Thursday, April 23, 2009

USPS: They Don't Care, They Don't Have To

WASHINGTON (October 18, 2006) -- Postage stamps can be purchased by mail, at the supermarket, even from many bank cash machines. But there's one place you won't be able to get them in a few years - vending machines at the post office. The U.S. Postal Service plans to eliminate its 23,000 vending machines by 2010, the agency said in a recent internal memo.

"The heart of the matter is a lot of these machines are up to 20 years old," she said, meaning breakdowns are increasing and replacement parts are costly or impossible to get. The removals are expected to begin next year with about 5,900 machines eliminated annually.

MP: I just noticed yesterday that the vending machine at the downtown Flint Post Office no longer sells stamps, it sits there empty. Right next to the dark, empty vending machine for stamps sit two fully operational, bright and shiny vending machines, one for soft drinks and one for snacks, presumably owned and operated by a private, for-profit vending machine company.

Old machines, breakdowns, and replacement parts apparently are not overwhelming problems for a for-profit vending machine company, so couldn't the Post Office outsource its stamp vending machines to the private company that is providing soft drinks and snacks in the Post Office lobby?

This is worthy of a picture, I'll have to go back.

15 Comments:

At 4/23/2009 11:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You want them to be concerned about customer needs, too?

 
At 4/23/2009 11:48 AM, Blogger QT said...

Mark,

Shouldn't we also consider the stream of revenue vs. maintenance. Currently, the revenue is not covering the cost of repairs. This is the same reason public pay phones have disappeared in recent years.

Soft drinks & snacks generate high, consistent stream of revenue. Soft drinks in particular cost pennies to create and the markup for single cans is greater than a case.

We should commend a government monopoly for doing the unthinkable...making an economically sensible decision despite public opposition.

One of the best ideas recently has been the introduction of permanent stamp which is worth the going rate no matter when you decide to use it thereby eliminating all of those pesky 1 cent stamps when there is a price change.

 
At 4/23/2009 12:02 PM, Anonymous gettingrational said...

I find the USPS (Post Office) a reliable way to send 1st class mail. For 42 cents we get a good value. BUT the interface with the customer at the Post Office is not reliable. The postal clerk is basically a retail person with very good pay and benefits. I prefer to buy my stamps across the street at the grocery store. The wait is much shorter and the experience more satisfactory from a customer service standpoint.

 
At 4/23/2009 12:52 PM, Blogger David F. Mitchell said...

Great point Mark! I've really enjoyed reading your blog since Mark Levin referenced it on the air a few weeks back

 
At 4/23/2009 1:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The vending machines are gone, but are the automated postal machines going away? My local post office replaced the vending machines with an automated teller. Throught the teller you can buy books of stamps.

 
At 4/23/2009 1:40 PM, Blogger Scott Grannis said...

My bank's ATMs dispense stamps in a very convenient manner.

 
At 4/23/2009 1:46 PM, Blogger QT said...

You can already create your own custom stamps online or alternatively, you can orderregular stamps online.The future is fun!

 
At 4/23/2009 1:58 PM, Blogger ExtremeHobo said...

Good! Im glad that all those losers sending out junk mail have to deal with the loser that is the USPS. Who knows how much more junk mail we would have if it was legal to send through FedEx.

 
At 4/23/2009 6:39 PM, Blogger xcaverx said...

Shouldn't we also consider the stream of revenue vs. maintenance. Currently, the revenue is not covering the cost of repairs. This is the same reason public pay phones have disappeared in recent years.

Are you kidding? Do you think the time spent by postal clerks is cheaper than maintaining the machines!?

Soft drinks & snacks generate high, consistent stream of revenue. Soft drinks in particular cost pennies to create and the markup for single cans is greater than a case.

Why shouldn't stamps also? Sam's Club sees fit to sell stamps, are they doing it as a public benefit?

We should commend a government monopoly for doing the unthinkable...making an economically sensible decision despite public opposition.
What they are doing is driving customers to alternative means of moving messages and packages. The USPS must have a death wish.

One of the best ideas recently has been the introduction of permanent stamp which is worth the going rate no matter when you decide to use it thereby eliminating all of those pesky 1 cent stamps when there is a price change.

We agree on something. "Forever stamps" should have been available years ago, just like in many countries around the world.

 
At 4/23/2009 9:26 PM, Blogger QT said...

xcaverx,

We likely also agree that a monopoly on mail delivery is an anachronism.

 
At 4/23/2009 11:43 PM, Anonymous Jim Glass said...

You don't read your comments, eh?

Because I posted a comment here about my conversation with my local post office people about their "vanished" stamp machines -- and why their candy and coffee machines work fine, only their stamp machines don't -- just last week.

 
At 4/24/2009 10:26 AM, Blogger Mark Schellman said...

Another factor for removal of postal vending machines is vandalism and theft. The machines selling stamps accept larger bills than snack and drink vending machines and therefore have more cash stored in them. They are a target for thieves. Theft adds to the cost of repair and eliminates revenue. As a result, postal vending machines are designed to prevent theft and are much more robust and expensive to purchase and maintain than snack and drink vending machines.

 
At 4/24/2009 12:44 PM, Blogger ExtremeHobo said...

Also those machines are awesome because they give you the dollar coins as change. I would buy stamps just to get them sometimes.

 
At 4/24/2009 1:05 PM, Blogger ExtremeHobo said...

I find the USPS (Post Office) a reliable way to send 1st class mail.Good thing you arent sending/receiving these.

Gamefly has filed a complaint with the Postal Regulatory Commission accusing the US Postal Service of improper sorting, leading to many games being broken in transit. The game rental service also alleges that its competitors are given better service by the USPS.

 
At 10/04/2009 11:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just entered my Post Office yesterday, Saturday evening, after it was closed to purchase some stamps and complete a community wide mailing. But behold, no stamps available from my Post Office. No vending machine inside anymore. So i go to the local Pack N Mail and they were sold out and referred me to my Safeway. There i was able to buy 100 stamps to complete my mailing. I even used my credit card to pay for them.
Now, if the US Post Office is going to use efficiency and economizing to justify not selling stamps after hours, why not let private enterprise get a bigger piece of the mailing services pie? I tell you i have been sick with the lack of service and actually have seen disrespect by Postal Employees to customers. Actually bark orders to those in line to stand here or stand there. This is all getting a bit much for government agency to be managed like they are.

 

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