Going Postal



I would like to apply for the position of Postmaster General. There does not seem to be a business in existance that is more poorly run than the United States Post office. While I acknowlege that running a large postal system might be out of my realm of expertise, I honestly think I could do a better job than whoever is doing it now. At least I have common sense.

This is a busy time for indigo jones eats. It is a new business in which there is one person shopping, baking, packing, shipping and cleaning up. Each item is handmade and time consuming. I am happy when I am baking, and the process can be very soothing. That is, until I have to ship something.
Case in point:  Monday, I had 12 orders that needed to be shipped. Although the post office calls the service “2 day” delivery, I learned over Christmas that two day service can actually take five or six days, and they are not responsible for missing their promised deadline. Bearing that in mind, I decided to ship on Monday, so that they would all arrive by Friday, prior to Valentine’s Day.

When I had the food ready, I went to the post office to pick up their special boxes, which are supposed to be the easiest and most cost effective way to ship. None of the kiosks were stocked, so I joined one of the lines snaking through the entire post office. People were randomly in the lines, as there were no signs directing you to the proper line for your needs. When I am the Postmaster General, I will have clearly marked signs to help people find the right line to stand in. I will also stock the self serve kiosks with supplies, so that people can come in and out and not have to stand in line for 20 minutes to ask for them.

Fast forward 20 minutes later, when the crabby employee at the window told me to order the boxes online. I sweetly explained that I needed to ship things today, but I would keep that in mind for next time. He disappeared for about 5 minutes and came back with less boxes than I requested. When I asked if I could have more, he replied that he didn’t want to use up his whole supply on me. Really? What did he think I was going to do with them? Maybe use them to ship something through the USPS? (eye roll)

I went home, packed up the boxes I had, and printed the mailing labels. The smallest boxes that the post office has are very difficult to assemble. I mean, it’s like origami. They don’t stay together until they are folded closed and sealed. How am I supposed to get the stuff in there? When I am the Postmaster General, I will design the boxes to be more user friendly.

I went back to the post office to deposit them in the bin, and get another size box. Guess what? They didn’t have any. I proceeded to the next post office a few blocks away. I did not pass GO, or collect $200. Did I mention it was rainy, slushy and freezing cold?

I obtained the necessary boxes, returned home, packed them, printed labels and went back to deliver them to the post office. So far, I have done all the work, and paid between $5.25 and $12 per box. I have spent over four hours of my time. When I am the Postmaster General, I will offer significant discounts for those who do all the work, rendering my useless employees unnecessary. That might just free up some dollars to pay the others to be useful.

Now comes the fun part. Tracking.
Box #1, which was ironically only going uptown, was supposedly returned to me at 11:39 a.m. Tuesday. At this writing, it has not arrived. I called customer service, and after 49 minutes and 52 seconds on hold, I had the sad realization that it was past their hours of business and they were not going to pick up. Ever.

When I am the Postmaster General, I will provide human customer service, to help people find the packages that my team has misplaced.

Today, I had box #2 be listed as undeliverable at the current address. I had the client verify the address on the actual shipping label in case there were typos. There were not. There is not available information as to what they plan to do with the box.

There is a service called “intercept package” which I thought would allow me to direct them to another address. These packages, while meeting all the criteria listed, are not interceptable. When I am the Postmaster General, I will not only allow people to track their packages, but also allow them to do something with the information.

Package #3 is enroute to Schenectady, in upstate New York. After sitting in New Jersey, it is now out for delivery in Philadelphia. Really? Delivery to whom?

Package #4 is my favorite. It states that a label was created, but that doesn’t mean they actually have a package and they will let me know if and when it moves. Seriously?

The other 8 boxes have arrived at their destinations.

Tomorrow, I will take my paperwork to the post office, and stand in line for 30 minutes to try to get someone to help me find my packages. I do not have high hopes that they will. Tonight, I will start baking enough to replace, at my expense, the 4 boxes in question.It is already 10 pm. I will hand deliver one, and pay to have the other 3 resent, and disappoint my clients by having them arrive late. This is the right thing to do, but the wrong thing for a small business that does not have the people or the financial resources to have to do. In fact, it sucks.

Does the current Postmaster General realize that the USPS has such poor customer service, that when someone goes crazy and randomly starts shooting people, it is referred to as “going postal.” After this week, I can certainly see why.

Photo: Glasshouse Images

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