Postal customers often choose to stand in line at the counter of their local Post Office, even as an open self-service kiosk sits nearby. In some cases, customers might prefer to interact with a window clerk, perhaps to make sure they purchase the right service or because they want to buy a specialty service not available from the automated kiosk.

But some customers might be unaware that they can get many of the same services at a kiosk that they get from the window. For example, they can buy postage; weigh and send packages; use the ZIP Code lookup feature; and obtain fairly large quantities of First-Class Mail stamps (up to 100 self-adhesive packets). With about 2,500 kiosks in 2,300 retail locations and many of them accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, kiosks are convenient and fairly simple to use.

Consumers have grown so accustomed to using self-service kiosks, including automated teller machines and airline ticketing kiosks, that many people barely remember a time before them. In grocery stores across the country, customers are now choosing to scan and bag their own groceries at self-service checkouts, even though it saves them no money to do it themselves. Yet, consumer backlash against completely automated customer service is growing, especially in some industries such as banking. For example, TD Bank now promotes itself as a bank with “humanity,” using the catch phrase “bank human again.” It seems customers want choice: automation when it’s convenient and human interaction when it is needed.

Does the Postal Service have the right balance of automated options and the human touch? Should it consider expanding the use of self-service kiosks to retail locations that will be operating at reduced hours (less than 8 hours per day)? What could the Postal Service do to increase public awareness and use of self-service kiosks units? Or do you think the public prefers working directly with a person at the window?

Comments (113)

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  • anon

    Your kiosk and scale is inaccurate. I received several packages back a week after I sent them for more postage. I weighted the very small package affixed the label given to me and it was sent back to me because it needed more posted. I have some very upset customers!!! There is also NO TRACKING!!! These packages sat at the post office and now I have to pay more $$$ to get these to my customers priority! VERY UPSET!!!

    Dec 06, 2016
  • anon

    I didn't get a tracking number. Which is very inconvenient. I also went to the window and talked to one of the representatives. She was very rude and told me she didn't have time for this. Rushing me and putting me into one side.

    Dec 05, 2016
  • anon

    I bought the stamps for my postcards which are sent to China. Each stamp is 1.15 dollars and printed in the machine. The stamps are long and labeled with "fold here". However, I torn the stamps by the dotted line with the "fold here" , keeping the the left of the stamp. Is it invalid and will my postcards be still able to sent to receiver?

    Oct 22, 2016
  • anon

    Okay so recently I started an online business and I've used the kiosk to ship packages (which it only allows you to type the address #, first letter of the street name and the zip code and it finds the address for you). Feeling confident it that it would no doubt find the address why is it that two of the 6 packages that I shipped using this did not reach its destination. 1 of them I had the tracking info for and it now says "undeliverable address" which is false and the second I didn't keep the receipt with the tracking so I have no idea where that went. After spending 27.50 for priority shipping not only did my clients not receive their items quick - they didn't receive them at all. Pissed is an understatement now realizing the USPS "teller" can't even help me if I don't have the tracking number / and even if I did provide it to her she would basically just tell me he SAME thing that I can search on my own. The one customer checked her local USPS and they claimed they didn't have it and I didn't put a return address so where exactly are these packages going? Is there anyway to somehow look up the tracking through the kiosk? How is it there is no back up way to find my packages.

    Oct 20, 2016
  • anon

    I prefer the APM machine simple because it rarely has a line. I noticed recently that it does not offer media postage. Add that, and you have one less customer in line.

    Oct 19, 2016
  • anon

    I used the kiosk twice in the last two weeks thinking this was so easy as I have to bring my 1 year old and do not want to wait in line as I am 8 months pregnant. I sent first package out on the 3rd and got it back today - the 15th aaying there's insufficient postage. So annoying. I had sent my other package on the 10th and it was a rush order for a woman accross the country and I had no clue if it has gotten there or not. After reading this, I have no faith and need to remake the order and resend meaning I am out the cost of the product and double the postage. Usps it is no wonder your business is in the crapper.

    Oct 16, 2016
  • anon

    I don't mind using the kiosk but I need a tracking number on my packages. I used the kiosk once for my business package but I got no tracking number. How am I supposed to get s tracking number via the kiosk?

