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The Postal Service Must Deliver Reform

Rich Heap, Community Editor, Future Cities
Wednesday, February 13, 2013 03:00 EST

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Mary Jander
Mary Jander  
2/20/2013 9:28:28 AM
User Rank Staff
Re: Franchises
Wow, it doesn't sound legal to me, Resurgent. After all, stamps are really government tariffs, no? There must be a regulation somewhere! ;>

richheap
richheap  
2/20/2013 2:35:54 AM
User Rank Staff
Re: Postal Service
Security-wise, there might be more going on that I don't appreciate, but the main security aspect appears to be the counter-to-ceiling plastic/glass separating the customers from the person behind the counter. Seems sensible, although it does also make it a bit difficult to make yourself understood.

Other than that, there doesn't appear to be a huge amount of intrusive security: I suppose would-be criminals have more lucrative places they could target. It is also possible to get free proof-of-postage, if you're worried about what happens to your mail after you hand it over.

Resurgent phoenix
Resurgent phoenix  
2/19/2013 11:43:39 PM
User Rank City Slicker
Re: Franchises
Mary,

We have smaller Post Offices in Grocery stores in my City also and I agree they should continue.  When I spoke of Franchises changing service , I was thinking of a model that would close most Post Offices as they exist today.  In some neighborhood stores, in the City I live in, stamps are sold and marked up to a higher than cost price today.  I will ask the next time I visit a real Post Office if this is illegal.

Susan Leach
Susan Leach  
2/19/2013 5:36:03 AM
User Rank Blogger
Stamps!
One small thing I really loved about post offices in the US and Britain was the great selection of stamps. I appreciate it even more now that I'm in Spain where they don't really do the stamp thing. The choices are minimal -- not good for philatelists.

But interestingly, the Spanish postal service is looking to do what some other commenters have suggested the US/UK do -- invest and expand into new areas. In Correos case, that means supporting e-commerce companies and pursing "fulfillment activities."

For instance, they already have a partnership with eBay, where they offer special rates for eBay sellers who can use Correos to manage all their shipments and pay with Paypal. 

 

 

 

Mary Jander
Mary Jander  
2/18/2013 9:47:19 AM
User Rank Staff
Re: Franchises
Here's hoping you're wrong, Resurgent. I can see, though, how this could happen. Would it really be possible for franchisees to raise rates on government service, though?

tbulone
tbulone  
2/17/2013 8:08:03 AM
User Rank Urban Legend
Change Now, or Face Extinction Later
As painful as it is to admit, the decision to stop mail delivery on Saturdays is the right decision.  While there is still a place for the services the post office provides, the bottom line is the need for current postal services is simply not as great as it was even just a few years ago.  In today's society, mail delivery has gone from an absolute necessity to a convenient luxury.  Therefore, the post office and its customers must adjust to this new reality.  In addition to the many excellent ideas already mentioned, I would offer the following suggestions to bring the post office more in line with the demand for its services and the reality of the cost of providing these services:

1.     Along with stopping mail delivery on Saturday, stop mail delivery on one additional day, (say Wednesday).  I know this sounds a little drastic, but I really don't think there is anything being delivered by the post office anymore that can't wait an extra day. 

2.     Bump the cost of a stamp way up to something like $0.70.  Frankly I think the cost of a stamp is grossly under-priced for the service that is performed.  It seems like the current price structure for delivering mail was decided by a politician seeking reelection, and doesn't reflect the true cost of what it actually takes to deliver mail. 

3.     While there is no doubt letter delivery is an important service provided by the post office, it should shift its focus and make delivering packages its primary business.  This seems to be a service it does fairly well, and with some tweaking could surpass its private industry competitors in terms of the quality and cost of the services that are provided. 

4.     It seems that a lot of the problems with the post office stem from the retirement and health benefits currently received and that will be offered to post office employees.  It is long past time to address this 800 pound gorilla and get it fixed somehow. 

5.     In some areas it may be prudent to consider merging post offices with other governmental buildings such as city halls and libraries.

While the post office provides a needed government service and as such should not turn a profit, it must break even from the revenue it takes in.  With some smart management and the ideas expressed on this blog and elsewhere, I don't see any reason why the financial outlook of the post office can't be completely turned around in 5 to 10 years, perhaps even faster.  A lot depends on the willingness of everyone involved in the decision-making process to change.

CitySolver
CitySolver  
2/16/2013 2:56:43 PM
User Rank Blogger
post post
yes we are certainly in transition phase. I do worry that older people do still rely on post offices in rural locations for contact and communication and i hope we never see the end of post offices in the UK in quieter areas. Maybe they need to diversify to keep going, post office holidays, post office coffee shop!!! who knows maybe we will have these soon.

DSM419
DSM419  
2/16/2013 3:14:10 AM
User Rank Urban Legend
Saving money
Great blog Rich, I agree with the phasing out Saturday deliveries. Snail mail has become so seldom in my life that most days my mailbox is empty anyway. If we are going to save our cities money I'm all about it. Most Saturdays I'm sleeping in not checking my mail!

Resurgent phoenix
Resurgent phoenix  
2/15/2013 7:39:25 PM
User Rank City Slicker
Re: Twenty Year Ago Slow Reform to Today
You are welcome RichHeap,

I worked for the Postal Service seven years, saving to attend College and it worked!  I mentioned in another blog that they can put mail boxes of different sizes in community locations and rent them like P.O. Boxes.  Also, they can rent large boxes for packages with coded locks.  The receipent of the package could be sent an email that the package is available for pick up and then given the code to open the box....or some type of electronic signature.  The code could be electronically change for the next receipent.  If someone gets a lot of packages they could be required to pay a fee.  A program could be written to automate the entire process.

Resurgent phoenix
Resurgent phoenix  
2/15/2013 7:31:54 PM
User Rank City Slicker
Franchises
Mary,

Heavily populated area may do well serviced by franchise initially.  When the post offices are closed they may have a monopoly and raise rates so that only areas with money will have mail delivery and clerk service.  Those area sparsely populated may have no service.  Who would pay to fly a plane to a small Alaskian village in the winter to deliver a small amount of mail.  Some services provided by the government are necessary so all citizens can enjoy almost equal benefits.  By spreading the cost sparsely populated remote areas and densely populated areas have comparable if not equal service.

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