Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Post Office: Where People are Paid Well to Be Rude to You

Around a book release, an author spends a great deal of time at the post office, mailing promotional materials, books for giveaways, etc. I've visited almost every post office in the Middle Tennessee area and have found some similarities. One:





Every post office has an old copier with an "Out of Order" sign. Is this the USPS version of a museum? Speaking of museums, there's also the system of swiping your card on a card swiper, only to have to sign a paper receipt instead of signing on the screen.



Then, of course, there are the postal employees who absolutely love their jobs so much they don't want anyone to know about it. So they work hard at making sure they never crack a smile, even as they're handing you a receipt that asks you to give feedback about your visit today.



As the post office continues to decline in service, competition is heating up. In fact, did you know you can already mail USPS packages at Office Depot? Staples also offers USPS services, but only in select locations. All of this is good news for us. It means during the holiday season, we may be able to mail our packages without waiting in line for an hour. Because funds are low. And they can only afford to pay so many $25 per hour postal clerks to man the counter.



Here's where it REALLY gets interesting, though. You see the post office is protesting the whole Staples thing, stating that Staples will pay workers $9 an hour to do the work it pays people $25 an hour to do. Oh, they also feel that Staples workers are "poorly trained" and that the environment lacks the ironclad security we all know every post office has.



So let me get this straight. I can take my package to a new-ish, nice-smelling building where a smiling, $9-per-hour employee will be more than happy to help me? 




Or I can pay taxes for the privilege of taking the same package to an old, smelly building where the $25 per hour employee will act annoyed that I even walked through the door, then put up a sign saying "LANE CLOSED" the second break time arrives?



How do you feel about the post office's possible demise? Do you know of any other post office alternatives?

109 comments:

  1. Can always use Fed Ex or UPS for packages.
    This is why electronic gift cards are awesome.
    Actually, our local post office has decent employees. It's not until you get to the big one downtown that they growl at you.

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    1. We're in the airport area of Nashville, so maybe that's why. There are definitely friendly postal employees...especially in smaller towns! UPS and FedEx are great, but WAY too expensive for my little promotion budget!

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  2. You just described my own visit(s) perfectly.

    I wish I had a solution. In fact - I wish I had a solution for everything the government keeps ignoring or avoiding. Postal service is not the only area of "absence of planning." For example - try to call the White House - someone in India answers the phone. Maybe that's why they're pushing phone service for mailing pkgs - then the job can be outsourced to another country.

    I simply don't get it.

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    1. NO! Really??? They've outsourced their phone support to India?! I worked in state government I.T. for 13 years (in state government for 19 total) but now I'm a full-time freelance writer. A large majority of what I write is advising small businesses on using cloud tech and outsourcing to save money. I always joke that government eventually is going to outsource its tech support to India--and it's only about 20% joke! They'll eventually outsource a lot of it...but I would hope they would keep in in the U.S. I would THINK the U.S. government would keep it in the U.S., now that I think about it!

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  3. I've done a few posts about the USPS in the past........you've done a very good description of every post office I've ever visited in my life! I was never so happy when I discovered my grocery store sold stamps.

    I had to go get some envelopes weighed last month, and to conclude my 20 minute wait, the clerk asked me if I wanted a passport application!?! Is this their way of staying in business?

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    1. I go to the one in Nashville where they sell passports and they've never asked me that! They do ask me if I need stamps, though. "Um...no. It's 2015. I don't need personal checks, either."

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    2. Yes it is terrible having to make the postal carrier 10 minutes at each stop, some of them have over 600 stops on their routes, or 3,000 people on one route, imagine if they waited at someone door stop for 10 minutes would take days! if you would read the back of that little postcard it says the post office will re-deliver it to your house if you sign it and check you want it re-delivered to your front door, funny how so many people can't read! Too funny.

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  4. I recently posted on my blog about how nice, helpful and polite the post office employees in my city were. They bent over backward to help me solve a problem when I was trying to send a donation package for a charitable cause. Without their help, my package would still be on the floor. Maybe it's Canadian thing, I don't know... The two employees who helped me also gave me service with a smile and they said thank you when I paid by debit. There are still some nice people around...
    Have a great Wednesday.
    Hugs,
    JB





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    1. That's awesome! I work from home and we have community mailboxes at the end of the street. When a package comes in that requires delivery, they put a postcard in my mailbox that says "Sorry we missed you. Please come to the post office to pick your package up." I'm HOME ALL DAY. They can't have missed me...but most people are at work, so the mail delivery person doesn't want to make the trip up half a block and get out of the vehicle to bring the package to the door, so the mailbox is easier. I then have to drive 10 minutes across town and wait in line to pick it up. I told the woman behind the counter that I was home when this wasn't delivered and she just shrugged.

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  5. My most recent experience with the USPS --

    I live in a townhouse, so we have the big block of mailboxes at the bottom of the parking lot/driveway and not individual mailboxes. Now, my normal carrier is really awesome but this particular week we had a sub. I was home sick on a Tuesday and when I went to get the mail later that day there was a "Sorry we missed you" slip in my mailbox stating they had "attempted to deliver" a registered letter. No one had come to my door.

