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 (161)

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  • anon

    just used self-service kiosk, Burlington MA - failed to print out a sheet of stamps - its small amount, but still bugs me not getting what I paid for.

    Nov 17, 2017
  • anon

    yup me to... "I just got a package returned for inadequate postage after using self-serve"?

    Nov 04, 2017
  • anon

    I prefer to talk to someone especially if I am not sure what method of postage I need. So I would have to go with clerk.

    Oct 27, 2017
  • anon

    I used the kiosk for priority overnight and it took two weeks. I had the package tracked and it was just sitting at the destination post office.

    Oct 21, 2017
  • anon

    Because it's too easy to not pick the right option. Needs a picture menu. Example: I mail a lot of watches in small padded envelopes that are rated as package service. Today my boyfriend used the kiosk, imputed it as a large envelope. 1/2 price. But is it going to show up w postage due?? Be returned?? Who knows! No tracking# on this receipt either. Now a customer is unhappy & his gift for his wife might be late.

    Oct 14, 2017
  • anon

    I just got a package returned for inadequate postage after using self-serve?

    Oct 07, 2017
  • anon

    Don't use Kiosk for Priority mail express! I recently send a document to Texas, and it took 4 days to arrive. I went to the post office for a refund, and they said that without the Express mail form, I can't get a refund. I asked why, he said, without the form there is no way to prove you mailed the item in a timely manner. I then showed the online tracking showing "USPS in Possession of item" at 9:48 AM (Cut off was 3:05 PM). He said, "that doesn't matter, its just a website" I said, it's the USPS website, your website. He said sorry sir without the form I can't process a refund. I checked online via the USPS website, and the supervisor is wrong. I'm bringing a form 3533 request for refund form with me, and going to try again with a clerk who knows what they're doing. Mean time, for Express mail DONT USE THE KIOSK!

    Sep 27, 2017
  • anon

    I will tell you this -- the clerks have told me 3 different things in regards to sending 8x5 flat bubble mailers. They say if it is flat (these are almost paper flat like an envelope) and can fit through "mail slot" (that they showed and demonstrated to me on some cardboard example behind the counter) and under the one ounce (which they are) it would only cost the regular first class amount. I sent them through the clerk which was the $.49 or whatever. As I send items out after hours due to day job; my plan had been to utilize the kiosk now that I (supposedly) had confirmation on how much it would be. The items mailed through the clerk all went to recipients fine. Same exact mailings, through kiosk (50 of them!!!) about 24 of them had arrived to their destinations while the rest were MIA! TWO AND A HALF WEEKS later ...... after having to refund almost $300 to customers, deal with a temporary suspension of my business during an appeal, expend more funds to build back inventory; and basically have my awesome reputation in what I specialize in destroyed .... I get almost 20 of the mailings returned to me stating POSTAGE DUE. And not ONE PERSON can explain to me why, and not one person there will provide the extra postage even though they "taught" me; or ... even a "sorry". Why is it the same exact items were delivered fine in 2-3 days through a clerk and the 2 times I have used the kiosk I got screwed? This is why I do not utilize it and never will again. I really do not even want to use the post office period after this!!!!! They promoted it and based on what I agreed with them at the time, convenient .... it ruined what I worked very hard to build that was going to be my full time gig. Never again.

    Sep 01, 2017
  • anon

    I used a kiosk to send a medium box package and I didn't give me a receipt and I didn't know why because I had never used one before. So now my package did not arrive and I have no way of tracking it now all I have is the reference number for purchase and the adress and return adress but nobody will help me.. I've tried online by phone and the sending location.. what can I do to find my package ?? Please help

    Jul 21, 2017
  • anon

    mailed a package via the kiosk at the post office in williamsburg, virginia zip 23188. unfortunately, i lost my receipt but have my banking transaction id numbers. the post office said they could not help me because the kiosk records of transactions was not available to them. so, very unfortunate for me. Spent $12. for a lost package that was never received. I thought with all of the banking numbers there could be a trace. not happy with a service within the post office that has no access.

