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Tech Experts Look To Help Save the Postal Service 398

An anonymous reader writes "Some of the folks responsible for developing and promoting e-mail, e-commerce and social media are banding together in an attempt to save the US Postal Service, the institution arguably most threatened by the technological developments of the past few years. As mail volume continues to plummet and more Americans use the Internet to pay bills and keep in touch, Google executives, social media experts and some of the most passionate tech evangelists are planning to meet in Crystal City in mid-June to sort out how to save and remake the nation's mail delivery service. The conference, PostalVision 2020, is designed to bring together the people who understand what this technology has done, is doing and will do to digital commerce and communication in America. USPS anticipates losing about $7 billion during the fiscal year that ends in September and is in the process of eliminating 7,500 postmaster and administrative positions to save money."
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Tech Experts Look To Help Save the Postal Service

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  • USPS (Score:2, Troll)

    Government is shrinking. Please don't interrupt the process.
    • Re:USPS (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Svartalf (2997) on Friday May 06, 2011 @09:07AM (#36047150) Homepage

      If it were solely a Government agency, it'd be doing "okay". Unfortunately, like AAFES, it's a Government owned business. It operates off of it's income and typically doesn't get any pork on it's own. Government is shrinking, yes...this, however, isn't going to shrink it in the right places.

    • Re:USPS (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Creosote (33182) on Friday May 06, 2011 @09:09AM (#36047168) Homepage

      I'm guessing you don't live in a rural community.

      "Big government" aka the local post office in my central Virginia hamlet consists of a 400 square foot post office built by sectioning off the local country store. Along with the country store, it's the primary place to go to learn or pass along news, or to meet your neighbors. Of course it's kind of insane from a purely economic standpoint to maintain it, with a full-time postmistress, when there is a medium-sized PO five miles away in the next big town and a full-service PO a dozen miles away. But when that branch closes, and I suppose it will, it will mean one less point of human contact for folks around here, and some not insignificant additional burdens for people without a lot of money or with health problems for whom a trip to retrieve a package at a distance is not trivial.

    • by operagost (62405)
      I used to think that the USPS being run as a GSE was a good thing as well. The fact is, though, that running it as a GSE is really not much more sensible than running the defense department as a GSE. That's because both are services mandated by the constitution. If we're going to reduce the size of government, we should be reducing the ones that have NOT been authorized by the constitution: like the department of education, the EPA, the IRS, various federal agencies like the BATF that have been given pol
    • by BZ (40346)

      Unlike a lot of government stuff, this case is interesting because post offices and post roads are one of the explicitly enumerated congressional powers (and ipso facto responsibilities) in the US constitution.

      Though I would argue that what at the time was "post offices and post roads" is now "communications networks of every type"; there just weren't others at the time.

  • by the linux geek (799780) on Friday May 06, 2011 @08:46AM (#36046892)
    Every time I've been to the post office, there's been 15+ people in line. I have a hard time believing the mail system is on the way out any time soon. Telegraphs didn't kill it, telephones didn't kill it, why would email kill it?
    • Re:It's dying? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Friday May 06, 2011 @08:56AM (#36046990) Homepage Journal

      Every time I've been to the post office, there's been 15+ people in line. I have a hard time believing the mail system is on the way out any time soon. Telegraphs didn't kill it, telephones didn't kill it, why would email kill it?

      Telegraphs aren't secure, but my email client has encryption features built in. Or do I still have to get it through an add-on? Either way it's there.

      The USPS is only becoming more incompetent all the time. I just got a letter to a former resident who has been gone for years so I wrote "NOT AT THIS ADDRESS RETURN TO SENDER" with the only writing implement I could find at the time, a pencil, and took it back to the post office and handed it to them across the counter, saying "this is not for me, I don't really need this." They redelivered it to me the next day. The USPS is fucking incompetent at best and they should be left to die.

      • HAHAHA (Score:4, Interesting)

        by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Friday May 06, 2011 @09:14AM (#36047226) Homepage Journal

        I just went to report this incident since it occurred to me they probably have a form to do so...

        Thanks for your email.

        A US Postal Services® representative will reply to your email within 2 to 3 business days.

        The case number for request is: Problem processing ticket service request

        Stay classy, USPS. They don't even listen to their own automated systems, they're not going to listen to a bunch of eggheads.

      • They also have a monopoly on letter mail (save for super urgent mail), to the point that it's a crime for anyone else to use the mailbox IIRC. That's why you see newspapers put up those stupid boxes right next to yours.