    Now, several months ago the USPS decided that my "home" post office was going to be the one all the way across town instead of the one that is about two miles away from my house and I would have to go to the far away one to get my registered letter that I would have had delivered to my door if the mail carrier had, you know, done the job he's paid to do.

    At that time, my fiance's car was without a working engine, which meant we had one car between us. I was already having to leave my job early several days a week (I work until 3:30) so he could take my car to HIS job that started at 3.

    So I called the post office and complained. The guy on the phone was downright rude, but he said he would (even though it wasn't their process) send the letter back out the next day. Yeah, right. It's been since August and I still don't have my registered letter ...

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    1. OMG Renee, see my comment right above yours. The SAME THING happened to me...multiple times!!! Meanwhile, FedEx and UPS are regular visitors here. Occasionally USPS will bring it to the house and toss it on the porch, but if it requires that I sign for it, you can bet there will be a card in my mailbox. I really would be fine if they just did away with government-provided mail delivery and let UPS and FedEx handle it. Most of us pay our bills online now...so all we're mailing are packages.

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  6. I've had several friends that tell me the problem is PO supervision is so strict that it brings down moral. Bathroom visits are timed, breaks are timed, everything is by the book and the worker supervisor relationship is totally adversarial. This is why workers sometimes crack and go "Postal."

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    1. We had groups of employees who worked like that when I worked for the state. Here's what happens--they get one employee somewhere who takes advantage of things and that's it for everyone. In the private sector, they'd fire the lazy person, but not in government. They even tried to fire people where I worked--the process was so convoluted because everyone's so scared of a "grievance" being filed against them, they just leave the person working there and send an email out making everyone obey these ridiculous rules that everyone knows are geared toward this one person. Morale drops further...the hard-working employees have to pick up the slack for the lazy people even though they're all making the same salary...and on it goes. SO glad to be out of there. Government is not the place for someone who has ambition and work ethics, sorry to say. You either lose that ambition pretty quickly and turn into a zombie or you spend your days frustrated beyond belief and counting down the days until death provides relief...

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  7. I hate our post office too! My postman would leave all packages at the postoffice so that he doesn't have to carry them to our house and would just leave a message in our postbox that we weren't home when he came by and that we can collect the package at the post office... What's the point of paying postage if I have to pick up the package myself?

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    1. OMG this is so awesome...it's happening to EVERYONE! Renee mentioned it and it happens to me, too. I work from home so I'm always here. Today my iPhone 6 is arriving via USPS Priority 2-Day Mail. I'm here all day...working from home. My husband is working here, as well. If the package requires a signature, I may as well just prepare to drive 10 minutes to the post office to get it...but it probably won't even be available 'til tomorrow because I'm assuming the package is on the truck--the mail person just doesn't want to drive half a block to hand it to me. If it didn't require a signature, an iPhone 6 worth $600 is going to be sitting in the community mailboxes down the street. They're locked...but it's cold. If it were UPS or FedEx, it would be safely set down on my door. If I'm lucky, USPS will toss it in the general direction of the door and keep driving!

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  8. My post office is awful, but there is another by me that I love. The workers are all so nice and talkative too. I practically live there. No copier though.

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    1. With my first book, I mailed bookmarks to every librarian and school in Nashville. I mailed them in batches of 10, whenever I was near a post office. So I tried out different ones, depending on where I was in town. I did find when I was outside of Nashville, the post office workers were so awesome. Usually MUCH friendlier. I actually had to stop doing international giveaways, though, because USPS now requires postal workers to manually enter all international addresses into the computer--they're all one-finger typists. So the line is backing up and it's taking them 5 minutes to type this address in...it's excruciating. You can feel everyone in line hating the heck out of you. The very last time I mailed internationally, the guy had the address FINALLY entered, then said, "Oops. I just deleted the whole thing. I have to start over."

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  9. Ah yes the PO, I have a love hate with the PO around here. Thankfully we have a kiosk and it is much nicer than actually going to the PO and guess what? No out of order signs anywhere! :P

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    1. I never trust myself with the kiosks. I tried doing it once and it was asking me questions I wasn't confident about answering. I think it had to do with the size of the package I was mailing.

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  10. Don't want the post office to demise yet; my brother has worked for them for close to 30 years and soon will retire :) I rarely go to the post office but when I do, most of the time the staff are pleasant. However, I'm not sure I would continue to be pleasant if I saw some of the customers and situations they had to deal with :)

    betty

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    1. I saw a guy throw a fit in FedEx once, so I can't say it's specific to USPS completely, but I WILL say I see a different group of people at USPS than I do at FedEx and UPS. For one thing--there appears to be a serious language issue in ours here in Nashville. A good percentage of the time when I'm in line, I'm hearing some postal clerk yelling at a poor guy who doesn't speak English. (Because we all know if they don't know your language, what you really need to do is speak LOUDER!) Seems the post office is in need of an interpreter or training employees to speak Spanish. We have a large hispanic population here. I worked for government, but I never had to really deal with the public. Anyone who works with the public has my sympathy--although people who make $50,000 a year working with the public perhaps get less of my sympathy than the polite people at Staples making $9 an hour doing it!

