Tag Archives: post office

Dear Post Office: This Is Why You’re Failing

21 Dec

Ah, graffiti. The fronds of malcontent.

Okay, to be fair, I’m sure you’re failing for lots of reasons.  A lot of them don’t have anything to do with you.  Online banking, email, and a general love and desire for more trees in the world among them.  Maybe something to do with the economy.  Maybe.  But I don’t know anything about economics.   All I know is you manage to complicate the shipping process beyond all human comprehension, and there is not one single post office in my area that doesn’t have a hell demon working the front desk when I visit.

Ever.

You see, I’m the kind of person that accepts that certain branches might just have a sour staff.  Perhaps they’re overworked or understaffed or generally malcontent.  Maybe everyone in the office is really quite lovely but the person who works the shift that I always chance to visit during is just a grumplepuss.  There are lots of things that could align themselves on any particular day that lead to an unsatisfactory visit. I accept these as challenges in the business place for which I cannot possible hold you accountable.  Sometimes there’s a bad egg that gets through the production process.  I understand. Really.  But I have visited no less than three offices in and around my neighborhood and not a single one has a pleasant person at the front desk.

Ever.  Do you hear me? Ever.

Listen: my mom works at the post office.  She’s been a loyal worker bee for well over a decade.  Because of this, I am wont to go easy on the post office folk. They have a rough gig.   That’s why I know the answers to their questions in advance (no, I’m not shipping a ferret, a bottle of  arsenic, or a box of anthrax, yes I do want delivery confirmation but not insurance), do my very best to be well-prepared before I make it to the counter, and when there’s a line, I remind myself that the post office has a lot of business to tend to during the day – most of which happens far behind the front counter.

I even try to be an advocate for the post office, and when I have a poor experience I go to usps.com and let you know.  But you don’t really want to improve.  I know this because when I go online and detailed my experience earlier this year when there were three people at the front desk, only one of whom was doing any work, the other two who were laughing and discussing procedures for Passports, and the one woman who was working was loudly complaining about her work conditions while a line containing half my neighborhood was bending out the door, you wrote back some garbledy gook about how the post office is busy and has peak hours and you’re doing your best.

That’s a bit defensive, post office, don’t you think?  You see, I want to be constructive.  I want to help you solve your problems.  I want to help you understand that when people can make the choice to go online to do all their business (or UPS, or FedEx, who you yourself do business with), they expect you to treat them well when they pay you a visit.   But I can’t help you if you’re in denial.

So let’s get real: ya’ll need to get some better customer service.

I still have to call my mother to figure out what ships where for how much and how big it can be.  Or what kind of paper it has to be wrapped in.  Or what happens if I answer the hazardous/liquid/fragile question with a yes.   You’ve got a very complicated system going on.

Now, I know you recognized this for a moment and attempted to put in self-service package centers in some of your lobbies, and I really appreciate that.  You also did the “if it fits, it ships” campaign with the flat rate boxes.  But let’s be honest: while that’s a good deal if I’m going to send a shoebox full of heavy metals from East Coast to West, it’s not the most cost-effective option if I want to send, say, a stuffed animal.

So why don’t you just have a person in the lobby to assist with these sorts of things? Why can’t I just put a banana on the counter and ask you to ship it for me? I don’t care if I have to pay a service fee.  I don’t care if I have to answer questions about the origin of my banana and my intent in shipping it.  I’d be so thrilled to talk to someone who is pleasant and wants to help me figure out how to get my banana from one place to the next in the most cost-effective, logical manner possible that I’d happily stand in line if you were understaffed, overworked, or – say – going bankrupt.

You know what? Not even a week ago I had a friend tweet about how she stood in line for a very long time just to get a book of stamps.  She didn’t know she could go online to order, get them from a brochure, or have them delivered to her by her postal carrier.

Hey: you know what you have to do.  You know what the problems are.  We’re confused, you’re over-complicated.  We’re busy and you don’t have the time for us.  We want to give you our money and keep you going, but not if you’re going to give us attitude and tell us how much you hate your situation while we do it.  So just put some smiling, patient faces at that counter, give us a shipping specialist with a heart of gold, and start spending your time educating people about how easy it is to order stamps from home so they get the heck out of line.

I’ve got stuff to mail. 

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