Wednesday, July 13, 2011

USPS racket

I'm starting to think we need to bring a class action suit against the USPS for its blatant refusal to acknowledge the existence of low-cost Parcel Post and Media Mail shipping methods.
If you doubt the need for this action, check on the problem yourself: Bring a package to your local post office and ask to ship it the cheapest way possible. You will be given a number of choices, none of which are as cheap as Parcel Post or Media Mail.
Even if you know about these methods of mailing AND specifically request them, postal clerks will do their best to talk you out of them. Here is a recent conversation I had with a postal clerk:
"I'd like to send this package by Media Mail."

"What's in it?"

"It's a book, and I'd like to send it Media Mail."

"If there's anything other than a book inside..."

"There's isn't. It's just a book. You can feel the book through the package, see?"

"Because we have the right to open the package and check."

"That doesn't matter. It's a book, and I'd like to send it Media Mail."

"Well, it will take several days longer to ship that way."

"I don't mind. Just send it Media Mail."

"For just a dollar-twenty more, you can have it there by Thursday."

"That won't be necessary. Media Mail is fine."

"I'm just saying that's a small price to pay to get the package there so much quicker."

"Nevertheless. Media Mail."

At this point, the clerk finally gave up. I paid the Media Mail rate. The clerk took the package, dropped it to the floor, kicked it into a dusty corner of the room and spat in that direction.

"Next."

The first few times this kind of thing happened to me, I imagined that it was just the pattern at my local post office. Since then, I have encountered the same behavior at other post offices. And friends and relatives have encountered it too. It really appears that this is a policy of the USPS. I don't understand why the postal service and its employees would deny the very existence of these low-cost shipping options. And how could postal clerks be motivated to try to talk customers out of those options when they know they exist.

Perhaps USPS allows postal clerks to pocket the difference in cost between the actual cheapest forms of shipping and the more pricey Express Mail.