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  11. I've always found it interesting how post offices respond to competition by offering less services and making the services they do have worse. Here in Canada, they plan to eliminate door-to-door delivery, so we'll have to go to some community post office box in outer Mongolia to get our packages. They've also raised their rates so high that it costs me $25 to send a necklace across the border, and to do so, I have to fill out a complicated form.

    Half the time when I go to the post office, there is no one at the counter because they're on break. You may have Grumpy and Sleepy, but at least there's someone there to take your business! I feel your pain.

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    1. J.H. it's all part of slowly phasing the post office out, I think. Here in the U.S., they decided to stop Saturday delivery...then the legislature found out. Apparently you can't just stop a service without redoing the constitution...so Saturday delivery continues. If it ever becomes cheaper to mail packages by UPS and FedEx than USPS, you can bet I'll be doing that!

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  12. ugh I HATE the post office! and the latest joy has been not getting packages delivered. It's happened twice in the past three months. My dad would get an email saying the carrier "tried and failed" to deliver our package, but they lie because there's no notice in the mailbox whatsoever. beyond annoying.

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    1. They closed my PO box after 10 years...saying I didn't pay the bill. I said I didn't GET a bill. They said, "It should have been in your box." I said, "It wasn't. I check it once a week." They just closed it and started sending my mail back immediately. The postal clerk just shrugged and said, "We can reopen it." I told him to keep it. If they couldn't handle putting a bill in there, I'll just get a box somewhere else. I didn't realize at the time we don't have one of those FedEx Office places with mailboxes nearby... When we move, there's one, though, so I'll just get a box there.

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  13. I wonder if the day will ever come where Post Offices don't exist. I never could figure out why postal workers are so postal. UPS drivers aren't like that!

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    1. UPS and FedEx are private sector...if an employee sucks, they fire him. If a postal worker sucks...well, nobody really cares. I think we all know not to even bother. UPS and FedEx have strict quality control measures in place, as well, using tracking software that keeps them aware at all times where packages are. USPS sends people out into the world and who knows? An employee can just half-butt his way through the day and collect his paycheck and if a customer complains, at most the person's supervisor will say, "We got a complaint. Do a better job." If he keeps sucking and is completely negligent, the biggest punishment he'll get is probably working at the mail sorting place all day where he can be supervised or something.

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  14. I LOVE the erevolution. In fact, I've been to the post office only twice in the last 3 months for book related stuff, and that's with having just had a release. There's no way I would spend more time there then I have to. I'm going to have to check out the other locations, because, man, that would be awesome to hit one of the others!

    Unleashing the Dreamworld

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    1. I can't figure out an easier way to get my bookmarks and books to people, Crystal. How do you mail packages? Do you use flat rate shipping and print the postage yourself?

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  15. I used to go with my ex to the post office all the time, as he mailed his eBay packages. He often had problems, either due to employees or what an idiot he is. Though the worst was when there was a long line, and the guy holding everyone up actually made a smug joke about it instead of apologizing for the holdup.

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    1. I did eBay back in the 90s!!! I was at the post office once a week, so it was even worse than it is now, because it was year-round! One time, I had 11 packages. I waited in a long line, set them on the counter, and the guy counted them. He said, "If you have more than 10 packages, you're supposed to make an appointment." Say WHAT? I told him just mail ten of them and I'll bring the other one back later. He said, "Never mind" and processed them all, but he was very rude and hostile, like I was making him work too hard. I was a regular there and the other clerks loved me...the woman next to him looked at me and rolled her eyes when he wasn't looking. Apparently he was just one of those by-the-book people who liked to complain about rogue rule-breakers like me!

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  16. This hit a nerve - BIG TIME!
    I've had endless postal problems.
    In May, I devoted an entire post to this very topic...in a nutshell, there were two major incidents which involved: a round trip package (returned to sender) and a wayward parcel (a box of prints signed by authors which I didn't receive...MIA up till this day)

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    1. This makes me VERY glad my publisher ships everything by FedEx. And Amazon's packages usually come by UPS...I'm starting to see why! I explained above about them closing my mailbox and saying I didn't pay a bill they forgot to put in there. What gets me, though, is when there's a problem, they just don't care. That's the worst part. They have no incentive to care. They know we have no choice but to use them because, for the most part, they're cheaper. Come to think of it--maybe I should recheck the rates for UPS and FedEx again. It might be worth the extra expense to make sure my packages get where they're going!

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  17. I can't complain about the attitude of the USPS workers locally, but sometimes my eBay buys arrive days -- or in one case, ONE MONTH -- after the tracking info says they were delivered! WTH?

    Great post today, Stephanie. Very entertaining.

