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Thread: US Postal Service

  1. #1
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    US Postal Service

    I recently sent a large-ish envelope via the USPS. This entailed going into the post office, selecting one of their 'approved' envelopes, and waiting in line (it was only a couple minutes) to have an employee weigh it. The employee inquired if I wanted to send it express? no. priority? no. certified? no. proof of delivery? Um, no....based on the employee's reactions, you'da thought I farted in church and announced "ahhh, that was satisfying!" Evidently, the post office doesn't just deliver 'regular mail' any more and everything has to have some sort of special classification or method of tracking. I was just looking for an inexpensive way to send something that wasn't terribly time sensitive. They didn't have a "get stepped on, torn in the sorting machine, and lost behind the sorting bin for a week" class or I might have considered it as a cost-saving measure

    When was the last time you pulled a chatty hand-written letter out of your mailbox that had a 1st class stamp on it sent from a friend or family member?
    What have been your recent experiences dealing with the US Postal Service?
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

  2. #2
    Cyburbian ofos's avatar
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    My mother and the elderly woman across the street are the only ones that send us lengthy letters via the USPS. Both are in their mid to late 90's so I don't expect them to continue much longer. Most of my current exposure is paper spam that they stuff in my mailbox. I will say that I had a recent positive experience with a web purchase that was shipped by the postal service and arrived at least as quickly as their commercial competitors would have done.
    “Death comes when memories of the past exceed the vision for the future.”

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
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    Was in the process of getting a birth certificate so I could apply for a passport a couple weeks back. Of course when I actually needed something in a timely manner, the postal service lost it. So after having to sign an affidavit indicating I did not receive the certificate, I just paid extra for them to Fedex it to me. Naturally Fedex then proceeds to deliver me the wrong envelope

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Big Owl's avatar
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    I hate going into our City's Post Office, so with the exception of City related business, I use a post office in one of the towns close by. I find that I get in and out quicker, better service, and i get to see my neighbors who evidently do the same thing i do. Besides it is a good excuse to visit my favorite greasy spoon and get a sloppy Carolina style hamburger or roast pork sandwich.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian terraplnr's avatar
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    I shipped several small-ish packages with USPS over the holidays and was really impressed at the low cost and quick delivery. They all made it to the Midwest or East Coast in 3 days or less with Priority Mail, the week before Christmas. None of them were overly heavy, which is probabably why they were suprisingly cheap (guess it's a good idea to send baby clothes as gifts).

    The most annoying thing was the other patrons in the parking lot.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian jsk1983's avatar
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    They were trying to sell you extra services to make more money.

    My latest gripe, they always fail to restock the flat rate boxes. I'm sure they have them but the line is usually so long that don't bother. For heavier items the boxes can be quite a bit cheaper than the per pound rate. For an eight pound package to Australia its $48 for a flat rate box or $60 if you use your own box. Of course it can work the other way around where its cheaper by the pound.

  7. #7
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    I only get things in the mail I care about a couple time a year. Other than monthly magazines, most mail I get is junk. Unfortunately I have yet to figure out how to get ALL my bills to be paperless, so I still get some of those too.

    Mainly I get letters around the holidays. Otherwise I would be happy to not get any mail. Why the post office hasn't stopped Saturday service or found a way to balance their budget is beyond me. It should be a pretty easy solution. If not, we have viable alternatives that are getting much more reasonable on cost.
    A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. -Douglas Adams

  8. #8
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Tell me about it...

    "Does your package include anything hazardous, toxic, dangerous, or does it contain alcohol?" Who knew that they classified beer and those other things the same... resulted in a we can not send this for you unless you have some type of BS permit.
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

  9. #9
    Cyburbian jsk1983's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis View post
    Tell me about it...

    "Does your package include anything hazardous, toxic, dangerous, or does it contain alcohol?" Who knew that they classified beer and those other things the same... resulted in a we can not send this for you unless you have some type of BS permit.
    Either that or lie and hop you don't get caught. Wasn't there a Cyburbian beer exchange once? Did anyone actually have trouble having it get through?

  10. #10
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jsk1983 View post
    Either that or lie and hop you don't get caught. Wasn't there a Cyburbian beer exchange once? Did anyone actually have trouble having it get through?
    I lied last time... this time they saw me put it into the box with bubble rap and I am trying to work on my integrity. UPS said that I need some type of permit and gave me a form... I hope to hear from Fed-Ex later today. If I don't hear from them by the end of the week, the beer gets opened and I drink while re-gifting a book on origami that I once received.
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

  11. #11
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jsk1983 View post
    Either that or lie and hop you don't get caught. Wasn't there a Cyburbian beer exchange once? Did anyone actually have trouble having it get through?
    Nope, quite easy.

