Saturday, October 13, 2012

Maybe this is why the US Post Office is in such deep trouble ...

My local Post Office closes at 5:00 pm on Fridays.  As you'd imagine, it gets pretty crowded on Friday afternoons.  If I were the local Postmaster I would plan for that workload.  That's just me.  What the hell do I know.  So yesterday I showed up at 4:45 with a stack of 20 packages that I wanted to mail out before the weekend.  The first thing I notice is there's a big line of customers, but only two clerks.  I mail lots of packages here so I know the clerks by name and I can see that there are a couple of other clerks in the back area, but they're focused on paperwork, not dealing with customers.  (From what I can tell, the Post Office does paperwork better than they do mail.)  Anyhow, the Postmaster is walking up and down the line of customers trying to make sure they have the right paperwork and trying to get some of them to use the automated postal machine.  He get;s to me, looks at my pile of 20 packages and says to my face "Friday, really sir."  I'm so surprised all I can do is tell him "I got here before your closing time.  You should be prepared for a Friday afternoon rush."  I'm still fuming.   I spend over $500 a month mailing stuff.  The USPS should be embracing me as a preferred customer, not looking at me as a worthless cretin. As Postmaster you know there are going to be lots of customers on a Friday afternoon.  Why don't you use your managerial skills to plan for that workload?  Oh, my mistake. I was under the assumption you had managerial skills.  You're apparently at the post office to flirt with women (take some lessons before you get hit with a lawsuit), and to piss off customers.  Hold on because this trip gets even gets better.

I finally get called up to the counter and the clerk starts to process my packages,  Half are media delivery.  As  said, I mail a lot of stuff out and I know the clerks by name.  Most of them are super professional and I enjoy my interaction with them.  This lady is really quick and efficient and plows through the media packages quickly.  Then she gets to the international package.  Turns out the Post Office has returned to requiring customs forms be keyed into the system at processing.  They started doing this a couple of months ago and stopped because it was taking so long.  They're implementing it again.  What once took a couple of minutes can be an endless process with the clerks having to figure out how to translate foreign addresses into their database - "Do you think this is their equivalent of a zip code?"  Is this Austria, or Australia?"   Processing ten international packages took over forty minutes.

Since one of the two clerks is helping me, the customer line behind me comes to a standstill.  Finally a third clerk opens up his station, but by then it is 5:15 (remember they close at 5:00).  That helps process the remaining customers and in another 15 minutes there are only two of us left.

Want more fun and games?  I've also come to pick up a package.  I give the delivery slip to the clerk.  She asks another employee to retrieve the item.  Twenty minutes later they tell me they can't find the package.  The other clerk walks away with the slip.  I have to ask for a copy.  He goes off to make a copy and finally comes back with one.  I ask what happens next?  I don't get a clear answer.  It's suggested that perhaps my mail carrier attempted to deliver the package today ...  (When I get home I discover that's not the case.)

And to end the experience on a perfect note, I've also brought along a package that was mistakenly delivered to me.  Its a record album so I can understand why it came to my door.  Unfortunately when I got it on Thursday, it was in a stack of material.  It never dawn on me to look at the address.  It was only when I opened the package up and discovered an album I'd never bought that I realized it wasn't intended for me.  Anyhow, I've brought it back to the Post Office so they can deliver it to the right person.  Stupid me for thinking that was the right thing to do.  Instead I'm asked "Why did you open the package?"  I bite my tongue and suggest they should simply focus on getting mail to the right address.

My bill is $156.75.  My frustration is priceless.  I'm also convinced that the Post Office has a special screening process to select the worst possible employees for management positions.

Now I'm off to complain to the Post Office about their insane regulations on international mail.  I'm also thinking about routinely posting all of my stuff late on Friday afternoons.

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