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    1. I sold on eBay back when people PAID by mail. You had to do money orders. Yes, I'm that old! It was only a couple of years, when eBay first started...and you could make BIG money back then because it was all private sellers. Now businesses have taken it over and it's not the same. Anyway...people would send payment with "signature required" and I worked full-time. So the post office was never open when I would get that signature required notice in my PO box. I had to start saying, "Do NOT send money by any method that requires a signature." Which sucked, because no guarantees, but I was tired of spending my Saturdays waiting in line to get my money orders. PayPal made eBay SO much easier...but it also opened up "chargebacks," where someone could get your item, keep it, and charge it back to their credit card and neither eBay nor PayPal would help you. That only had to happen to me once and I was done for good.

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    2. I began on eBay in 2000, as a dealer and a buyer. I haven't sold anything there for years because their rules have changed so much to benefit the buyers and hurt the sellers. You can't even leave negative feedback for buyers, to warn other dealers!

      When I started, it was payment (mostly) by money order. Once, I was in the bank, buying about a dozen money orders, and the teller suggested I open a checking account there. "I have a checking account here," I replied. "But eBay dealers rarely accept checks!"

      As far as your being "that old," I just hit 58 last Sunday. To me, you're just a baby! Ha.

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    3. I think once the businesses took over, it just wasn't as fun anymore. Now it's like buying something on Amazon. It's not as much an "exchange" as a big mall, basically. I love to buy clothes on there--you can get great deals--but now that cameras have filters, I've found that you can't usually rely on the pictures. They'll post a picture of something that's really faded and use the filter to make it look brand new. I rarely buy on there now.

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  18. Sounds like the origination of the phrase "going postal".

    I don't mail much stuff, plus the post office near my house isn't the main one for my city. Hopefully I won't encounter much mayhem.

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    1. The process of getting a government job is so ridiculous and slow, most young people just don't put up with it. So many of the employees are longtime employees or people who have family who worked for government. It just doesn't occur to a young person to dream of working for government, unless it's as a legislator or in the governor's office. Most government entities don't put money into recruitment either, so you won't see them at college campuses, snatching up the youngest and brightest before the competition gets them. For that reason, you are never going to get the service you get in the private sector. Staples and Office Depot may have a few bad employees--I haven't met them. Everyone I've dealt with there is really nice, usually young. I think they're mostly college students or people waiting for something else...but they haven't had the hope beaten out of them yet.

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  19. The employees are actually nice at my local post office. Even the sternish ones make it clear by their professional attitude that they are here to help. My issue is with cashiers in some stores acting like me cashing my purchase is an infinite bother to them . Pardon me if I thought purchasing the items was a better idea than sneaking it out under my skirt.

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    1. Yeah, that sentence about cashiers is EXACTLY why I don't shop at Wal-Mart, specifically! From what I understand, big retailers are just as cautious about firing people as government now. Everyone's SO afraid of getting sued. So rude employees are allowed to work there for months, sometimes years.

      I have a good story--we stop by Auntie Anne's at Opry Mills Mall every time we're there so I can get a pretzel for my husband, who loves Auntie Anne's. For months, we've stopped by there--probably 20 times or more. I've lost count. Every time, it's the same. "We're out of pretzels. It'll be five minutes until we have more." Every time. My husband said he's never walked up to an Auntie Anne's and been told that. I think they just make one pretzel, set it in the warmer, sell it, then make one more. I complained to corporate about it yesterday, but I'm officially finished with Auntie Anne's. You sell one thing. ONE THING. How can you possibly be out. On a weekday. At noon. When the mall is pretty much EMPTY!

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    2. That's plain nasty customer service. Never go back Steph.

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  20. i think ours has 1 in-house employee - they actually close for an hour and 1/2 for lunch. the one i go to in what i consider 'our town' has a couple more and they've served me well over the years. some are a bit grumpy, but you can usually get them to break thru that ice with a tiny prod or a smile.. :)

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    1. I stopped going to the one near my house and started going to the airport one. Although I was at the one near my house yesterday and snapped that picture of the copier while waiting in line for 10 minutes! They have one person at the desk at that one...then there are at least three or four running around in the back area. I'm not sure what they're doing. Filling post office boxes? That should be done once a day, though, right?

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  21. We live in a small town and our postal employees rock. They smile, are helpful and friendly. So, I've not experienced this at all. I'm sure there are horror stories in bigger cities though.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

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    1. Yep, small town postal employees are usually the best. I'm sure there are bad ones...but think about it. In a small town, a $50,000 a year salary is good stuff. Usually those people have worked there a while and are just happier. In a big city, $50,000 a year probably isn't a good salary. (Although I think it's still pretty darn good, especially if they don't require college degrees? I don't think they do.) When I worked for the state, they always seemed to find the BEST employees in those small towns. The state was known for low salaries, but when you're in Johnson City, Tennessee or Chattanooga, Tennessee, there aren't a HUGE number of big employers searching for employees...so every job posting there would get a big response and you could be pickier. In big cities, you're competing with lots of big businesses that pay pretty competitive salaries, along with perks--like working from home. So you get the employees that couldn't get hired anywhere else...or the ones who joined up back when working for the post office was cool. You know, before you could go work for UPS or FedEx and have actual upward mobility in your career.

