Sunday, October 07, 2007


I live in Carmel, a suburb north of Indianapolis, and the Carmel post office is a big one and a good one. Busy sometimes, as you might expect, but even long lines move fast when they have all 4 main counter positions and the auxiliary Postal Store counter open. (Especially when Joe, the guy who looks like Radar O'Reilly, is working; he's twice as fast as the other employees.)

So I had no problems with my post office. Some people complained at the lines around Christmas, but what do you expect? It was a pretty good setup.

Emphasis on the word "was."

Last year, the post office decided to augment the normal counter workers with two automated postal machines. No big deal; just two extra ways to get the job done. People don't use the machines much, of course, because they prefer the human interaction. Plus the human beings are faster than the machines. Still, nice to have the option if you wanted it.

But that wasn't good enough for the United States Postal Service. Last month they took out two counter positions and replaced them with two more of those infernal automated postal machines. Not augmented -- replaced. So now there are two fewer human beings to deal with, and two more mostly unused postal machines.

I asked Joe if people were really using the machines, and he replied, "They'll have to." That's customer service for you -- give the customers more of what they don't want. Now the lines to the human beings will be twice as along, while a lone manager stands next to the unused machines imploring customers to use them. Which we won't, because we don't like them. We like the reassurance of dealing with a human being, as opposed to the uncertainty of dealing with a machine. Plus, as I've noted, in this particular instance a good employee is much faster than these machines. Why use something that's slower and inspires less confidence?

Because the Postal Service wants to cut costs, is why. Fuck customer service, let's cut costs! (And still increase the price of stamps, of course.) Now people will have a real reason to complain when they're waiting in the now-longer lines at Christmastime. Good job, USPS. Maybe I'll start shipping more items out via FedEx.

But that's just my opinion; reasonable minds may disagree.