Postal Service Problems

I’m fascinated by logistics. More specifically, with the operations of services like UPS, FedEx, and the United States Postal Service. It’s amazing to me how letters and packages make it from their origin to their destination, and in such short order.

Many people are frustrated with the USPS because of their sluggish pace, outdated technology, and poor customer service. There’s no dispute that the Post Office is far behind their commercial competitors. More than a service problem or a technology problem, I think USPS has a people problem.

There was a time when the Post Office employed an army of employees. In force, they moved mail across our nation. Your post office would stamp each letter with the name and town of the post office cancelling the postage. Letters that you received would be instantly recognizable as a cancellation from Keene, NH would clearly be from your Aunt Susan.

These uniformed employees manned counters, drove trucks, and carried messenger bags heavy with correspondence up and down your street reliably every day. You may have even had a personal relationship with them.

Technology has disrupted this organization and, along the way, the Postal Service has lost touch with its roots. Instead of delivering mail with pride, the focus is put on achieving greater efficiencies at any cost. There is no brand story, no reason to do better.

Although they take the same route every day, the difference in delivery time can be as much as four hours. Packages are hurled onto porches instead of carefully placed at the door. I even had a carrier leave two large packages in front of my garage door with lightweight letters balanced precariously on top. Completely thoughtless.

The Post Office traces its roots to the beginning of our Nation, the brainchild of the venerable Benjamin Franklin. Although the work may seem routine or irrelevant, it’s still a job worth doing well. Until the leadership of USPS finds ways to integrate the mission and history of the Postal Service into the performance of its employees and contractors, customers everywhere will continue to suffer.

© 2019 Chet J. Collins