Sunday, August 8, 2010


Postal Employee: "May I help you?"

Kramer: "Yeah, I'd like to cancel my mail."

Postal Employee: "Certainly. How long would you like us to hold it?"

Kramer: "Oh, no, no. I don't think you get me. I want out, permanently."

Newman: "I'll handle this, Violet. Why don't you take your three hour break? Oh, calm down, everyone. No one's cancelling any mail."

Kramer: "Oh, yes, I am."

Newman: "What about your bills?"

Kramer: "The bank can pay 'em."

Newman: "The bank. What about your cards and letters?"

Kramer: "E-mail, telephones, fax machines. Fedex, telex, telegrams,holograms."

Newman: "All right, it's true! Of course nobody needs mail. What do you think, you're so clever for figuring that out? But you don't know the half ofwhat goes on here. So just walk away, Kramer. I beg of you."

-from the Seinfeld episode ‘The Junk Mail” original air date October 30, 1997

I was telling a friend about my latest bout of dissatisfaction with the Unites States Post Office recently, and realized that this story about government waste and inefficiency, was perfect blog-fodder.

I lived in the Phildeplhia suburbs for the first thirty-two years of my life, and in the Hartford area for the next two. I do not recall much of a mail delivery problem.

In fact, when Seinfeld made all of the postal delivery jokes, I never got it. So when Newman says that “no mail carrier has successfully delivered ore than 50% of their mail, it was just a joke to me.

Then I moved to Airheadzona and the joke was on me.

Getting my neighbors’ mail, and my mail going missing is a weekly occurrence. Out here in Arizona, it’s too much to expect the public servants to go to houses, so we have apartment-style mailboxes even in single-home neighborhoods.

There’s a reason for this. Try it if you don’t believe me. If you go to the post office to complain about delivery service, no matter what the reason, you will get the same response.

“The mail is pre-sorted.”

I got my neighbors’ mail. “The mail is pre-sorted.”

My neighbor got my mail. “The mail is pre-sorted.”

My postman bit my dog. “The mail is pre-sorted.”

My mailbox is on fire. “The mail is pre-sorted.”

Over the first few years, I got to know the neighbor one block away pretty well. She had the same house number and was constantly getting my mail. I would get other people’s mail order-prescriptions and packages, and once even got someone else’s computer purchase from Best Buy Online on my doorstep.

With an apartment-style box, when you get a package, they put the package in a big box, take the key, and put it in your box. I had ordered $500 worth of merchandise, and on the day I was expecting it, went to my mailbox and no key. So I went home, went online, and checked the delivery confirmation.

The site said it was delivered, so I went back to the box to see if I missed the key. Nope. I noticed one of the parcel boxes door slightly ajar, and on a whim, I opened it, and there were my packages.

So I drove to the post office to make my first complaint. After all, anyone could have helped themselves to my parcels. So I went to the desk, made my complaint, and guess what they said?

“The mail is pre-sorted.”

I kid you not. And I went on to explain that this could not be a sort issue, that the postman had to just be more careful when placing the key in the box.

“The mail is pre-sorted.”

One year, I was busy at work, and made all of my Christmas purchases at Amazon. All of them went missing. Amazon did replace the shipment, but I went in to complain. You will never believe what I was told.

“The mail is pre-sorted.”

I even tried going to a different post office. They were a little more courteous, but had the same mantra.

I knew I was still going to order from Amazon, so I looked into what my delivery options were. Amazon offers a service called, Amazon Prime, where, for $80 per year, all of your shipments are sent by UPS 2 day mail. Sine I buy CD’s almost weekly, and since Amazon is cheaper than Best Buy, I joined.

Since then, I have been moving to make myself as independent of the USPS as possible.

I use E-mail, online banking, eCards, electronic bills for my utilities and credit cards-anything to get the volume in my mail box to zero.

I have stopped renerwing magazines, and let the publishers know that it is because of the post office incompetence.

And I am cancelling my NetFlix account since the DVD’s seem to be vanishing, and I will be very candid with NetFlex as to why.

You see, my issue has never been with the carrier. It’s with management.

By refusing to allow me to give feedback on his or her performance, the carrier does not even know they’re making the errors. The Postal Service management, by adopting the typical government policy of giving customers the runaround , simply perpetuates incompetence.