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  22. This is where small towns rule. My post master (or mistress? she's a lady) greets me with a smile and says, "Mailing more books?"

    I know, I know. You'd think I was making this crap up!

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    1. Not at all. The only time Nashville's clerks care what I'm mailing is when they're asking if it's liquid or perishable. Or when they're taking your credit card. What's up with their credit card procedures? One of the women asked me why the last name on my package didn't match the last name on my credit card. I said, "Faris is my writing name." She did NOT care about that one bit. She just thought I was up to something. Which is weird because don't people mail stuff for other people ALL THE TIME? Especially on a weekday. I would think half the people in line are mailing packages where the return address doesn't match the name on the credit card they're using.

      That's the difference--in a small town they would have already known my name, where I lived, what my husband's name was! We're looking at houses in Gallatin--kind of small town. I visited their post office earlier this year and they had TWO clerks working at 10 a.m. on a Wednesday and both were smiling and happy. Even the woman in the line next to me struck up a conversation. You don't see that in Nashville at all!

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  23. Wow. I've not had that experience. The postal employees I've dealt with have been pleasant. My old mail carrier (from the place I moved from) was amazing. He went out of his way to help us all the time.

    I don't deal with people too much anymore, though. Since they installed the self serve kiosk, I can mail packages anytime I want without having to even be there during business hours. Wonderful.

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    1. I was going to ASSUME they'd leave me a note that my new iPhone had arrived and make me leave the house to go get it--nope. They put my $600 iPhone (non-contract price) in the mailbox. It's locked, but I was surprised AT&T sent it by USPS...that's a risky move for them. I don't think even Apple uses USPS...I think it usually comes on the FedEx truck when I order even a pair of headphones from them!

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  24. There's a small local post office not far from where I live and the one postal worker who is always there recognizes me every time I come in and asks how my writing/publishing is going. He tried to publish short stories years ago, so he always wishes me luck, which is nice.

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    1. So sweet! That's why I wish I lived in a small town sometimes.

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  25. I don't have to deal with any of them. I need to mail something I use the postage machine at work, slap the label on and sit it n a table for the postal worker to come pick up at the end of the day. I can sit at my desk and laugh as they grump and growl over how heavy some of them are. Have to enjoy the little things, right? lol

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    1. I looked into one of those postal scales but I wasn't willing to commit to mailing enough for it to pay for itself.

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  26. Our small post office agency is staffed by people who are friendly, helpful and if they don't know something take the time to find out. I hope the main post office never finds out about this divergence from the grumpy/inefficient rule...

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    1. I started going to the airport one here because there was one nice woman...but I keep getting one of the two grumpy men every time I go!

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  27. Oh I cannot stand the post office or my mail lady. They're horrible. Both offices are exactly that...rude and never helpful and packages never arrive when they should. I've watched tracking and my package has been at the post office 2 miles from my house for 5 days. Until I call and say hey is my package there? "No it's not". And then it will miraculously show up the next day. Mmhm. And the mail lady skips coming at all some days (she's skipped when I've had things for pick up so I know) and constantly gives us neighbors mail. And not even just next door's mail. I've gotten for 5 different households on one day. Gah!

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    1. After what I'm reading today, it sounds like I should just thank my lucky stars my packages ever make it here!

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  28. I've tried shipping packages at Office Depot, and the price for shipping is way more than at the Post office. I suppose it's because first class is not an option for them, but I never go there.

    There's also a store that is more for nurses uniforms that also offers to ship via USPS. I dislike them because they are kind of rude.

    Depends on which one you go to, but I do like mine. There's only been one post office clerk who I've been trying to avoid.

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    1. Yeah, I think I read "priority mail only." I looked into flat rate, so I could just ship without having to go stand in line, but the smallest option they have is, I think, $5? I think right now the post office has a lock on first class mail for some reason. They have a pretty powerful union that protects them, so it may be like this for a while.

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  29. This is eye opening. First, according to your cited references, postal workers are making more than our average teacher. WTF??? And you are so right about them being annoyed all the time...sorry to have to make you work Mr. Postman! jeez. My postman will leave a note on my car if I park to close to my own mailbox. Because, you know, then he had to actually get out of his little golf cart in order to put the mail in the mailbox. Unbelievable! Okay, I need to share now...

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    1. One word: "UNION." I was a government employee and we weren't allowed to unionize. IMHO, policemen and teachers should make more than your average corporate employee but that isn't how it works when you're providing a public service. Sad...the only thing saving our country's children is the fact that most people go into teaching because it's their passion.

