US Postal Service Solves Long Waits By Removing Clocks From Post Offices

This sounds like a joke, but it’s being reported by the Houston Chronicle: The USPS is removing clocks from post offices in order to allow customers to better “focus on the postal service.”

“We want people to focus on postal service and not the clock,” said Stephen Seewoester, Dallas spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service.

The USPS has removed clocks from 37,000 post offices as part of a “retail standardization program.” Um, correct us if we’re wrong here but:

• People carry timepieces.

•The post office is not a casino. People aren’t going to lose themselves in the fun and mail more letters than they’d originally intended.

Is this the best they can come up with?—MEGHANN MARCO

Postal Service fixes long waits by removing clocks [Houston Chronicle](Thanks, Jason!)
RELATED: Bank Bans Clocks to Confuse Customers
(Photo: Pro-Zak)

Comments

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  1. bluegus32 says:

    Leave it to the government to find the best way to poke us in the eye with a sharp stick.

  2. lazyazz says:

    I guess they think it will make the 45 minutes I waited in line last week seem shorter.

  3. bpotterr says:

    This may also give them an excuse for when packages “guaranteed” to arrive by a certain time get there late. “Sorry, we don’t have a clock anymore. We didn’t know it had been a week.”

  4. royal72 says:

    “The post office is not a casino. People aren’t going to lose themselves in the fun and mail more letters than they’d originally intended.”

    nice one meg! perhaps they need to install slot machines that pay you in stamps?

  5. ArntorFTL says:

    Next thing they will do is remove windows, just like the casinos!

  6. I’m almost in awe of how ridiculously stupid this is. It’s incredible.

    I wish I had a reason to go to the Post Office. Then I could take a full sized, battery powered wall clock with me and keep checking it.

  7. A useless, deplorable, government-sponsored monopoly.

    Allow FedEx/UPS/DHL and anyone else to tender for contracts allowing them access to the postal mailboxes that are currently the exclusive domain of the USPS. Watch the USPS shrivel and die like the worthless refuse that it is.

    One day.

  8. gorckat says:

    Perhaps if their stamp vending machines weren’t so damned difficult to use, people wouldn’t wait that long…

    The other day, the person in front of me dropped coins in and they kept coming out…he gave up and got in line. I tried and got the same result. Then I pushed the code for the stamp I wanted and then the machine took my money :P

  9. JosephFinn says:

    I think that bluegus32′s user icon is from the webcomic Least I Could Do makes his comment all the better.

  10. J DTZR says:

    At the post office I always used in my hometown, they had a sign that said “Service in 5 minutes or you get a free stamp!” I got at least four free stamps. Then they took the clocks down.

  11. acambras says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation:

    Ha! You could do like Flava Flav and wear it around your neck.

    I guess he has people who can go to the post office for him, though.

  12. IC18 says:

    I waited nearly an hour last week just to mail a 10oz package. There was only one USPS worker, I guess they should concentrate on hiring more workers than taking down clocks, but then again maybe they plan on selling those clocks to pay wages to new clerks.

  13. Brian Gee says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation: Skip the wall-clock, and go for a giant-sized novelty stopwatch. Click the button when you step into the line, then show them exactly how much time you waited.

    Better still, get a bunch of cheap stopwatches at the dollar store or wherever and hand them out to other patrons as they enter.

  14. B says:

    If they’re going to be like casinos, does that mean free cocktails? If so, I might start going to the post office again.

  15. mattshu says:

    Hooray for government monopolies!!!

  16. wikkit says:

    I noticed this at my local NY DMV recently. When I looked around to see what time it was, there wasn’t a single clock in the place. I even peered through the 3 inches of bullet-proof glass to the employee area beyond.

    Coincidence?

  17. vannsant says:

    @Danilo: Completely agree. Time to privatize the postal service.

  18. Mr_Human says:

    I don’t know about privatization — the post office’s mandate is to serve all citizens; what about unprofitable rural areas? Private co’s won’t want to deliver there.

  19. Mr_Human says:

    Privatization: A subsidy could work, I suppose. Vermont pays Amtrak a little dough to get their trains service.

    But, you know, the private companies aren’t all that great, either. UPS is slow and loses packages. The USPS is much faster.

