If it fits it ships…..not if I have to go to the post office

The postal service has shown tremendous insight throughout their current (and brilliant) “If It Fits, It Ships” campaign. In many ways this service should give them a huge advantage over their private carrier competitors. Determining the size of a box, weighing it, and calculating postage per postal zone is a hassle. The simplicity of their program, by contrast, is compelling. Yet they still don’t see the root of their problem. And until they do, they’ll continue to lose business to FedEX and UPS.

Why?

Take our client and friend, Jojami, a superb image stylist. (I should know, she even made me look good, no easy task.) We took it as a compliment when she asked us to design a business image reflecting her professional service. As soon as her cards came off press, we planned to hand deliver them, a goodwill service we often gladly include. Well, unable to sync our schedules, she asked, “Can you mail them?” Of course we could.

Then it dawned on us, does that mean a trip to the post office? Please, no!

Something that should be no big deal suddenly became a nightmare! I mean, have you been there lately? It is one of the worst examples of customer service I can think of. The lines are long. They never have more than one window open. You notice a worker coming to open another window and get excited, then deflated, as the first one goes on break. They rarely smile. They move like molasses, hardly caring. Our local branch is a dump, too. Water leaks from the roof in three spots, one into a bucket, two directly onto the floor. The windows are covered in metal mesh that looks like a prison. No wonder they are grumpy. All in all, the post office is a depressing place, be it the branch near where we used to live in San Francisco, or the one we’re stuck with here today. The service, if you can call it that, is slow and miserable.

We honestly considered driving Jojami’s cards to Delaware. Our post office is a half mile away and we would rather drive to Delaware? Luckily we remembered the Northern Liberties Mailbox Store, a private mailing shop where everything’s the opposite of the USPS—clean, quick, friendly and welcoming. Job done, cards shipped, time saved.

To be fair, the postal service isn’t all bad. They really are amazing logistically. Ever thought how lucky we are to put a mere 44 cents on an envelope and have it ship from here to there, say Alaska, right to a friend’s door? And the delivery people are not like Newman on Seinfeld; they are warm and friendly, reliable and a great part of our community. I love these guys. They deliver in snow, rain, bitter cold, and oppressive heat, every day but Sunday, with a smile to boot! Also, it’s impressive how quickly a letter is delivered locally, often in less than 24 hours within this metro area. That is efficiency!

If only USPS could match the on-site post office experience to their other strengths. Their “if it fits it ships” business model and marketing campaign is so simple, easy and reasonably priced, perfect for any business. They could really stick it to FedEx and UPS. And yet if the public’s perceptions and experiences keep turning sour, no one will pay attention.

So what do you think? When was the last time you actually stepped inside a post office? What was the outcome? Do you prefer FedEx or the United States Postal Service?

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6 Responses to If it fits it ships…..not if I have to go to the post office

  1. I market my public relations and marketing communications business by sending out DVDs. So I am a fairly regular visitor to the King of Prussia Post Office — because at the closest post office I can find there is only one window and the postal employee (notice I don’t say worker) opens late, closes early, closes at lunch time and is arrogant to boot. King of Prussia is not the dump yours is, and one of the employees is efficient and polite. But there are always slow lines, usually only one window open and not a lot of eye contact as employees stroll through behind the counter. But USPS is reliable, less expensive and no further than my nearest FedEx or UPS. For the most part I go with USPS. On the other hand, if I want to make a statement with my package, it’s my impression FedEx is the way to go.

  2. Bondepus Design says:

    Hi Judith
    How are you? I know some Post Offices are better than others. Where my parents live there is one that is okay, they open a few windows, but the lines are long. People are not at all friendly though. The other neighboring towns post offices have horrific lines so they get any business of mine. The funny thing is there is a fedex drop off outside their building. Once in a while there is a cute old one in a small town that is still very polite because everyone in town knows them. I like going to those while traveling. If I was shipping the same size envelope and DVD’s I would think you could just drop it in the box once you know postage. The postal service is cheaper, but for 5 more bucks I don’t have to deal with them and that is money well spent. I do agree that it’s rare that they lose something in the mail and are reliable in many ways. Face to face time is not something they do well.

    Thanks for your comments. I enjoyed reading it.
    Gary Epis

  3. Scott Messer says:

    Not sure what they do that is so different from what I did as a 9 year old paper boy; They’re the highest paid retail help in the world (sells $.44 stamps and earns $100,000/yr!). Broken model with no incentive to improve. As Judith notes, the Postal Service is cheap and reliable, which once again proves price and cost are two entirely different things. Privatize!

  4. Bondepus Design says:

    I don’t think we could do away with a postal service entirely. The thing that we should be able to do is fire these people. No performance up front, either give them the boot or make them sort envelopes in the back. The IRS cleaned up their act why can’t the postal service? Please tell me those people don’t really make a 100K a year?! If they did a FANTASTIC job, then maybe okay. They’d be highly paid, but work hard, smile, and give a good experience. I could live with that. Sadly it’s not even close to the truth. They should put my postman behind the counter. He’s such a great guy….so friendly. Do they pick out who is the meanest in their outfit and put them behind the counter. Is the public that hard to deal with?

  5. Bondepus Design says:

    Found this online about pay for counter people at USPS- FYI

    The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in 2009, the average salary of a postal service clerk was $51,670 a year. Service clerks had an unusually small range of salaries as the bottom 10th percentile of earners made less than $46,350 and the top 10th percentile made more than $54,630 annually. Jobs and salaries for postal service clerks are expected to have very little change over the next several years.

  6. Janet Mazzoni says:

    You think trying to mail a letter is difficult…try getting a passport from the post office. I seriously had to physch myself up before entering the doors but as it turned out a yellow sheet of lined paper taped on the front door told me that they were not offering passport applications during that Saturday morning. I was told to go to the other post office which is in the dreaded “mall”. I went and was told that they didn’t start passport processing until 11:ooam and it was not 10:00. I said, do you really just want me to sit here for one hour until you turn the “passport” sign on? Thank God…the women had the good sense to take me or else I really don’t know what would have happened. Anyway…four weeks later and still waiting for the passport to come.

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