There Is No Way To Escape The USPS Upsell

Reader Andy attempted to avoid the Express Mail upsell question at the Post Office and was cruelly ignored.

The US Postal Service insists on mandatory upselling at counter windows.

I brought a package into the USPS office in Port Chester, New York, and stated as clearly as possible, “I would like to send this the cheapest way possible. No upsell please.” There were 14 people behind me, and one open window.

The clerk’s response? “Would you like to send that Express Mail?” I explained that I had just said I didn’t want to do anything other than send it the cheapest way possible. She told me they “have” to ask that.

I completed the transaction and asked to speak to a manager (thereby making sure I didn’t slow own the line). He told me it is “part of the script” and that they are “secret shopped” and “lose points” if they don’t read it.

There are many reasons why the U.S. Postal Service is in trouble. I think forcing people to listen to an upsell effort, when they have preemptively told you they are not interested, thereby slowing down the line for everyone else, is one of them.

We guess that when they say “no exceptions” they mean it. Don’t worry, though, the USPS isn’t supported by tax dollars anymore.


Edit Your Comment

  1. Madman says:

    Give me a break – you’re complaining about being asked a simple question? I could understand if it was a hard sell, but c’mon complaining about this is ridiculous.

    • kcvaliant says:

      Hey it sucks when it happens to you and you are in a hurry.. But guess what else would suck, if that guy got fired for not doing the simple up-sell question.. Especially in this economy, his work requires him to do it.. As much as I would hate it, I understand them having to do ridiculous actions to appease their bosses..

    • Yoko Broke Up The Beatles says:

      I’d agree that upsells are annoying, but so are those people who think they are way too good to even be bothered by the suggestion. Reader Andy thinks very highly of himself, I guess!

      • TechnoDestructo says:

        Welcome to McDonald’s, may I take your order?

        Yes, I’d like two happy meals with cheeseburgers and diet cokes please.

        Would you like two supersized double quarter pounder meals with Dr. Pepper instead?

        Having your specific request deliberately disregarded is what is annoying about this. If he’d gone into the post office and asked “what are my options” then an upsell attempt is clearly OK. But that isn’t what happened.

    • dbeahn says:

      I bet the OP complains at McDonald’s when asked “would you like fries with that?”.

      Seriously, if you don’t like it, then use UPS or Fed Ex. They aren’t “the cheapest way possible” but I bet they’ll honor your “no upsell” request, since they’re already charging you more.

      • coren says:

        If I say “I’d like a big mac, and no fries” – then it’s like asking if I want fries.

        • Emperor Norton I says:

          When they ask me if I want fries or cheese on the sandwich, my response is always the same: “Did I ask for fries or cheese?” Their answer is No & the I say: “Then why did you ask me that?”

          I think some of it is upsell, but in the case of asking me if I want cheese comes from stupid people that can’t figure out how to order at McDonald’s or wherever!

          • matt314159 says:

            I usually ask, “is it free?” when they offer me large fries or an apple pie or something. Usually startles them a little bit.

          • dragonvpm says:

            Wow, seriously? You feel that talking like that to someone who is providing you a service and nominally involved in making your food is a good idea?

            Obviously you can talk to fast food folks however you want, but IMO you’re just asking for some “special” ingredients and you can pretty much be guaranteed that NOTHING will change thanks to your attitude except that maybe you’ve managed to make that person’s day a little crappier. That’s more than just a little pathetic.

          • NarcolepticGirl says:

            I’d piss all over your food if I was the employee.

    • 5seconds says:

      It’s common courtesy though. If you ask a fellow human being not to do something, and they do it anyway, it’s just rude. That’s the point, at least it is to me.

    • kabamm says:

      Unlike most posters here, I agree with the OP. I hate upsells in any context. I know exactly what I want, and I want nothing more. It seems every vendor these days is hooked on the upsell. Just do what I ask and leave me alone.

    • leprechaunshawn says:

      I’ve got to agree. While the “upsell” might be annoying, the manager seems to have given a fair and probably true explanation of the reason. This is just complaining for the sake of complaining.

      • inadequatewife says:

        I am a “secret shopper” for the USPS and it is part of their script. They must try and sell express mail, then priority mail, and they must offer delivery confirmation and insurance. They also must try and sell you something extra such as stamps or a post office box.

        I agree that it’s a bit ridiculous to continue to upsell once the consumer states exactly what they want, but I can also understand that the employees have a routine and a script, and it can be difficult to deviate from it, even out of habit if nothing else. The employee is just doing his/her job, and given that they know about the secret shoppers, I could see where there could be concern that you are trying to trick them into deviating from their requirements.

        • kabamm says:

          TFB. I’m tired of hearing, “Well, this is how we do things”. I have a budget, I know what I want, don’t try to sell me more than that. If you do, you’re going to get some first-class snark, or I will take my business elsewhere and let you know why.

          • Anaxamenes says:

            You know, there are people’s jobs on the line. Write a letter to the main office or whatever to get the policy changed, but many companies will fire employees for not trying to offer an extra product. The person doesn’t want to do it usually, but their job may depend on it. Have a heart and be thankful you don’t have to do it.

            • Dallas_shopper says:

              +1. Being upsold is annoying, but they are under orders to do it and it isn’t easy to find another job in this crappy economy. I say “no thank you” politely and I have never had a USPS employee pressure me after I’ve said “no”.

              I figure USPS employees get enough snark in a given day; they don’t need more from me. “No thanks” and get on with life.

            • Anonymously says:

              I knew someone who was a drive-through teller at PNC bank. They were forced to try to sell investment accounts through the speaker.

              *Teller*: Hello Mr. White. I see you have a ton of money. You should consider opening up an investment account. Despite the fact that you’ve specifically chosen to not come into the bank, you should park your car and come into the bank to discuss an investment account.

              *Mr. White*: F*#$ you for sharing my personal information with everyone in earshot.

              *Teller*: Calm down Mr. White, I’m sure nobody heard that you have a ton of money in the bank and I’m sure nobody will try to rob you

              My friend loved their job otherwise and the customers loved them, but was forced to leave by a stupid sales policy.

