on Apr 12th, 2010 in Post Offices & Retail Network | 40 comments
 
The Postal Service is required by law to “provide, reliable, and efficient services to patrons in all areas and shall render postal services to all communities.” Consequently, the Postal Service has the largest retail presence in America with more than 32,000 leased or owned facilities located across the country. Today, alternate access channels are widely available. Customers can purchase stamps and access services at the Postal Service’s website www.usps.com, self-serve kiosks, grocery stores, retail outlets, and privately-operated shipper locations. Meanwhile, in the past decade, business and household mailers have increasingly turned to electronic media to transmit correspondence that was formerly sent through the postal system. In addition, a weakened economy has resulted in declining mail volume and revenue. The combination of the availability of alternative access and declining revenue requires the Postal Service to re-evaluate its retail network to eliminate growing excess capacity, reduce costs, and improve efficiency. In May 2009, the Postal Service began a national initiative, known as retail optimization, to consolidate its retail stations and branches in urban and suburban areas. Unlike some other retailers, the Postal Service can’t close their stores without generating public reaction. Closing just a small percentage of postal facilities can affect thousands of people and communities and is often questioned by those communities involved. As a result, there is a need for the Postal Service to work with stakeholders to balance their interests and optimize resources. This topic is hosted by the OIG’s Network Optimization Team.

Comments

I like the idea of making PO's "Federal centers". With the new health care just being passed, the government has a unique opportunity to both save money, and help the PS at the same time. The governmant already has the network of facilities established, so there will be a lot of money saved in building and utility expenses, and the smaller PO's can be made more productive-which means added money coming in for the PS. The same can be applied to other department, such as the Dept. of the Interior for national park services, and the Department of Commerce for census services. It would be a win-win for everybody.

Consolidating delvery functions is also a good idea, as you can save a lot of money therough the decrease of travel expenses associated with driving misdelivered mail everywhere. All you would have to do is take the missent mail to another part of the building in most cases. In addition, you can more easily close facilities in this case, as customers would not be losing their identities. They can simply drive a little farther for their retail services.

I think we should stick to Postal products, there is soooo much to know just about our services, i cannot even think about learning other gov't rules and regs. . Stick with what we know and make it better. Every office should have POS, I am still a manual office, CPU'S (Contract Postal Units -grocery stores, etc...) have beautiful computer systems to work on, I have a calculator and scale?? Is there something wrong with this picture? I do get asked if we fax documents, that would be quick & easy income, without needing vast knowledge of another gov't agency. Let's get back to basics of Customer Service, not what new service we can release halfheartedly. Also ashame to cut back on Philatelic, pure profit, stamps get bought and put in books! It used to be easy to navigate stamps services and releases, now too difficult.

I look to what the function of government is: To do what others cannot do or will not do. Obviously, the USPS does a wonderful service and will continue to do so. The reality is that with the amazing development of modern means of electronic communication, mailing letters has become much less of a need and more of an option. Downsizing service centers into self-serve kiosks and vending machines makes sense, even though I don't like to hear about anyone losing their job. But, I think if the postal service handles this properly, any displaced workers can be retrained for other careers in government or the private sector.

Well, I don't know about that. However, a relatively
new action item appeared in an APC today.
It was a suitcase headed for Naperville, Illinois
under the Priorty Label. Not too bad a price either,
in consideration of lugging the suitcase into the terminal, paying the TSA luggage rate, picking it up again, and lugging it up to the room.
Has anyone thought of this??? Of Course you have, you've thought of everything... At the rate energy is cruising back up the fortune scale, this might be the Greenest alternative for a traveler....
Long ago in a different life, my job took me to many
small town locations throughout the Mid Atlantic, and new England Regions. I always got my work crews payroll checks sent the the local Post Office C/O "General Delivery".
Can the USPS transport travelers luggage in a TSA secure-safe and sustainable way that reduces the
airline exposure????

You know........ "Right Size" the retail ops....

We can't properly staff and run what we have now. There are offices now that regularly run out of stamps and can't do passports,because there aren't enough clerks

Shucks, I didn't know OIG rigged polls but I guess they do because this one is

Click-N-Ship service has serious problems. Here's the short list.

- Label printing system is horrible. When a page does not print correctly the whole transaction has to be redone. Please make this re-printable.

- REFUNDS TAKE 15 DAYS. Even after the refund has been requested over the phone or online. This is not efficient and a big reason to not use the service. Any credit card transaction that is not completed should be refunded in a day or so, right? Any other online business that takes that long to refund would have some serious charges to defend against.