    Oct 09, 2016
  • anon

    I mail about 10,000 parcels through my own business and my amazon generated business, I was told that I can't use the window at my local Post Office, I wait my turn in line and have all packages prepared and just need them scanned as proof they were put into the system. Can a local post master restrict me? Please let me know and thanks for your time. Rich A

    Sep 14, 2016
  • anon

    AVOID KIOSK!!!! First time using Kiosk and will be the last time. Used Kiosk for Priority Express ship overnight, but it printed my receipt for 2 day shipping. Went to the agent at the desk who said it just says 2 days but it can arrive a day early. Tried to track it online but item not found. After 2 days, still no online tracking, I went to USPS and found out it was just accepted and will arrive there the next day. I was upset since I spent a lot of money and the package was urgent, yet it takes 3-4 days on express?!? The agent didn't seem to care and said "just give it time". Will never ship via USPS ever again. Taking my business to FedEx and UPS.

    Aug 26, 2016
  • anon

    I use kiosk all the time i went today to send package and it didnt print label i have receipt but no label this package needed to be shipped today for birthday gift what can i do

    Aug 25, 2016
  • anon

    Just tried Kiosk for the first time in Covina, CA. There was no option to select suite# that the package needed to go to. The correct address was automatically displaying after punching in keywords but I didn't see an edit option to input the suite#? This option is something that was overseen when making the software menus. This means i could never use the kiosk to ship to a suite, Apartment, or Mobile trailer space. SMH

    Aug 13, 2016
  • anon

    You have to ad the suite number yourself.

    Sep 24, 2016
  • anon

    Used a kiosk to send a large envelope to NM. Weighed using scale, and bought adhesive postage stamp. Checked my mail today and their was the package, returned to me due to insufficient postage. I don't understand how this could happen, the kiosk dispensed the adhesive stamp based in the wieght. Does that mean I now have to walk into a post office, had the package to a clerk, to rectify the mistake made my the kiosk? Help!

    Aug 06, 2016
  • anon

    This exact thing just happened to me as well... I got the package back today, in fact. Now I have to go BACK to the post office to get it straightened out. They also sent a certified, return receipt letter, addressed to a place in that office zip code, to another city in a different state, nearly 5 hours away. Gah!! So frustrated!

    Aug 23, 2016
  • anon

    On one hand i love the Kiosk. The lines can be crazy long and not to many people want to trust their mail to a machine which now brings me to why on the other hand i don't care for the kiosk. 2 months ago i used the Kiosk. The wrong zip code & city were printed out. Right state. I then showed it to the clerk. Instead of giving me a new label [ which i found out he was suppose to since i asked him ] he crosses out the wrong zip code & city, writes in the correct zip code & city with an ink pen. I asked , What about the tracking number? CLERK: You now have the correct address showing on the package twice. [ I never cover the address with the label ]. They will see where it is suppose to go and get it to it's proper destination. I wanted to kick myself in the butt for believing him. It went out 1st class on a Friday, was suppose to be to its destination in Colorado on the following Tuesday. Never made it. I made all kinds of phone calls, emails etc. All i got from the post office was a survey in my email. They wanted to know how they did. I definitely let them know how they did. Since the item was purchased from me on Ebay, i not only refunded the customers money back but i lost my item. I watched the package track all over Colorado and at 1 point it made it to the Bennett Post Office ,only 11 miles away from its destination. I called that post office and talked to Jim. He goes to check and says it is not there and will call me back when he finds out what the heck is going on. I had to check to see if my phone was broken. It worked just fine. I have been since forgotten. Now tonight! July 31st. I had to use the Kiosk to get a package out. I triple checked the address, zip code and all. Yeaaaa! I get home to add the tracking number for a customer so she knows approx. when it will be there due to her working situation... the kiosk only printed half the numbers. Are you flippin kidding me! So the Kiosk are great to have in a flash when they work properly, BUT !!!! I am learning more often then not....CHECK EVERY DETAIL BEFORE PLACING THE PACKAGE IN THE BIN AND WALKING OUT OF THAT POST OFFICE.

