Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Wed Apr 23 2014 20:43:34

Retailer at the Center of Postal Controversy

By: Ina Steiner

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Union workers will protest outside more than 50 Staples locations tomorrow after the United States Postal Service began piloting a program to open postal counters inside the office-supply retail stores. The protest comes as the Postal Service is consolidating processing centers and wants to scale back mail delivery.

The American Postal Workers Union (APWU) is engaging in the National Day of Action to protest what it calls the Postal Service's "sweetheart deal" with Staples. The union says the goal of the program is to replace the living-wage jobs held by USPS employees with low-wage jobs in the private sector.

It also expressed concern that a public asset would be turned over to a struggling private company, saying Staples recently announced it would close 225 stores by 2015. "Staples makes business decisions based on the bottom line, not service to the people of the country."

Postmaster General Pat Donahoe responded, saying the USPS was doing all it could to grow business, not sell it off, saying the Postal Service is doing what all organizations must do - adapt to a rapidly changing world and meet the public's evolving needs.

"Initiatives like the Staples partnership and the Post Plan will benefit will benefit our customers, our employees and the American public by helping build growth and financial stability into the future," Donahoe said.

Of the Staples pilot program the USPS said: "Our partnership with Staples is a pilot project in which we're selling our products and services at several Staples stores. The goal: to give customers more choices when it comes to purchasing postal products and services."

And of the USPS PostPlan announced in May 2012, it said on Wednesday: "The Post Plan is our program to reduce hours at low-activity Post Offices instead of closing them. The goal: to preserve our commitment to our customers and to protect community identities." And, it denied it was attempting to privatize itself.

But the union says, "Staples employees, who work for low wages and meager benefits - and who have received minimal training - operate these unsecured postal counters."

It points to a study conducted by the USPS Office of Inspector General that found that rural participants in the study had security concerns with trusting their mail with non postal employees in non postal retail locations, such as grocery stores. "This often prevailed over the convenience of co-location."

Whether sympathetic to the union workers or not, online sellers must ask themselves if they would trust a store clerk to handle their mail, even if it meant greater convenience in dropping off their packages. What do you think?




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Perminate Link for Retailer at the Center of Postal Controversy   Retailer at the Center of Postal Controversy

by: mcjbob This user has validated their user name.

Wed Apr 23 21:10:18 2014

We have five post office locations in town, and one contract station within a grocery store.

I FAR prefer dealing with the contract station in the grocery store as I am met with a smile, not a snarl, 100% of my packages are scanned. They are well trained and in over a year, have had zero problems.

Deal with a contract station, and you probably will never return to a post office.  

Perminate Link for Retailer at the Center of Postal Controversy   Retailer at the Center of Postal Controversy

This user has validated their user name. by: Ric

Wed Apr 23 22:08:16 2014

Contrary to what the protectionist union leadership would like us to believe, I think the story will turn out to be the exact opposite of their scenario.

I see the "  "Staples employees, who work for low wages and meager benefits - and who have received minimal training - operate these unsecured postal counters." doing a better job than many of their unionized USPS counter clerks.

Unionized workers are largely protected from being fired for incompetence while Staples employees enjoy no such protection. Thus Staples employees will be much more likely to follow the rules they are given and will provide a more pleasant level of service than their grumpy unionized counterparts.

Unfortunately, as this program rolls out, I am betting their will be issues with packages left at Staples locations, but those issues will be created by the union postal workers who will delay, misplace, miss route or flat out make packages disappear in an effort to discourage the public from using the Staples drop off counters.

Perminate Link for Retailer at the Center of Postal Controversy   Retailer at the Center of Postal Controversy

This user has validated their user name. by: bitbybit

Wed Apr 23 22:46:22 2014

My local post office has had many postal employees over the years and even week to week. Most, sad to say, have been rude and miserable. However, the current worker has been very cordial and professional. I have always hated to ask for anything especially to have packages scan. You would think I was asking to borrow a million dollars or their first born. Anything that was done online was met with dismay.

I remember going to another post office and being met with pleasant and friendly workers. I have to admit it took me by surprise since my local PO was so abusive.