  20. kerry says:

    @Mr_Human: Exactly, it’s like the cable companies. Lots of places can’t get cable because they’re too rural for the companies to profit after laying out the money to get them connected. Of course, as it is they also don’t get home mail delivery in many places, they have to pick it up at a local PO. I would imagine UPS/FedEx/DHL would utilize the same building or build their own.

    Oh, and hear hear to the cocktail idea. I’d totally start going to my post office if they did that. Woo!

  21. formergr says:

    @IC18: Oh trust me, adding more workers won’t make a difference. The closest branch to me in Chicago always has about 4-5 workers around, and it’s still a 45 minute wait to mail a package:

    One who is pretty good, one who is really slow and tied up with the idiot who decided to mail 5 packages at once none of which he’s addressed or sealed yet, one to stand there and yell at people to use the vending machine, and one to walk through (very slowly) every once in a while doing nothing just to frustrate you more as you wait.

  22. Dustbunny says:

    @formergr:

    And don’t forget the one who waits until the line is nice and long and then puts a “Closed” sign on the counter, so they can take their union-mandated break. Which apparently must be taken at the specified time, no matter how busy it is.

  23. dm515 says:

    I think the USPS is an amazing service. I don’t frequently have to go to the post office, but when I do, I’m always treated well by the staff. Further, if I don’t feel like going there, I can arrange for a pick-up at my home after printing my postage label at my desktop. No charge, beyond the price of postage. Now that’s service!

  24. BklynDad says:

    dm515- where are you located? In brooklyn, NY we have horible post offices’ and postal workers.

  25. legotech says:

    I too print as much of my postage at home and I don’t use stamps.com or any of those charge per month places…If you are doing priority or express you can use USPS.com, if you’d like the flexibility to use media mail and first class and don’t mind using paypal:

    https://www.paypal.com/us/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_ship-now


    is the link for ebay’s ship it now thingy and it lets you print postage for all classes of mail.

  26. LatherRinseRepeat says:

    I avoid going to the Post Office as much as possible. I try to buy stamps and send packages through authorized USPS agents, like the ones found in mail box rental shops. Shorter lines and friendlier people.

  27. Xkeeper says:

    My feelings are a mixed bag. The time I went to mail a package, it took 2 days (estimated 5-10), and it arrived in good condition.

    Except they just left it sitting in front of the apartment for anyone to take when they delivered it.

    But on the whole clock bit, why? Improve your damn service and people won’t get sick of standing in lines.

  28. pronell says:

    I get the feeling that when they decide to change the policy on this, they’ll end up buying all new clocks.

    And I was a postal worker for almost a decade. It’s a good organization with good workers.

    They’ve just let the shit float to the top, same as any bureaucratic mess. In every case, while I worked for them, the nastiest and most combative employees got promoted to management.

    Once there, they were no longer allowed to be part of the union and received quarterly bonuses for keeping costs low.

    This would have been fine, had they been otherwise competent managers. But the guy who always has his eye on the bottom line never has the quality of the service in mind, let alone the work environment.

    I got out after nine years, when the stress was beginning to damage my health.

    The service is exemplary. It’s the government that runs it that screws everything up.

  29. Maulleigh says:

    I guess it’s either that or they raise the rates of stamps AGAIN. They’re just really putting themselves out of business. I hope the Chinese eat them for lunch.

  30. mopar_man says:

    They call this fixing it? I know at my local PO, I can go in at 10:30 AM on a Wednesday and find the counter lined with employees with no customers inside. Other times, I can stand in line for 30 minutes to work with the only employee at the counter while 10 or more people stand behind me.

  31. pronell says:

    That’s something I really don’t understand.

    How much does FedEx charge to send a letter? How about DHS? UPS?

    A _lot_ more than the horrible government monopoly. And yet, despite it being a horrible government monopoly, these alternatives exist. Huh. Interesting.

    But yeah, let’s just privatize it. That makes a lot more sense than trying to change the organizational structure to reward people for doing their jobs _well_, as opposed to as cheaply as possible.

  32. pronell says:

    Err, DHL, I meant. ‘scuse me.

  33. Tallanvor says:

    @Danilo: Do you really believe that any of the other major shipping companies could come close to rivaling the USPS? I wouldn’t be surprised if the post office handled as much mail in a day as FedEx did in a year. Granted, more than half of it is probably junk mail, but still.

