Do You Still Care About the Post Office?

Are the post office and the postal service still important to you? The Inspector General of the U.S. Postal Service David C. Williams wants to know. It’s part of his examination of the future role of a financially troubled institution that most of us take for granted.

It’s curious that the board of directors of the postal service doesn’t seem to be involved in the dialogue. At least they are not reaching out to the public in the same way. Recently the inspector general,who operates outside of the postal service, proposed using local post offices to offer some financial services.  The ideas that he and his team propose are interesting and worth talking about and taking seriously.

We’re republishing the blog from Williams’ office. He’s an oddly modest Washington official and doesn’t sign these pieces. Analysts on his team contribute to the research and the writing.

Here it is:

by the U.S. Postal Service Inspector General

“There’s no lack of opinions in Washington about what the U.S. Postal Service should do to get out of its precarious financial situation. Cut this, add that, restructure these, and so on. But what about the public? What do Americans want – expect – from the Postal Service?

Our office commissioned focus groups across the nation, speaking with scores of people young and old, from rural areas and big cities. The goal was to gauge perceptions of the Postal Service to understand what Americans not only want from the Postal Service, but also need from it. The results are compiled and analyzed in our new white paper, What America Wants and Needs from the Postal Service.

One key finding was that (a), many participants mistakenly believed that the Postal Service receives taxpayer funding, and (b), when they learned the Postal Service is in fact self-funded, much like any other business, nearly everyone’s views and expectations began to soften, allowing for greater flexibility and compromise on service.

Photo by ConsumerMojo.com

Overall, we found that Americans were most willing to accept a reduction in a particular service they are currently pleased with. For instance, most rural participants were open to – even excited by – the possibility of shifting to cluster box delivery because it could provide more security in locations where mail theft and mail box vandalism are common. Reduced number of delivery days was also acceptable to almost all participants.

Among other key findings, all but two of the total 101 participants said they would, in general, be affected to some degree if the Postal Service were to disappear. And rural participants viewed post offices as community centers, while urban participants saw them as a convenience.

The big take-away: We found that what Americans need from the Postal Service is much less than what they want, and they are willing to make trade-offs to maintain a certain level of service. What America Wants and Needs from the Postal Service [link] details the trade-offs, highlighting some of the different preferences that emerge when urban and rural populations are compared. And yet, among the differences, a common theme is also evident – Americans still value the Postal Service.”
Tell us your thoughts:

What do you need and want from the Postal Service?
Did you know that the Postal Service is self-funded?
Does that knowledge affect your opinion or expectations regarding Postal Service services?”

You can reach them at https://www.uspsoig.gov/blog

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Barbara Nevins Taylor

As the winner of 22 Emmy Awards and a slew of journalism honors and awards, I created ConsumerMojo.com to give you the straight story about complicated stuff. Tell us what you want to know and we'll get you the answers.