      • Re:It's dying? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Libertarian001 (453712) on Friday May 06, 2011 @10:48AM (#36048314)

        Goody! More anecdotes!

        A couple months back I sold some items to two separate people who knew each other (common message board). While these items were in route these gentlemen each informed me that they had no intention of paying me and that they were going to duplicate my items. They had a good laugh at duping me. I went to the local USPS branch, filled out one form for each package, and had them each intercepted prior to delivery and promptly returned to me. And for good measure I shared the correspondence on the board in questions, used their real names, sat back and enjoyed the show.

        Yes, the USPS is clearly incompetent.

    • The people in line don't do enough business to sustain the post office. Their bread and butter has always been mass mail, and it's dying as the internet takes over.

    • by woodchip (611770)
      Yeah? But how much are each of those 15 people spending? If they are only sending letters. I bet not very much. And if they are sending packages, who cares. UPS and Fed Ex are more than willing to fill that void.
    • The main problem with the Post Office is that it is a quasi-government operation, much like Freddie and Fanny were.

      These never work.

      In the case of the Post Office this manifests itself in vast overcapacity in inefficient operation. The management of the Post Office has a pretty good idea that what they need to do is cut down on branch offices and layoff people. But anytime they announce a branch office closing the people in the town that is served by the branch conduct a letter writing campaign to their Con

  • In other news, an alliance of the nation's best and brightest thinkers have come together in an attempt to save the buggy-whip industry.

        - Alaska Jack
  • here in Italy.. (Score:4, Informative)

    by gadget junkie (618542) <gbponz@libero.it> on Friday May 06, 2011 @08:50AM (#36046926) Journal
    Here they solved the issue in an elegant way: The Post office has been granted a banking license, [poste.it] and the banking activity is subsidizing the postal activity. Mind you, in the central post office where I live (Turin, pop. 1,000,000 more or less), there are about 20 booths, 15 for banking, two for receiving mail and two for outgoing mail, so the service is mediocre, but banking has effectively stemmed the flow of post office closures.

    Mind you, I cannot but wonder....what would have happened if they auctioned off the post service altogether with the general delivery obligations? maybe large banks would have been interested? and think of the multiple conflicts of interest, since the Post is state owned.... no banking licences in the sticks where a post office is present? is there a ban on opening more post offices in rich neighborhoods? After all, banks are after assets, not post traffic...
    • The Italian Post Office? I've heard stories about that. Let's say as evidence of their ineptitude that there are a lot of sellers on EBay that refuse to ship to Italy. There was one story where a guy did a test shipment of 4 bricks in a package to Rome, and the bricks arrived completely smashed into powder.

    • by TarPitt (217247)

      For decades there were low-interest postal savings accounts offered in the USA, meant for rural areas not served by banks:

      The United States Postal Savings System was a postal savings system operated by the United States Postal Service from January 1, 1911 until July 1, 1967. The system paid depositors 2 percent annual interest. Depositors in the system were initially limited to hold a balance of $500, but this was raised to $1,000 in 1916 and to $2,500 in 1918. At its peak in 1947, the system held almost $3

    • by cashman73 (855518)
      There's no way in hell that would work in the USA. Nobody here trusts bankers to begin with. If bankers took over the post office, mailboxes would be eliminated. In order to send a letter, you'd have to go to an ATM; and if it wasn't your own bank's ATM, they've charge you a $5 "service fee" on top of postage for mailing your letter. For the poor, or those without bank accounts, you'd have to go to a check-cashing store to mail your letter and pay a $100 "processing fee" on top of a 300% postage rate. Plus,
    • If you get a letter from the italian post office, is it a poste.it note?

      *ducks incoming tomatoes*

  • by mochan_s (536939) on Friday May 06, 2011 @08:51AM (#36046938)

    As someone who shipped a lot of packages through USPS, the solution is very simple. Get a real time tracking system in par with UPS and FedEx (not bullshit overnight updates) and make the insurance for package claims less of a joke than UPS and FedEx.

    As bills and correspondence mails have gone down, online buying and selling has taken it's place. But, most people are uncomfortable sending their packages through USPS. The tracking is only delivery confirmation and that costs extra at the post office. With cell phone technology, it should be trivial to implement real time updates.

    If a package is lost, the insurance system is a joke. It takes forever and you can only correspond by mail. The insurance is ridiculously expensive and when you need it, it's a massive headache.

    If they just fix those above issues, then lots of business would come swarming to them from online shippers.

