This survey should aid the Postal Service in convincing members of Congress that supporting its 5-day delivery proposal would not result in political suicide. The survey would appear to suggest that consumers would prefer reducing access to the Postal Service and delivery by the Postal Service to all other options. However, the second Gallup question puts into context why consumers are sanguine regarding a reduction in service. They don't need the services that are willing to do without
About two-thirds of the public used the mail to pay a bill and about half to write a letter. Both products require the use of regular postage stamps that can be purchased nearly 24-7 at any supermarkets. Neither of these uses of mail is affected much by how many hours a post office is open or how many days a week mail is delivered, so it is not surprising that most people are willing to accept cutbacks in post office hours or days of delivery.
Most of the options that the public appears to not accept reflect opposition to actions that could affect their pocketbook. I am willing to bet that if Gallup asked a question as to whether people to choose among a number of options to allow banana growers to become more profitable that they would prefer to have bananas only available in the market on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday or an increase in banana prices or a government subsidy of banana growers, that they would prefer the option of having bananas available less frequently.
The public's objection to the closure of post offices reflect the desire that post offices be available when they have the need to use one, even if that occasion may be rare. If using a post office was important, than the public would likely find cutting hours equally objectionable. Instead, you could argue that the public would accept post offices that were open only two or three hours a day, just because they might need to use it sometime. The desire to have available a post office that they do not use is similar to why many of us hold onto clothes that do not fit because maybe some day we will gain or lose the weight necessary in order for the clothes to be moved from the back to the front of the closet.
More importantly, the Gallup poll does not ask questions that would help understand how cutting a day of delivery will affect the perceived value of mail to the sender, most of whom mail in quantity. If you are going to ask questions of the general public they should instead try to determine:
- If the mail does not come on Saturday, how will that affect the public's willingness to subscribe to publications that may not arrive until Monday?
- If the mail does not come on Saturday, does the effectiveness and the value of advertising change if it is delivered a day earlier or a day later?
- If a bill does not arrive on Saturday, how does bill payment change when mail may arrive a day earlier or later especially when the bill's grace period does not change?