    Before I moved to London, I could send a card across the country, for what, $0.39, and it would usually be there within 3 days. FedEx and UPS would charge me $15 to get it there a day quicker. DHL would charge me $8 and it would take 5 days.

    I’ll agree USPS can be improved a lot, but it’s not broken to the point where we have to give up reasonably priced mail service.

  34. Greasy Thumb Guzik says:

    @formergr:
    Which one, Rogers Park, Lakeview or Ravenswood?
    The 3 worst PO’s in the country!

  35. pronell says:

    Thank you, Tallanvor, for posting the prices I was too lazy to look up. :)

  36. pestie says:

    Actually, I rather like the USPS. Priority Mail is cheap and fast (like a good woman), whereas UPS and FedEx both suck balls. I don’t know about DHL; I’ve never used them. The only thing I remember hearing about them was that they were, in the early 90′s the only company willing to ship a package overnight to Suriname. I can’t say I have much call for that myself, though.

  37. itmustbeken says:

    They could also use the Las Vegas tag line
    ‘Whatever happens at the Post Office, stays at the Post Office’

    Can the postal workers work topless? Just a thought…I’m putting it out there…

  38. kerry says:

    @Greasy Thumb Guzik: That’s weird, I always had great experiences with the Roger’s Park PO, and was sad when I left the ‘hood. I’m talking about the one at Clark and Devon, not the one at 3400 Devon. My carriers all sucked, but the folks at the counter were always so helpful, really above and beyond. I’ve had them go around digging in the back for packages my carrier attempted to deliver that day 5 minutes before the station closes, once a manager sent someone over to my house to hand deliver a package my carrier repeatedly neglected.
    The Roger’s Park carriers may not be perfect, but that PO is pretty great. The Uptown one (where I live now) is just terrible. Really awful. Ten windows with one person working on any given Saturday, surly and slow. I’m so glad I have a carrier who knows where to safely leave packages, I never go to the PO if I can avoid it now.

  39. formergr says:

    @Greasy Thumb Guzik: Lakeview, baby!

  40. Kornkob says:

    The only time I’m anywhere near the PO is, of course, right about the time of year everybody else is so things are slow but no where as near as slow as UPS is at their offices.

    Besides, they show up every day at my house, around the same time every day and even manage to give me some personalized service from time to time. My postal service guy leaves packages where I tell him to–under the eves behind the bush where they are both out of sight and going to stay dry if it rains. Both UPS and FedEx are just dumb as rocks when they leave packages– they not only don’t listen to what I ask but routinely leave packages were they are likely to be easiest to swipe AND are going to get wet as hell if it rains.

    Finally, personal anecdotes aside, I, for one, have absolutely no interest in privatizing the only government service I know of that posts a profit. Yep– that’s right: the USPS posts a profit. They don’t turn a huge return on their budget and if they were publicly traded there’d be some pissed stockholders but they don’t operate at a loss.

  41. niteflytes says:

    The dept of motor vehicles in Indiana took down all their clocks for same reason. Our “brilliant” govorner also mandated that the DMV employees all dress alike and gave them 3 weeks to update their wardrobes. They all have to wear blue pants and I don’t remember what color the tops have to be…red or white. Anyway, they all end up wearing a similar combination of blue, white and some red. It’s so stupid looking.

    Back to the clocks issue, I’ve heard of hospitals taking the clocks out of patient rooms for the same reasons. I guess the people who make these bright decisions never owned a watch.

  42. holdenll says:

    Our post office always has a long line. If you had a parcel to pick up, you could skip the line and go to a dutch door, ring a bell, and get the parcel. In and out in 5 minutes. In order to make the long line even longer, the new hours for the dutch door are 7 to 8am. Now we get to wait in line for 30 to 40 minutes. Even if you get there between 7 and 8am, no one is there to help anyway. The post office could care less about customer satisfaction. Please feel free to email the usps about the Panther Creek Post Office in The Woodlands, TX about this logical move.

  43. Xkeeper says:

    @itmustbeken:
    Whatever’s sent at this post office stays at this post office.

    (Yes, I live near Las Vegas.)