          • Doubts42 says:

            Good luck with that. Guess how much FedEx and DHL charge you to deliver that piece of mail.

    • dg says:

      Sorry – I agree with the OP. He already told them what he wanted and specifically, that he did not want an upsell. Secret shopper worries or not – if someone tells you something, then take it to heart.

      I stopped going to Circus City because those schmucks wouldn’t stop pushing those lousy rip-off ESP’s. I’d go in, tell them what I wanted and that I wasn’t interested in the ESP and they’d proceed to ask if I wanted the ESP. I’d tell them “NO, I don’t want the ESP, I’m not interested. And if you keep asking, I’m just going to leave without buying anything…”

      Invariably, they’d ask. I’d leave. After 2x of this nonsense, I vowed never to go back. I’m so happy that they’re out of business I can’t even describe it.

      Companies that don’t listen to their customers do so at their own peril.

      Personally, if everyone did what the OP did and pestered the management about the inability to listen and comprehend a simple “No upsell please” request, then they’d probably stop doing it because it would waste too much of THEIR time…

      • My Head Hurts says:

        A secret shopper won’t try to blow off your upsell, so that is not really a valid reason for asking them again.

        And I stopped going to speedway because they kept asking me if I had my speedy rewards card Me: “no and I don’t want one” them: “oh, would you like to sign up it only takes a second”

    • ajlei says:

      Working in customer service myself, I would be inclined to agree. However, the last couple times I’ve been the post office the cashier has asked me no less than five questions. Do I want it shipped faster, do I want insurance, do I want stamps, do I want to buy envelopes, do I want something else.. one time, the cashier jokingly said “I’ve gotta make you say yes to something!” but I was seriously getting frustrated at how many times I had to say no.

      While retail establishments do get secret shopped, they’re typically not out to trick the employees. So I can’t imagine a secret shopper telling the employee they don’t want to be asked questions, and then subsequently dinging the employee for not asking.

  2. shof515 says:

    to avoid the upsell, and cheaper rate you can print out the package postage online via or even http://paypal. com. Internet postage is cheaper then retail postage at the post office, plus you get free delivery confirmation from click n ship or paypal

    • andoman says:

      I sent something today and didn’t get an upsell, but I wouldn’t care. I’d just say no. If it’s just a simple question asked once, it’s really silly to be annoyed.

    • erinpac says:

      I tried that a few weeks ago. They sent me a pickup confirmation and then a delivery confirmation for the package that was still on my porch waiting. :-/

  3. COBBCITY says:

    While the clerk may not have realized what “upsell” meant, this is plain silly. One window open, 14 people in line and they need to SLOW service by pitching products??

    This is why I shop boxes UPS and the few things I do use USPS for are dropped in a blue mailbox. The last few times I had to go inside, I found similar. A long line of people and one clerk who didn’t seem to notice or care.

    Odd, also reminds me of Target. I like the store, but have stood there with 5-8 people behind me and had the clerk stop to ask “Would you like to apply for the Target credit card and save 10% today” (which often would be less than $2).

    I politely say no thank you, but what I want to say is:

    1. You don’t have time to be taking credit card applications with a line like that, my friend.

    2. Do you see how little 10% is on this transaction. Doesn’t that seem silly to you?

    Of course, I know saying something won’t change a thing. Someone above thinks it works great so they have to do it.

    • SunnyLea says:

      Yeah, I’m sure the .000025 seconds it takes to ask the question makes all the difference in the world.

      • dg says:

        Actually, it takes an extra 2 seconds to ask, 1 second for the Customer to process, and 1 second to respond. You’re at 4 seconds.

        Doesn’t seem like a lot until you multiply it by the # of customers handled by that clerk in one shift. And if you’re the customer, then it’s 4 seconds x the # of people in front of you in that long line. Now if everywhere you go throughout the day, they ask you a similar time-wasting question, you are looking at a substantial amount of time each day, week, month, and year.

        Some of us would prefer not to be bothered with marketing crap, and when we tell someone pre-emptively but they ignore us anyway – we get pissed at their rudeness.

        • NarcolepticGirl says:

          Good god. Relax, dude.

          • SunnyLea says:

            Even if I give the 4 seconds (it only takes me a second to ask, but, hey I do speak fast), it takes a solid line of 15 people for that to even add a whole freakin’ minute to line time.

    • Big Mama Pain says:

      I’ve been behind someone in line….during the holiday season….at a Target….when they said “Yes” to this question. The whole line (and it was a long line) literally groaned in unison, I was right behind her in line and loudly said “SERIOUSLY? You can’t go to Customer Service for that?” Oh no, she filled out her little application on the screen right there. Declined. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone had beaten her up in the parking lot, haha. The cashier was extremely apologetic, and said something like “I’ve seriously never had anyone say yes before”

    • TechnoDestructo says:

      YMMV, both with the postal service and UPS.

      I haven’t heard as many horror stories of workers practicing their penalty kicks with packages at USPS. I’ve never had packages go missing for days after tracking showed them having arrived in town, either. And I’ve never seen a post office with a line situation like you describe, either.

      OTOH, I’ve encountered a post office that inexplicably delayed outgoing mail to local post offices by up to 2 weeks, EVERY SINGLE TIME. My dad also loves to tell the story about mail that was delayed for over a week because the carrier for that route died.

      USPS isn’t perfect. But you’re not assured a good experience with UPS either.

    • NarcolepticGirl says:

      Well, the post offices that I’ve gone to (in various parts of the East Coast over the years) don’t have more than 3 people waiting in line. And they also multi-task when asking you these questions.

      Usually the Target people ask when they’re waiting for the receipt from my transaction.

  4. Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ) says:

    I’ll take the upsell if they could just put more than one clerk behind the counter during rush hour when the line is coming out the door.

    • sirwired says:

      The post office I go to is the central post office that does all the sorting for my city. The lines are short, friendly, and fast, even during holidays/tax time. It helps that it’s in an industrial area near the airport instead of a commercial or residential area.

      • Verdant Pine Trees says:

        Speaking as someone who’s operated a mail-order/ecommerce business through several states, those airport stations are usually the best and most efficiently run offices you’re going to find.

