Monkey motion at the USPS

SANFORD, FL ( – USPS online package pickup adds 26 man-hours each year to a small American business, and pickup takes one day longer.

In its quest to work smarter, the USPS may have stubbed its toe. Based on a recent postmaster-letter, which said Genesis Hobby must begin using the USPS website to schedule package pickup, we’ve found three adverse issues with this regulation.

  • Online scheduling adds a one-day delay in pickup.
  • Online package pickup scheduling takes time.
  • There’s more USPS monkey motion too.

Taken together; the three issues seem rather like shooting ourselves in the foot.

1. An extra day’s delay in getting your stuff

The brown-truck folks give us same-day pick even if they’re called as late as 4 o’clock in the afternoon. Online scheduling with the USPS results in pickups being scheduled for the next day. We’ve even tried scheduling at 6 AM – same result. Unsurprisingly, in today’s cutthroat business environment, the reason we go out of our way to hustle an order out the door the same day is because customers want their stuff right now, or as soon as is practicable. Without delay.

You know how things works; we ship product using either USPS or UPS. Customers decide which service to use based on each’s online rate-calculator. Thus, while completing their order they see both rates, plus an estimated delivery. Picking whichever best suits them is rational behavior.

Naturally, people want their stuff fast. They want it free too (but accept as cheap as possible). In delivery, nothing else matters. Introducing an extra day’s delay is not rational. RE: USPS, it’s like tossing a drowning man a cinder block instead of a life preserver.

Surely the regs can be streamlined as efficiently as UPS? This can’t be rocket science.

2. Shooting itself in the foot via excess regulation

It only takes us a few minutes each day to schedule a package pickup via the USPS website. However, it’s not free because these few minutes add up. In practice, scheduling via the USPS website takes about 6 or 7 minutes each day. Call it 30 minutes per week. This is 26 extra hours per year. This is enough to buy dinner for two with drinks at Morton’s. We’ve know because we’ve timed it. It comes from our bottom line and we can’t afford it.

Worse, the 26 man-hours represent more of a burden to a 5-employee business than a 5000-employee business. Thus, weighing down those folks (small businesses) whom are generally credited with creating the most new jobs. This is the worst idea possible.

Moreover, while it’s bad any time, it’s especially bad during difficult economic times. Levying this penalty throughout the US economy – right now – borders on the absurd.

3. It’s costing the USPS more too

Unsurprisingly, on the USPS side of things, there’s extra work too. For example, someone at the post office has to print all the online package pickup requests. Once printed they must make their way to the respective postmen, e.g. disbursed. Knowing bureaucracies, there’s probably some additional controls and procedures for this process, which take yet more man-hours.

Perhaps the real wonder is there’s only one day’s delay.

What to do when Kafka’s in charge

For many years Genesis Hobby – in concert with our postman – have used a simple system. When we have packages for pickup we hang a flag on the door, which he can see from the road.

Exactly like raising the little red flag on the mail box, this indicates there are packages for pickup. It’s an elegant solution because absent the flag, the postman doesn’t waste time stopping.

Intense competition from the likes of FedEx and UPS should sharpen the USPS. Making themselves less competitive seems ludicrous. Worse, they preclude the postman from managing upward and demonstrating initiative because in bureaucracies initiative is bad. Especially when the powers that be want packages scheduled and damn the consequences. We deserve better.

Is Franz Kafka running the USPS? Why the excess monkey motion?