Does anyone notice in the past year especially the attitude towards customers improving with their local post office personnel? I do think they finally realize their past actions have caught up to them and their jobs are in jeopardy.

I will continue going to my local PO as long as it stays the status quo but probably will check out Staples.  

Perminate Link for Retailer at the Center of Postal Controversy   Retailer at the Center of Postal Controversy

This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Wed Apr 23 23:17:03 2014

In considerably more than a decade of selling online, I've used four local Post Office stations and two contract stations.

I've found contract workers to be generally poorly trained to handle some of the complex problems we sometimes face.

Conversely, not one local postal worker has even come close to refusing tom scan a package.

In spite of my chocolate chip deficit, I've never been snarled at by any postal employee. Some are clearly better trained than others, but if they can't figure they call another more experienced employee to solve the problem.

Labor unions were one of the principal driving forces in creating a solid post world War II middle class. Union wages were the tide that lifted all boats.

I can't imagine that any if us really want to live in a country of minimum wage workers who have to work at least two jobs to afford rent on a run down apartment and driving a 15 year old car without insurance.

Some of you have spent entirely too long listening to right wing radio rather than studying the non filtered history of the labor movement and the positive contributions (along with the violence and other warts) they've made to our economy.

Perminate Link for Retailer at the Center of Postal Controversy   Retailer at the Center of Postal Controversy

by: comet This user has validated their user name.

Wed Apr 23 23:18:37 2014

I live in a VERY rural area and the nearest Staples is a 45 minute one way drive.  I might use it IF I was going to be in a town where I was already going for other reasons.

I find the local PO to never have the same counter people yet the Post Mistress has been the same for years--she is helpful but not too swift---but the counter people should be taken out and flogged.  

This is NOT always the case tho.  Several including one where a fellow ebay seller is the ONLY employee--I TOLD YOU we were rural!!!---is wonderful.  So of course we go there when we can.  The PO has also tried to FORCE local postal workers--of course the ones we LIKE---to retire,  Even if they had years left til retirement age.  Do they NOT see the short sightedness of this?  Shouldn't they be HAPPY to get the experience and paying for someone ON the job instead of sitting home cashing checks?  Absurd.  

We get arguments on a lot of packages even tho they are properly packed;  labeled;  and contain no contraband.  And I don't print labels on line either!

As of this week I am now seeing something new and ominous particularly in light of the new ebay DEFECT rules---after delivery and scanning my packages have moved along to Processing Centers near and far.  Some were then delivered with several minute-to-minute scans.  Far more scanning than I have ever seen.  Some however have gone out for delivery and the site now shows--"Scan not updated"---and NO delivery scan.  I am hesitant to ASK my customer if they received the item --why should I alert them to the possibility of filing a NOT DELIVERED claim???---but WHY should I fear being PUNISHED for the PO's failures?  Were these delivered? Who knows!

And NO they are NOT my employees!  I actually posted that on my listings and I got SLAPPED for it by--ebay!  

Pot calling kettle black much????

Perminate Link for Retailer at the Center of Postal Controversy   Retailer at the Center of Postal Controversy

by: koonkat This user has validated their user name.

Wed Apr 23 23:28:46 2014

My local Postal Service is EXCELLENT, and the employees the fact that I use USPS for 95% of my packages is appreciated.  I get package pickup every day at my SOHO business from USPS.  In fact,  I've noticed an improvement in package delivery in the past few years.

If I do go in the the USPS, I do get greetings, smiles, and help in resolving delivery situations in the rare event of a problem. (International customers, etc.)  In fact, I have the highest probability of unpleasant issues like damaged and partial deliveries if I have to use a certain Non Union competitor!

Perminate Link for Retailer at the Center of Postal Controversy   Retailer at the Center of Postal Controversy

by: koonkat This user has validated their user name.

Wed Apr 23 23:28:47 2014

My local Postal Service is EXCELLENT, and the employees the fact that I use USPS for 95% of my packages is appreciated.  I get package pickup every day at my SOHO business from USPS.  In fact,  I've noticed an improvement in package delivery in the past few years.

