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Why I Loathe the USPS, Part 709

March 14, 2008 Leave a comment

In case you missed part 708 https://contrast2.wordpress.com/2008/01/15/not-so-gentle-reminders/

So, I had to make another visit to the Postal Service today for work. I had to mail 3 packages to Canada. I got there at 5:03. On the wall is the myriad of forms to fill out. There is a form for Customs Declaration for packages under 4lb and a different form for packages over 4lbs. I filled out 3 copies of the under 4lb form. I also needed them insured, so once again, I looked at my options: Domestic Insurance form, International Insurance form. I filled out 3 copies of the International Insurance form.

I waited in line for 30 minutes, with only 60% of the stations open (which is more than usual). I finally get to the front. I put my packages on the counter, hand her the forms, and tell her they are shipping to Canada.

“Oh, you need to fill out the other form for this package” (larger box, but lightweight)
“Why?”
“Because its too big”
“The sign says all packages under 4lbs.”
blank stare

She hands me the new form to fill out.

“I need these insured as well.” I hand her the insurance forms.
“We don’t use those anymore. You need to fill out this form for all of the packages (the over 4lbs form).”
“Why do you have the international insurance forms on the wall then?”
“We don’t.”
“Uhm…”
At this point homeboy at station #2 jumps in.
“We ony have domestic insurance forms”
“Then why does this one say international?”
“It’s not supposed to”
“Ok, well it does. You shouldn’t put them out here and make people fill them out”
“Hey, don’t blame us, its a printing mistake. It’s not our fault.”
The woman again. “I’ll need to ask you to step aside and fill out those forms.”

At this point I get a little aggravated.
“No thank you, I will wait here until I am finished”
homeboy “Hey man, why you gotta get all worked up and act like a child?”
By this point I’m starting to make a scene, so I just take my forms and filled them out. I got back in line and went through the process again. I left at 5:59. 1 hour to mail 3 packages.

Now, its hard to find a comparison in the private sector because no other business makes you jump through the hoops the government does. However, imagine you wait in line at Chipotle, you study the menu, then once you decide, you step up to the burrito bar and, rather than ordering, you are forced to make your own Chipotle burrito. After the mess you have created, you get to the cashier and he tells you they don’t sell Barbacoa anymore, you’ll have to go back in line and make a new burrito. Suppose even further that you raise a fuss about it and tell them they should take it off their menu and the cashier responds by telling you to stop acting like a child. Just accept it and get back in line.

In reality, if there was some kind of problem at Chipotle, they would immediately apologize and if they didn’t offer you a free burrito, they would quickly remedy the problem, because the customer is always right. Now what does homeboy’s response imply? It implies that I have no reason to make a fuss about waiting in line. Everyone does it. That’s what you do at the post office. You wait in line. For me to suggest that I shouldn’t have to wait in line that long is to suggest that I am a customer who can choose where to take my business. Obviously this is incorrect. I have no options when it comes to postal service. I have to use the USPS unless I want urgent delivery (see prior post).

Now, fortunately, I was only dealing with packages of minor importance, but what if we were talking about life or death health care? Advocates of socialized medicine take heed. When the government runs the ship, you wait in line and don’t ask questions. When the free market is allowed to operate, every penny is a vote and the customer is always right, whether they are shipping packages, or having heart surgery.

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