    Jul 13, 2017
  • anon

    How do I get a tracking number when the kiosk didn't provide one on the receipt - I had to return an item for refund, I mailed it back as per their instructions - but they insist on providing them a tracking number - how do I go about and get one to resolve this issue - thank you

    May 23, 2017
  • anon

    Hi Dale, Thank you for your message. The OIG is an independent agency of the Postal Service which investigates internal fraud, waste, and abuse, and day-to-day mail delivery issues are outside of our jurisdiction. 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, (800) 275-8777, or file an online complaint with Customer Service.

    May 24, 2017
  • anon

    I get tracking labels from USPS.com and but postage from the kiosk but the post office does not scan my packages in Palatine when I drop them off. I do not print labels. how caqn this be resolved? I drop off many packages

    May 22, 2017
  • anon

    The kiosk won't allow mailing of fragile items. Not sure why....

    May 08, 2017
  • anon

    Because from the kiosk you drop your package into a "drop slot" that goes into a bin. The next packages drop into that bin also. Packages up to 70 pounds go through there. A "fragile" item stands a much better chance of being broken.

    Aug 02, 2017
  • anon

    Kiosk no more. Have bills to mail. kiosk took my money but didn't print stamps. Used to like them. Already out $5 and no stamps to mail the bills.

    Apr 10, 2017
  • anon

    I have a feeling USPS doesn't watch or respond to this site...

    Mar 12, 2017
  • anon

    Haha, I am actually a USPS clerk at a small sub-station and I am browsing around while I am slow. I figured I would see what people think about us USPS workers. To be honest, because I don't work at the main post office I did not get the proper training. I mostly have to wing it when someone comes in with anything but your normal everyday packages. I am sure most of my customers think I am incompetent!

    Aug 02, 2017
  • anon

    I would like to know if I can send an envelope using Express mail or overnight mail using the kiosks. I couldn't find that information on your websites or in the Youtube videos.

    Mar 09, 2017
  • anon

    Don't do it, they won't honor 1 day guarantee for express mail, as the kiosk does not provide proper documentation.

    Sep 27, 2017
  • anon

    Yesterday, after hours I used the kiosk to purchase stamps and THE ONLY THING I RECEIVED for my $4.90 debit on my bank card WAS A RECEIPT!!! Luckily I was able to dispute the charge with my bank and will see how that turns out with good ol' USPS! I've used the kiosk twice. Both times were a disaster! They are NOT user friendly, but they ARE A RIP-OFF!

    Mar 04, 2017
  • anon

    Media Mail postage cannot be mailed at the kiosks. A clerk told me that is because most folks don't understand what can and cannot be mailed at this rate. The USPS needs to inform customers of the rules. Mostly, we who use this service are adults.

    Mar 03, 2017
  • anon

    Yes, this is very frustrating. I just have books that need to mailed and can't use the kiosks!

    Jul 18, 2017
  • anon

    They should develop a video at the kiosk to walk people through the process.

    Feb 22, 2017
  • anon

    The kiosk at Sandy Plains Road in Marietta failed to discharge all the stamps I paid for. I bought 30 and only received 14. It did take my payment but no stamps. I am going over to handle this in the am but I want it on record. I took a picture as well.

    Feb 10, 2017
  • anon

    Michael: This is a common problems with the Kiosks. If you bang your hand into the area above the postage dispenser, it will usually fall out... I have had this happen several times. The clerk said its because of "static electricity" Sounds like a bad design to me.

    Sep 27, 2017
  • anon

    There must be something wrong with that machine. I used it in Feb to mail a large package to Mableton. It just came back to me today saying incorrect postage. It took over a month for them to get it back to me from mableton. That is horrible. I am now out $1.19. I should get a refund for that.

    Mar 30, 2017
  • anon

    It is unclear what services are available and could not find online (kept getting locations site that has no link to sevices). Would also be nice if you warned customers of service that will require or might require a real person. I am seeing one link ( the location link that pops up readily online) that could have a clear link showing self-service features with pic and then a sidebar that says-- caution. You will need a real person for the following.)

    Feb 09, 2017
  • anon

    This. Exactly this. I have no idea if I can do insurance and mark a package as Fragile at the kiosk. I guess I'll be standing in line for the counter. I tried a google search - all I get is kiosk locations. I know the location. I just don't know if it can do the services I need or not. There needs to be a simple list right at the top of the page showing which services are available at the kiosk AND which aren't.