- Debt card transactions only work half the time. It goes through on customers end but not yours. This leads to the 15 day refund process again...I'm sure that there are state and federal laws that say refunds in this situation need to be refunded in a day or 2... I WANT MY $240.00 BACK THIS MONTH, PLEASE!

- Click-N-Ship System database is not linked for editing/conformation/rejection of service with the post office system. Any other large carrier has this. This would help solve the reprinting issue.

- Click-N-Ship service does not work with Macintosh computers.

- I feel really sorry for the Click-N-Ship customer service people. The abuse they must get every day from people in my situation. Help them out, please.

Thanks!

The USPS could consolidate any offices. Example Winter Haven FL has 2 post offices 2 miles apart.
Every city has their own Post Office in many cases multi-city offices would serve just as well and reduce costs.
Get rid of contract caqrriers they do not serve the USPS well, they deliver second rate service to your customers.
A revamp of commercial customers payment method is in order, create accounts for atleast weekly shipping, or allow advanced purchase of shipping postage so we do not have to buy postage when we are getting packages ready to ship, this slows down our shipping capibility using the USPS.
These would be a good start

Our post Office in Spencer is crazy. They don't open on time and the counter hosts the most unfriendly people I know. It's sad to think our government is paying these people great money to provide a nice customer service atmosphere and they still hate their jobs. I know people who work at Walmart and Menards for half the wages and no benefits and yet they still help you with a smile.

Secondly what is the issue with stamp machines. We use to have stamp machines that you could purchase stamps from if the post office was closed and now you can't. It was very convenient to be able to purchase stamps anytime especially with the grumps at the counter.

I think we also need to move to a contract based system in smaller towns. The local convenience stores and city halls have become popular destinations in small town Iowa. Why not work with these other outlets to allow them to become the postal center in rural America.

Allow UPS to run the system

The first to do is to cut some post offices where i live their are 3 within a mile to cut the useless offices and make one a primary would save thousands. The second look as in pre paid debit cards as well as prepaid stamp cards, these cards can be sent to family and friend to pay for postage or other items at the post office, also I don't see greeting cards at post offices which would be a great for last minute cards. also for the mobile fleet cut fuel cost by slowly moveing local delivery trucks to solar power.Their are many ways usps can pick- up the losses and keep the history of usps keeping to it's own words...much more to add but no sence anyway no-one reads these things anyway

Retail functions should be run by private small businesses. There are a few of these around the country and they provide much better service than the unionized bureaucrats that work for the USPS. All facilities leased by the USPS should be closed. No overtime should be allowed. All personnel working out of the USPS OIG should be fired, especially the OIG! Management should be required to reduce its' workforce by 5% per year until the USPS quits losing money! The Postal Service Commission should be tarred and feathered! Fire Congress! (Yuk! Yuk!)

I'm sorry alternative sales channels are only good for selling stamps there are so many different ways of shipping plus rules and regulation that tie into those and I am sorry someone at the grocery store or at Hallmark is not trained to do anything more than that. And for everyone out there that thinks UPS or FEDEX can do our job I don't think so we are busy delivering their mail. How about the US Government pay back the 75 billion we were overcharged that would be nice. How about getting rid of some management positions we do not need 1 supervisor for every 5 employees. All the different crafts within the post office have lost jobs they are being cut left and right but management never loses there jobs they just move them to another position and give them a new title. And believe me when I tell you management has their own union. The next thing I would do is go back to good old "Customer Service"! How about let's keep the customers we have by treating them the way we want to be treated! I greet every customer that comes into my post office with a smile and a greeting and I make sure I treat the one behind them the same! The buying of stamps and mailing packages pays our wages not tax money so how about making those customers want to come back. I have Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance which every pay day I have to pay for, my dental and eyecare I pay for myself the post office does not pay for it. I go to work and make sure I give 100% plus and wish management would do the same!