  44. FLConsumer says:

    I used to love to hate the USPS… but in recent months, they’ve become one of my better friends. Management at USPS *DOES SUCK*, which is why we have, to quote the BBC, “the uniquely American phenomenon known as going postal.” (2000) There are some great USPS workers, and now that I’ve moved to an area with relatively good workers, it has made a difference.

    The closest PO to me does have staffing problems when it comes to the counters. Invariably the line snakes out the front door (and it’s a newer building). Usually only half the counter windows are open, BUT, the workers have been friendly, dare I say helpful, when I’ve had to go to the counter.

    2 things about USPS which I absolutely love:

    1) Postage meters / PC(Internet) postage. This has to be the greatest thing yet. I use Endicia.com. If I have the program open, all I have to do is highlight & copy an address to my clipboard. If there’s a package already sitting on my scale, it weighs it, sets up the label and prompts me to print it. No more 1 lb max limits (because the postage meter/PC postage account defines me as a “known mailer”), no more taking packages to the PO, and dirt cheap/hassle free shipping insurance, oh, also free/discounted delivery confirmation. The address standardization/verification in the program + barcodes it prints seems to make a huge difference in transport times. I had a 3 lb Media Mail (a.k.a. book rate, the slowest/worst mail class of USPS) package go from FL to California in 3 days flat. $2.69. I had to ship 14 books today. The whole process of mailing them took about 3 minutes, at most, including me sticking the labels on the appropriate boxes. For those who only need to mail things occasionally, the paypal link above isn’t a bad deal. They don’t charge you any extra fees that I’m aware of and they don’t have any monthly fees.

    2) Carrier pickup. I just leave my packages by the mailbox or go online to USPS Carrier Pickup and my cute PostalChick(TM) will knock on my door and take the packages. This alone is worth the $4 for Priority Mail.

    I agree with Kornkob — UPS at their own offices, SUCKS donkey-balls. These people are the slowest, most inept people. I’m assuming the UPS staff who hand out misdelivered packages at the end of the day are the same workers who load/unload the truck, as in bottom of the totem pole (and gene pool.) Additionally, I’ve NEVER had a UPS package arrive in good shape. The boxes appear like someone used them as footballs or to play Forklift Soccer with. Then there’s the whole UPS delivery time roulette. Have a package arriving at home which needs a signature? Forget it. They’ll try a few times, invariably when you’re NOT home, then tell you to drive to their HQ to pick it up….which in my case is an hour away.

    http://www.unitedpackagesmashers.com has a few fun stories and lots of pics of UPS’ work, along with pictures showing how the damage is inflicted upon packages, almost by design.

  45. zentec says:

    Oh, the USPS, I how hate thee…

    I live on a rural route in Michigan. The driver is constantly complaining about the approach to my mailbox, which I groom smooth and long enough in which to launch and land jet aircraft. Last summer I took all my leftover materials from a paver project and made the approach 9″ of 3/4 aggregate and 4″ of slag; better quality than most roads. Yet I get form letters from the local postmaster complaining that there’s pot holes in the approach and it doesn’t meet safe standards for the driver to deliver the mail. The pot holes are in the center of the road and not my responsibility, yet the letters keep coming.

    Last month, I had a stack of these letters because of the snow. I’d clear out the approach, and the snow plows would fill it back up with snow while I was at work. I’d come home, clear it out, it would be clear when I left and the plows would fill it back in by the time the rural route bitch came to deliver my mail. These people actually expect you to stay home from work to make sure that when the snowplows push snow onto the approach, that you’re there to clear it before the rural route driver comes to deliver the mail. That is what the postmaster told me. The best part is that they’ll shove a form into your mailbox telling you why they’re not delivering your mail. Absolutely the beauty of our government agencies, isn’t it?

    So, for half of February, they held my mail because I decided that I’m not taking time off work just so I can be their lackey. I moved all my bills to autopay on my credit card and I can pay that online. Screw ‘em, the USPS is just another organization moving into irrelevance.

  46. MostNutsEver says:

    Back when I worked at Enterprise Rent-A-Car we were told by our corporate office to take the wall clock out of the lobby where the customers could see it. I haven’t read all of the comments but I assume this becoming a common practice among businesses that tend to make you wait a long time.

  47. Trai_Dep says:

    For THIS, they want to hike the price of a stamp?

  48. galatae says:

    What happens at the US Post Office, stays at the US Post Office.