This story from shows me that I am not alone in my views.

The U.S. Postal Service reported a $3.5 billion loss in its most recent quarter Thursday, as mail volume plummets and retiree health care costs mount.

The USPS, a self-supporting government agency that receives no tax dollars, said operating revenue declined 1.8% to $16 billion during the fiscal 2010 third quarter compared to a year earlier, while operating expenses spiked 4.2% to $19.5 billion.

The quarterly loss was the fourteenth in the last sixteen quarters, the postal service said.
"A significant portion of USPS losses in the past few years has been due to an unprecedented decline in mail volume -- down more than 20% since 2007," the USPS said in a statement. "The replacement of letter mail and business-transaction mail by electronic alternatives continues to cause downward pressure on mail volume."

Of course, it has never occurred to the idiots who run the USPS that some of the decline may be due to their total lack of customer service.

For years, they have treated the public with the indifference of someone who runs a monopoly, and now that there are choices, they wonder why people avail themselves of the choices!

I know that not all of their decline in volume is due to dissatisfaction. But would Amazon even offer something like an Amazon Prime service if there was not a market for it?

I sent a package last year by Priority Mail with delivery confirmation. The package took a week to get there, and the delivery confirmation was never updated. Their response?

“Purchasing the priority mail services does not guarantee faster delivery. And purchasing the delivery confirmation does not guarantee delivery confirmation.”

So by paying for expedited mail service, there is no guarantee of receiving that expedited service? What other business is allowed to operate under such a model?

I was told I could apply for a refund, and was handed a five page form. Five pages. I wish I had saved it, so I could attach it to this post. I did what the USPS counted on me doing-walking away in frustration.

I can only laugh now as they spiral down deeper into a business cycle that can only end in bankruptcy. Sure, I know we'll only have to bail them out anyway, but give me this one joy in watching them fail.

Poor management, no accountability, horrible amounts of waste.

They get away with it by hiding behind the same wall of inaccessibility as every other government agency. That wall is how an immigrant president got into the White House, and how our government keeps you from getting too much information on its inner workings-just check out Stephen T. McCarthy’s post about his experience with the TSA.

The postal service is no different, and like Kramer, I want out.


  1. Well I must say that I have almost always commended the USPS on their service for me. I get mail very quickly and mail I send is likewise delivered in a very timely manner. When I was working and went to the post office on a regular basis nearly all of the clerks knew me on a first name basis and when I go there now they still know me. No complaints here-- usually. Sorry about your bad experiences.

    I do think they are all paid too much though.

    Tossing It Out

  2. Really good post, DISCDUDE!

    If you ever have the time, you should read some of the comments that have been posted on the TSA blog which I linked to my blog bit. Americans keep leaving questions and complaints and the TSA big boys continue to ignore them.

    Every once in awhile, some low level TSA employee (called a "member of the TSA blog team") will leave some weak-ass response to a commenter's question. But then when another person replies to that, exposing it as a bunch of hooey, the blog team members just disappear again.

    There are some persons out there who are just as ticked off and skeptical of the full body scanning procedure as I am.

    I heartily accept the motto: "That government is best which governs least"
    ~ Henry David Thoreau
    [The very first sentence of 'Civil Disobedience']

    Down with federal bureaucrats!!!

    >> And I am cancelling my NetFlix account since the DVD’s seem to be vanishing, and I will be very candid with NetFlex as to why. <<

    Hey, I meant to tell you this on Friday, but it slipped my mind: If you really WANT to keep NetFlix, I wouldn't mind at all if you had them deliver your movies to MY HOUSE, and I could bring them in to you whenever I report for work. That's one solution to your problem, and it would be no trouble for me since I check my mailbox anyway, and I come in to work 4 of the same 5 days that you do.

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

  3. Lee-

    It's probably lost in my venting, but my issue really is with the management philosophy and what seems to be the typical government runaround.

    Actually, delivering letters for less than fifty cents is still a bargain to me. They do that well.

    Packages, not so well.

    Customer service-pretty poorly (in my experience). But all that customer service experience is in Arizona, so maybe it's a Phoenix thing.

    I still feel like Kramer...

  4. Dogg-

    I may look into how to stream video to my television and use Netflix online.

    Since we can't privatize the USPS, we need to all be Kramers and opt out!