    Postal Worker - Is there alcohol in the box?
    Me - Nope.
    Postal Worker - Okay.
    A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. -Douglas Adams

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Planit's avatar
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    playimng 25 questions with the USPS is a fun game. I use them for some packages. Both my local & where I work are decent plus nice exercise to walk to.
    whenever I send certain items to different states, I use UPS

    I can't say whether or not I sent beer to certain cyburbians or not, it got there in the big brown truck no problem. Well there was one problem when the delivery guy threw it out the truck as he went by hinky's house, but thats another story/thread.
    "Whatever beer I'm drinking, is better than the one I'm not." DMLW
    "Budweiser sells a product they reflectively insist on calling beer." John Oliver

  13. #13
    Cyburbian WSU MUP Student's avatar
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    I go to our post office about once a week as I do a lot of shipping of items sold on eBay and Amazon. I have tried using UPS and FedEx but have found that the USPS is easily the most consistent in terms of a cost:quality ratio. Over the years I have learned that I can stop a lot of the "Do you want extra service X?" questions by having everything packaged, addressed, and labeled properly before I get into line and then just telling the person behind the counter what I want. My typical conversation at the post office goes like this:

    USPS: "Next in line!"
    Me: "Hello. I want to ship this priority mail. I want delivery confirmation." or "I just want to send this media mail. I don't need confirmation or anything like that."
    USPS: "Anything liquid...." (I don't think there is a way to avoid this one without sound suspicious and announcing that there is nothing hazardous as you get to the clerk)
    Me: "No"
    USPS: "That will be $X.XX"
    Me: ...
    USPS: "Here's your change, have a nice day"

    Of all the stuff I've mailed over the years, I've never had a package lost or returned to sender. The only delays I've experienced have been weather related. Maybe I'm lucky, who knows?

    Almost every package I send goes out priority mail and I nearly always use their flat rate boxes or envelopes. You can actually go onto the USPS website and request them to send you a bunch of the flat rate packages for free. We do this so we always have a supply of various sizes at the ready.

    When I am at the post office and notice that somebody is holding up the line, it almost always seems to be because they are trying to mail some huge package to Timbuktu, the package is falling apart and has maybe 1" total of tape on it, they have neglected to look at all of the forms for the type of mail they are trying to send and are just now filling out something, etc. It also amazes me how much people will complain that it cost more to send something guaranteed next day across the country rather than just normal first class...

    I also still send handwritten letters in the mail a few times a year - I like to mail my wife letters. But I mail those from the blue mail box in front of the grocery store though. We send out thank you cards and birthday cards seemingly every week too.

    The only real complaint that I do have is that the USPS shut down my local post office a couple of years ago because they realized they could sell the tiny plot of land it was on for a pretty good chunk of money. So our mail now goes to the neighboring town. This location is actually closer to my house than the old one but it is always 5x as busy as my old one was (ever before the combining of them).
    "Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost." - 1980 Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan

  14. #14
    Cyburbian Plus Whose Yur Planner's avatar
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    I've rarely had problems with them. I've always felt sorry for them since they tend to get made a political football. I still pay my bills via mail and send out cards for different reasons. It's also kinda nice to get a card/package via mail.
    When did I go from Luke Skywalker to Obi-Wan Kenobi?

  15. #15
    Cyburbian MD Planner's avatar
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    I believe the leadership at the USPS could balance their budget but congress doesn't currently permit them to restructure the way they need to. Plus they have a requirement no one else does to forward fund many years of retiree health care expenses.
    He's a planner, he's a dreamer, he's a sordid little schemer,
    Seems to think that money grows on trees . . .

  16. #16
    Cyburbian Plus Salmissra's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jsk1983 View post
    Either that or lie and hop you don't get caught. Wasn't there a Cyburbian beer exchange once? Did anyone actually have trouble having it get through?
    I used UPS for the beer exchange. If the bottles are wrapped in bubble wrap, put inside ziploc bags, and then correctly cushioned inside the box, then they don't slosh when the box is moved.