Definitly go 5 day mail delivery. Saturday is junk mail day. Millions would be saved in fuel which is becoming precious now. And cut back on oil use from the middle east. The post office can remain open on Saturday. The postal service has got to become more creative in thier services. If people want mail service on Saturday then offer special services for those who require it or request it. ( Post box rentals and make it affordable ) I would love to know how much gas is used in a average size mail truck- weekly- . Gallons and dollars and cents.

stop saturday delivery. instead of delivery to each home, have those collective boxes on each block, though you should make delivery to each home, even apartments to the disabled. consolidate psot offices, but expand into areas like shopping malls, or in grocery store, and do not use union post office workers. next REDUCE MANAGeMeNT....MANAGEMENT DOES NOT do the majority of the work, but I can tell you from exprience management makes the most problems at post offices. the "going postal" was because of managements treatment of workers. USPS management seems to get "GOD LIKE" once they have gotten a promotion. I know one person management ruined in the north central texas area. and the poor soul will never be the same again. Next raise postage, but LOweR shipping by 20% and make the shipping easier by putting the shipping in places where fedex has them kinkos etc. I seldom buy anything that has to be shipped due to the high high costs of shipping. lastly start a pilot program to see how privatizing parts of the post office works...go tinto partnership with either fedex or ups....for the shipping, they would love the revenue. lastly I see trucks shipping stuff al over the place, would it not be easier to ship in larger volumnes? bigger trucks? fly to a hub point and only on a daily or bi=daily rate? shoot the delivery can get no slower, it takes 7-10 days to get a letter from amarillo to dallas (300 miles) it takes 5 days to get a letter 50 miles from pampa to amarillo, in fact faster to get a letter form pampa to dallas than amarillo to dallas....and all mail goes through amarillo from pampa lol

Try increasing the bulk mail delivery rate, more specifically the junk mail rate.

Junk mail is defined as mail that is thrown away by >99% of people.

Maybe the price increase will reduce the number of credit card applications my household receives on a daily/weekly basis.

For those of us who work 9-5, we need our local post office to be open on Saturdays to receive our certified mail & packages, in Brooklyn, N.Y. We cannot get them any other time because we work for a living unlike the rest of your writers who would like to close the local post offices. We have high theft of mail in NYC therefore, we must have the mail delivered to our individual boxes at home. We work and every $ counts. I cannot afford the $ for a postal box inside the post office.I cannot get to the post office to pick up mail. I WORK! On Saturday the lines in my local post office are out the door and last 2 or more hours.
Whatever happened to belief in the motto on the Main Post Office in Manhattan: "Neither rain, nor storm, nor sleeet, etc. shall stay the postman from his rounds"? My cousin was a mailman when it was a Federal job, an honorable one!Lower Congress's pay, fat pensions, 100% social security, expensive health plans, etc. and make the Post Office Federal again. I need my Sat. delivery. Get rid of junk mail or charge them a higher rate. If the Fed. Govt. wasn't so inefficient, the Post Office could be Federal again.
O.K. if you must raise the first class stamp again, we will have to pay it to keep the post office open.
The Post Office is a symnbol of America. I refuse to pay on-line and get "hacked". I need to mail my check payments. Keep the Post Offices open and the local retail post offices too, in Brooklyn, NY.

For those of us who work 9-5, we need our local post office to be open on Saturdays to receive our certified mail & packages, in Brooklyn, N.Y. We cannot get them any other time because we work for a living unlike the rest of your writers who would like to close the local post offices. We have high theft of mail in NYC therefore, we must have the mail delivered to our individual boxes at home. We work and every $ counts. I cannot afford the $ for a postal box inside the post office.I cannot get to the post office to pick up mail. I WORK! On Saturday the lines in my local post office are out the door and last 2 or more hours.
Whatever happened to belief in the motto on the Main Post Office in Manhattan: "Neither rain, nor storm, nor sleeet, etc. shall stay the postman from his rounds"? My cousin was a mailman when it was a Federal job, an honorable one!Lower Congress's pay, fat pensions, 100% social security, expensive health plans, etc. and make the Post Office Federal again. I need my Sat. delivery. Get rid of junk mail or charge them a higher rate. If the Fed. Govt. wasn't so inefficient, the Post Office could be Federal again.
O.K. if you must raise the first class stamp again, we will have to pay it to keep the post office open.
The Post Office is a symbol of America. I refuse to pay on-line and get "hacked". I need to mail my check payments. Keep the Post Offices open and the local retail post offices too, in Brooklyn, NY.

I live in the Las Vegas Nevada area. It does not matter which one of the Post Offices I try to go to in this area. Customer Service is Classic Typical to any government office which services the public. I am a disabled veteran who does not use any devices (like wheel chair etc.), so even though I have a placard I still have to stand and wait like everyone else. So a trip to the USPS office for me means a lot of pain. Then I have to go home and take pain medication and my day is shot, because I can not drive. There is No and I mean NO customer service. They act like they are the only place for mail or package services. I have never waited longer than 20 minutes at the Fed-ex, or UPS.

Plus give me the service that I pay for. For example:
If I pay for signature confirmation, I want the recipient to sign for delivery. I can not count how many times I have been ripped off by the USPS.