  5. HowdyHowdyHowdy says:

    This reminds me what I did today which was disconnect my Sprint cell phone service. As I was trying to disconnect my service the rep said “what a shame” and she continued to ask me questions as to why I wanted to disconnect my service before the end of my contract and I said “well, do you have to ask me all those questions?” She said she is required to offer other promotions.

    I think it’s fine if someone has to do their job, but why do you have to make me feel guilty or annoyed for wanting to disconnect my line!

    • Etoiles says:

      The upsell and retention when I ditched T-Mobile were pretty epic. After 40 (yes, forty — and that’s not counting any of the time I was on hold) minutes arguing with the retention specialists and sales people I finally started shouting at them. “I am CANCELLING THIS SERVICE NOW.”

      • chaesar says:

        I’m going to cancel my Comcast cable TV next month, not sure if I am dreading or looking forward to a situation like this

        • ahleeeshah says:

          When my boyfriend and I switched from Charter to Uverse, he made the call to cancel the account. He really didn’t want to have to deal with retention trying to keep him, so when they asked why we were leaving, he blurted out “We’re moving to a place you don’t service!”

          That might have worked perfectly, but there was a credit on our account they had to mail to us, and when they asked for our forwarding address, he blanked and gave them his parents’ address, and then ended up having to listen to retention anyway because Charter does service that address.

          Good job, babe.

  6. HowdyHowdyHowdy says:

    You know that’s why I always approach the window and say ‘First Class’ or ‘Media Mail’ please. What can be cheaper then those two?

    • sayahh says:

      If you’re mailing it to your neighbor, then it’s cheaper to walk over and hand it to them! =D

    • YouDidWhatNow? says:

      I’ve seen cases where Priority Mail was effectively the same cost as 1st class.

      • ecwis says:

        First Class can only be used for packages under 14 oz. Priority Mail is meant for packages over 1 lb. It’s essentially the same service.

        • reishka says:

          So.. what happens to those packages that are between 14oz and 16oz (1 pound)? Do they go to postal purgatory?

        • NothingSound says:

          Actually, First Class Mail becomes Priority Mail after 13 oz. 13.1 – 16 oz are applied the 1 Pound Priority rate. 1.1 Pound = 2 Pound rate and so on and so forth.

    • shof515 says:

      Media Mail takes forever to process at some sorting facilitates. Priority Mail and 1st class parcal mail seems to pretty average with processing and quick delivery. Another thing with media mail, is that the post office workers can open up your package to inspect the contains to ensure it is indeed media and its not they will increase the postage to priority mail. So overall, i think its easier to stick with 1st class mail or priority mail.

      When i sell on ebay, anything less then 13oz gets shipped by 1st class mail and anything over i go with priority mail. I dont use media mail or parcel post due to slower processing and handling it gets from what i read on various forums about it

      • Big Mama Pain says:

        This happened to me; I had a friend mail me some books media mail, and I got a notice that I had to go pick up the package because there was postage due. They had ripped open the envelope (it was in tatters) and determined that books were not media mail and that I owed them an extra $7 for postage….it was weird. I had never had anything shipped media mail, and they treated me like I was some kind of criminal (even though I wasn’t the one who sent the package).

        • Bix says:

          Books are included in “media.” Media Mail replaced book rate.

        • Verdant Pine Trees says:

          Bix is right. You were robbed. Call the 1800 complaint line for USPS. They do want to know about this kind of abuse, and trust me, they do do something about it.

  7. sayahh says:

    “Would you like fries with that?” See? It only took 2 seconds to say that.
    “No. Thanks.” Wow, it took me less than one second to reply.

    It seems to me that the only person holding up the line was the customer. It takes much longer to say “I would like to send this the cheapest way possible. No upsell please.” =P

    Now, if the OP actually took them up on the offer to ship Express, it might keep the USPS afloat and open for business for another day…

    • coren says:

      Ok, so he doesn’t say no upsell, and thus is guaranteed to hear the pitch and also saves about half a second. Much better!

    • 339point4 says:

      Seriously. One second to say, “Would you like express?” and less than one second to say, “No, thanks.”
      I am pretty sure it takes longer to ask for no upsell and a manager. If I were one of the 14 people in line behind this guy, I’d be more annoyed that he had to be a special snowflake and stray from the script than I would by the upsell.

  8. chaesar says:

    Reader Andy sounds like a self-righteous prick. Every business has a script for its employees, and guess what, the part of Customer will be played by you. You are not the exception.

    • dg says:

      Flip this to:

      “USPS sounds like a bunch of self-righteous pricks who ignore their customers’ requests” and you’ve got it right…

      The Customer has the money that the business wants. Piss off the customer at your own peril. Especially when there’s a ton of options for sending items besides the USPS…

  9. PSUSkier says:

    Holy crap! I can’t believe he made you wait in line that extra 3-4 seconds it takes him to say “Would you like to send that Express Mail?” and you to say “no.” That and it took you what I assume is several minutes to transcribe this email to The Consumerist. Snarky comment? Yes. Warranted? Yes, yes, and absolutely yes.

    • SunnyLea says:

      I think 3 or 4 seconds is actually a gross exaggeration,

      • Iblis says:

        Not to mention he isn’t standing there like a manequin for the time he’s asking. They normally start handling the package while askign questions, so no time is really added.

    • TechnoDestructo says:

      3-4 seconds, times however many people were in the line. That is how much time was wasted.

    • bravohotel01 says:

      I think there are anti-anxiety drugs out there that can help calm a person down so that a clerk’s asking “Would you like to send that Express Mail?” would not result in a mild meltdown.

      …just sayin’.

  10. YouDidWhatNow? says:

    No need to rage against the USPS per se…it’s the same as any other retail location.

    Everybody is forcing their cashiers to do upsells. And the employee can either do what he’s told, or get fired.

    What would be interesting would be to see if anyone tracks stats on how often such upsells actually work.

    • SunnyLea says:

      As someone who was once required to ask every last person if they wanted to “supersize” that, I can say that one worked often enough for it to be worth it.