    Another thing, their rates are kinda screwed up. For heavy packages, the rates are much much higher than UPS and FedEx. It comes down to only making sense to send packages by USPS for under 4-5 lbs. They probably should also do the sweetheart deals with big companies that UPS and FedEx do - like shipping for pennies on the dollar for large volume shippers.

    And, there are some sink holes like in Bell, CA that if packages get there, they come out weeks later (famous for losing Oscar votes). There are a few of them across the country.

    I think USPS should move towards being more geared towards packages. But, that's just my end of the pond where I shipped packages through USPS. Maybe junk mail is the cash cow, or certified mail.

    • by Rie Beam (632299)

      The problem with those ideas is that they're basically already being covered by two strong competitors who have garnered people's trust. The USPS is redundant and perhaps, as the weaker candidate with little to offer the general public, it should be eliminated.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        I hate UPS and FedEx! So much so that I will not buy from anywhere that will not ship postal. Here is why: I am at work all day. UPS and FedEx will knock on my door, and then leave a note. Of course I will not be at home any weekday, so I have no choice but to go to their warehouse and pick up my package. Due to the hours they are open, and the obscene commute I have, I will have to leave work early to pick up my package.
        Now postal on the other hand, will drop the key to the large mailbox in my box and I g
      • by fahrbot-bot (874524) on Friday May 06, 2011 @01:24PM (#36050268)

        The USPS is redundant and perhaps, as the weaker candidate with little to offer the general public, it should be eliminated.

        Except that the USPS delivers to, and picks up from, every address in the US and is required to do so. UPS and FedEx do not and do not have to. In addition, the USPS delivers a first-class letter anywhere in the US for 44 cents. Not everything can be handled electronically. Want to try sending all your physical letters via UPS or FedEx? Yes, I pay most of my bills electronically, but a few I cannot or there is a service charge that far exceeds the price of a stamp.

        Perhaps there are efficiencies to be gained at the USPS and perhaps the prices are actually too low, but their mandate far exceeds the services only offered by UPS and FedEx. The problem with the USPS is that most people don't understand all they have to actually do, yet bitch about the inexpensive and universal services they do provide.

    • by Xtravar (725372)

      So they have to upgrade their infrastructure? Mail trucks are not the size of UPS or FedEx trucks. They are designed for letters, so it makes sense to have pricing biased toward smaller items. But hey maybe you're right - that's the problem.

    • by tompaulco (629533)
      Get a real time tracking system in par with UPS and FedEx (not bullshit overnight updates)
      Last package I got, the UPS tracking system explicitly told me that I should not expect any updates until 10 PM PST. FedEx seems to be on top of things, but UPS seems to be about the same as the post office as far as updates.
    • No. Look, there are a lot of annoying things about the USPS, but it has only one real problem: it has to deliver to EVERY PLACE IN THE US. When you compare to FedEx or UPS, you miss the point. They go hub to hub, and they don't deliver to low population areas, more less support offices there.

      If they cut back to more profitable services, they'd be well in the black, but their "mission" (which is dictated by the govt) precludes this, so there are problems.

    • As a foreigner in a foreign country, USPS is brilliant. It's much cheaper and just as fast as the basic UPS/Fedex options, and despite the reputation within the 'states, I've not experienced any packet loss having things shipped internationally. So please don't kill it. The only folks to benefit would be the commercial couriers.

    • As someone who shipped a lot of packages through USPS, the solution is very simple. Get a real time tracking system in par with UPS and FedEx (not bullshit overnight updates) and make the insurance for package claims less of a joke than UPS and FedEx.

      Overnight updates? What magical Good Luck Fairy is blessing you with so much information? My USPS experiences are more along the lines of:

      Monday morning: Order a part online and pay for 3-day delivery. Get an email an hour later saying that my package has been mailed.
      Tuesday: Shipping information received from customer
      Wednesday: Shipping information received from customer
      Thursday: Shipping information received from customer
      Friday: Departure scan: Des Moines
      Saturday: Arrival scan: Vladivostok
      Sunday: Departure scan: Istanbul [customs note: not Constantinople]
      Monday: Departure scan: Omaha
      Tuesday: OUT FOR DELIVERY
      Wednesday: Unattended delivery address: reprocessing
      Thursday: Arrival scan: Fresno
      Friday: OUT FOR DELIVERY

      As far as I can tell, "3 Day Delivery" means 1) the day you ordered, 2) the day the Post Office picks it up, and 3) the day they deliver it, are guaranteed to be three separate days.