My home delivery is done by the 89031 branch and is first rate. My postman always arrives at the same time everyday. All mail is always picked up. He always waves or smiles.

Bottom Line
Extremely poor customer service and very slow service times is forcing me to use other options for mail and package services.

The USPS needs to come up with a two-tier postage stamp system. It only makes sense that a letter mailed within your state should be cheaper to process than one mailed outside your state. If you keep the current price of the Forever Stamp, and merely add an Outside-of State stamp for a dime more, revenue would greatly improve.

I have to agree with Rachel's comment. I have been a postal employee for 27 years. The biggest waste is in management. They have cut so many employees in my office we have nobody to do the work that must be done daily. We have added managers which are simply not needed and a waste of money. Cut the fat at the top. Most of the workers can run the operation without management. After that is done we should return to giving customer service like we did back in our better years. We need to staff our windows properly to move the lines and give our customers the service they deserve.

Saturday delivery can be cut - we will all adapt in no time at all. Retail services - the self serve machines are wonderful, they could be expanded to include a few more types of packages/mail and put in grocery stores, Hallmark's, Wal-Mart, Target, etc. Also, if more folks would use USPS.com to mail packages by using a scale at home to weigh them, print postage, and have the carrier pick them up, it would allow the PO to better utilize the staff they already have. And as a retired Federal employee, I think it would be just dandy if PO employees paid the same medical insurance rates as we did - never did think it was fair they paid so much less and were paid equally for work.

(1) Reduce to 5 day services.
(2) Reduce the number of post offices, where there are many within 3 miles radius.
(3) Reduce big buildings and if the building is own, rent out to banks and commercial purposes.
(4) Introducing debit cards, greeting cards, envelope sales.
(5) Using fuel efficient vehicles.
(6) Avoid union workers.
(7) Having new graduates at low pay rate.
(8) Wherever possible, in smaller close net towns, using bi-cycle.
(9) Possibly en-cash pay checks for those don't have bank accounts (about 10%, I read in an article) at a small fee.
(10) introducing drive way counters to avoid big offices and to quick service.

thank you..

I own a franchised, independent printing, packing and shipping store. I pay basically the same rate for postage that my customers do, and then mark it up in a similar fashion that I do to FedEx and UPS services (which I do buy at wholesale.) It amazes me that most customers, not all believe me, but most are willing to pay my price and possibly even more to avoid going to one of the many local stations. Mr. OIG, what does this tell you?

Retail counter customer service is simply abhorrent at most stations. I'm sure there are exceptions, but in general, people who do not have unlimited time on their hands or have a choice in carriers prefer to go elsewhere. Time is money to them. And if they are willing to pay us, they are probably willing to pay you if the service is a s good.

That's job one. Job two and beyond are even larger quagmires. Distance based pricing, streamlined processes and operations, creating a merit based organization, changing a culture that seems bent on never changing...good luck Mr. OIG.

And on another note, someone in an earlier post said get rid of contract carriers. On the contrary, if it weren't for our rural route contract carrier, I would severely limit the amount of USPS services I offer.

I think you need to stop delivery of mail on Saturdays, BUT keep post office open on Saturdays in big cities and any towns over 500,000 people. Have all post offices open so folks can get to their mail boxes. I like the idea of buying stamps at my local grocery store, which I do. The rest of what you run, I do not use.

In our medium size town we have two post offices. The one in middle of town is very busy and the newer one never seems to have but very few cars there and not more than a dozen folks standing in line for service, even at Christmas.

I have tried twice to write to the Post Master General with this suggestion and I will do it again here. The self-service machines at the post offices give receipts automatically after you do a transaction. Why not let it ask if the customer wants a receipt or not? This would potentially save a lot on wasted paper (look how many people throw the receipt away).

I think USPS can start with remove saturday delivery, people will be upset, but adjustment will not take much. I think we can start there and assess after that point.

I have 8 post offices within 8 miles of my house and I will bet there are more if I looked online. Stop talking about closing them and do it. I can tell you of at least 4 you can close tomorrow and people will only have to drive 2mi. extra max. Get rid of sat. dilivery and make them help pay health ins. have them take a pay cut or lose there job. The best idea is make them work harder sitting in the truck sorting mail for 20min is not working. Last if the price of stamps goes up I will mail less just as I have done in the past.