    Apr 26, 2017
  • anon

    The attendance take too long and most of the time they are rude. I'd much rather deal with the machine then bad customer service. Most the time I look for the self service kiosks in my area.

    Feb 07, 2017
  • anon

    The kiosk at my local post office just stole $4.90, I purchased some $.34 stamps then 10 forever stamps, and while the .34 stamps printed without a problem, the forever stamps never appeared. I wasn't upset until I realized there is NO way to report the problem. Clearly if I'm out buying stamps at 9 pm, I don't have time to deal with this sort of thing during the day. The phone number at my post office doesn't accept messages, nor does the 800 number AND I still haven't found a place do report it online.

    Jan 31, 2017
  • anon

    The window is too slow most of the time. I need 24 hour capability for any possible service especially in my area

    Jan 15, 2017
  • anon

    Using the kiosk, I had sent a package through first class mail large envelope that was under 13 ounces. I unknowingly opted for no tracking and the customer who I sold the product to is saying he did not receive it within the one to three days that it projects. I sent it out on the 7th and it's nail 13th of January in the customer has not said the package was received. What are my options in order to obtain information on where or when the package was delivered or sent back? Thank you. -Zack

    Jan 13, 2017
  • anon

    Dude, the only thing you could have done is tried to report a lost item to the post office. There is a form you would need to fill out describing the item's contents and stating who it was going to and who from. Then the post office would conduct a check to see if a package matching that description turned up in a bin somewhere. But without tracking, the odds of the post office actually tracking down your package are fractions of a tenth of a percent.

    Mar 31, 2017
  • anon

    I prefer the kiosk because there is barely a line or no line. I have wondered why so few people use it.

    Jan 10, 2017
  • anon

    There are only two options to mail a package on the kiosk. Only the most expensive options are available. I can sit in a line and have the teller find MUCH cheaper options than are available on the stupid kiosk. FIX THIS!!!

    Jan 05, 2017
  • anon

    The kiosk doesn't allow multiple transactions on one card swipe. I had 7 priority mail packages and there was a line behind me. Have to start over and re-insert my card for every package was enough to make me stand in line for your understaffed service with your slow as molasses, though nice, clerks.

    Dec 20, 2016
  • anon

    Yes it does. Swipe once then choose CREDIT, not debit.

    Jun 01, 2017
  • anon

    I use the Kiosk in my area constantly, even mailing multiple packages. Love it! What I found is that it does allow multiple transaction with one swipe if using a credit card. If you'll using a debit card then you must swipe after each transaction.

    Feb 10, 2017
  • anon

    Why isn't there an option to get a tracking number for my small package or 9X11 envelope at an automated site?

    Dec 16, 2016
  • anon

    On December 10, I used a kiosk. Unfortunately, there was not any postage that actually printed. How should I proceed to get a refund? I have the receipt, and there is tracking information on it...but again, no actual "stamp" I could put on the package.

    Dec 11, 2016
  • anon

    Same thing happened to me at the Monroe, NC USPS location last night. If anyone has a clue on what to do, lemme know please!

    Feb 20, 2017
  • anon

    In Long Island, NY. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this 24 hour automated postal machine. I sometimes have 10 small packages and I get dirty looks from both the postal workers and customers. I hated taking up their time, and sometimes I cant do my shipping til the end of the day, so this is my dream come true. I have been using it daily and treat it well and give it a hug and blow kisses at it when I leave. I love that I can do this myself, and not take up the time of other people, and can go there on Sunday afternoon so my packages go out Monday. Thank you!

    Dec 06, 2016
  • 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

    Weigh and print your postage at home. You can get a decent shipping scale on ebay for $30. I have an eBay store and ship 5 - 20 packages a week. I have NEVER had one come back for short postage. I ship everything either first class or in flat rate priority boxes. Keep in mind, when weighing, you round up to the next ounce.

    Aug 02, 2017
  • anon

    Same thing happened to me last week. I used the kiosk at my local post office to send a large envelope. I follow the directions, buy the stamp and sent it in. Three days later, the letter came back to me with a postage due notice on it. I don't understand why. Keep in mind that I have used the kiosk many times in the past without any problems.

    Dec 07, 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

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