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Sat Sept 10 2011 14:57:56

Would You Miss Your Post Office If It Closed?

By: Ina Steiner

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Kenneth Corbin attended hearings in Washington DC this week on the USPS plans to close over 3,652 post offices (see the Newsflash article). In defending the plan, a USPS representative told the Postal Regulatory Commission it would be an exaggeration to say every customer would have increased cost or increased inconvenience due to the closures.

We asked on our Facebook page, "would you miss your post office if it closed?" and the first responses were an overwhelming "Yes!"  

"It is critical to my business" and "I couldn't run my business without USPS," one EcommerceBytes reader wrote.

In digging around for background for the story, we discovered an interesting report from the Congressional Research Service from 2 years ago. It shows how the number of post office locations has changed from 1970 to 2008 drawing from data from the USPS annual reports. The total number of "retail postal facilities" was down 16% over the past almost 40 years, and the composition of the facilities changed.



The chart shows that there are 45% fewer Community Post Office and Contract Postal Units and almost 15% fewer Post Offices, but 25% more "Post Office Branches and Post Office Stations."

This summer, the USPS came out with a new designation called the Village Post Office that would be operated by local businesses, such as pharmacies, grocery stores and other appropriate retailers, and would offer popular postal products and services such as stamps and flat-rate packaging. Sounds like a Contract Postal Unit to me. I'd be interested in learning why the USPS reduced Community and Contract postal units by almost half over the past 38 years (as of 2008), but now thinks "Village Post Offices" are a good idea.

Note that there is an important distinction between Contract Postal Units and Village Post Offices: the latter only sells stamps and flat-rate postage (Ed. 9/11).

Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said recently, "Our customer's habits have made it clear that they no longer require a physical post office to conduct most of their postal business." Tell us if you agree.

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Readers Comments

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by: Char This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 12 14:30:56 2011

I live in a town with no home mail delivery. So we cannot do without a post office here; you HAVE to have a PO Box to get mail.

We don't have the benefit of home mail delivery, no carrier pick up, and face that daily trek to the PO every day, no matter that it is -40 and there is several feet of new snow on the road. It's not fun.

And no, I don't live in some little town of 500 people. I live is a town of about 15,000. So go figure...we don't get 1/10 the services the average customer gets yet we pay the same prices.

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by: marky456

Mon Sep 12 19:19:09 2011

No. They are hell to wait in! The more they close the better! Good riddance!

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by: crackersplace This user has validated their user name.
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Mon Sep 12 20:16:44 2011

Yes I would!  I visit the post office, or ship packages daily.  If one would close in my area I would no longer be able to do business.  If they are looking to reduce costs they may look into more of the smaller post offices moving into convenience stores and etc.  Just like most grocery stores have Pharmacy's and banks inside.

The USPS services are wonderful.  I very rarely have issues with shipments, and they are on-time.  The postmasters that I work with are always very friendly!  Since i'm in there about every day I have seen some of the people they have to deal with on a day to day basics since.  I would say their job is rather stressful at times!

Please oh please do not close too many more offices!!!

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by: Whoa Nelly

Mon Sep 12 20:57:08 2011

The reason this is happening is because Darrell Issa and the other GOP idiots voted to have the USPS prepay pensions and it seems they overpaid the amount in the billions.  Somebody needs to explain to Rep Issa that us small businesses would be GONE if I had to ship via UPS or Fed Ex.  They take too long for the cheapest price and the they don't offer reasonable low price alternatives (so much for "free markets").  

People want cheap goods but it would be suicide if I tried to offer free shipping using one of the two companies over the USPS.  Close Saturday delivery, close POs that aren't cutting it and tell congress to let the USPS get out of that balloon payment for pensions!  

Sorry, it seems to me that the GOP WANTS the USPS to fail but has no plan to encourage a competitor who would offer their service at the same prices.  The losses are NOT caused by the prices they charge or even the what they pay their workers.  It's the darn pension payment which seems designed to fail.

