The Stamp of Disapproval

An article in today’s Buffalo News reports on the growing disapproval of policies instituted by the Post Service that don’t seem to be well thought out or made with any consideration of the consumer.

What do newspapers and the Post Office have in common?

I’ve been visiting the Post Office more often in recent years than I used to when I was CEO and Empire Information Service employees would make the daily stop at our box in Schenectady. What I find reminds me of why newspapers are failing. Both have a huge investment in an outmoded infrastructure. Both own buildings that are large and expensive to maintain based on early 20th century technology. The buildings are larger than needed for the future. Both also have bureaucratized business structures which results in an inability to modernize.

The weakest component of newspapers is their delivery systems where they’ve made pratically no investment in technology and as a result put customers at the mercy of systems that breakdown at the smallest sign of stress. For example, when I returned to my winter home from my summer residence in the Adirondacks, I asked my newspaper carrier to provide Sunday only delivery for a month (because I knew I would not be around consistently and didn’t want to pay for papers I wasn’t going to read) and then start up with daily delivery on a set date.

That was too much for them to be able to manage. The Sunday sub didn’t start when I asked them to start it and daily delivery started too soon. The people I talked to were always very nice and helpful. It’s the systems that they have been given to work with that are defective.

Back to my visits to the Post Office. Over the summer I had my personal and business mail forwarded. There were huge problems with forwarding the business mail. The PO threw out anything that wasn’t first class, which one of their employees confessed included bank statements and the like. They told me I need to pay them to have all of my business mail forwarded next year. In other words they have deliberately offered a free service — forwarding — that is so bad that people are forced to pay not to have their mail thrown out!

Then there’s the totally inefficient window service system. People have to stand in the same line to get passport photos, pick up mail that doesn’t fit in one’s PO Box, buy stamps (because as the News reports the PO is removing the vending machines), etc. No wonder many of the people who work at those counters come to resent having to deal with customers and take forever for simple transactions.

Bottom line. You want a single payer healthcare system run by the government? Visit your local post office to see what that could feel like in 2020!


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