      • YouDidWhatNow? says:

        Yes, but you’re selling french fries. Infinitely more palatable for an upsell than another credit card, for example…

    • TechnoDestructo says:

      I just think it’s disappointing to see that sort of mandatory upsell policy at a post office.

      I HAVEN’T seen that, apart from some evidence that it is encouraged. (I’ve never been offered express when I say “media mail, please.”) I think it might be a local or regional thing.

    • s0s has a chewy nougat center says:

      At my workplace, we’re required to fulfill email quotas, that is, get people to subscribe to the store’s email list. The problem is that this applies to floor staff AS WELL AS the cashiers.

      We don’t get emails? Our hours get cut drastically.

      You’d be amazed just how hard it is for us floor staff to get those email submissions, which are done at checkout, when we’re not on the registers. Because we are floor staff, who may get on register for a grand total of one hour a week as back-up call. And yet corporate thinks that this makes perfect sense.

      Forcing employees to try to get people to sign up for things, upgrade, or whatever is not only annoying for the customers, it’s also degrading for the employees themselves. We have to pretty much beg people for this because while they’re only going to be delayed by a few seconds, OUR JOBS are on the line. We get fired (or as good as) if we don’t ask. We get fired (or as good as) if people say no instead of yes.

      It’s even less of a picnic for the front-line workers than it is for entitled assholes like the OP.

  11. sayahh says:

    Personally, I’m more bothered by “There Is No Way To Escape The Passport Fee Increase.”

  12. Xhentil says:

    I’ve been selling a lot of things through Amazon, and the only way to ship Media Mail is to go to the counter. Last time, there were three clerks and, I’m assuming, a manager with a clipboard behind them all, watching intently.

    I always say, “I want to ship this Media Mail.” So i’ve never had any shipping upsells, but they always try to sell me stamps. The clerk next to me didn’t offer stamps and the manager with the clipboard approached her after her customer left and gently told her she needed to sell stamps.

    I never mind it cause the clerks just say it, I say no, and we all move on. And the manager was very polite. But yea, we wonder why USPS is in trouble.

    • SunnyLea says:

      I don’t think it’s because they try to sell people things. I actually appreciate the stamps question.

    • says:

      You don’t have to go to the counter. You can use regular stamps or any other form of postage as long as you clearly identify the package as MEDIA MAIL.

      I use the automated mailing kiosk. They don’t explicitly offer media mail but I can trick the machine into dispensing the exact amount of postage I need. The trick is when the machine asks if you already have stamps on your package, tell it YES, and when it asks how much, simply tell it the difference between how much the machine wants to charge you and how much the media mail postage costs. Then the machine will dispense the exact amount of postage you need to ship via media mail.

      The only catch I see to this is that the little stamps it dispenses say PARCEL POST on them. I’ve never had an issue with this. I simply write MEDIA MAIL all over my package, then drop it off in the parcel bin. I have been doing this for 3 or so years at several post offices and have never had a package returned to me or become marked as ‘postage due’ to the recipient.


    • Spider Mann says:

      Depending on how much you ship, it is cheaper than the counter. Also, you can do media mail just fine. Can print to any printer, software works on both Windows and Mac.

      Been using it for well over a year and am very happy with it.

    • Verdant Pine Trees says:

      Also, as a tag onto Spider Mann, media mail arrives much faster with a PC postage service like Endicia or Stamps (Stamps still does MM I think), than if you do it up front with the clerk, using a hand-printed addressed item.

  13. Yoko Broke Up The Beatles says:

    I don’t want to break it to reader Andy, but Andy simply declining the offer for Express Mail would’ve been quicker and less of a hassle than getting snippy about the question to begin with and asking to see a manager.

    See, Andy puts on this front saying he wants to keep the line moving – looking out for the other 14 people in line, how considerate of him – but in reality, he ended up doing the exact opposite. Some nice guy, this Andy.

  14. Thornhill says:

    If you look at the USPS as a company in a competitive market, it’s the equivalent of a discount airline. If you want to send a letter for less than fifty cents instead of the couple dollars UPS or FedEx would charge, you have to deal with long lines, slow, grumpy staff, added fees for what competitors bundle into the price (insurance, delivery confirmation), and unceasing upsell attempts. Without government support, the USPS is the Spirit Air of delivery companies.

    It’s also interesting that, even though tax dollars no longer go to the USPS, there are still plenty of laws about what they can and cannot sell. Even though they’re hemorrhaging money, they aren’t allowed to sell just about any non-shipping product that might help them make a profit, so add-ons and upsells are pretty much all they have.

    None of this is to blame the OP. I just got married and experienced the byzantine nature of USPS pricing when I went to ship my slightly non-standard sized invitation. I personally avoid the place as much as possible. But they are operating with both hands tied behind their backs.

    • Anaxamenes says:

      At my post office, the people behind the counter are very nice, they do ask if I want stamps, but it isn’t such a big deal. There is never an unceasing list of upsells. They usually let me know that priority mail is like 15 cents more and it will get there in days instead of weeks. I think the problem is taking bargain hunting to the extreme in our society. Good businesses just can’t stay afloat, if people aren’t willing to pay for good service.

  15. Rube Goldberg says:

    I agree with the OP on this one, but hear me out. I have been selling a lot of stuff on recently, mostly DVDs/Video Games/books. USPS is still the cheapest way to go about shipping stuff of that size. Anyway, I had been going to the post office near my place at least twice a week to send items and I got the spiel every single time. If I’m not going to get a PO Box on Monday, I’m not going to get a PO Box on Wednesday, but if I do need to get a PO Box I’ll be sure to let USPS know. I even had a clerk explain in detail what sort of communication is appropriate to include within a shipped package — it was rather condescending.

    Fortunately I found a different post office that is more concerned about getting customers through their transactions rather than selling me services I have repeatedly rejected.

    • Verdant Pine Trees says:

      If you’re selling a lot of stuff online, why aren’t you using the USPS website, or the automated machines that are in most lobbies now? That’s even faster than using a clerk, and you can just pop your printed item into the bin.