I am a republican but it's crap like this that makes me want to vote for some reasonable dems or a Jon Huntsman type.  Argh.

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by: jason

Wed Sep 14 00:54:54 2011

Yeah....I'm tired of hearing, too, about how the postal service suddenly needs to increase prices the last 4-5 years because they are losing all this money.

It's a bunch of BS. Does America drive any less with gas @ $4 gallon? No. However, if you had taken a survey 5 years ago.....and asked people if they would drive with gas at $4 gallon....everyone would have said no. However, everyone still does......and now every other business is lining up to raise prices not because they need to....but because they see people will pay more money for just about anything these days.

Screw USPS. We ship a lot with them.....if we didn't, they would be losing that much more money.....not the other way around.

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by: barbara

Wed Sep 14 17:56:25 2011

If our post office closed, where would I go to send international packages.
Canada mail has to be put inside not left in boxes. I print my labels at home but need to go inside to send.

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by: Teri

Thu Sep 15 10:39:10 2011

Not really, but that's because I seldom visit it.  I live in a small town, but work in a major city (across the street from the post office).  I have to go to the post office there every day to check the business PO box, so not having one in my small town would not be a personal inconvenience.  I could see, however, how it could inconvenience other people.  But, if they decide to shut it down, I'm sure they will start selling stamps and supplies at the local mom and pop hardware store.  You can already renew your driver's license, get a fishing license, and pay your water bill there.  Now, if they'd just get a RedBox.  

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by: Digmen1 This user has validated their user name.
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Thu Sep 15 23:51:57 2011

Here in New Zealand our Post Office is turning some branches into automated sites with machine that vend stamps, machines that weigh parcels and dispense postage, machines that do this and that.

So why don't UPS do that ?

Also they need to cut their bloated management, and cut their pension plan liability. That is what is killing them most.

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by: Gypsy This user has validated their user name.

Sat Sep 17 18:15:20 2011

Positively! I live in a small town & there aren't any other post offices that are convenient to drive to. Plus the clerks in our post office are not only friendly but they go out of their way to be helpful. They even let me know when it is more economical to mail packages by other means.

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by: Barbara

Tue Sep 27 14:30:41 2011

Although I use the USPS for 95% of my shipping, AND we are a union family and support their plight because of that, it is very sad the the USPS cannot bring their employees into the computer age. At my post office the workers resent online click and ship, have major attitude, open and close the post office without regard to posted hours...
If those persons in charge of the USPS could educate and bring the staff into the 21st century, the USPS would be everyone's first choice. If insurance were restructured, and tracking was real time like it is with UPS, FED EX, I am sure the USPS could rock again. Attitude has to change though....
It is really hard to deal with staff attitude, resentment, and lack of training on actual USPS policies.... shame that I know the regulations better than those who have worked there for years!!!!
So come on postal workers... we support you but extend yourself.... no one owes you a living. Be the best you can be at your job.

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by: tantalizingstitches This user has validated their user name.
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Wed Sep 28 11:21:26 2011

i love USPS! While I don't support closing offices, they need some way of reducing expenses or raising funds. If the government won't authorize them to raise prices I see no other choice for them.

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by: Budguy1

Wed Sep 28 12:25:59 2011

Yes I would miss my local PO if it closed. I also wonder how many millions of dollars the USPS lost by letting Ebay ban Postal Money Orders on their site. Was that legal? Also note that the Ebay CEO AND the USPS Postmaster General are both named Donahoe. Hmmm.

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by: gotglasses

Sat Oct 15 00:23:22 2011

If my local PO closed it would be a blessing. We are in a rural Village , Hunter NY and do not have delivery to the house.PO Boxes are supposed to be provided but the morons who work there do their best to drive customers away. There are only about 200 families in the Village, yet there are 1500 boxes! They snoop into our mail and make pointless accusations of fraud each year at renewal time. I wish the Post Office at 12442 were closed - it would save a lot of tax money.

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