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  30. We have postal services in our drug store so I don't have to go to the old smelly place any more. You are right that many postal employees are just so unhappy and, here, they can get up to 8 weeks holidays if they stay at the job for a long time. Actually, In Ontario they want to have the door to door delivery stopped now. We will soon have to go to the end of a street and open a box to get out mail. this is OK unless you are elderly or crippled and unable to leave the home. I laugh now when I HEAR "THROUGH RAIN, SLEET, SNOW...." Oops sorry caps:) It's so sad as they are getting rid of their own workers instead od lowering the wage just a little bit and keeping jobs

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    1. Birgit, that's what the want in the U.S., but it's harder to change out existing homes. We have community mailboxes in my neighborhood and a few newer neighborhoods are putting them in, but if you live on a main street, not so easy! I also see a LOT of new neighborhoods with individual mailboxes, so the post office obviously isn't winning that war!

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  31. I've been a big proponent of complete privatization of postal services for YEARS. Get rid of the unions, get government out of it, let private businesses run the thing and everything will be MUCH more efficient and friendly.

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    1. I worked in I.T. for government and I knew eventually it would be outsourced...or at least streamlined where one group took care of the whole state. That's how the world's going. Government might be the last to get the memo on that, but basically public services are just going to be left to rot while small businesses take over the world!

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  32. I think my town must be an anomaly ... everyone at the post office is very nice! :)

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    1. Yeah, every smaller town I lived in had awesome postal employees. I live in Nashville, though...postal employees are forced to deal with a lot of crap on a daily basis and I think they're all just mostly miserable!

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  33. I like my post office, and my mail carrier gets a Christmas card from us with a drawing my son makes for her because she brings packages for him. I do think it's inevitable that their demise will be soon, though. I'm one of the few folks that actually still sends letters!

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    1. I'm going to give our UPS guy a gift card this year--he's here every single week at least once, delivering things I buy on Amazon! But if I found a postal worker who personalized the experience, I'd for sure get him/her a Christmas card with a gift card in it.

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  34. My super fun favorite for this is to go to the UPS store. They will be so kind as to offer to give you their price versus the postal price, and let you ship either way. Sometimes they are a dollar or two more- but the line was shorter, the people were nicer, and there's no extra charge for delivery verification and insurance on goods under $100. Plus, I get a AAA discount.

    For people in an industry that's so far in debt that even financial gurus are shrugging from a lack of ideas, they really ought to be trying to win customers over, not sending us away!

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    1. I wish we had a UPS Store nearby! I live in Nashville but nothing is close to us.

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  35. Ha! They're really so unfriendly, grrrr. At my local post office, there's one man that is always friendly. He's super nice, but he takes forever with each customer . . . of course. lol

    I didn't know about Staples and Office Depot. That's great! Well, for us. ;)

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    1. My hairstylist and I were discussing the post office (which is next door to her salon) today. She agreed and said, "It's not that they're unfriendly, they're just NOT friendly." That sums it up. They can't smile or even make any effort to be nice...and I'm a nice person. I always chat away with the cashiers at Publix, but if you even try that at my post office, they give you a look like, "Why are you talking to me?"

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  36. Rotten customer service is definitely not limited to the public sector.

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    1. Nope, not at all--the employees just generally aren't paid $25 an hour.

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  37. I L.O.V.E our post offices.
    I run a business out of my home, and I'm there just about every day, at a few different locations near my home. They are lovely people, even when I was brand new, and I would walk in with 10 packages right before closing time.
    As a whole, they have never lost a single shipment (in over 1500 I've sent in the past 2 years) and extra bonus, none of your tax money goes to pay for them. They are one branch of the public sector that is actually completely self funded.
    UPS as well as other major private shipping carriers are now working with the USPS, so just because you ship with UPS doesn't mean your local post office won't end up doing the final drop off anyway.
    I do suggest that anyone buy their postage on line if they are using the PO often. There is a great discount on postage if you buy and print right from them.

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    1. I'd love to buy and print from them...but the package weight is an issue, right? I would need a postal scale to know exactly how much each package will cost, I think?

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  38. Our local post office is full of courtesy but our route mailman is dyslexic. Wife posts eBay parcels at USPS counter in our nearby Bel Air/Nob Hill grocery stores --staffed by fast and efficient Retail Clerks' Union workers. It's always a mix, isn't it?

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    1. This probably isn't funny at all, but for some reason, the concept of a dyslexic postman just cracks me up. I can only imagine the craziness. That actually sounds like the great beginning of a romance novel...dyslexic postman keeps mixing two addresses up, so they're constantly having to switch mail...love ensues! There's good fiction in that somewhere.

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  39. Our local post office is so close to my house and so convenient - and most of the time, I get great service. But I have to say that I hold a grudge. I had an order of chicks one time and they forgot to call me for pick up for two days. Nothing less fun than opening a box to see who made it! Argh....

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    1. I know it's awful, but I just have a hard time trusting employees that don't care when they mess up. If it were a really important package, I'd rather at least ship it through a company that has accountability. There's no accountability for the post office. If they mess up, it's just a shrug of the shoulders and they go back to work, ignoring you.

