• Reply to: Passing up Passport Revenue?   1 year 7 months ago

    My youngest daughter was given the chance to go to Germany for 3-1/2 weeks leaving in late June in mid-May. I called my Post Office to schedule an appointment the next day at approximately 8:30 AM. The station manger answered the call. After stating the purpose of my call, he asked that I call back after 9:00 AM. When I called back the station manager ask that I hold and then advised me that the next appointment time was seven week from when I called, which was 1-1/2 weeks after she was scheduled to leave. So we got up early on the following Saturday to go to the larger Post Office, which previously had walk-in for passport application, only to find out appointments were now required. I took down the phone number and attempted to call for an appointment later that day to no avail. To obtain her passport we went to the Passport Agency two days before she left and got her passport the same, which means USPS not only lost the $25.00 application fee but also lost the Priority Mail Postage for sending the passport and returning of the original documentation.

    My wife and I also needed our passports for an upcoming trip in December. After receiving new birth certificates and marriage certificate I attempted to call to schedule appointments for us to submit our applications. After many attempts to get someone to answer the phone an individual finally answered the phone only to advise me that nobody was there and took my name and number to have somebody call me back, which they never did. On one of my attempts I left the phone ring for 20+ minutes. The next day, after the person took my name and number, I called again and got appointments in less than five minutes. When we went to our appointments the clerk initially told me that I needed a new birth certificate, which I explained that I had already requested and received a new birth certificate and it had less information than the one I had with me. I also had both my Hospital Birth Certificate and my Baptismal Certificates with me, which the US State Department website were acceptable if the parents’ names are not on the Birth Certificate. I also had a receipt of registration for my Birth Certificate, which included my parents’ names. I advise the clerk to check the US State Department website to see what information was acceptable if the parents’ names are not on Birth Certificate. Initially, the clerk took my Birth Certificate and the receipt to submit but upon seeing our Marriage Certificate, the clerk returned my Birth Certificate and the receipt and submitted our Marriage Certificate instead. The clerk also required my wife and I to list were our parents were born, even though the information was optional on the application nor would the clerk allow us to request the 52 page passport. (When I went to the Passport Agency to obtain my daughter’s passport, her application was changed from the 28 page to 52 page by the clerk there.) Needless to say, I received a letter from the US State Department stating that I had to submit my Birth Certificate before a passport could be issued. So I sent all of the original paperwork I had taken with me to apply for the passport and mailed it to the Passport Agency. I called the supervisor of the clerk that originally processed my application and explained the situation. The supervisor told me that the USPS would submit the additional paperwork for me at no cost. I explained that had already mailed at my expense to avoid further delay. As a customer service organization, the feel the supervisor, USPS, should have offered to refund the postage.

    The USPS should put in place an automated telephone system for passport application appointment (similar to the Passport Agency), a web base appointment system, where customers may enter when they would like an appointment or a ZIP Code of where they would the appointment and the “calendar” would advise the customer when/where the appointment(s) are available or have as many of the retail window clerk trained for processing passport applications as possible and then just have passport applicants proceed through the line and if the next available window retail clerk is not able to process passports you just wait for the next clerk that can. It would be more customer friendly and less costly to allow customer very easily schedule an appointment either through a web base or automated phone system than to require them to make numerous calls to many post offices or even one post office to obtain an appointment.

  • Reply to: Fueling a Fleet   1 year 7 months ago

    Almost all of the Hydrogen used today comes from Methane (natural gas), a dirty little secret that you won't see mentioned in current dialog. Hydrogen can be extracted from water, but at great cost. The steam reforming process is less expensive. So, until someone unlocks the physics problem of water really liking to be water, Methane will continue to be the source for Hydrogen. Oh, by the way the the other by-product of making Hydrogen is CO2. OOPS. Check it out before responding.

  • Reply to: Does a Virtual PO Box service appeal to you?   1 year 7 months ago

    I am waiting not so patiently for this to become reality. A Virtual P.O. Box is desperately needed by ANYONE who runs an email newsletter and doesn't have a business address separate from home address.

    CAN-SPAM is a law requiring a physical address at the bottom of business emails, and ANY email newsletter. Violators can get hit with a hefty fine for non-compliance.

    My only address for my home based business is... my home! Putting that address on the bottom of an email newsletter that random people that find me on the internet can sign up for... SCARY!

  • Reply to: Great Expectations of Online Shopping   1 year 7 months ago

    Good article and an interesting read. Online shopping is now dominating retail stores and any store that doesn't offer online shopping is doomed to fade away.

  • Reply to: Learning from Lean Six Sigma   1 year 7 months ago

    Hey Thanks for sharing this information.This is very nice thing to Learn the Lean Six Sigma.This is Important to improve the Efficiency ,effectiveness and Business Sustainability.

