Bay selling the Zebra label printers which makes life easlier for frequent shippers.

...DOUG
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kathyp
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« Reply #19 on: February 15, 2013, 04:18:28 PM »

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/23/us/23postal.html?_r=0

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704613504576268983131039272.html

the reason they are required to fund their pension plan they way they are is that the tax payer would be on the hook for it otherwise.  they were free to make their own labor agreements.  if they didn't do a good job with that, who's fault is it?  do we need another GM bailout because of legacy and labor costs that are eating up profit?  i think not.  i'd rather go back to carrier pigeons.

i know the idea of actually paying for stuff is a shocking concept........
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.....The greatest changes occur in their country without their cooperation. They are not even aware of precisely what has taken place. They suspect it; they have heard of the event by chance. More than that, they are unconcerned with the fortunes of their village, the safety of their streets, the fate of their church and its vestry. They think that such things have nothing to do with them, that they belong to a powerful stranger called “the government.” They enjoy these goods as tenants, without a sense of ownership, and never give a thought to how they might be improved.....

 Alexis de Tocqueville
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