Everyone’s complaining that the United States Postal Service (USPS) is going to be closing post offices and processing centers and probably raising the prices on stamps a zillion more times before the end of the year. There’s a very, very good reason why, but first let me start with my story of the day.
I like to sell items from my website. I also like to sell items on eBay. Many times I have items that need to be shipped overseas. So, I use the USPS to ship overseas because it is cheaper than UPS, FedEx, or any of the other commercial carriers. Today I had a World War II Brazilian officer’s belt buckle that had been sold, ironically enough, to a gentleman in Brazil. I had listed that the weight of the item was about 1 pound because it’s small, brass, and isn’t hard to put into a padded envelope or a small box. Today when I attempted to ship it, I weighed the buckle and it was actually 2.9 pounds. That’s fine — not a lot of difference since I’m going to be sending it Priority Flat-Rate International where items up to 4 pounds can be shipped for one fee. However, what they failed to tell me was that I also needed to weigh the box with it. If it’s a flat-rate box and it says I can ship up to 4 pounds, why are they also charging for the “free” box? What’s the point of me using their “flat-rate” service if I’ll end up paying the same amount as if I used my own box?
It’s things like this that explain why the USPS is really in the crapper. Back when UPS, FedEx, DHL, and the countless other commercial shipping companies that have come-and-gone started vying for our business, they promised overnight or next-day or 3-day shipping and that’s exactly what you got. The USPS’ attitude was that “it will get there when it gets there” because it’s run by the government with overpaid government employees. I’m not talking about your standard letter carriers who are actually out in the heat, ice, rain, and snow actually delivering your mail — especially those like my letter carrier who still has to do it on-foot and not in the cute little air-conditioned truck. When the Postmaster General of the United States makes a 6-figure salary and never actually handles a piece of mail, something’s wrong. And it’s the lackadaisical attitude of the “perpetual government employment” and specialized benefits that have the higher-ups not really caring if people complain about the service they receive. It used to be a one-horse show back in the old days. Them days, partner, are over.
With all of the shipping choices people have now it’s no wonder that the commercial shippers are driving the USPS out of business. They’re in it for the profit and if the customer isn’t happy, they’ll tell their friends who will tell their friends and pretty soon your company has no one using it. I’ve seen quite a few come-and-go over the years. The ones with staying power offer the services you want at a reasonable price and guarantee that you’ll get it. The USPS always has a “window of opportunity” of when something might arrive. Rarely do I ever see a confirmed date with the Post Office.
The USPS constantly is trying to remind everyone that they’re self-funded and not assisted by the Federal Government and that only your use of the Post Office can keep it going. Guess what? That’s the same thing you’ll hear from a privately owned business! Gee whiz, who’d have thought that if you gave good service, didn’t overspend on benefits and retirement (something that occasionally is done in commercial companies as well), and tried to stick to your budget that you could be successful? But, the Federal Government doesn’t require that the USPS make a profit; it just has to break-even. And then they’re also supported by taxpayers through the “Postal Service Fund” but they don’t like to talk about it because they usually come up with a profit at the end of the day when it’s all is said and done.
And they wonder why people prefer email and commercial shipping?