  • Reply to: Exigent Price Increase Proposed   1 year 7 months ago

    You need some out of the box thinking instead of the old stodgy run of the mill "we need money, raise prices" thinking.

    I own a small business. Not just small, but tiny. A nano-business if you will. At today's current postal rates, plus adding in printing costs, I can't afford to send out mailers. Raising prices means potentially losing customers - and even if you don't lose customers you certainly don't gain new ones. Then you'll just have the same problem again in maybe a few years. It's a band-aid that won't hold for long.

    Here's an idea that goes against common thinking. CUT the rates. WHAT? Yeah, lower the rates - take the Walmart approach and increase the volume. It works for Walmart. If I could afford to send out direct mail - I would. Instead I use free Internet sources to advertise. I have to wonder how many other nano-businesses are in that boat. Make a massive cut so that anyone could afford it. Think about the guy running a business on a shoestring (that's me). I don't have $500 to spend on advertising. Scraping together $100 would be tough. Make it $50 or less for me to get the word out to 10,000 prospects and I'll keep coming back! That $50 needs to include printing.

    Ink a deal with a printing service to get cut rate printing for postal customers. Pump up the volume with synergy. More business for the printer, more business for the post office... more business for me. More business for me (and you) means more cash available to spend which means more growth for me, you and the printer.

    Another possibility is to facilitate sharing of ad space. Provide a service to we nano-businesses whereby we each get a portion of a page, and we all share in the cost. Instead of me having to go find another business owner that would be amenable to the idea the PO can offer it as a free service (the pairing of 2 or more businesses). Contract out the graphic design work (the placing of multiple ads on a page - a very simple task) to a printer who provides cut rate services as described above. Voila! Everybody wins.

    Or take the vistaprint.com approach. FREE! For about a year they gave me FREE products! Larger quantities were available for a price, but they got my attention - and my business by letting me have significant quantities of free products that were useful to me (like all kinds of marketing materials - business cards, banners, magnetic signs, post cards, etc. etc. etc.). You could offer a similar promotion, letting me have free delivery of my mailers for a healthy time period (like a year or two) so that I can generate meaningful sales - coupled with a significant discount from a printer that you contract with to get us all a volume discount. Give me enough time to generate some sales so I can start affording to pay higher rates. If you help me make sales, I'm not going to mind paying for your services - but I need a leg up. Give me that leg up and I'm going to give you my business. I suspect a lot of others have similar views - all businesses need to advertise but not all businesses have the upfront cash to spend so we don't do very well because of it. Help us grow, and the entire country - including the postal service - benefits!

  • Reply to: Fueling a Fleet   1 year 7 months ago

    You ask the question "Should the Postal Service throw in with one type of fuel or continue experimenting with a number of options?" You've essentially answered that question with this question: "How does the Postal Service remain flexible enough to adapt to the best technology knowing that rapid innovation in the alternative fuel sector means the next best thing could be right around the corner?" If you're interested in remaining flexible, then obviously you can't "throw in with one type of fuel". There's no reason you need to convert the entire fleet today. Take the private sector approach - which is to say pretend you're a real business with shareholders and your own money at stake, instead of a government boondoggle. What would you do then? Chances are you'd phase out older vehicles based on age of the vehicle, maintenance costs, fuel & other costs, and depreciation. As you phase out the old, you get new vehicles using whatever is the best option at the time. There aren't a lot of companies that would simply dump the entire fleet all at once. However, I strongly support the hydrogen approach simply because it's cleaner.

    You also ask "Should it set more aggressive goals for reducing its use of petroleum and increasing its alternative fuel use?" I say yes - get off the crack - I mean petro.

    Some interesting links:
    http://www.greencarcongress.com/2013/06/acal-20130627.html
    http://www.greencarcongress.com/2013/08/20130816-terps.html

  • Reply to: Fueling a Fleet   1 year 7 months ago

    This is NOT the only source of hydrogen generation, just one.

    News Release
    Hydrogen for Air Products’ Newest Fueling Station Comes From a Sustainable Source--Municipal Wastewater
    August 16, 2011 Lehigh Valley, Pa.
    Air Products (NYSE: APD), the leader in hydrogen fueling technology, today officially opened its newest California hydrogen fueling station drawing its feedstock from a very novel and sustainable source. Air Products is pumping hydrogen into fuel cell vehicles that is generated from the municipal wastewater treatment plant at the Orange County Sanitation District (OCSD) in Fountain Valley. In addition to generating hydrogen, the project also creates electricity and heat from this renewable source.