    Jul 31, 2016
  • anon

    I LOVE the kiosks. It took me a while to get comfortable using them, but I am very comfortable with it now and it is such a win win. Saves me time and makes the line shorter for others because I am not in it. This was one truly excellent idea.

    Jul 25, 2016
  • anon

    If I am not using a flat rate box, and need to go through the whole process if size shape of bix etc. It is usually just better to have a clerk do all of that. They are faster at it. If sending some thing where I don't have to input all that information, I always use the kiosk.

    Jul 18, 2016
  • anon

    I love the self service kiosks! I'm not much of a people person so the kiosk is a godsend.There is a post office one mile down the road from my home but it does not have a kiosk, so I will go out of my way to drive the 5 miles across town to the other post office that has the kiosk. There is rarely a line or wait, it's quick and easy, and it is available 24/7 at this particular post office. The only two complaints I have is sometimes receipts don't print, which is an issue when proof of postage is required for online sales. The other problem is it is out of order quite a bit. Both of these problems could be fixed easily if the employees would service it more often. Other than that, I definitely prefer the SSK to an actual person.

    Jul 07, 2016
  • anon

    The kiosks do not provide a tracking number!

    Jul 07, 2016
  • anon

    Not true in the slightest.

    Jul 14, 2016
  • anon

    Tracking number labels are provided by the kiosk for packages BUT ****the Post Office ignores the label and will not scan them.**** So even though your package has a tracking label sticker on it, it is worthless. This makes using the kiosk worthless for mailing packages if you want tracking.

    Aug 29, 2016
  • anon

    No, they do not seem to supply a tracking number for First Class Packages. Not on the Receipt anyways. Can't find it on the Printed Postage either.

    Jul 18, 2016
  • anon

    I would NEVER use a USPS Kiosk as they are NEVER updated and quote wrong postage alot. THey are convienient if you want a lost package or a NON deliverable package due to Postage Due. I think USPS should retrain or fire all of their IT people, as this is NEVER fixed. Just saying ... Another reason why USPS is LOSING money, and all because a simple think CAN'T be fixed!

    Jun 29, 2016
  • anon

    I use the APM because like most other businesses the Post Office doesn't cater to working people. How about you change your hours to reflect when people get off work? For example stay open until 6 or 7p? Also why not put APMs in gas stations and other places near neighborhoods? What's the point of using an APM if I have to drive all the way to the Post Office to use it? Are you TRYING to make it fail? You don't buy soda from a coke machine in the Walmart lobby, who did the location placement study for the APM the head of the Post Office Union?

    Jun 26, 2016
  • anon

    I opted to use a kiosk but will never do so again. After paying $23 to send an envelope via Priority Mail Express, so a package would get to my Dad for Father's Day, it was returned to me saying I paid incorrect postage, and that I owed more money. I did everything correctly at the kiosk...it's certainly not my fault that their scale was incorrect, so now I'm down $23 and my Dad is down a Father's Day gift.

    Jun 18, 2016
  • anon

    I'd much rather have a kiosk than deal with the mongoloids you employ. However, there is not a kiosk at the USPS in New Mogadishu (116th street, Harlem) and the kiosks do not offer media mail postage.

    Jun 15, 2016
  • anon

    I used the kiosk in Independence, Mo all the time but it was taken out and so were all the others at locations I used. Now I am back to waiting in lines and I can't weigh and Mail anything over the weekend either. Please bring our kiosks back!

    May 27, 2016
  • anon

    It would be nice to be able to print the shipping label along with the postage at the Kiosk, for any class of serviice. You can do this online with Click-N-Ship, but only if you are sending 2-day priority or some other elevated form of service. You should be able to use Click-N-Ship with any level of service.

    May 25, 2016
  • anon

    self service kiosks work great. we need more of these at each Post office. it would not be a bad idea to reduce hours of operation to half days everyday or maybe 3 working days a week to curtail USPS costs of operation. it sure would affect some customers but obviously for most the kiosks will suffice.

    May 04, 2016
  • anon

    I really consider this is a smart way to help working class people who has no time during post office hours. Smart choice and I appreciate self service. This is called world leader country who inspired others to follow.