  • Google should just buy the USPS. Then they'd have everyone's name and address, could mount cameras on the carrier's heads for mapping and insert advertising into each batch of mail.

    Actually, that's what the USPS should do to raise some cash: sell us out to advertisers. It's not like I don't just throw away 95% of whats in the box anyway. Sifting past a few more dead trees wouldn't really be hard.
    • by arkenian (1560563)

      Google should just buy the USPS. Then they'd have everyone's name and address, could mount cameras on the carrier's heads for mapping and insert advertising into each batch of mail. Actually, that's what the USPS should do to raise some cash: sell us out to advertisers. It's not like I don't just throw away 95% of whats in the box anyway. Sifting past a few more dead trees wouldn't really be hard.

      That's what they should do? They already have. Junk mail pays for the postal system. Including all that lovely mail to "Current Resident", which is the snail-mail equivalent of a banner ad.

      • by nschubach (922175)

        I installed an ad-blocker in my mailbox. It's a little piece of paper that says: "No Advo please" and my ad-blocker server (read: mailperson) doesn't put that garbage in there.

    • Not a bad idea at all, actually. They've already discussed the possibility of using postal delivery trucks as Street View cameras.. they would get everyone's address, and they could do a lot of mail digitization for us (especially since they're already set up to give anyone who wants one a free email address).

  • Why not Railroads? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 06, 2011 @08:53AM (#36046966)

    >> arguably most threatened by the technological developments of the past few years

    I disagree! They are most threatened by gas prices! US Postal was originally transported on trains and hand sorted while the train was going to its' destination. Hand sorting on a train meant that everything was ready to be delivered on arrival rather than sorting at the destination postal facility. Airlines under bid railroads to get mail service but now they are having trouble competing. I see no reason why we shouldn't support our railroads and go back to delivering mail from the rails.

  • by dkleinsc (563838) on Friday May 06, 2011 @08:53AM (#36046968) Homepage

    Unlike, say, UPS, the US Postal Service is not and has never been a for-profit corporation. It's an agency of the US Government, required by law to exist, serve all citizens, and is granted a special monopoly status. If it's in the public interest, it can run at a deficit, take up unprofitable jobs like serving the people that live in the middle of nowhere (which many private competitors refuse to ship to), or keep prices lower than they would be in a pure market-driven system.

    At worst, if the mail volume drops dramatically, they could move to having fewer delivery days in areas that don't get a lot of mail. And they may well be able to use technology to improve their sorting and delivery system, but as it stands they have processes that put FedEx to shame.

    • by jedidiah (1196) on Friday May 06, 2011 @08:59AM (#36047022) Homepage

      What he said. The Postal Service should not be treated like a private business. It serves a basic public need for everyone.

      If you want to let something die, let GM or American Airlines die. Quit propping up entities that are actually supposed to be private companies.

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        What he said. The Postal Service should not be treated like a private business. It serves a basic public need for everyone.

        What is this basic public need? Today we have light-speed communications. We have distributed shopping and shipping. USPS is more expensive than UPS or FedEx for shipping stuff which must be shipped, you know, "stuff". (Defined as having mass and taking up space.) The others also seem to be capable of learning and responding to stimulus, for example I have them trained to deliver my packages to my gate and just leave them behind a bush so I can still have them if my gate is locked. USPS can't manage this, i

        • by h4rr4r (612664)

          If your cost information is true why does fedex offer smartpost as their cheapest option? Smartpost means fedex takes it to the local sorting center then USPS does final delivery. I can't imagine fedex is trying to lose money.

          • FedEx's cost per package for a SmartPost package (vs. Ground or Air) is, in fact, dramatically lower. Granted, they also have smaller margins on SmartPost.

          • by drinkypoo (153816)

            If your cost information is true why does fedex offer smartpost as their cheapest option? Smartpost means fedex takes it to the local sorting center then USPS does final delivery. I can't imagine fedex is trying to lose money.

            Because FedEx is prohibited from delivering to your mailbox. If they could, then they would, they'd have more trucks out, they would make deliveries of flat mail on fewer days unless you actually paid the cost of delivery, because they run like a business, because they ARE a business, not a quasi-government/quasi-private agency operating unfunded mandate.