If I do go in the the USPS, I do get greetings, smiles, and help in resolving delivery situations in the rare event of a problem. (International customers, etc.)  In fact, I have the highest probability of unpleasant issues like damaged and partial deliveries if I have to use a certain Non Union competitor!

Perminate Link for Retailer at the Center of Postal Controversy   Retailer at the Center of Postal Controversy

by: Tim This user has validated their user name.

Wed Apr 23 23:49:56 2014

I would NOT drop off my packages at an unsecured Staples (or other) store.  I would NOT hand my packages over to someone who is doing postal work in the morning and stocking paper towels in the afternoon.

I realize I may be lucky, but my post office is good to me.  Frankly, I think, we are all pretty darn lucky... complain if you want - or go pay UPS rates - but we have an efficient and reliable postal service.  I have shipped almost 20,000 packages.  10 have been damaged and only 6 lost.  That is such a tiny, tiny percentage.

What I would like to see is the USPS cut back on all the cutbacks.  Priority Mail is starting to take longer and longer. But that is the cost cutting management is doing... not your local Post Office and its employees.

Perminate Link for Retailer at the Center of Postal Controversy   Retailer at the Center of Postal Controversy

by: Tim This user has validated their user name.

Wed Apr 23 23:55:36 2014

And... to expand on Ming's comments.  We NEED well paid workers.  How much of your stuff do minimum wage workers buy?  I can't sell my stuff to people who can not afford their next meal... I need people with discretionary income.  I think we all do.

It is short-sighted to just say pay everyone less... and that all government is bad and terrible.  The USPS pays a living wage - and still is one of the premier postal systems in the world - all at very competitive rates.

Can they do better?  Of course.  Are some postal workers not all that pleasant or efficient?  Sure.  Just like people in every industry.

Perminate Link for Retailer at the Center of Postal Controversy   Retailer at the Center of Postal Controversy

by: LAbay This user has validated their user name.

Thu Apr 24 00:00:07 2014

I like to know who handles my mail. My post office knows me and helps me with problems.  Relationships are important to my business. I don't want that to change for cheaper labor or a closer location.

Perminate Link for Retailer at the Center of Postal Controversy   Retailer at the Center of Postal Controversy

by: Paul W This user has validated their user name.

Thu Apr 24 00:05:50 2014

Dropping mail at Staples provides one more chance for it to be mishandled.  I am very happy with my local post office and the employees there are the best!  Shout out to Covington, Washington post office!

Perminate Link for Retailer at the Center of Postal Controversy   Retailer at the Center of Postal Controversy

This user has validated their user name. by: Vintage Touch
Web Site

Thu Apr 24 06:15:30 2014

We have 3 different post offices that we use to drop off packages for delivery.  The postal workers are excellent and very polite and helpful.  I have no complaints with the USPS which I think does an excellent job of delivering my packages on time in good condition.  I use online label printing and enjoy the benefits of the reduced cost of postage.  The fact that I can order my different size priority boxes and have them delivered for free is a huge benefit.  I'm sure some do have impolite postal workers but that is not the case in our area.  

Perminate Link for Retailer at the Center of Postal Controversy   Retailer at the Center of Postal Controversy

by: salesrep1 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Apr 24 06:45:59 2014

About 4 years ago I went into our local Post Office asked to have my packages scanned. They looked at me and corrected me that they are not trackers but are delivery scans so they didn't have to. I proceded to tell them that was ok I still wanted them to check the weights for my packages to make sure we did this right and also since they were insured how could I prove that I dropped them off so would they find it in their busy day to help me out to my surprise they did.It eventually became second nature and we built a relationship. Last year I moved to another larger city and wouldn't u know it I had to do it again. This time all except 1 is exceptionaly happy to help. The other day I saw someone dropped off an odd package and asked her if it was an animal she replied no its actually a pigeon or some kind of bird.
Well that was a new one on me i had seen animals travel on planes dropped off at airports but the post office. Wow new type of package delivery? I'm mpressed.

Perminate Link for Retailer at the Center of Postal Controversy   Retailer at the Center of Postal Controversy

by: RAOTFLMAO This user has validated their user name.