    Apr 30, 2016
  • anon

    I usually have to go to the counter because I'm buying large quantities of stamps in various designs for sale in my The UPS Store franchise, 8 rolls of flags, 25 books of flags, 25 books of botanical art, 25 sheets of hearts, 25 books of vintage seed packets, 10 sheets of postcards, 3 rolls of postcards, and various miscellaneous denominated stamps would be a normal order. While standing in line I frequently see people get frustrated with the APC kiosk, and jump into line because its easier.

    Mar 24, 2016
  • anon

    EVERY post office should have a kiosk - one that works! Most often the one in 50322 is out of supplies, jammed, or just doesn't function. That kiosk has steady traffic at all hours and can serve customer needs faster (when functioning) than staff.

    Mar 24, 2016
  • anon

    Every post office with enough square footage should have a self service kiosk. People that work normal business hours cannot get to a post office to mail a package during the 8-5 work day. And if everyone goes during lunch hour you have to wait for a long time to get served. I would think this would increase revenue as well as USPS is lower cost than the others. Please install one at 45056.

    Mar 21, 2016
  • anon

    I know you wanted to hear why people dont use the kiosks. I want to tell you I love them. I am impressed I can send tax returns and other large envelopes certified mail and get a (cheaper) digital/PDF delivery confirmation back. Takes 2-3 minutes versus waiting in line. I have also used for buying stamps. Midnight on Sunday no less. The only thing it did not do well was renew a PO Box. It recognized the box, but asked me to go in for assistance.

    Mar 18, 2016
  • anon

    This morning I attempted to use one of the kiosks to mail wedding invitations. The postage the kiosk said it required was almost a dollar. This seemed absurd to me so I waited in line at the counter. At the counter, the clerk said each required 71 cents. So - that's why I didn't use the kiosk - the number seemed WAY off to me.

    Mar 16, 2016
  • anon

    The post office should have an easy system to weigh and stamp packages by machine. We can check ourselves out of a grocery store, why can't we weigh and stamp a box or letter? Every post office should have a kiosk option

    Mar 02, 2016
  • anon

    I went into my local Postal office this morning in salem Oregon and used the kiosk. after doing the whole on screen process, the kiosk ended up not printing my label for my package. I was super annoyed and had to wait, 40 minutes, till the postal office opened. To make things worse I had to repay for another shipping label. Now USPS will not credit me back the money i spent on the kiosk! I will have to call my bank and dispute the charge. No way am i paying for a faulty kiosk error. On top of that the staff were not helpful at all and pretty much told me to leave at the end because they had no answer for me. I spent an hour and a half there.... ridiculous!

    Feb 18, 2016
  • anon

    Make the shipping rates at the kiosk less than at the counter. People will go for the kiosks

    Feb 14, 2016
  • anon

    You've got to be kidding...I tried the self server option a few times and this morning's events made me a permanent UPS customer. Drove to Post Office #1 to pick up my mail from our post office box. No kiosk. That wasn't a big deal because I suspected that might be the case. Drove to Post Office #2 where they have the kiosk (8 miles) and processed my packages. However went to deposit them and THE BOX WAS LOCKED. Loaded all four of my packages back into the car and will be using UPS from now on! There will be one more trip to the post office for me today to deliver them on my lunch hour. So totally inconvenient.

    Feb 05, 2016
  • anon

    I used to ship online w/ click and ship but now that it isn't any cheaper than the kiosk or the counter, I might as well just go to the counter and have a person do it. I am paying for that so no point in using kiosk or my own computer/paper to do USPS job for free.

    Feb 02, 2016
  • anon

    I tried using a Kiosk at the Oro Valley PO but the machine kept saying " unable to read your Credit Card " I tried four different Credit Cards and still got the same message all four times ????

