Monday, January 16, 2006

Postal Service

This has been an uncomfortable shift in rates for the USPS. Personally, I think that what we get in exchange for the money is well worth the money.
This last change, however, was poorly executed.
On the 9th I had some packages to mail, and thought I'd also pick up some stamps for postcards and some 3 oz. stamps for subscriptions that come in between bulk mailings.
I drove right past the main office in Lancaster, since cars were lined up clear onto the roadway in front of the long driveway leading to the facility.
I drove out to Landisville, where we have the mailing permit for The Essential Herbal. The people who work in this office are wonderful. They always send me on my way with a smile on my face. Some visits involve conversation, singing, and once there was even a rendition of a peanut vendor at a baseball stadium - but I digress. The point here is that these people treat their customers like friends, calling many of us by name.
As I approached the front door I noticed a hand-written sign to let people know that 1 and 2 cent stamps had sold out. There was a second sign on the inner door. There was a long line. Since I had to park in the back of the building and walk around (as opposed to being able to park right outside at the curb) that there would be a line - but a line in this office never bothers me.
As I stood in line waiting, I heard people taking their frustrations out on the clerks. They kept their cool and remained friendly, but I felt so bad for them. At that time I assumed that they had under-ordered the stamps. There were no postcard stamps available yet, nor were there any stamps for the 3 oz. pieces. They apologized profusely and asked me to please return in a few days for them.
I returned several days later to ask again. The clerk told me that postcard stamps wouldn't be available until March, and she didn't know when they'd have the 3 oz. stamps. She sold me the old stamps plus some 2 cent stamps. While this seems like a little thing, I mail a lot of postcards, and it takes twice as long to stamp them... it is an inconvenience - but at least I don't need to lick them anymore. And it wasn't that the Landisville office had under ordered - there just wasn't anything for them to order!
This isn't huge for me. It won't ruin my life or cause me any major problem. I do use the postal service a lot, visiting several times a week - but I'll live. My problem is more with the idea that a company this huge has no problem inconveniencing so many, nor with putting their employees out there to take so much flak. How many other companies could do something so badly and continue in business?

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