  16. anime_runs_my_life says:

    Just remember that “No” is a complete sentence and use it as many times as needed. The clerks at the local post office know I’ll just say “No” and nothing else if they try to upsell me, so they don’t do it anymore.

    I also print out my own postage online too, since I can send my package out with the mail, unless I need something, like Certified/Return Receipt services.

  17. Tim says:

    Whoa. You lost, like, 3 of your valuable seconds. How ever will you get them back?

    I’m pretty sure you lost more time insisting that you don’t get an upsell than your actually lost from the upsell itself. You definitely lost more time arguing about it and speaking to the manager.

    For God’s sake, let them do their script, then politely decline.

  18. mipo777 says:

    Its true, I have actually secret shopped the USPS & they are required to try that upsell as well as try to sell you stamps.

    • magnetic says:

      I always took the “Do you need stamps?” thing as a courtesy, since I snail-mail so infrequently I almopst never have stamps. AND they took the stamp vending machine from my local PO.

  19. milkman says:

    Say “Would you like to send that Express Mail?” out loud and see how long it takes. 3 seconds at best? If you can’t spare that sorta time, you might be booking yourself too tight.

  20. Big Mama Pain says:

    Upselling DOES work, and that’s why it’s used in all sales transactions. You order a Jameson on the rocks, your bartender should be asking if you’ve ever tried Red Breast. You eat in a restaurant, your server asks you if you want to start with an appetizer. You buy leather, they try to sell you the waterproofing spray. The USPS is indeed in trouble, and they need to push upsells if they want to stay solvent. I love that they ask if I need stamps-they do it while they are processing everything so it’s not like it takes extra time, and I’m forgetful. “Oh shit, yes, I do need stamps”

    • SunnyLea says:

      Thank you!

      I don’t know why folks seem to think it doesn’t. YOU may say no all the time, but someone out there is saying yes or no one would be asking.

      (As I said earlier, I like the stamps question. Like you, I’m forgetful.)

      • erinpac says:

        The summer I worked at 6 flags, asking people if they wanted the jumbo refillable drink instead of a regular got a Yes at least 1/3 the time.
        Nothing will make them stop something that gets them that result.

  21. LastError says:

    Here’s the USPS profit plan:

    1) Get rid of the stamp machines so people HAVE to wait in line
    2) Get rid of most of the postal clerks so the lines will be really long. It’s OK, not like people can ship or mail any other way.
    3) Get rid of Saturday delivery and Saturday clerk hours so anyone who works a 9-5 cannot ever actually make it to the post office. We don’t want them. We want little old ladies sending money orders to preachers.
    3) Upsell!
    4) UPSELL!
    5) The poor suckers who can’t ship/mail any other way will have waited in line SO long, they will actually fall for it.
    6) Profit!

    It’s a great plan. Should keep the USPS in business for another year.

    • Verdant Pine Trees says:

      Wrong, starting with #1. The stamp machines were taken away because they want people to use the automated kiosks, and stay out of the lines. Automated mail printed at the kiosks is more efficient for them, and arrives faster for us, the actual customers.

      • haggis for the soul says:

        And you can buy stamps at the grocery store, greeting card store, and at the ATM at the bank.

  22. edosan says:

    Dude, it’s not like they were trying to sell you a timeshare condo in Florida. “Do you want to send this Express?” “No, thank you.” would have been a lot faster if you’re that pressed for time.

    • edrebber says:

      The charge to ship a 1 lb package via express mail is $15.30 – $26.30 depending on how far the package has to travel while priority mail would cost $4.90 – $5.55. The average person mailing a package has no need for express mail would much rather keep the extra $20 in their pocket. It’s unconscionable for USPS to try to up sell express mail to the average customer unless they understand the customer’s specific shipping needs.

  23. qbubbles says:

    Boo fucking hoo.

  24. kataisa says:

    The USPS are like robots, it’s disturbing how much their spiel is on auto-pilot and how many of them never even listen to what the customer wants. You could tell the clerk exactly what you want and how you want to mail it but you’ll still get a five-minute speech as if she never heard you in the first place: do you want to mail it express mail, do you need to purchase any insurance? any confirmation? any stamps? any labels? does it contain liquid or hazardous materials? and so on.

    It just adds to those everyday life annoyances that irks people and stresses them out. We treat people the way we’re treated, and if we’re treated as nothing more than a “target” or “number” by companies and businesses, then we become angry and take our frustrations out on others. I think the lousy, depersonalizing experience at the post office is one reason why so many people are angry and unhappy.

    Just a theory.

  25. pantheonoutcast says:

    “I would like to send this the cheapest way possible. No upsell please.”

    Did he actually use those words? What, he is lonely and looking to start an argument? Just say “no” and go about your business. All he did was make everyone wait *longer* with his self-righteous rant.

  26. mopar_man says:

    I rarely ever go to the post office anymore. Whenever I do, there’s either 10 people in line with one person at the counter or there’s nobody there and 3 or 4 employees standing around killing time. Not only that but their services are expensive for what you get. I can get 3-day service through FedEx, with an actual working, accurate tracking number, for approximately the price of the postal service’s slowest rate.

  27. jennleighh says:

    Hate to repeat what’s already been said, but her question cost you, what, half a second? In this economy, if my boss asked me to do something (relatively) innocuous like this, I’d do it. As a consumer, I find it annoying, but even at Target when they have a much longer script shilling their credit card, I just smile and say, “Oh, honey, your computer would explode if it met my Social.” They laugh, and I go on my merry way.

    Life’s just too short and there are too many real problems to complain about this one.
    Again, sorry if it’s a repeat post–I came tardy to the party.

  28. Mr_Human says:

    The bad words that come to mind have only to do with Andy and nothing to do with the counterperson and the manager who had to tolerate that self-righteous jerk.

  29. mcmunchkin says:

    I really don’t mind the initial question. That’s just not a big deal to me. When I say no and the person behind the counter continues to ask whether I’m sure, not just once but two or three times, that’s the point at which I’m pissed off. It’s particularly bad when they want me to open a credit card, and fill in all sorts of personal information on the spot.

