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If it fits it ships…..not if I have to go to the post office

The postal service has shown tremendous insight throughout their current (and brilliant) “If It Fits, It Ships” campaign. In many ways this service should give them a huge advantage over their private carrier competitors. Determining the size of a box, weighing it, and calculating postage per postal zone is a hassle. The simplicity of their program, by contrast, is compelling. Yet they still don’t see the root of their problem. And until they do, they’ll continue to lose business to FedEX and UPS.


Take our client and friend, Jojami, a superb image stylist. (I should know, she even made me look good, no easy task.) We took it as a compliment when she asked us to design a business image reflecting her professional service. As soon as her cards came off press, we planned to hand deliver them, a goodwill service we often gladly include. Well, unable to sync our schedules, she asked, “Can you mail them?” Of course we could.

Then it dawned on us, does that mean a trip to the post office? Please, no!

Something that should be no big deal suddenly became a nightmare! I mean, have you been there lately? It is one of the worst examples of customer service I can think of. The lines are long. They never have more than one window open. You notice a worker coming to open another window and get excited, then deflated, as the first one goes on break. They rarely smile. They move like molasses, hardly caring. Our local branch is a dump, too. Water leaks from the roof in three spots, one into a bucket, two directly onto the floor. The windows are covered in metal mesh that looks like a prison. No wonder they are grumpy. All in all, the post office is a depressing place, be it the branch near where we used to live in San Francisco, or the one we’re stuck with here today. The service, if you can call it that, is slow and miserable.

We honestly considered driving Jojami’s cards to Delaware. Our post office is a half mile away and we would rather drive to Delaware? Luckily we remembered the Northern Liberties Mailbox Store, a private mailing shop where everything’s the opposite of the USPS—clean, quick, friendly and welcoming. Job done, cards shipped, time saved.

To be fair, the postal service isn’t all bad. They really are amazing logistically. Ever thought how lucky we are to put a mere 44 cents on an envelope and have it ship from here to there, say Alaska, right to a friend’s door? And the delivery people are not like Newman on Seinfeld; they are warm and friendly, reliable and a great part of our community. I love these guys. They deliver in snow, rain, bitter cold, and oppressive heat, every day but Sunday, with a smile to boot! Also, it’s impressive how quickly a letter is delivered locally, often in less than 24 hours within this metro area. That is efficiency!

If only USPS could match the on-site post office experience to their other strengths. Their “if it fits it ships” business model and marketing campaign is so simple, easy and reasonably priced, perfect for any business. They could really stick it to FedEx and UPS. And yet if the public’s perceptions and experiences keep turning sour, no one will pay attention.

So what do you think? When was the last time you actually stepped inside a post office? What was the outcome? Do you prefer FedEx or the United States Postal Service?

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