    Read the rest here: http://www.airproducts.com/company/news-center/2011/08/0816-hydrogen-for-air-products-newest-fueling-station-comes-from-municipal-wastewater.aspx

  • Reply to: Disappearing Collection Boxes   1 year 8 months ago

    The removal of our local pickup box will be a huge impact on this area where there are disabled and elderly folks who can't otherwise use usps. Sure we can leave mail out for our local carrier. Except she gets here about 7pm and the box is collected sooner. Is she trying to show management how busy she is? And how hard would it be for the local delivery carrier to pick up the contents of the blue box? She drives right by it daily. Does it have to be a dedicated driver that just empties boxes? We live in a mobile home park. Shouldn't each removal be based on need, not just how often it is used in a 7 day period. I am very upset about the removal of our local box. I use it several times a month!

  • Reply to: Exigent Price Increase Proposed   1 year 8 months ago

    I agree, the Postal Service has few choices. It has 5 days of cash on hand and limited ability to raise sufficient funds with a price cap, or aggressively cut costs or reduce services to adjust supply with demand given the constant congressional interference. I suspect this modest "exigent" price increase will not drive customers away. Certainly, most stamp users are asking "why not just raise it to 50 cents and leave me alone for a while?" (They don't understand the price cap, nor should we expect them to. Convenience is on the mind of retail customers.) Business mailers will complain, but in all likelihood, a roughly 6% increase will not drive them completely away, although we might see volumes dip a bit initially. Perhaps this price increase results in the Postal Service losing some of those "below cost" products and ends up saving money by losing this costly mail.

  • Reply to: Exigent Price Increase Proposed   1 year 8 months ago

    Since Congress couldn't pass or even agree on a Postal Reform Plan, the USPS had no other choice but to ask for a rate increase. Will it hurt business mailers - you bet. Under the rules set by Congress the USPS is in between and rock and a hard place.

  • Reply to: Exigent Price Increase Proposed   1 year 8 months ago

    The current rate system has several problems as I discussed in this recent article on STPO: http://www.savethepostoffice.com/groundhog-day-post-office-time-exigent-rate-increase-again

    General Williams recent testimony to Congress discussed the issue of elasticity specifically and rates more generally. It seems that the current request is something of a political action designed to get the mailers upset and have them push Congress for reform legislation.
    Maintaining postal services in this country and maintaining and improving the postal network and postal infrastructure is going to require an appropriate rat system. Th current request may raise some revenues in the short term but in the long term the system still has problem. The current rate system and the logic supporting it is embedded with privilege and preference. It is a system which does not recognize the value of the postal network as national infrastructure but instead views it as capacity captured by and serving some rather narrow industry interests.
    If we want to preserve the aspects of postal services that support universal service as well as some of the intangible values inherent in universal service then we'll need to move to a rate system that reflects those values. The current request is merely tactics that don't serve any useful strategic vision.

  • Reply to: Exigent Price Increase Proposed   1 year 8 months ago

    You're not really serious are you?
    Did any of you watch the recent Postal reform hearings?

    Your mailers are the only customer/vendors you've got left?

    "Cutting off the nose to spit the face".

    "Passports"? What do you think the life expectancy of a Passport is in this age of Bit-Coins?
    Your transportation network leadership or front line personnel do not even know how to exploit the wireless networks you own and operate, in some of the most radio frequency penetrated geographic zones in North America!

  • Reply to: Passing up Passport Revenue?   1 year 8 months ago

    Staffing. Our station could do passports all day long, our passport office is used for storage, computer long gone. Only one passport qualified clerk, doing them by appointment, hour per day...that's just one of thousands of missed revenue opportunities.

  • Reply to: Passing up Passport Revenue?   1 year 8 months ago

    Fewer people are using the Post Office for passports becaue the customer service is absolutely terrible. A couple of years ago we needed to get passports for our children. So, we called the nearest Post Office that provided passport services. All we got was a recorded message that said an appointment was required. There was no option to talk to a live person at all. We left two or three messages on different days and never received any call back.

    I then found that passports could be applied for at the county government office. The service there was surprisingly good. They actually answer their phone! And, the wait time in their office wasn't long at all. I would never even consider using the Post Ofice for passport services again. Not a chance!

    Why would anyone think that a Post Office, which always has long lines, poor service, and union employees who don't care about customers, would be anyone's choice for any service when they have an alternative?

  • Reply to: Passing up Passport Revenue?   1 year 8 months ago

    Why does the OIG start these projects with out doing the full research? What was USPS annual passport revenue before the new reuirements went into effect? If everyone who needed new passports in 2008 and 2009 applied back then you should see a return to normal a few years after that. OIG doesnt tell us what normal was. Also when it come time to renew your passport you can not go down to the post-office and process a renewal in the same manor that you do in applying for your first passport, so there is no renewal or repeat business. Can the OIG tell us what percent of Americans now hold valid passports? If its 80% for example then your opportunity in the future is only 20%. If the postal service had that answer then they may be able to predict what percent may apply for new passports in the future.