    But this? It’s the postal service. I don’t resent them for asking. If they wanted to do it better, they could just tell me, “Express is X dollars more” since that seems more likely to get a yes.

  30. coren says:

    When I decline a service, you shouldn’t offer/ask again. I don’t want it.

  31. Spider Mann says:

    Just went to the post office no more than an hour ago. Didn’t get an upsell, but I did get a free Reese’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup “bar”.

    Bribe me with Reese’s? That is definitely one way to keep my using the USPS.

  32. JonBoy470 says:

    OP has a burr up their ass. It’s the script, they have to ask. Just like they have to ask you if you want the $10 service plan on the $40 DVD player at Best Buy.

  33. edrebber says:

    The secret shopper isn’t going to say “I would like to send this the cheapest way possible. No up sell please” and then deduct points for not up selling to express mail. The postal employees hate regular customers. If you’re not a large corporation sending out junk mail, then you’re scum as far as the postal employees are concerned.

  34. JulesNoctambule says:

    At our post office, it’s more than just ‘Would you like to send this Express Mail?’. No matter if you decline, no matter if you state as specifically as possible what service you want, they ask you about each and every more expensive service, plus all the add-ons like insurance and signature confirmation, plus if you want to buy stamps, shipping supplies or rent a pot office box. Every transaction, every time. Takes way longer than a few seconds and when there’s a line out the door every delay counts.

  35. GameHen says:

    I agree with the majority of folks who think Andy is making a tumor out of a bug bite, but here’s a hint to the manager: if the individual says “no upsells please”, they aren’t a secret shopper and you aren’t lose points for honoring their request.

  36. FranktasticVoyage says:

    Would people’s reactions be any different if the question was “Are you sure you don’t want to send that Express Mail?”

    Because that seems like a legitimate and worthwhile “upsell” technique even to someone who has asked for something specific.

  37. sheriadoc says:

    My dad just retired from the USPS after almost 30 years. They are absolutely required to ask those questions or face the wrath of the USPS. Toward the end he couldn’t wait to get out and got lazy with asking the questions because he was fed up with them. One time he got secret shopped and didn’t ask like one question, and he absolutely heard about that from the district manager or someone high up like that. He had been there for many years, so only got a verbal warning.

    So, just say yes or no to their questions and they’ll move on. They DON’T WANT to ask the questions, so just make it easier for both of you.

  38. tishamae10 says:

    Interesting. This just happened to me today. I haven’t stepped in a post office in years let alone send something off somewhere. I was bombarded with about 30millilion questions today to send a simple package. Did I want to upgrade to next day, or even send it by Thursday and even though I kept saying “that’s okay” standard is ok…he kept asking and asking. Did I need stamps? Did I need packing supplies…I’m like damn I just need to send this off before the cut off.

    I hate the USPS is in a financial crisis but sheesh as a customer I could do without all the up selling. And it’s bad enough the price of stamps increased by 2cents.

  39. rtwigg says:

    Am I the only one who appreciates the USPS and likes them? Where I go most often they have an “electronic postal station”. It is a computer with a scale and somewhat like and ATM. I can buy stamps, weight my mail, pay with my debit card, and print a postage label. I love it. Employees must do as they are told or be dismissed. I get more tired of being asked, “Is this on your Bon-Ton
    charge?” But they have to say it. I just politely decline.

    • NarcolepticGirl says:

      I have always loved going to the post office. I’ve never dealt with an unfriendly employee including Boston POs.

      For the last few years, I’ve been using the automatic postage machine thing – and most of the people here are old and don’t use it – so I’m and out in a matter of 3 minutes.

      Once postal employee (here in Knoxville), even put in extra packaging (for free) into my box because I didn’t have enough in there and taped it all up. I thought that was pretty nice.

    • Verdant Pine Trees says:

      No, you are not. They provide a good service. Americans are whiny and entitled about our postal service, which is absolutely stellar and dirt cheap compared to other industrialized countries.

  40. evnmorlo says:

    Do they actually have any success? “That will be two dollars for two-day delivery or Eleventy Billion Dollars for Express Mail!” Uh, no thanks.

  41. scannedit says:

    Former USPS employee here (I took the early out offered last year). The article was correct on the script and the manager’s response. But, the brevity of the article failed to list the follow up questions….it’s not just the express question.

    Once you have been turned down on the express, then you must offer priority (again, regardless of what the customer wants), then you must offer 2 separate add-ons (insurance, delivery confirmation, post box — depending on what the current script requires) Not only do you have to offer 2 add-ons but you must explain those add ons. For instance, you could not ask if the customer wanted delivery confirmation and leave it at that. You had to ask if they wanted deliver confirmation that would confirm delivery of the item, or you had to offer a “Hallmark ready post box which is sturdy and a good value”, then you had to continue with the script until you were finished. It was robotic and designed to discourage the customer from returning. They wanted us to tell people to buy their stamps at the grocery, etc. Instead, I now use FedEx.

    So while the article was correct, its’ brevity lacked the entire scenario.

  42. pojken says:

    I’d like you to simply obey me, for I as a customer believe I am your boss. No comments please. *rolls eyes*

  43. notanignoramus says:

    Yes, I too have been caught in the USPS upsell; a few weeks ago I went to the post office and heard the questions over and over again while I was in line. So when I was called to the next window, I told the clerk that the answer to all of his questions would be “no.” He clearly bristled at that and said, “I’m required by law to ask these questions.” So he asked them and I repeated the answer… finally getting to “how can I help you today?” There’s more negative interaction in the story than that, but I’ll keep it short for relevancy.

  44. Sardis says:

    Wonderful, all the armchair experts are going to tell us why USPS is failing. Oh please enlighten me.

  45. josephbloseph says:

    Boo-hoo. So you couldn’t convince someone to risk their job for your convenience.

  46. RobThy says:

    You wasted more time saying not to ask you then a simple “no thanks” would of taken to the question. Don’t try to make it sound like you were worried about the people in line behind you.