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  40. I think it depends on where I go. If it's the one near home it's usually ok but it's most the people who goes who are rude. So I usually like to go in evening, Friday because nobody is there. But well.

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    1. The customers are the WORST. However, as I mentioned above, the biggest scene I've ever witnessed was when I was in line at UPS. Some guy hadn't gotten his medications because it was the day after Christmas and he was refusing to leave until they handed him his meds. I think he'd come back from being out of town for a week to a "Sorry we missed you" note and expected UPS to work some kind of voodoo to have his medicine in his hand the moment he was back in town and ready for it. I think the difference is, the UPS actually cares when you yell. They go get supervisors and defuse the situation. The postal clerk just looks at you with that "dead inside" look, which makes it worse.

      People get REALLY passionate about their mail!

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  41. Haven't been to the post office in the US for a few years. The ones in London are pretty much the same, but I've been lucky to interact with people who don't really smile, but still seem friendly. Now getting my mail delivered to my flat and not the one next door is a whole new matter.

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    1. My stepdad is from London--he took a package to mail last Christmas and the postal clerk didn't know where "United Kingdom" was. I can't remember what the question was, but my stepdad was astounded that anyone wouldn't know that!

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  42. I think it is sad to see the decline in the post office, we do have some actual buildings but most of them are small areas in a drugstore...

    I don't think our people get paid $25.00 per hour here but they definitely make more than minimum wage.If I made $25.00 per hour, I would smile to the client with no issues and if I didn't feel I could then I would find another job.

    I a taking a payroll course so that I can run payroll anywhere in Canada, this would open a lot of doors for me... one more after this one :)

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    1. Accounting pays well! It will definitely open up some doors for you. I was wondering what your exam was, so that's great news!

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  43. I go to the post office early in the morning to avoid lines. If it's mid or end of the day, it's a nightmare. The post office I go to has nice employees, unlike some other locations I've been to.

    Compared to years ago, I really don't spend too much time there. Back in the age of snail mail and me sending things to agents and contests, I used to be at the post office all the time. Now that was a nightmare.

    I haven't explored USPS at other locations.

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    1. I always try to beat the lunch rush, but I can't seem to get myself out of the house before 10 a.m.! We're near the airport so businesses like to settle nearby...so there's always a line. Plus, there's always someone up there who doesn't understand the postal clerk the first 1,000 times she tells him "NO," so we all have to stand there and wait. (Sigh.)

      OMG, I remember the early days of writing. I entered all these romance contests that had crazy rules. You had to use binder clips of a specified size and send in Tyvek envelopes. And Harlequin was in Canada, so every query had to have an "International Reply Coupon." It was all SO complicated, Today's writers have no idea how much easier it is to just be able to email a query!

      (This was the 90s, so we HAD email--people just thought paper meant more. It was during that transition.)

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  44. Where I live (I'm in Atlantic Canada) we have small postal service outlets in other stores, and most of the workers are quite friendly. The last mailman we had was also really nice. :)

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    1. Seems a lot of people have postal outlets in stores. We had one when I worked for the state in a state building. He would mail your personal mail and worked for USPS but it was just one old guy. He was always SO sweet but he'd talk your ear off. I think he was bored and lonely in between the rushes...so it was hard to get away from him!

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  45. Of course your post is a generalization, or a personal experience. My daughter's post office in Springfield is a bad experience. The one where I live is awesome with friendly employees. She uses it when she visits. My mail carrier is so-so. Pretty disgruntled, but always waves at me and always does his job well. And let us not forget my mother the retired postmaster who ran her office for 30 years and everyone loved that office. With that said, as I always say, working with the public is a monster. So I try to forgive those who have that job. :)

    Oh, and ours NEVER make $25. Oh and I still use postal mail if I can because I don't want it to disappear.

    Great post!

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    1. I think my experience was echoed throughout the comments, but it's interesting to notice the difference between small towns and urban areas in our postal experiences. When I lived in small suburban areas of Nashville, I always had great experiences. I worked in government in downtown Nashville for 19 years...and I can honestly say, now that I think about it, when we traveled to our rural offices (even Knoxville, which isn't so rural!), there was a COMPLETELY different personality than in the "big city." Not that Nashville is all that big... But I think government workers in urban areas are different...mostly because of the work opportunities that are afforded to us. If you're right and $25 an hour is rare...and they're paid what I saw people in similar positions paid at the state with raises that don't ever come close to keeping up with cost of living increases, I can honestly see why they're bitter and rude in big cities. It's a thankless job--and you don't even hear thank you! As I mentioned below, though, it can make a big difference to hear that a customer raved about you, so if you can, those of you who have great postal experiences in small towns should email and let their supervisors know. When it happened to me, my director sent a thank you email to me and copied my boss. It really meant a lot to know that my hard work was appreciated by someone--I printed that email out and hung it on my wall for the rest of the time I worked there.