    I have a box in the back of my car that my mother wants me to mail for her. It's in a USPS box, so I will see how my local post office operates.
    "We do not need any other Tutankhamun's tomb with all its treasures. We need context. We need understanding. We need knowledge of historical events to tie them together. We don't know much. Of course we know a lot, but it is context that's missing, not treasures." - Werner Herzog, in Archaeology, March/April 2011

  17. #17
    Cyburbian Planit's avatar
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    My biggest problem with the post office is why they see fit to run tv commercials. The $$$ thery spend on that could be used eslewhere (unless the stations are giving them free airtime & the ad agencies are doing the work probono - which I doubt).
    "Whatever beer I'm drinking, is better than the one I'm not." DMLW
    "Budweiser sells a product they reflectively insist on calling beer." John Oliver

  18. #18
    Cyburbian
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    I use the post office frequently because it's the easiest place I can get to when I want to ship something. I usually have pretty good luck, but weeks before Christmas I shipped a gift to an air force base in Alaska. I chose the higher rate because they said it would be delivered by the following Tuesday, well in advance of Christmas. The cheaper option would deliver by Dec. 27. The package arrived on Dec. 29.

    I tried shipping some things to my daughter using a Cheerwine box, and they told me "NO" because it was a liquor box and you can't do that. I explained that Cheerwine is not liquor, but is a soft drink. They handed me a grease pencil and instructed me to cover the letters "W I N E" wherever it was on the box, and wished me luck. It worked, but it was stupid.

    How often do you hear about struggling businesses who propose to cut customer service? I think they'd do better with some evening and weekend hours, and maybe even partner with Hallmark for a fuzzy advertising campaign to mail cards and letters to people instead of cold, impersonal email.

  19. #19
    Cyburbian otterpop's avatar
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    I have no complaints about the Postal Service. I sent a box to my mom's house with our Christmas presents by USPS and the box arrived a day earlier than expected and in pristine condition. Today the box of Christmas gifts we received that we sent by UPS arrived a day late and the box was torn, sagging and wrapped in a ton of packing tape.
    "I am very good at reading women, but I get into trouble for using the Braille method."

    ~ Otterpop ~

  20. #20
    Super Moderator kjel's avatar
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    They lose my regular mail frequently so nearly all my bills come electronically now and I just get junk mail only. None of my local post offices that have parking opens before 10am and close at 4pm so I have to go there either on the weekend or during lunch. The one near my office closes for lunch from 1-2pm.
    "He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" Jeremiah 22:16

  21. #21
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    As for home delivery, all I usually get is junk mail, bills, and mail for my business (half of which is junk). On the other hand, I frequently use them to mail proposals and completed projects. I can usually send a proposal quickly and inexpensively to arrive the next day (Express Mail) or the day after (Priority Mail). The cost is about 1/4 to 1/3 of what I would have to pay UPS or FedEx. Since I usually have everything packaged and ready to ship, I just ask ,"Will this get there by noon Friday?". They respond with an estimated delivery time and date, and the only question I get is whether I need delivery confirmation. The staff at my usual post office are really pretty decent.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  22. #22
    Cyburbian
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    There was an envelope in my mail addressed to the Department of Treasury, same street address as mine, Washington, DC, no zip code. I have no idea how they chose my address for delivery; I can't be the only person with this number and street.

    The return address was in Poland, ME. I put the envelope into another envelope and mailed it back to Maine and wished him better luck next time.

  23. #23
    Super Moderator kjel's avatar
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    One thing that I dislike about the post offices around where I work and live (poor, urban cities) is that people use the post office as a bank. It's maddening getting stuck behind a long line of people ordering 3-5 money orders apiece and there are only two clerks working. I have to budget about 20 minutes at a minimum to get in and out of a post office here.
    "He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" Jeremiah 22:16

  24. #24
    Cyburbian Plus Salmissra's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Salmissra View post
    I used UPS for the beer exchange. If the bottles are wrapped in bubble wrap, put inside ziploc bags, and then correctly cushioned inside the box, then they don't slosh when the box is moved.

    I have a box in the back of my car that my mother wants me to mail for her. It's in a USPS box, so I will see how my local post office operates.
    I had a pleasant experience this time mailing my mom's package. I received delivery confirmation, and it was delivered the same day as the clerk told me it would be. No fuss, no muss, and I may actually use them again.
    "We do not need any other Tutankhamun's tomb with all its treasures. We need context. We need understanding. We need knowledge of historical events to tie them together. We don't know much. Of course we know a lot, but it is context that's missing, not treasures." - Werner Herzog, in Archaeology, March/April 2011

  25. #25
    Cyburbian Brocktoon's avatar
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    The gas station down a block from my office opened a post office. It charges the same rates and there is never a line. Plus I can get gas, a carwash, a Squeesy, sun flower seeds and knock off cologne, tabacco, liqour and flowers that will be dead before you get them home.

    For the past several years we give our mail carrier a Boxing Day gift. Its always a gift card to Starbucks or an eatery. We do the same thing for the "bug guy." Does anyone else do honor the long lost tradition of Boxing Day?
    "If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less" General Eric Shinseki

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