  47. sopmodm14 says:

    uhhh, you can just say “no thanks” with courtesy

    they hate to say it as much as you hate to hear it

  48. edrebber says:

    The charge to ship a 1 lb package via express mail is $15.30 – $26.30 depending on how far the package has to travel while priority mail would cost $4.90 – $5.55. The average person mailing a package has no need for express mail would much rather keep the extra $10 – $20 in their pocket. It’s unconscionable for USPS to try to up sell express mail to the average customer unless they understand the customer’s specific shipping needs.

    Most people don’t need a guarantee that the package will be delivered the next day or that someone sign for the package. Even then, anyone who answers the door can sign for the package.

  49. menty666 says:

    I’m fairly certain the postal employees hate to say it too, so just humor them, let them do their jobs and get on with your life.

    I use the free priority mail boxes, so they never try to do the upsell because if you use the box, it *has* to go priority mail. But I always get the “is there anything liquid, fragile, or perishable in the package?” question, because they *have* to. They know I never say yes even though I’m in every couple of weeks. They even know me by my first name I know theirs, but they’re required to ask.

    They’re job sucks bad enough without someone hassling them.

  50. Extended-Warranty says:

    Why do customers who buy the cheapest options believe they are the most valuable? OP, your “business” isn’t valuable. If your time and experience is so valuable, go to UPS. If I was the manager, I would have offered you another upsell.

    USPS is bleeding money and they are doing their best to stay afloat. Instead of screwing everyone with increasing rates, they are asking a question.

    I already got screwed with credit cards because of the rest of the world who ruined that for me. Bye bye rewards and credit limit increases.

    • edrebber says:


      It costs $10-$20 more to send a package via express mail versus priority mail. That’s why.

  51. christianmarie says:

    I know exactly what the OP is talking about. Every time I go to the post office, they waste my time by saying things like “How can I help you?” and “Have a nice day.” Like I have all day to stand around listening to people say extra sentences. JEEZ!

  52. Zclyh3 says:

    This is exactly why I have a account. I will gladly pay to weigh, package, and print my own postage thank you very much without dealing with ANY of the retail post offices. I then just drop off in the box and off I go.

    If USPS isn’t supported by tax dollars anymore, then they have to run like any other business: time to start laying people off, trim pensions/health care, etc. If USPS is truly a business, then they need to quit bitching to the government and take care of themselves. UPS and FedEx don’t seem to have a problem getting it done so I don’t see how USPS can’t do the same. ON top of that, USPS has a monopoly on first class mail. Could you imagine if Fedex and UPS were allowed into that part of the game? USPS would be decimated by sheer competition by them.

  53. Press1forDialTone says:

    I agree with Madman. Ridiculous whining. Why not get off your
    *ss and figure out how you want to send it (the rates and options are posted
    virtually everywhere above the counter)? You get what you pay for. I am certain
    that a package schlepped around as parcel post is not handled as quickly or
    carefully as Priority or Express Mail. That info comes from a manager at my local
    post office.

    • NarcolepticGirl says:

      Parcel post is a horrible way to send stuff. It takes forever and it’s been “around” so it’s usually all dented.

    • edrebber says:


      It costs $10-$20 more to send a package via express mail versus priority mail. Express mail is not worth the cost for most customers.

  54. sufreak says:

    This should not be here. Everyone tries an upsell. You said no, it moved on. Pick up your rattle and your bottle and go home.

  55. Ben says:

    Great, so some of the people in that way-too-long line aren’t even real customers?

  56. Admiral_John says:

    I get upsold whenever I go to the Post Office… I go into by a stamp and they ask if I need envelopes or mailing supplies, to which I just tell them no. It’s no different than going to McDonalds and being asked if you want fries with your order.

    Seriously, just deal with it… as far as complaint worthy issues go this is way down at the bottom.

    • edrebber says:

      admiral john,

      It costs $10-$20 more to send a package via express mail versus priority mail. The McDonalds upsell is probably around $1.

  57. PhillipSC says:

    at my usps location they are all dead on the inside and have no interest in speaking to customers any more than they have to, never had them try to upsell anything :)

  58. Narmical says:

    It might not be supported by tax dollars anymore, but it still has a government enforced monopoly. That spells disaster for everyone. I want to see FexEx compete with the USPS for first class mail. My bet is on the USPS going out of business.

    Chew on this. it costs 44 cents to send a 1 oz letter across the street with the USPS but costs 3 cents to send one ounce of gasoline (at $2.95 / gallon) half way around the world.

  59. NarcolepticGirl says:

    They’ve been doing this for years. Asking if you want Express, insurance or there’s anything breakable. That’s their job. Who cares?

    Use the automated postal machine. Although I doubt you’d have enough patience for that.

  60. dragonvpm says:

    Wow, is it really that slow of a news day? Of all the things I could think of that vendors could do to make my life more difficult, asking a simple question like isn’t even on the list.

    If we’ve established that a lot of times people ask these things as part of a script why not just have our own script and say “No, thanks” and move on? Heck there isn’t even a mystery here employees do what their employers tell them to do and you know what? Upselling works. I almost never buy something I’ve been upsold but I the last time I bought stamps was because they asked me if I wanted some while I was shipping something via the USPS.

    I don’t particularly care to have to interact with salespeople (I love shopping online) but if being asked a simple question like that is such an issue, buy yourself a scale and buy your postage from home, then you can just drop your package off and no one will try to upsell you anything.

  61. NarcolepticGirl says:

    You know what? If I was teh clerk and some ahole came prancing over saying, “no upsell”, I would take my time with him and try to upsell him everything possible.

    Which is probably why I never have worked customer service and don’t want to. I can’t imagine dealing with arrogance on a daily basis.

  62. Synth3t1c says:

    It seems so many people here are such freaking crybabies. If it’s someone’s job to ask you if you want something more just let them fucking ask. It takes a few seconds at most and all you have to say is “No, thank you.” You may be too much of a snarky a$$holes to even say thank you, but a simple “No” would even suffice.

    Get a life and for goodness’ sake don’t take it out on the employee. Write a letter to corporate so they can not give two $h1ts about what you have to say either.

    Get a life.

  63. Doubts42 says:

    So the OP was too important and in too much of a hurry to answer a simple question, but had the time to wait outside of the line and deal with a manager? That time would have been better spent removing the stick from his ass.

