Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Closing Post Offices or Cutting Hours.

The Spatanburg Courier-Journal reported that the Clifton, South Carolina post office is going to have reduced hours.   Currently, the Clifton post office is open Monday through Friday from 7:30 to 11 a.m. and from 1 to 4:45 p.m. and on Saturday from 8 to 11:45 a.m.  The new hours will be 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 to 10 a.m. on Saturdays.   This is a reduction of 8 hours per week or more than 20% of total hours.  The reduction in hours creates greater difficulty for households or businesses that are within one-quarter mile from the post office as they have their mail delivered to a post office box that is only accessible during opening hours.

Clifton South Carolina is illustrative of the problem facing many post offices, reduced levels of service.  What are the alternatives?
  • By cutting hours, is the Postal Service trying to discourage retail business?  Customers have to really want to use the Postal Service given the limited number of hours
  • How does the USPS expect to compete when there is a FedEx location that is open from 7:30 a.m. - 9:00 p.m. weekdays, 10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. Saturday, and 12 noon - 6:00 p.m Sunday only 7 miles away and self-service boxes located as close as 2 miles away?
  • How does the USPS expect to compete when there is a UPS location that is open from 8:30 a.m. - 6:30 p.m. weekdays, and 8:30 a.m. - 6:30 p.m.. Saturday less than 7 miles away and self-service boxes located as close as 2.5 miles away?
  • Would consolidating the 5 post offices within 5 miles of Clifton and offering longer hours at the offices that remain open longer hours make the Post Office more competitive for retail parcel shipping in Clifton than a Post Office in each of these communities open only limited hours?
  • Could the Post Office put in a cluster box outside the Post office for those that customers that must collect mail at the Post Office that would give them 24-hour access?
  • Could an automated Kiosk like those deployed by Deutsche Post, Post Danmark offer better parcel pick up and delivery service in Clifton than a post office that is only open a limited number of hours?
 Closing post offices is an emotional issue and affect both the communities that lose their post office and the employees that work there.   However, the purpose of a post office is to serve customers.   Clifton, South Carolina provides a good illustration how a combination of how expanding the use of cluster boxes, self service kiosks used along side a more limited number of full retail outlets with convenient hours could cut the Postal Service's costs, make its services more convenient to customers, and make its services more competitive.  Only money and creativity prevents this from happening.


Anonymous said...

One key point, USPS is required by law to provide universal delivery at the same price from Barrow Alaska to Key West FL. Changing that requires Congress to get it done!

Anonymous said...

Allen - You leave out some much needed information. Which I understand why because it goes against your point.

1. Look at the trailer. It begs the question: How many customers does this "office" serve?

2. The USPS provides its services at a much cheaper rate than FEDEX or UPS. If the customers in this community want to drive to other competitors of the USPS and pay more then that is their decision.

3. The USPS still delivers to EVERY address EVERYDAY. Neither FEDEX nor UPS do that. In fact they both bring items to the USPS so we can deliver the items for them.

4. Why must the USPS act any differently then any other company or business in the US? Doctors, Banks, Fast Food resturantes -everyone is changing hours, dropping days and raising prices. Why should the USPS be any different.

You make some great points on ways to help but delivery is not a free service. The public can't have everything for nothing

Concerned Postal Employee

Anonymous said...

Clifton provides very good service and with friendly faces. We do our best to keep everyone in that community happy. I'm sorry that we just can't keep one of our customer happy that he always have something to complain about even if he works when every he wants and is able to come to Post Office any time of the day, because he is his on boss.