    • by GKThursday (952030) on Friday May 06, 2011 @09:38AM (#36047494)
      The USPS is actually in the very unenviable position of being required to lose money to subsidize the rest of the Federal Govt. Several examples:

      Congress sets the amount of money that the USPS has to pay into its pension and healthcare funds. This money is "held is trust" by congress (i.e. was spent 5 years before it came in.). The USPS has been forced to over pay for pension and retiree healthcare costs by over $80,000,000,000.00. Most of the $7,000,000,000.00 loss this year comes from an $5,000,000,000.000 payment into the retiree health benefits fund. In fact the USPS would have been profitable in the last 8 out of 10 years if it wasn't forced to subsidize congress's spending binges.

      Congress requires the USPS to give rates to Non-profits that are below cost. Theoretically, congress is supposed to pay the difference, but hasn't for 17 years.

      Periodicals (Time, WSJ, People ect) get preferential rates because of the lobbying power of the press. If I mail a 2.1 oz flat at presort standard rates (after putting the data through the national change of address database, something not required of periodicals) the lowest rate I could possible get is $0.194 per piece. I only get that rate if I bring it to the Sectional Center Facility where the mail will be sorted, and I presort it to the sequence the carrier walks in, and have pieces going to 90% of the residents on the route. That same piece going periodical rate only pays $0.16 for faster service.

      I'm not denying that the USPS has problems of its own making it needs to deal with. It caved to the unions far to much in the past, giving it a very expensive workforce that thinks it constantly battling the evil management.

      All of this comes from many years in the mail service provider industry. I'm not Aunt Edna that mails 3 birthday cards a year, and thinks that entitles her to complain that the Post Office in town is closing, even though it is within 2 miles of other Post Offices. I do multi-million dollar postage amounts every year. I am on first name basis with several USPS VPs.
    • I'm truly offended by your unbiased and rational reply to this story, and that you haven't gone along with the USPS bashing. You should be ashamed.
  • by DNS-and-BIND (461968) on Friday May 06, 2011 @08:55AM (#36046978) Homepage
    Ha, this is a laugh. Google and the other Ph.Ds are going to sit down and dream up some (what seems to them to be) good ideas. Then those ideas will die in a hail of lawsuits when they encounter hard, cold reality. The Ph.Ds write a paper about how people like us are too smart to have our ideas understood, and move on to the next conference, hopefully in Aspen this time (Crystal City, ugh if it were in the midwest it'd be flyover territory).
  • by woodchip (611770) on Friday May 06, 2011 @08:55AM (#36046980)
    Perhaps they could climate Saturday delivery for letter mail. Do I really need junk mail and bills six days a week?
  • by lazlo (15906) on Friday May 06, 2011 @08:55AM (#36046988) Homepage

    Here's my suggestion to make the post office more useful. Let everyone register a postal address that is dissociated from a physical address. Then when I move, instead of filing a change of address form and hoping that everyone who wants to send mail to me ever again sends it in the next year, I can just tell the post office "Yeah, that postal address should now be delivered to this *new* physical address"

    The biggest problem is the fundamental issue that individual residents make the flawed assumption that they are the post office's customers, when in fact they are the post office's product. They are a product being sold, and if you want to know who's buying you, just look at the ton of spam in your mailbox. Any demands for better service aren't heard as dissatisfied customers, but as disgruntled products.

  • Wish I had a spam box for all the junk mail I receive.
  • Government bureaucracy + unionized workers. I highly doubt it can be "fixed".

  • FedEx and UPS could EASILY pick up this traffic. Yes, they'd have to hire a bunch of people. Good thing there will be lots of postal workers becoming unemployed! I'd be perfectly OK with my mail carrier only showing up once a week for regular mail and dropping it off in a big bundle in order to save money, and only make a special trip for packages if the sender pays normal FedUps rates to get it there within X days. They only pick up my trash twice a week, and I'm OK with that.

    Hell, for regular mail (non-pa

    • They only pick up my trash twice a week, and I'm OK with that.

      : Wow, twice a week? Seems like overkill.... the trash get's picked up once every three weeks starting this month in my city. Recycling every 2 weeks and compost every 2 weeks. Twice a week seems like lots of costs could be cut from the local garbage collector. Even with all 3 combined (trash, recycling and compost), it amounts to an average of 1 and 1/3 collection per week, but most people don't put out their compost bin everytime they come by to collect.

      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        I assume you live outside the USA. I have lived both in EU nations and in the USA. In the USA everything is prepacked. Tomatoes come on styrofoam and wrapped in plastic or in a plastic box. Composting in the USA is very rare, and most people don't even recycle glass and plastic.

  • Raise the damned rates! And I do mean by a substantial amount.

