• on Jun 7th, 2010 in Post Offices & Retail Network | 13 comments
    A number of media news articles in the last year have examined reductions in Post Office retail hours around the country. They report that some Post Offices are cutting back or eliminating Saturday hours, opening late in the morning or closing earlier in the afternoon during the week. The Postal Service faces significant legal and political constraints when it tries to close Post Offices, but faces few constraints when it acts to cut back on the hours a facility is open. However, eliminating hours amounts to a partial scaling back of retail service. When contacted by media, local Postal Service spokespersons have said districts have no specific targets for reducing hours and potential savings have not been calculated. After notices are posted that a Post Office plans to cut hours, some districts refuse to provide the media with a list of facilities where hours have been reduced, citing competitive issues relative to UPS and FedEx.

    Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), has come out against this approach, noting that cutting hours is a sure way to make the Postal Service’s financial condition worse. She said the Postal Service should be doing more to attract business, rather than making it more difficult for people to mail packages and letters because of reduced hours. So, is cutting Post Office hours the best way for the Postal Service to address declines in mail volume and the limits it faces on closing Post Offices? Is this part of a national Postal Service strategy or taking place solely by Post Offices on their own directive? Does the Postal Service owe the American people a real accounting of the service cuts it is making? What do you think? This topic is hosted by the OIG’s Risk Analysis Research Center (RARC).

  • on May 17th, 2010 in Products & Services | 23 comments
    “If it fits, it ships.” If this sounds familiar, you probably heard it from the Postal Service’s Priority Mail® Flat Rate advertising campaign broadcasted on TV or radio. The Flat Rate option offers a simpler way to ship — whatever fits in the flat rate box or envelope (up to 70 pounds) ships for one rate to anywhere in the United States. There is virtually no weighing or calculating. The packages reach their destinations in 1 to 3 days. Normally, Priority Mail prices are based on weight and destination. To increase overall package revenue and market share, the Postal Service launched a highly-integrated, national marketing campaign in May 2009. The campaign is still running as of May 2010. To promote the benefits of Priority Mail Flat Rate Boxes, the campaign uses TV, direct mail, print and digital advertising, retail point of purchase, and more. Postal Service management shared the campaign messaging with employees through a May 2009 direct mailing. These are two of the recent Priority Mail Flat Rate TV commercials: •Clowns AdvertisementMail Man Advertisement

    Has Priority Mail added value to your shipping needs? What kind of value? Prior to using Priority Mail Flat Rate, were you using a major delivery service such as UPS or FedEx? Specifically, what caused you to switch? If you have not used Priority Mail service, what would you consider the most important reason for not using the service? This topic is hosted by the OIG’s Office of Audit Field Financial - West team.

  • 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.

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