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Location, location, location – it's the mantra of realtors, of course, but is just as important to retailers and service providers, like the U.S. Postal Service. USPS understands the importance of being where people live and shop. It also knows that keeping hours conducive to people's shopping habits increases customer traffic. Cue contract postal units (CPUs), which the Postal Service uses to supplement its 32,000 post offices around the country.

CPUs are retail establishments located inside a private business and operated by nonpostal employees, such as in a Hallmark store. Under contract to the Postal Service, they offer products and services such as stamps, Priority Mail, Standard Post, and Certified Mail. This past fiscal year, USPS had 2,656 CPUs, down from 5,290 in fiscal year 2002.

The CPU program offers customers more places to buy postal products and reduces wait time in post offices. For the Postal Service, CPUs can reduce operational costs and help increase retail revenue. Talk about a win-win.

However, to make sure the CPU program meets all these goals, the Postal Service could make some improvements, our recent audit report said.

In particular, we noted the Postal Service's host offices – which administer the CPU contracts, provide training to the CPUs, and monitor their operations – could do a better job of monitoring overall CPU operations and performance. We also found opportunities for some host offices to improve training and regular contact with CPU personnel. We recommended the Postal Service develop a formal training program for host offices and consider implementing best practices we identified in the report at all host offices.

Is there a CPU in your neighborhood or near your office? How often do you use it? Are there ways to improve CPUs? 

Comments (7)

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  • anon

    I ordered something in November and still haven't gotten it I am NOT happy

    Jan 11, 2017
  • anon

    Thank you for your comments. The OIG is an independent agency of the Postal Service and many of these issues fall outside of our jurisdiction. However, we do read all blog comments and pass on relevant information to our auditors and investigators. If you have not already done so, please try contacting your local Post Office. If you have already done that, try contacting USPS Customer Service, 1 (800) 275-8777, or to file an online complaint with Customer Service (and for frequently asked questions), go to the USPS Website and enter "Customer Service Help" in the search function.

    Nov 30, 2016
  • anon

    I have a problem with my packages being left in the mailbox overnight because the mail lady is late every day picking up the mail so she does not want to pick up the packages because she has to drive them to the next post office to be picked up as she misses the truck at the local post office and that leaves my package sitting in my mailbox overnight to be stolen by the way she is a substitute and pretty much does what she wants

    Nov 29, 2016
  • anon

    I have explained this 3 times now. Eddie and albert opened a size 1 p.o. with u. Theyve had it for little over a month and never got any mail. The went to the p.o box a lot and never anything. Eddie is behind on his bills and albert is now homeless. It took a manger to realize theirs names had never been entered into the computer and u can't or won't do anything to help them out. So I'm gonna be on my cell with a few lawyers. All u had to do is maybe discount their p.o box, refound the cash or had alberts check over nighted and with eddie u could have paid the late fews. Its truly said that instead you said u could do nothing. When you know you caN because its your mess up. Very displeased cusromers and I will be making sure everyone i know, knows how awful u treated these men.

    Nov 26, 2016
  • anon

    We have complained to our PO who say they will contact the PO GENERAL but nothing changes,so we as a Senior Citizens neighborhood have to deliver mail to each other that is mailed to the wrong houses. We have had 4 stock checks, glaucoma medicine, and credit cards, etc. never delivered to our community PO Box. I think it's time to audit our North Las Vegas PO. on Camino Al Norte. Zip-89031. Thank you

    Nov 25, 2016
  • anon

    Mail should be handled by US post office employees covered by a labor contract. The use of minimum wage workers should not be permitted. The post offices should be open for reasonable hours

    Nov 22, 2016
  • anon

    The only reason the USPS has contract Post Offices is to save labor costs by not having to pay real, fully trained postal retail clerks. Contract employees have no dedication to the Post Office, are not supervised directly by postal management, and worst of all, the "Sanctity Of The Mail" goes out the window whenever non postal individuals touch any of the mail...period! As far as training goes, postal clerks go through a two week training course, which includes on the job training, and training is given by a postal CLERK, who has gone through various "train the trainer" programs....at least they used to be, but now, clerks have been cut to the bone, and managers will not release retail clerks to train others. Most retail managers and postmasters were never postal Sales and Services Associates, and never received any real training, so how can these people be expected to train employees of contract postal units?? Just staff these places with real postal clerks, or at least have one postal clerk in each station to properly direct them. One more point, and that is security. While postal clerks are mandated to ask several security questions of each postal customer, employees in contract stations do not do so, and are unaware of what can be mailed and what cannot. This is an important issue to all postal employees. Just stop cutting service to justify saving money.

    Nov 21, 2016

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