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 (97)

The most direct way to report fraud, waste, misconduct within the Postal Service is via our Hotline form

Leave a comment

By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.
  • 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

    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
  • anon

    I wanted to purchase SMALL postcard stamps. The only option at the kiosk was to manually add the price of a postcard stamp to then purchase 1-5 of them, but the size of the actual stamp was more than double the size of a regular stamp! uh, no thanks....

    Aug 14, 2015
  • anon

    Dear USPS, I had an opportunity to try your automated postal service Kiosk for the first time. I am an engineer / scientist and so these type of systems interest me. I thought I would pass along my experience, in the event you consider improving your system in the future. First I will mention what I needed to do on this occasion; later I will generalize as to what I think you could do to make your system work better. I needed to purchase a Certified service for my 1st class letter. 1) I followed the menus until I got to the point of needing to purchase the 1st class postage. 2) Since I already had applied the postage to the letter and there were no other reasonable choices I aborted the process. 3) After talking to one of the postal workers, he insisted that I just needed to continue in order to do what I wanted. I told him that it appeared I needed to buy postage in order to continue for a letter that already had postage. 4) I went back and started the process again until I got to the same point where I needed to buy postage. I selected the appropriate amount and continued. 5) On the screen after I got the option to apply the Certified Mail service, which I selected. 6) I entered the address information - I had to read very carefully the instructions in order to figure out whether to enter numbers and letters altogether or separately and to include West or not. 7) I was given the option to adjust postage which I did. 8) I selected the label type and printed the label. 9) Even after printing my Certified sticker it was unclear how to apply it. I selected the smaller size on account that the original larger size was larger than my letter. The smaller sticker had a ‘fold here’ label which I assumed to fold around the side of the letter. But this would obscure the postage that was already on the letter. General comments: There are so many improvements you can make it will be hard to capture them all but here are a few: 1) For a first timer the process seemed to take a lot longer than needed. I can see if you use the system often you can move through the screens quickly because of your familiarity with the system. But as someone who might use it once a month I would tend to forget the process enough to not benefit. 2) The fact that some options are not presented until the very end causes the user to question the whole process (for example adding Certified service) . 3) Instead of having one single path that the user needs to navigate to a given solution consider offering multiple paths. 3a) For example my focus of need to Certify a letter should have been apparent within one or two screens instead of needing to navigate half a dozen or more screens. 3b) I had to weigh a letter, purchase the postage, and then un-purchase the postage in order to do what I needed. ( All unnecessary steps.) 4) The first screen in particular was too wordy; required to much reading and figuring out. 5) Entering the address information was unnecessarily complicated; way too many instructions. Have the user start entering the address (numbers and letters), and when the machine narrows it down to one address sound a bell, and/or show the user a list of addresses that satisfy what he starts typing in, updated continuously. And allowing the user to select from the list at any time. 6) When evaluating improvements, test them out on prospective customers to determine how effective they are; do not base performance based on how quickly one of the developers can do something on the system as they are too familiar with it and all of its idiosyncrasies. 6a) Use total time, and number of user clicks as metrics to determine how efficient your interface is. 6b) I would strongly encourage getting a different team to work on the improvements; the current team is not talented.

    Jul 30, 2015
  • anon

    The Kiosk almost ALWAYS costs a lot more than waiting to send a package through a clerk. What a ripoff! I appreciate all the help from the clerks, and it's wonderful to talk to such nice people.

    Jul 27, 2015
  • anon

    The kiosk used to ask you to enter the zip code, but now you have to type in the entire address. Takes too long and if you make a mistake typing, it takes even longer. Why bother to write or type up an address label, if you have to type the entire thing in again at the kiosk? It used to be fast and easy. Why make it harder and more complicated? If the Post Office is going to waste my time this way, then I may as well stand on line. I will not use the kiosks unless I only have to type in my zip code again.

    Jul 24, 2015
  • anon

    They should be at every major shopping location, they are a dream come true, no standing in lines and no interaction with a potential depressed or disgruntled employee who might do lord knows what,please put them more places like shopping centers and malls. I could actually buy a gift and overnight my package all at the same spot. A lot of times I just won't buy things because of the hassle of having to go to a post office, try it out in a busy mall before Christmas so the public will know they are available and how easy they are to use, of coarse put an attendant there to show the general public how simple they are to use

    Jul 05, 2015
  • anon

    I had a very important Certified Letter where I need the number to stay the same -- and the postal worker told me that the kiosk would issue a new number, making the contents of my letter invalid with a different number. I later figured out that it is not true and I can just add a tracking number in addition to the certified parcel number.