  49. Coronagold says:

    There almost seems to be a revolving door hiring process between the USPS, the DMV & most union workers. But that can’t be because like circuit court judges they’re hired for life. Or death, whichever comes first.

  50. Grief says:

    Being a career clerk with the Postal Service for eleven years, I’ve heard many of these concerns before. I’m going to try and answer some of the questions and, perhaps, challenge some of the knee-jerk assertions about the institution where I work.
    First, let me address the clock post itself. The philosophy of middle and upper management is to apply “band-aid” type solutions to problems. The removal of clocks in lobbies is a great example of this. In my office in a bedroom community of Portland OR, we’ve tried to address staffing for busy times i.e. lunch rush, 4-5pm, all day Monday with some success. I really do believe most window personnel want to help the customer through fast and get them what they need. Angry customers make for a long day.
    E-Bay and auction sites like it have changed the shipping landscape dramatically. More and more often you have mailers with fifty packages to meter to resolve their auctions. I would estimate fifty percent of my business on my window to be auction-site based.
    There is a mystery shopper program in our district where movement of the line is of tantamount importance. We have five minutes to get the mystery shopper through the line, it is all or nothing. Also included in the mystery shopper audits is conformation to a set of questions to be asked any mailer. Of these questions, one inquires about contents and the rest are sales questions intended to sell the customer on a service or additional merchandise. As far as I know, the mystery shopper program is national and offices have pulled clerks off the window for repeatedly failing mystery shopper audits.
    Canada privatized their whole postal system several years ago. It is now three separate companies that do their delivery. Overnight, their reliability plummeted. Their strikes are legendary and rightfully so. Privatization would bring billed home delivery, rural office closure & dramatic increases in postage(double or more).
    @Danilo: The P.O. has run on stamp and postage revenues alone since 1992.
    @Mr. Human: There’s no greater victory to a government contractor than to be paid extra to provide the service the government agency provided at no extra cost. If that makes sense.
    @pronell: Good post! I can tell you were in for a while! What craft were you in and where?
    @FLConsumer: You sound like one of my E-Bay customers. Thanks for using us!
    @all who have had a bad experience on the window:
    I really do feel bad for the poor service you received. I can say that I do love the window. Getting people what they need quickly and making sure their experience was good is important to me. It saddens me to hear about your bad contact and I wish I was your window clerk to possibly help improve your visit. I’m paid a living wage to help the folks who come in get their mail sent and many of my contacts in other fields have had it a whole lot worse. It is a grudging blue-collar pride that the Postal Service gives you, but I’ve stuck in. On a workday, contact with my customers, regular or new, are the highlight.

    Some little known facts:
    - For every penny that a gallon of gas goes up, it costs the Postal Service a million dollars a day.
    - The Postal Service employs 700,000 working Americans and is second only to Wal-Mart in American workers.
    - The Postal Service DOES handle as much mail in one day as FedEx does in a year. That’s no exaggeration.
    - UPS and FedEx raise their rates annually. UPS usually does it in February. The 37 cent rate was in effect for four years. The 39 cent rate hit the year mark this last January.
    - 39 cents is the cheapest in the world to mail a letter. Japan comes in second with ~68 cents for a standard first class letter.

    Waiting for a whiskey neat at work,

    G.

  51. QuirkyRachel says:

    lol! That’s so sad it’s funny! You never know though. Maybe people will suddenly remember their long lost relatives while standing in line and start anxiously writing letters as they wait.

  52. Tonguetied says:

    The Post Office is an organization the country loves to hate. I did have a Postal employee tell me once that the PO was not allowed to make a profit, that they have to break even every year. That was about 15 years ago so maybe things have changed. I remember thinking that the smart thing would be to allow them to make a profit for one year that they could bank to use in future years when they didn’t make a profit…

    One thing I find amusing/silly is that the standard mailing is now called “Priority”. When did that happen? The last time I was in the PO when the worker asked how I wanted it sent said “Please don’t say regular!” If every package is a priority package then none of them are is my view…

  53. synergy says:

    @Tonguetied: That happened so they can charge you more for what used to be First Class mail. So there’s the illusion of speed, but they don’t guarantee 2-day delivery, only that it MIGHT arrive in 2 days. But more like 4. *rme*