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  46. I guess nobody should be surprised. You go in there and everybody just looks so darn miserable. I think they're probably about neck and neck with the DMV in terms of poor customer service and wait time. Thankfully, I don't have to mail things often but when I do, I use the self-serve machine.

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    1. Oh the DMV...when I was a state employee, Every time they would talk about cutting state jobs, the public would be all for it. Those same people would complain about wait times at the DMV, though. I found it funny that they didn't realize that those employees actually worked for about $12 an hour to provide services they need to do their own jobs and live their own lives! The biggest problem in state govt. (and perhaps with the post office, if T. Powell is right and they make much less than $25 an hour) is that when you pay next-to-nothing, you're only going to be able to attract a certain type of employee. The motivated employees who CAN do better do...so you're left with people who stay in a job that pays $12 an hour with no raises ever for what reason? Those reasons are what are behind the attitude you get. In small towns, $12 an hour with no upward mobility is probably perfect because the cost of living is lower and it's just a different lifestyle. In urban areas like Nashville, there are more opportunities. There were TONS of great people at the state, but when I really dug into why they chose to stay in a dead-end job, there was often a reason. I personally worked nights and weekends nonstop for two years to build up my freelance writing business so I could get into a position where I actually had a future. However, the PEOPLE I worked for at the state were wonderful...their hands were just tied up when it came to rewarding you. They can't hand you an extra $100 bonus because you did a good job on a project, for instance. At most they can just send you a thank-you email. I had one of those thank-you emails on my cubicle wall for a year to remind myself that someone appreciated my work because most days you completely forgot it.

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  47. We have some grocery stores that will post mail. They might not have all the services you can get at the post office, but they cover all the basics. And it's so convenient.

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    1. Speaking of grocery stores--I've found a huge difference between Kroger and Publix in our areas...and I've heard the pay and incentives are much better at Publix. Whatever the difference is, Kroger needs to take note (as do other customer service-oriented businesses). Whatever Publix is doing correctly. it should serve as a study...when you motivate employees properly, you perhaps get a better level of customer service. People like to know they're appreciated--studies have actually shown that it's even more of a motivator than pay!

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  48. Great post. I've noticed this as well, though I've been lucky enough to get the less disgruntled employees. I think it's sad that the post office is declining, but if they want to stick around, they should focus more on customer service. I didn't know that about Staples and Office Depot!

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    1. I have a feeling it will get worse before it declines completely. It could get to the point where customers start choosing UPS/FedEx because they learn they can't trust USPS to get their mail to the end location...

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  49. I pretty much just essentially refuse to go to the post office. For anything. Ever. Love my local UPS store, though!-Ashley

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    1. I wish we had one of those. I did take my laptop to one when the hard drive crashed (two months after I bought this piece of junk called a Sony Vaio) adn they had me ship it back through the UPS Store. The customer service was so-so, but they were very careful to make sure this piece of junk was packed up properly so it didn't break along the way.

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  50. I think I need a job at the post office. $25 an hour? Sheesh. It's stuff like that that makes me wonder why I spent so much time in school. *grumble* I'll admit though, the post office here is relatively decent, I was shocked at how helpful they were the other day. Twilight Zone nice--it was eerie!

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    1. I know, right? Someone above question that...I assume the starting pay and the pay in rural areas is less from what I've read in comments. But the linked article reads, "As of May 2011, 80 percent of USPS mail clerks received wages of between $23.87 and $26.56 per hour, and the median wage reported was $25.53 per hour."

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    2. Wow, where you reading those numbers from? Sound so obscured as I've seen some rural areas start at only $9/hr you can go to the usps.gov website and see where they start at, larger more populous areas do pay more around $20/hr, all depends on your community, and people you work with, not everyone is going to be the same.

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  51. My grocery store offers a satellite version so we go there. The last time we went to post office was for passports in 2011. They were very helpful. I think the staples and home depot folks should be paid a better wage.

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    1. I did think the passport process was friendly. It all depends on the employee. There is one young woman who works at the one near me, but she's now always in the back when I go. My hairstylist had the same comment I did about that particular location, though--it's not like they're rude. It's like they're robots. They're dead inside. You can smile at them, be friendly, try to make conversation--you just end up looking foolish because they refuse to be friendly back. So I started going to the one near the airport, where at least a couple of the clerks will smile at you and say "hi" if you're lucky!

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  52. Hi, Thank you for stopping by John's Island and your kind comment. You are so right about California and so much to do. The Getty Museum was truly fascinating and I would highly recommend it on one of your future visits. Although the exhibits are the main draw, I found the architecture and gardens of special interest. I will be posting photos of the gardens tomorrow ... hope you'll stop by. You sure have an interesting blog here. I'll be back for more. Thanks again, John

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  53. Our post office is equally old and smelly and I don't want to even talk about trying to park there. I think there are 6 spaces! But honestly worse than our post office is the delivery of our mail. At least once a week we get something addressed to our neighbors; I've found mail laying in the front yard -- and it had a check in it! I just don't get it as there are people who want work -- especially if it pays $25 and not just $9!

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