    Jun 14, 2015
  • anon

    Only time I ever use the clerk is for international since that option isn't available at the kiosk. Although I don't really do that anymore either since I can post international online and give to my mailman at home.

    Jun 13, 2015
  • anon

    I am a perfect example of how using self serve can go bad. I was approached at the local post office by an employee as I was standing in a long line. As I had never used the self serve for express mail the employee guided me. Now at the end a very tiny piece if paper came out. Thinking it was my receipt for using my debit card,I asked the employee for my customer tear off copy d om the to and from slip thats put on the outside if the envelope that has the tracking number. The empliyee told me that when you use the machine,you are not allowed to get that copy. Not ever using the self serve before that day,I thanked him and left. The next day I wanted to track my package only to find out,that I could not,because I did not have my copy which I found out infact was suppose to receive that as I requested and the very tinyreceipt that came out of the machine must have dropped out if my pocket so I had nothing to track my very important check. Anyone using this,take a lesson from me and insist on getting YOUR copy of the custom receipt. This employee was absolutely incorrect and was suppose to give me my copy. Now the check I sent has still not been received and it was for a very very important payment,which will now jeopardizes my credit,but will also caused a big problem as a result,which has caused alot stress. We rely on the knowledge and proper training of the post office employees and this was a huge costly lesson for me. Its now 5 days and still did not arrive to the destination and I have no way to track it. The post office blamed me when I asked for their assistance,not holding the employee accoutable at all. When I specifically found out from a good source that the employee was totally incorrect. In the end, I am the one paying the price and they did not even ask anything about their employee.ost office if you are going to put your employees out on the floor to assist customers with self serve,Please make sure they are trained to do so. When we send mail out your errors could really damage us,the public. Thank yoj .'

    Jun 02, 2015
  • anon

    Can you use the self serve shipping console to ship a box of books via the media rate?

    Jun 02, 2015
  • anon

    I calculated on line the cost to mail a small object in a standard envelope and the price ranged from .71 to .93, However, when I mailed it at the post office counter it cost $2.54! What accounts for the difference??

    Jun 02, 2015
  • anon

    Why was the package bin locked this morning at Arlington Texas and at Irving Texas P.O.? This is very frustrating!

    Jun 01, 2015
  • anon

    I tend to do a number of certified letters and prefer to have the information completed before arriving at the post office. If you indicate you have prefilled postal forms you do not have the opportunity to enter the tracking number into the machine. As a result if the letter / package is lost how would you prove that you mailed it.

    Apr 16, 2015
  • anon

    I do use the kiosks often and have had good experiences UNTIL NOW. I mailed a package on March 14 at the branch post office 10009. It vanished from the face of the earth for 10 days--not a mention on the tracking site, even though it was insured (extra) and placed in the drawer provided. I sent an email asking for help, and was given a case number and told I would be contacted in 3 days--BUT NEVER WAS. Then, a miracle of sorts--on March 23, I checked the tracking site and saw that it had been sent to GUAM. (It was addressed to Santa Barbara 93105 and on the receipt as such.) How the heck did that happen??? It left Guam on March 24 and spent several days on the Pacific, arriving in Honolulu on March 27. It finally arrived in Santa Barbara on March 30. I have no recourse because Priority Mail is not guaranteed, but this seemed really out of the realm of acceptable Post Office delivery. I'm glad it wasn't stolen, but because of this ridiculous route, my niece's 16th birthday gift arrived way after the event, which was deeply disappointing for my mother, who was hoping to give her the present the package contained. I'm glad it wasn't stolen. But I just wanted to let someone know that no one ever responded to my initial email after promising to do so. And I wanted to let someone know that my package was sent to GUAM. I mean, what even goes to Guam??? Not a lot, I bet. Aaargh. Thanks for listening. Barbara

    Apr 10, 2015
  • anon

    No proof of actual mailing from a Kiosk. It's technically not even shipped until someone scans it. So the Kiosk is great for an after hours emergency, but otherwise never.

    Apr 08, 2015
  • anon

    The self-service kiosk has worked for me when I've tried it, but I'm frequently shipping eBay items and have already bought postage through there. I use the clerk to accept my packages so I can be sure the tracking number is activated.

    Apr 03, 2015
  • anon

    Online or kiosks. And if I must then person. The post office workers in my area do not like the job, not afraid to get fired, and treat the customer like crap. I was not born in this country and look white. At fist my thoughts were "Reverse racism". The realized no, pretty much Everybody gets treated equally with standard "CRAP"

    Mar 30, 2015

Pages

Recent Comments

Monthly Archive