News about disappearing collection boxes is everywhere these days. Even BBC News ran a story on the decline of the blue collection box in the United States.

The Postal Service argues that picking up mail from collection boxes is expensive. Removing underused boxes is a cost savings move and a reasonable response to the economic crisis. The Postal Service is removing boxes with less than 25 stamped mail pieces per day.

Critics wonder if there is adequate analysis to support the 25-piece minimum and whether one reason for removing collection boxes — in addition to the minimal cost savings — is that the Postal Service does not want to be criticized for poor service. Fewer boxes mean fewer opportunities to miss a collection or to pick up mail too early.

Is the Postal Service thinking too narrowly and missing some of the value of collection boxes? The ubiquitous presence of the boxes is free advertising for the ailing agency. How much would a private sector company pay to be allowed to put a collection box anywhere it wanted to in the country? Millions? Billions?

What do you think? Is removing collection boxes a reasonable cost-cutting move or a strategic mistake that the Postal Service will later regret?

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

Comments (67)

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  • anon

    ive been reading stories on here where the town had to gaurd the collection boxes to keep the p o from taking them. get the hint p o your penny pincing ways are costing millions in lost revanue. i see the penny pinching in our office as losing producttivity. they take away our tables and carts and expect us to do things the hard way so we dont waste office time.

    Nov 10, 2009
  • anon

    Collection boxes aren't for advertising. They're for moving mail and every box out there needs to be picked at least once, usually 2x or more each day. It's hardly "free advertising," then, as implied by the post. They're coming out because the piece counts don't justify the expenditures involved in keeping them in serve. Of course craft employees and the unions will tell you it's shortsighted to take them out, just as they'll tell you it's outrageous to consider 5-day delivery, excessing employees and eliminating jobs no longer necessary in the current environment. It's all about job preservation, no matter what the cost, for those stakeholders. Management, on the other hand, constantly gets pressured to reduce costs and eliminate expenses. Collection boxes garnering 5 pieces of mail a day are a waste of resources - period.

    Nov 10, 2009
  • anon

    I'd say that removing mailboxes is actually a mistake. Also this is he #1 complaint I'm currently hearing from the public at large. How much money does it actually save the USPS? We probably can't throw full blame on local postmasters and station managers only. Isn't this an executive decision made in Washington DC? In the last three-to-four years local managers have been in a dilemma: either increase revenue, or else, cut costs (by any means necessary). Local managers need to start speaking up at meetings and during teleconferences. The transparent value-added benefits of NOT reducing collection mailboxes outweigh the immediate cost-savings. OG

    Nov 10, 2009
  • anon

    It takes at the most two minutes to collect a blue box and sort the different seperations required by the post office i.e. Netflixs, Blockbusters, metered SPURS, uncancelled SPURS, flats, priority envelopes, international mail, etc. That is a small price to pay for providing customer satisfaction for security of their mail and the fact that it is a means of advertising.

    Nov 10, 2009
  • anon

    Extremely short-sighted. To make something harder to access in today's world goes against our current culture. In addition, to have a route designed just for collection of the boxes, while the regular carrier in the neighborhood just drives passed it, is a waste of time, money and fuel. It can be a regular stop and scanned to please all the bean-counters who are trying to justify their jobs.

    Nov 09, 2009
  • anon

    Just put a box at the end of every carrier route. Post a collection time of something stupid like "2PM." Anything deposited by 2PM will be collected. It'll take little more than a minute a day to provide this simple but needed service. Is this really that difficult to figure out?

    Nov 09, 2009
  • anon

    stupid idea to remove all those blue boxes. but what is even more dumb is that in san diego ca they are putting the blue boxes in the trash!

    Nov 09, 2009
  • anon
    Ben Franklin

    "How much would a private sector company pay to be allowed to put a collection box anywhere it wanted to in the country? Millions? Billions?".... My view is that the "OIG" should not be promoting privatizing the Post Office or the collection boxes...your job will be gone too!!!! But then your probably too busy violating the heppa law.....

    Nov 09, 2009
  • anon

    One could think that the private sector is financing some of this "out-of-target" ideas that the USPS is promoting so intensively. Is there any other reason? I mean the private sector is not dumb, if they can't fight front and center they will find a way to demolish the USPS by using any methods, legal or illegal.

    Nov 09, 2009
  • anon

    The sad truth is, you will find a collection box in FRONT of a post office. How is that for convenience? The Service wants more business but removes the vehicle (collection boxes) to obtain that objective.

    Nov 09, 2009
  • anon

    If i walk but the box 2 times a day as a carrier why cant i just pick it up when i am done with my route 3 mins of my time why does someone who gets paid 50 grand a year have to pick up only the boxs and them we say let get rid of the boxs and save 50 grand LET the carriers whose routes they are on pick them up we see them all every day. NUFF said

    Nov 09, 2009
  • anon

    The USPS "management" answers to no one so their actions do not have to make sense. Just like removing stamp machines from the lobbies. ANYTHING to get the customers to go elsewhere. These people should be fired.

    Nov 09, 2009
  • anon

    According to Larry Logan, Senior Deputy of the Ventura County Sheriff's Department in Southern California, mail thieves often go "popcorning," slang for cruising neighborhoods in search of outgoing mail left unattended, signaled by red flags in the upward position on mailboxes. "Everyday, somebody's going up and down the street, looking in mailboxes." When residents put mail in an unlocked curbside mailbox and put up the red flag to signal postal workers, it sends the same signal to burglars: Your mail is ready to be taken. He recommends taking your mail to a blue collection box. "Otherwise, you and your neighborhood will become a target."

    Nov 09, 2009
  • anon

    I agree it is a short-sighted, strategic gaff that the Postal Service will one day regret.

    Nov 09, 2009
  • anon
    postalsanity

    Over the last years increased identity theft has resulted in reluctance to put sensible mailings, like bill payments, in mailboxes for carrier pickup. Some people have resorted to mail such items from their workplace. Mailing from work is not possible for all, so a good part has to rely on collection boxes to drop off sensitive mailings. It could be argued that a substantial decrease of conveniently located collection boxes may increase some consumer's willingness to switch to online payments/transactions. The other option for the consumer is inconvenience to get to a more remote collection box, or to return using their potentially unsafe mail box. And increased mail box use for sending items will lead to a higher carrier work load. It is a decision were "minimal savings" have to be balanced against consumer's perception of USPS. <a href="http://www.postalsanity.com" rel="nofollow">www.postalsanity.com</a>

    Nov 09, 2009
  • anon

    I used to get complaints from friends and relatives about waiting in line at Post Offices. Now I get complaints about their inability to find a collection box. I don't know how much money this is saving the agency, but it appears there have been too many boxes removed. I don't think any of our customers would argue with the need to eliminate some of them, but in some places the reduction has been dramatic (e.g. Santa Barbara).

    Nov 09, 2009
  • anon

    I think it is a strategic mistake. Very short-sighted.

    Nov 09, 2009

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