$2.2 Billion! Really?

The United States Post Office is reporting a $2.2 billion loss for the second quarter.  And yes, that is billion, not million, as in nine zeros and three commas.  It is a horrific loss—for one quarter.  Officials say they may not be able to borrow money for operating expenses by the end of September.  In 2010, the agency posted $8.5 billion in losses, their fourth straight year of losses.

How can the post office lose this much money? 

Now the post office leadership is calling on Congress to cut Saturday delivery in an attempt to save money.  Other actions by the post office, announced last March, include the elimination of 7500 jobs and the closure of 2000 post offices.  They are also considering higher postage fees.

The question remains – why?

Why is the post office not competitive?

Why do other carriers get more business at higher rates?

Why are they losing so much money?

Why can’t they be competitive in the industry they essentially created?

Why do postal workers go “postal?”

Why are postal customers unhappy with the agency?

I found some of the answers to these questions yesterday.  We paid a premium fee to get a package to a customer who needed it by Friday.  Not only did the post office not deliver, they would not start investigating until five business days had passed. 

Their online tracking system was inadequate; then we had to work our way through a myriad of automated telephone prompts to find there was no additional information available than online.  Then it was through another set of prompts to get to talk to a human.

When we finally reached the human, apathetic is the best description of her service.  She was going to collect her guaranteed paycheck, regardless of the satisfaction or dissatisfaction of customers.  It showed in her attitude.

Her supervisor was no different.  It showed in his manner also.

For the actual guarantee offered, we should have shipped the package by normal first class postage.  It would have arrived in the same period offered by the service for which we paid a premium fee.  And for a couple of bucks more, we could have shipped with one of the PO’s competitors.

For those extra couple of bucks, we would have had a guarantee of delivery when we required the delivery.  We also would have had capability to track our package in real time.  And, as business owners trying to do the right thing for our customers, we would have had peace of mind.

All of a sudden, I now understand why the post office is in difficulty. 


© 2011 J. Clark

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4 Responses to $2.2 Billion! Really?

  1. Don’t get me started. If you think a $2.2 billion loss in three months is scary, then you don’t want to look at the government business practices at all agencies and total them up. In addition to the premium you paid to ship the package, you will now get to pay your share of the $2.2 billion loss when your taxes come due. The only time I have enjoyed dealing with the Post Office was when my son and I competed with them. We bought a shipping center franchise and competed by offering customer service. When we noticed the ink pen on a chain at the post office, we scattered 50 ink pens around our store in hopes that customers would steal them. Each one had our logo, phone number and web site on it. Our customers never tracked packages. We tracked every package we shipped and called the customer when it was delivered. We soon became the number one franchise in the state and bought a second store and made it number two. We are no longer in that business because someone made us an offer that we couldn’t refuse, but the post office could be just as successful if they had an incentive. They don’t. Don’t get me started.

  2. P. Smith says:

    Buyer BEWARE!
    NOTHING you send through the “US POST OFFICE” is guaranteed to make it to Anywhere!
    A postal empoyee sold me the box to put 1 item in -boxed it for me – put postage on it – threw it in his bin – then 9 days and $11.22 later, it came back to me with a note that they found it loose in a bin in Florida.
    I took it and my receipt back to the Post Office and they said OH well, so sorry, but we are not responsible. Our employees are not allowed to package anything for you. Then they will read you a policy (which I am sure very few are aware of!) and if you go higher, up you get the same generic answer – NO CUSTOMER SERVICE at all and no recourse!
    I understand now why they are going under. I have not mailed anything in years USPS but tried it this once and this is what I got (or didn’t get)! Won’t make that mistake twice. SO BEWARE of the Post Office! Their old Motto no longer applies.

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