    If your customer base has shrunken, you've lost out to a competitor. If it's essentially vanished, you offer nothing they don't. Despite what may be said, the Post Office isn't dead -- it's just broke. You want to mail a letter? You want to make sure it gets there?

    Five bucks to mail a personal letter. You may hate it, but when it comes time to mail a letter to your girlfriend in California, five bucks won't seem like such a burden after all. And

  • We still need a postal system, because we still sometimes need to send physical documents, packages, etc. What we DON'T need is mail delivery six days a week. Mail delivery could be cut down to only four days a week. Carriers could have larger routes, but two or more days in which to run them. The changes which need to be made are not complicated, but the bottom line is that we need fewer postal employees, and that's where it's going to get tough.


  • by csnydermvpsoft (596111) on Friday May 06, 2011 @09:31AM (#36047420) Homepage

    The United States Postal Service, while operated by the United States government, is required to be self-sustaining. Yet, it is not allowed to be autonomous. It seems like every time they try to cut costs - closing redundant retail locations, eliminating Saturday delivery, etc. - they face extreme opposition from Congress (often saving because the waste benefits their districts). In addition, they are prevented by law from raising postage rates above the rate of inflation - no matter what their costs do. I'd hate to try to operate a business under those conditions.

    That being said, there are some areas where efficiency could be improved. I recently started doing mass mailings for my business, and was appalled by some aspects of their processes - the user interface of their employee-facing software was terrible, for instance (and, perhaps more surprisingly, veteran employees seemed unaware of its quirks).

    I think that we (as a country) need to realize that delivering small mailpieces to every household and business in the United States will never be a profitable venture, and be willing to ensure its financial viability through subsidies while also enabling and encouraging efforts to improve efficiency. UPS and Fedex are profitable because they skim off the lucrative parts of the business - large package and express delivery - leaving the rest for the USPS. The USPS serves a very valuable role in this regard, especially for certain less-advantaged populations. We can't expect it to operate like a for-profit business while simultaneously demanding that it fulfill these money-losing - yet necessary - responsibilities.

  • In Victorian London, where postage was the only way to communicate, there were 3 mail deliveries per day. You could toss a letter in the box in the morning, and good odds your recipient would have it in-hand by the evening.

    Now, in the age of email and massive abilities to communicate with each other, mail is only useful where the actual physical delivery of something is needed - we have better ways to communicate information.

    I'd say that we could easily now drop to 3 or even 2 mail deliveries per week and

  • by alta (1263) on Friday May 06, 2011 @09:37AM (#36047484) Homepage Journal

    Mail is down to a trickle. Every time I see the mail lady drive down my street of about 20 houses, she stops at oh, 5 of them, unless it's a day we all get some junkmail.

    So, lets back it down to 3 days a week. Mon, Wed Fri? Mon, Wed, Sat?

    And for rural areas, lets limit pickup. I used to live down a 1/2 mile dirt road. We rarely got any mail, however, every day the mail lady drove to the end of the road to see if our flag was up. What a waste. How about we make some community drop boxes that can be checked without getting out, going behind it, and dumping a bag.

  • by Zenaku (821866) on Friday May 06, 2011 @09:38AM (#36047498)

    I would gladly -- nay, eagerly -- pay a small monthly fee to the USPS in exchange for the mail carrier performing one simple service: spam filtering.

    Take all the flyers, coupons, and other advertisements, along with all the mail not addressed to me (I very frequently get mail not only for the previous residents who sold us the home 2+ years ago, but for the residents prior to them, and the residents prior to those residents going back at least a decade), and deliver those items straight to the trash.

  • by RevWaldo (1186281) on Friday May 06, 2011 @10:02AM (#36047764)
    Maybe it's because I live in NYC, but I've always found USPS service to be, well, excellent.

    At the post office, the lines are reasonable, the staff friendly (although I do use the APC for most services.)

    I've receive most of my eBay deliveries via regular mail, and it works fine.

    The mailperson who works my block knows me by sight.

    I actually prefer to use Priority Mail over UPS or Fedex. It's cheap and easy for one, and the post office won't sit on the package if they can deliver it faster than the TOS. If they can do it overnight, they'll deliver it overnight. If it's gonna take three days, they'll deliver it in three days. (UPS? If the deal is to deliver it in two days, its gonna take two days, even if the location is only thirty miles away.)


"Necessity is the mother of invention" is a silly proverb. "Necessity is the mother of futile dodges" is much nearer the truth. -- Alfred North Whitehead