BA on Assignment

January 1, 2020

The USPS Is Not…

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Written for: Communicado Magazine
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I recently had an unsettling experience with the United States Postal Service (USPS) that reminded me of several previous unsettling experiences with the United States Postal Service.

I thought it critical to bring my professional perspective to bear on these experiences… and here we are…

The United States Postal Service is not:

You will note my recent story titled, It was a <White Christmas at the United States Postal Service. It chronicles my experience buying stamps that only represent white people who celebrate Christmas. If you’re Jewish, you get Santa stamps at the kiosk… if you’re Black or Latino, you get White Santa stamps at the kiosk.

To say the least, I was shocked at the ignorance an organization the size and variety of people could be. So much so that I had to write about it. Now I don’t turn all of my unpleasant experiences into stories, but, this was a glaring affront. Please read the story if you haven’t already.

The United States Postal Service is not:

Media savvy
Because this format was designed to be a journalist’s blog, I do A LOT of research, but not a lot of interviews to include quotes from parties pertinent to the story. I want this to be more independent information for readers to decide for themselves… whatever. But not for this story…

I requested an interview – by telephone – through the USPS press office. I was greeted with a return email, not a return phone call. The response from the representative was as follows:

“…While it’s hard for me to guarantee we’ll have answers by a specific day and time – particularly when we have no idea now what the questions will be – I can advise that we’ll make every effort to meet your deadline…”

My response was as follows:

“…I don’t generally provide questions in writing or conduct interviews by email…”

“I’m not sure how often the USPS gets media inquiries, but, the point of an interview is to ask questions for which you respond. As a spokesperson for a Fortune 10 company myself, we got requests at noon and were ready to respond by a deadline of 3pm.

I trust your media training will come in handy for this exercise.

In my consulting business, I advise all of my clients this:
You’re better off saying it for yourself than letting someone else say it for you…

No charge for the expert advise.”

I rest my case…

And finally..
The United States Postal Service is not…

Obligated to customer service
They are basically a monopoly. Sticking strictly to my experience with stamps, they have no competition and can basically run their stamp business consumers be damned.

The USPS does not invest in proper escalation training for their management team in the field. Angry customers exist at retail. It’s a standard. Every organization has to accept this inevitable. Retail management must be trained to de-escalate rising tensions.

Where a customer is insistent on being provided with a minimum of customer service as a product of a USPS manager failing to do her job properly, USPS condones the manager threatening to call the police as an acceptable solution.

Short of battery, vandalism, or the presence of a weapon, the police should not be an option to solve the failures of the USPS.

The USPS has been the subject for many, many years of inquiry into its worth. All of which have proven them to be insufficient as a quasi-governmental entity. The USPS is simply put, an unsophisticated organization living up to its reputation for being run poorly. Behind the scenes and on the front lines.

And the divide between public relations representatives and journalists is alive and well at the USPS — another affront to customer service.

My expert advice for you? Journalist or consumer:
1. Don’t buy stamps
2. Take your business elsewhere with any opportunity