Thu Apr 24 07:10:34 2014

I use the local Staples for a UPS drop off, what makes mail so much more precious??  I prepay the label but get a scan and a reciept, they are insured.  As a matter of fact, my more expensive items, anything over $100 goes by UPS, better handling and better insurance coverage.....

Perminate Link for Retailer at the Center of Postal Controversy   Retailer at the Center of Postal Controversy

by: RAOTFLMAO This user has validated their user name.

Thu Apr 24 07:16:40 2014

If you ever have problems with your local post office, do what I did....call the 800 help line, I guarantee that gets things done, especially if you have a valid problem.  My rural carrier did not want to take the time to scan, I talked to the post master, he said it was easier to scan all at once in the post office, trouble was, they were not getting scanned.  After a couple of calls the the 800 number the carrier scans them religiously.....post master also called and asked if I had problems to PLEASE call him first.  

Perminate Link for Retailer at the Center of Postal Controversy   Retailer at the Center of Postal Controversy

This user has validated their user name. by: Al G

Thu Apr 24 07:45:15 2014

I've used 8 USPS offices ranging from a small 1 person auxiliary suburban station to the main PO in New Haven and every one of them provided proper service. The personnel vary in their demeanor from quite friendly (where they know me) to businesslike but I don't expect the person to show me pictures of their kids.

People come in all flavours, but if they do their jobs, I have no problems. This is just my observation on a limited sample of POs in my area +- 40 miles.

As for the USPS in general, they are in a very hard place due to our elected politicians short sightedness and venality.

I agree with Ming in the sense that if it were not for the unions (warts and all - I hear 1st hand accounts of hijinks caused) 99% of us would be working for minimal wages and having to move our cars to the side of the road and stop when the 1% in their Zil limousine motorcade comes rushing by. That is the real capitalism/socialism the rational people fear.








Perminate Link for Retailer at the Center of Postal Controversy   Retailer at the Center of Postal Controversy

by: Oldguy This user has validated their user name.

Thu Apr 24 07:45:51 2014

Love the in town post office. Friendly and helpful.
Staples is too far away. However, if they were close, I would consider especially on Mondays and holiday rush. Staples want's the business. They are going to watch that it  doesn't get screwed up. I can see some union employees screw it up along the way. However, I think they will be screwing themselves in the long run.
I know a USPS employee. Not management and his pay is very very good. I have made a comment about high postage cost - he replied how else can we get paid what we are with the benefits and retirement package - he just smiled all the time.

Perminate Link for Retailer at the Center of Postal Controversy   Retailer at the Center of Postal Controversy

by: Oldguy This user has validated their user name.

Thu Apr 24 07:47:34 2014

I would hate the USPS rates to be the same with UPS or fed ex. If it was, a lot of small time sellers would go under.

Perminate Link for Retailer at the Center of Postal Controversy   Retailer at the Center of Postal Controversy

by: charcorvet This user has validated their user name.

Thu Apr 24 08:01:36 2014

My current post office does everything it can to help me. BUT I do drop off UPS packages at Staples. They scan them in without being told and hand me a receipt without being asked. When the 40lb box was too big and heavy for me at my age, the worker cheerfully grabbed it and hoisted to the counter to scan and receive it. THAT has never happened at the PO.

I also don't have to "teach" the UPS folks what that scanner doodad is... I have to keep reminding the PO employees to use it.

It's NOT optional for them if you have tracing on the package. It's supposed to be automatic.

I sympathize with the PO's position but they have to get a handle on their business. They don't have a clue at the moment, which is why UPS and Fedex not only "eat their lunch" they also steal their lunchbox and lunch money.

Perminate Link for Retailer at the Center of Postal Controversy   Retailer at the Center of Postal Controversy

by: Sierra This user has validated their user name.

Thu Apr 24 08:58:53 2014

@salesrep1 - beginning earlier this year, I noticed a checkbox regarding live animals on the USPS web site when I calculate shipping. While there's a link there, I hadn't clicked it until now. Apparently a wide range of critters ARE accepted by the USPS, including baby alligators and scorpions (when properly packed)! More info here: http://pe.usps.com/text/dmm300/601.htm#9_0

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