• on Jul 19th, 2010 in Ideas Worth Exploring | 29 comments
    UPS and FedEx frequently attempt residential deliveries when customers are not home. After a series of failed delivery attempts, these companies return the packages to their local distribution centers, forcing customers to travel to these remote locations to collect their packages. What if the Postal Service offered residential customers a service allowing them to use their local Post Office™ as an alternate delivery address? A delivery company would do its delivery scan at the Post Office and send an e-mail or text message to a customer telling him or her that a package is available. The customer could either pick up the package or have the Postal Service deliver it to his or her home on a specified day. The Postal Service could charge the customer a per-package or periodic (monthly or yearly) fee, or the delivery company could offer this service free of charge. In the latter case, the Postal Service could charge the delivery company, and the customer ordering a product to be shipped via UPS or FedEx could specify whether he or she wants the product delivered to a designated Post Office after the first, second, or third home delivery attempt. Post Offices would need space to store packages until customers pick up their packages or the Postal Service delivers them, so some Post Offices might be incapable of offering this service. Since this new service would most likely be considered a postal product, legal constraints should be limited. However, questions about access to postal facilities and security need to be addressed when exploring this opportunity. This topic is hosted by the OIG’s Risk Analysis Research Center (RARC).
  • on Apr 5th, 2010 in Ideas Worth Exploring | 42 comments
    According to a New York Times article, nearly 10 percent of Americans do not have bank accounts. These and other underbanked people may be taken advantage of by lenders, check cashing facilities, and pawnbrokers through excessive interest rates and fees. Fortunately, in this country, there are many options for consumers to choose, including prepaid debit cards. What if the Postal Service explored partnering with prepaid debit card providers to sell prepaid debit cards at post offices, just as they are now sold at other retail outlets? While the Postal Service explored similar products in the past, the current economic climate calls for a reexamination of the product. The Postal Service’s current experience conducting financial transactions in the form of money orders and Dinero Seguro would aid in the introduction of prepaid debit card services. Offering the cards could create a new revenue stream for the Postal Service and earn interest on the cards’ float, the money residing in cardholder accounts. That money may be invested prior to its use by account holders. The Postal Service might also benefit from increased sales of other products due to an increase in store traffic. The Postal Service has two core market advantages that would aid it in successfully offering prepaid debit cards. First, with the second-largest retail network in the country, the Postal Service could sell prepaid debit cards in areas with limited private sector retailers. Second, customers may be more likely to come to a Post Office to purchase prepaid debit card transactions because of their trust in the Postal Service brand. Legal and regulatory constraints, however, currently prohibit the Postal Service from offering prepaid debit cards. Under the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006, the Postal Service cannot offer new nonpostal products. Private sector interests may also work to prevent the Postal Service from competing against them by offering this product. Finally consider that given the robust variety of financial institutions already in this country, the Postal Service should evaluate whether offering prepaid banking card services would provide valuable options to customers while making a profit for itself. What do you think? Why did you answer yes or no to the poll question? This topic is hosted by the OIG’s Risk Analysis Research Center (RARC).
  • on Mar 1st, 2010 in Ideas Worth Exploring | 28 comments
    According to a representative on the Postal Regulatory Commission’s staff, a Postal Service-run lottery “could offer the potential for substantial profits for the Postal Service and utilize its current retail infrastructure with its 36,000 retail outlets.” Popular lottery formats in many states include drawings and instant lottery tickets. The claim is that running a national lottery could help the U.S. Postal Service close its multibillion-dollar budget gap.  It could also build foot traffic to post offices, increasing retail sales of postal products. A lottery might bring in a lot of revenue, but would it also bring more problems?
    • A lottery, like any form of gambling, is susceptible to fraud, despite the high degree of scrutiny claimed by the organizers.
    • Lines at many lottery depots can be long when jackpots are high—stretching around corners. Adding lottery customers to the lines at post offices could have a negative impact on regular customers who are not lottery players.
    • How would the states react to the Postal Service joining the business of selling lottery tickets? Would the ability to reach out to such a large audience (through 36,000 retail units) take money from state lotteries, a number of which earmark revenues for education and social programs?
    • Who would run the lottery operations? Is Postal Service management equipped for such an endeavor?
    • What do you think?

    This topic is hosted by the OIG’s Risk Analysis Research Center (RARC).

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