Cut Sat. (sorry guys).
Stop putting postal business other than stamps at retail locations. Some of those places or so sketchy, I worry about the security of my mail. That is one reason I don't think it shold be privatized. (Besides some of these places go bankrupt within a month of the PO going into their business.) Contract grounds and cleaning crews, no need for janitors. Allow carrier to "sell" the PO by providing fantastic customer service like they want to rather than management telling them not to talk at all to customers. Have every house put a mailbox on the street or a cluster box. No more walking and down icy steps and battle dogs (increases liability and injuries). But back drastically on management. If you are going to push the carriers, push management to do more. They don't need supervisors (middle management). Have a floating manager to fill in on their days off. This also puts a different pair of eyes in the branch incase regular management is doing shady things....This would cut down on the number of roving auditors that are needed. LISTEN TO YOUR EMPLOYEES NOT MANAGEMENT. STOP GIVING MANAGEMENT MONEY INCENTIVES TO HARRASS EMPOYEES.

Capitalize with humorous stamps; e.g., snails in many different poses.

As a retired Postmaster I would like to suggest that we return to foot carriers. WhenI was appointed in 1976 at my first class office we had one vehicle that took relays to relay boxes for foot carriers to pick up on their routes and delived parcels and heavy items. Now we have four vehicles using mounted routes. We did not save any man hours wit the mounted routes and added the cost of gasoline and vehicles. Gasoline in 1976 was about 50 cents a gallon. I am sure if gasoline was$3.oo a gallon back then we would not have went to mounted routes.
SAVE TENS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS AND GO BACK TO FOOT ROUTES!

We can no longer afford the luxury of 6 day delivery to our houses; nor do we get enough mail to warrant.
I suggest dividing the areas into Tues/Thurs/Sat or Mon/Wed/Fri. deliveries.This would seriously reduce gas costs while keeping the workers at current 6 days. Decreasing 1st class postage and increasing bulk/junk mail would also help consumers. Encouraging electronic banking would also expedite things.
I am opposed to raising postage rates; let's rethink what consumers really need.

Maybe USPS can reduce costs by:

1) using electric postal trucks or other alternative fuel sources for their postal vehicles.

2) reducing the number of days for the delivery of bills, catalogs and junk mail (which should also save some trees).

Charge the junk mailers the same as everyone else pays.
The Postal service would see increased revenue, I would see less junk mail, and it might even save a few trees.

Recently vacated Postmaster positions are now being filled. All lower level Postmaster positions should be withheld for possible consolidation with other offices depending on location and revenue. This should be done nationwide

Tuesday's USA Today indicates the Postal Service is asking the public for input on cost containment.

Delivery service should be reduced to three days per week. This would be accomplished by delivering Monday, Wednesday and Friday to one half the district served by a Post Office and Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday to the other half. The workforce and vehicle fleet should be reduced accordingly.

The Defined Benefits Pension Plan should be discontinued and replaced by a Defined Contribution Plan as is the case in most operations in the Public Sector. Public Sector businesses simply cannot afford the Defined Benefits Plans and neither can the Postal Service.

Retiree Medical Benefits should be discontinued as is also the case in the Public Sector.

These measures would result in tens of millions of dollars saved every year.

Rates should be increased for all classes of mail with the greatest increases applied to the class of mail that provides the greatest volume.

These may not be "popular" measures but those necessary if the Postal Service is serious about cutting costs.

Sincerely

The P.O. gives out millions of $ for Management bonuses.The executives were all given a new Ford Fusion Hybrid to drive around in(713).That is where the problem is.Miss management,Sounds alot like A.I.G.As far as health care for employes,I pay $280 a month right now and retirees dont get any paid for.We have so many people in management in our office that they trip on each other.As far as getting rid of union workers,UPS has union workers and they make more hourly than USPS employes.They still make a profit so what does that tell you about USPS management

I would have liked more than one option on the above vote! I dont mind delivary 3 days a week, if it keeps the postage rates down. Why are you so quick to "get rid" of old stamp issues. Collectors love to find these items. I had one postal clerk tell me he could not sell me the stamps in his drawer, because they were not in the inventory of his cash register!! (your new system) Lost sale right there!

This is an interesting discussion. Cost reduction is always a touchy subject as unfortunately you almost always end up looking at reducing salaries and benefits.

that's a tough question the usps is asking itself. but it's a very valid one in many respects - profitability, serviceability, sustainability. from my perspective, it's particularly challenging as shipments of products from website sales are increasing and expect to increase in the years to come, thus adding another layer of complexity to the aforementioned question. (I know this because I do 3D Renderings for e-Commerce websites and the demand there is increasing).

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