  • Reply to: Does a Virtual PO Box service appeal to you?   1 year 8 months ago

    I love the idea of this but don't agree that the USPS should take a project like this on since they are already hemmoraging at the expense of the tax payers . . . leave this to private industries that have to show a profit to stay afloat.

  • Reply to: Passing up Passport Revenue?   1 year 8 months ago

    When the post office started doing passports my office jumped on line. We did very well, we had three window stations.
    Almost every day we had many appointments, and at times we did walk ins. Then the reduction in force started , three clerks were excessed, the middle window station was eliminated. With the shortness in staff, management did not want to pay overtime to process the passport applications. When time came to renew or take the the online training again, conveniently it was overlooked. The online renewal training process could not be taken again until it was offered again in the future. Fast forward now to current time, our office is still on the website as a passport office. We have not done a passport application in almost two years. People come in everyday or call, wanting to make an appt. for a passport and we have to send them to another office. It's a shame when something was working so well and customers liked it, then the rug was pulled from under them. It seems like the post office is creating it's own demise. What happened to service, giving the customers what they want not sending them somewhere else. I want to keep my job not give it to someone else.

  • Reply to: Passing up Passport Revenue?   1 year 8 months ago

    postal management feels passport work is a waste of time.

    REMEMBER IT IS ALWAYS MANAGEMENTS FAULT,MANAGEMENT MAKES THE RULES!!!!!

  • Reply to: Passing up Passport Revenue?   1 year 8 months ago

    If we can have carriers out delivering mail till 11pm in Newport News Virginia then we can keep the lobby open as well and service those patrons needing passports. .....we had carriers out deliving mail till 11pm on 9/23/2013

  • Reply to: Passing up Passport Revenue?   1 year 8 months ago

    I totally agree with, James Bookman, and Mark Jamison. We do everything half hearted. {substitute another body part for heart if you wish} It is almost as if everytime the decision is made to do something new, there is someone all too anxious to make sure it doesn't work. When you see a program work in isolated places, you will find dedicated workers that quite often invested their own money, and took on extra responsibility to complete the job. Usually there is some curiosity as to why this area was succesful. Instead of endorsing the succesful methods, we will beat them back with the rule book, until they are "normalised".

  • Reply to: Passing up Passport Revenue?   1 year 8 months ago

    The economy definitely had a negative impact on the number of passports issued. A larger cause is that the Postal Service doesn't do a good job advertising this service. Sure - there is a link at the bottom left of usps.com but without creating awareness that the Postal Service offers this service many people wouldn't know to look there. The Postal Service does an excellent job promoting Priority Mail. It needs to have an advertising campaign to introduce/reintroduce all the products and services (including passports) it offers .

  • Reply to: Do you agree with the Postal Service’s decision to change the name of Express Mail and rename Parcel Post?   1 year 8 months ago

    Another attempt to simplify has become another bane to the average user of the Postal Service. Having two unique options to send your mail combined into one package!!!!! On one hand we have the very popular Priority mail option and then we have the Express mail option, both unique in their own ways. Now we go and combine the two names together on packaging that will further confuse the customer when they come to mail their products. If this is not another way to keep our customers away from using the Post Office, I don't know what is. This idea goes hand in hand with the idea of doing away with the blue and orange Express bags and using regular tyvek bags and slapping an express label on it. If we want to bring our delivery numbers up we have to keep a way of differentiating our services so they can be shipped correctly, not by combining names of our popular mailing options so as to confuse our wonderful customers into using the wrong mailing boxes! Here sir, Try one of these Priority Mail Express Standard Media Mail 2-Day boxes.....is this the next big idea????????

  • Reply to: Passing up Passport Revenue?   1 year 8 months ago

    Could it be that in the areas where people would be most likely to need passport services from the Postal Service that hours and access have been cut?
    It might also be that the increasing presence of untrained non-career personnel at offices reduces the confidence people might have in these sorts of services. Post offices are increasingly short staffed and postmasters are increasingly bogged down with mandates such that in many places any service that requires a bit of effort or time becomes a bother.

    By the way, OIG Williams was quite impressive in his appearance before the Senate last Thursday.

  • Reply to: Passing up Passport Revenue?   1 year 8 months ago

    I greatly suspect that at least a major factor for the decline in pass port revenue it due to most American's, as I have, are fearful of foreign travel because of the threat of terrorism.

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