Friday, February 6, 2009

Five days on the road

The irony of hearing that the Postmonster Postmaster General is pleading with Congress to allow the US Post Office (or as my friend Linda is wont to call it, the Post Awful) to stop mail delivery on Saturdays—at the same time online movie rental behemoth Netflix was considering shipping deliveries on the weekends has not been lost on a few of my fellow bloggers, like Rick Brooks at Cultureshark and Laura at Laura’s Miscellaneous Musings. At first, I was siding with them and any other individual who’s curious as to why neither rain nor sleet nor snow nor dark of night will stay these couriers from their appointed rounds (or however that old saw goes)—except on Saturdays. But having chewed on it a bit, I’m not entirely convinced it’s a bad idea. It will relieve the USPS of an extra day to NOT pick up my mail.

As always, there’s a story to go with the snark.

I sashayed up to my mailbox this past Sunday to put in an outgoing letter containing a payment to one of the far-too-many credit card companies to which I’m currently in hock. The plan was for it to go out on Monday. The carrier, for reasons I’m still not quite able to fathom, has had a rather annoying habit of ignoring the outgoing mail in the past—which is why I’ve had to resort to putting a big fluorescent sticky note on anything going out that reads “Outgoing Mail.”

Wednesday, I stop by my mailbox as my father and I are making the trek to sister Kat’s, and after pulling out the mail, I find the !@#$ letter still in the box, on the bottom. I won’t go into detail as to what happened next, but the sound heard thereafter was me—to paraphrase Jean Shepherd—“weaving a tapestry of obscenities that as far as I know is still hanging in space over Lake Michigan.” Had it been one of the unusually mild days we’ve been experiencing here in Athens of late, I’m sure mothers would have been pulling their kids off the street and into the house at the sound of me “speaking in tongues.” (Since it was a chilly day, the streets were for the most part deserted.)

Because this payment did not go out when it should, it meant that I was going to have to make that payment over the phone—a privilege for which the credit card company gleefully charges me $14.95 (though when you consider the alternative of a $35 late fee I suppose it’s not all that much, big picture-wise). But first, I decided to satiate my curiosity and ask the USPS why they continue to allow this !@#$ to happen. I lucked out and got a supervisor on the first try, and when I explained the circumstances to him, he said:

“Oh, they’re not required to pick up mail. They’ll do it as a courtesy if they see it, but they’re really not obligated to do so.”

I won’t go into the rest of the conversation, primarily because it alternated between me staring at a non-existent camera, Jack Benny-style, and asking in the politest way possible how “you people” justify those huge, bloated paychecks you collect twice a month if you needn’t be bothered with providing customer service. I found this blurb (written by David Yao) in Labor Notes particularly enlightening, addressing the issue of possible Post Office layoffs:

Reduced mail volume, rising costs, and a newly enacted cap on rate increases all have taken a toll on the Postal Service’s finances. A gradual shift to electronic communications and bill payment is shrinking the number of first-class letters, a mainstay of postal revenues. And the current economic downturn has led to drops in advertising mail volume. (Italics mine.)

If I may issue a comment at this time—boo f**king hoo. I’m not surprised the number of first-class letters is shrinking, particularly since I can’t even get the post person to take it out of the friggin’ mailbox. As if it were a self-fulfilling prophecy, I called the credit card people after I got off the phone with the USPS guy and explained that I was going to have to make another payment by phone because USPS could not grant me the courtesy of taking my lone, insignificant letter with them after meeting their minimum obligation of dropping off my mail.

The lady at the company was a bit flabbergasted (I told her I was still trying to figure it out myself) but not only did she waive the processing fee she let me know that they had just implemented an online bill payment service, which would no longer necessitate me running back and forth from my mailbox to see if my payment will go out when it’s supposed to.

In other words…bite me, USPS.


nunya said...

If you take blood pressure medication and you're late on your dose, got take it before you read this.


They DO have to deliver junk mail. They get paid to do it.

Efforts to Block Junk Mail Slowed
Postal Service Argues Against Registries to State Lawmakers

By Lyndsey Layton
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 19, 2008; Page A13

..."standard" mail, the post office's name for junk mail, has become the lifeblood of the U.S. Postal Service and that jobs depend on it....

Brent McKee said...

We haven't had Saturday delivery in Canada for over 30 years. Hasn't hurt us much.