    Jan 22, 2016
  • anon

    In the past three days I have visited the same three post offices in Dallas 7 times. On Sunday, I went to the post office closest to my house to mail a pair of glasses. I intended to mail the glasses in the small flat rate box. No boxes. On top of that, the mail drop was locked. On to the next post office, where I successfully purchased my postage and went to put it in the drop...locked again. On to the next location...finally success after a 45 minute ordeal that should have taken 10. On Tuesday night after work I went to the post office closest to my work...kiosk out of order. The second one I waited for a woman to send her life's possessions and when I finally get to the kiosk I get a "not able to perform this function" message. Then on to the third post office which is closest to my house...I get another "not able to perform this function" message. Today, I went back to the post office closest to my work and I get the same message on the kiosk and didn't have time to wait in the line on my lunch hour. Words cannot describe the rage that I felt walking out of there today. I do not understand how I cannot find a working kiosk in a 10 square mile area of one of the most populous cities in America. I work long hours and do not have the ability to wait in long lines at lunch or leave work early to mail things. This problem has got to be fixed. Thankfully, I bought postage online today, but will now have to wait for the postal worker to pick them up tomorrow since they've already visited my office building. I don't bother to waste time going to the post office only to find the drop locked again.

    Jan 13, 2016
  • anon

    I used the kiosk for the first time today, like an idiot! I did not get a tracking number. Since I used it on Sunday, I get to fight the battle of getting a fed employee to answer the phone on Monday. Guess I will have "a case of the Mondays" tomorrow.

    Dec 27, 2015
  • anon

    I have had to stop using the self service kiosk at the Petaluma Main Post Office because 1)during this busy season they don't empty it fast enough, so the packages block the door and, even more irritating, 2) apparently they are now locking the thing so that all you can do there is buy stamps. I could hear the employees (I'm NOT calling them workers) laughing and talking behind the closed screens, but their responses to my shouted questions had me leaving shouting "I HATE USPS!!" No wonder all the other delivery services have stocks which are good investments.

    Dec 20, 2015
  • anon

    My only reason for choosing personal service is to get better looking stamps, or to deal with an oversized package. I wish my current town had a self serve kiosk.

    Sep 20, 2015
  • anon

    As a night shift employee who is not awake at the times the service desk is open I love using the kiosk and wish it was available at every post office. This being said however just yesterday I mailed an express overnight envelope that the kiosk charged me 19.99 for. I had it weighed and followed all the procedures at the kiosk. My mail carrier calls me and said the package is being returned to me for insufficient postage. Like it needs $9.00 more. Why didn't the kiosk register this? This was an important envelope I needed to get there overnight. Now I'm hitting the weekend. It's not like I wouldn't have paid the amount. The kiosk didn't ask for it. I'd like to know why.

    Sep 11, 2015
  • anon

    Used the kiosk, I didn't get a tracking number, USPS didn't deliver my package on time, and now they can't locate my package. Lesson learned: don't use USPS.

    Sep 10, 2015
  • anon

    For packages, FedEx is often cheaper, especially with an online account discount. You can print the label on paper at home, tape it on, and drop it off.

    Sep 20, 2015
  • anon

    Sometimes I am not sure the kiosk label will fit on the package or letter I am mailing. But if I know that isn't an issue and if I am not using a label I have printed from home, I will use the kiosk.

    Sep 01, 2015
  • anon

    I would normally use the kiosk, but doing anything at a government facility (i.e. Post Office) has become laborious. This week, I walk in, ready to use the kiosk. There are about 5 people lined up to use it, and 5 people waiting for the clerk at the counter. The kiosk had been "updated" and is now so complex, people are having trouble processing anything. So my post office has a full-time postal clerk standing at the kiosk helping each person navigate the kiosk, and one clerk at the counter helping people. There should be no need for a clerk at the kiosk. The kiosk should be simple enough so that people can navigate it by themselves. And both postal clerks should be at the counter helping people. I decided that the counter was a faster alternative for me, and it was. But when I get to the clerk, I am peppered with so many questions about my simple letter, that one almost feels like he's being criminally interrogated before he mails a simple letter. As if I can place a bomb or hazardous material in a ¼ ounce paper letter. And then I am now told I must press a "button" to confirm that what I said was true. And the Post Office if wondering why it is failing? Do the people in Washington have nothing else to do than come up with more complex kiosks and and barriers to mailing a simple letter? The USPS would not last a single day if it had to compete in the real world. And this is the reason why most government initiatives are complete failures. I could go on, but I think you understand exactly what I'm saying. I doubt my comments will even be read or posted. But again, that seems to have become the way of life in this once great country.

    Aug 23, 2015

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