  64. quirkyrachel says:

    Eh, an upsell doesn’t bother me. Waiting in line for 20 minutes with only 5 people in front of me and then 1 of 3 window attendants going on break while another one chats amiably for 5 minutes with a random postal employee who’s passing by behind them while we watch someone at said person’s window carefully place stamps on 300 envelopes while standing at the window, now that bothers me.

  65. cape1232 says:

    How about this: I tried to refuse a USPS upsell in a similar way. The cashier insisted, “Do you want X?”, and I said, “The answer to all your questions is no.” So she moved on to the next upsell, “Do you want Y”. I paused, looked at her, then asked “Are you going to complete my transaction?” She said, “I won’t answer your question until you answer mine.”

    I asked for the manager, and he gave me the same “its our policy” story. I told him it is *his* policy, since he’s the manager. Since I clearly don’t want to be upsold, could *he* waive it for me. He said no, but after a few more pointless go arounds, he just completed my transaction, but wouldn’t let the cashier do it.

  66. chemmy says:

    That’s the same with the airlines. They ask you if you want an express or priority booking. Neither. I want a general booking.

  67. GrandizerGo says:

    Eh I hear this at all drive throughs from McDonalds now…
    Do you want to try two delicious apple pies for a dollar?
    Do you want to try the new frappachino?
    Do you want to try the new Angus beef burger?

    All before you get a chance to order.

  68. Verdant Pine Trees says:

    What a pathetic excuse for a complaint. I notice that most of the time, the Consumerist topics on the USPS tend to spotlight a person who has very little experience with the post office, but Andy here tops that with the rotten attitude. You’re trying to get someone in trouble with their boss over an upsell? Because your time is so important, that it mandated you get a manager and embarass them in front of everyone?

    A complete waste of time. The supervisors and the complaint line is for real issues, not nonsense. Real issues = Express Mail non-delivery (happened to me only once); or a postal clerk who makes up her own rules, forcing you to drive to another post office because you taped a flat rate Global Priority Mail package with more than one piece of tape. These are the few and far between dimwits I have dealt with over the years. But someone being asked to upsell ya? Please.

    I’ve done business through the mail since the early 1990s, and over the years I’ve also had to depend on the whims of the Canadian, British and Australian postal services, two of which had strikes that cost me money. All of those services cost more money and they don’t have the best track record (God, especially Canada Post). I can appreciate that our postal service here gives us great value for our money and also allows me to service rural customers. It’s why I stick with them and not FedEx or UPS, though FedEx is OK.

    If you really want your package there inexpensively and quick,

    1) Go to, either to print out your postage or to figure out the kind of service you need. If you want to run a business, go with a service like Endicia, which for casual sellers would cost around $120-150 a year.

    2) Then, either print it out at home, or go to the automated kiosks. The kiosks will allow you to do almost any service, and it’s there to save us time and save them money and manpower. Most people are far too ignorant, old school and/or bozorific to even consider using the kiosks. Every Christmas I see people standing in lines with packages that would take just a few seconds to print and ship through the kiosks, or just requiring stamps (sob, sob… also available through the kiosk!!) and when I walk over to the empty kiosk, I usually have a few timid (but not bozorific) people asking me for help, usually over a certain age.

    3) If you were smart enough to print your package at home, you can put it in the chute, unless it’s an overseas package, in which case all you have to do is wave at a cashier or knock on the side door, and hand it to a person. When you print with someone like Endicia, you’re a known shipper (your license # prints out on the postage), and then they can track you down easily if you do ship something stupid or illegal.

    • edrebber says:

      Verdant Pine Trees,

      It costs $10-$20 more to send a package via express mail versus priority mail. Express mail is not worth the cost for most customers.

  69. Jimmy37 says:

    If the USPS isn’t supported by tax dollars, why does Congress give it money?

  70. Britt says:

    Wait, what? Seriously?

    This is standard retail practise. When I worked at one store, we were secret shopped all the time. We lost points for not greeting, not explaining the sales, and not pushing add-ons at the till. Failing to do so because one customer got in a snit wasn’t worth losing those points (which ultimately led to promotions and staff benefits). If a customer said ‘no thanks’, we’d end it there, but the majority of the time there were compliments for the great assistance and attention paid.

    If this clerk continued to try to push Express Mail, then yeah, you’d have a case. For all she knew, it could have been a trick question. Her suggesting it once (through a possible miscommunication of what an upsell is) is hardly going to hurt you.

    First world problems, man. The manager probably couldn’t believe what he was hearing.

  71. starryeyed0806 says:

    I actually appreciate the “upsell,” although I never thought of it as that. Like after I order coffee and they ask if you want baked goods or something. Most of the time the answer is no, but once in a while I do want something, and am glad they asked rather than just telling me the total before I finish the whole order.

    At the post office though, I usually want the cheapest (if slowest) way to send, and when they say “do you want Express Mail” it ends up confusing me, and I need an explanation of what is actually the cheapest. Also when they ask about insurance or confirmation delivery, if it’s something somewhat important I get nervous that I should get it, and end up getting it, even if it wasn’t my plan originally. In some ways it’s stupid because I did end up spending more money then I was planning; but on the other hand I feel more reassured that my letter or package will arrive without a problem (usually). Overall I feel like it’s more of an asset rather than a nuisance.

  72. Mr Fife says:

    Shut the hell up you whiner. Have you ever heard, “Do you want fries with that?” Grow up.

  73. actuatedpoodle says:

    Don’t worry, it’ll be like your healthcare if Obama’s deathcare bill isn’t repealed.

  74. LadyMJ says:

    Sometimes outsiders are so negative about the post office. If the public had a CLUE as to what we go through, you wouldn’t be so quick to judge. If there is an office with ONE clerk and a line out the door, it’s probably because they’ve cut back on so many clerk hours trying to make the numbers look good. At least that’s what happened at my office. So there is really only ONE clerk available to work the window. It’s not the window clerk’s fault. Clerks, TOO, want more people on the window, but what can they do. It’s out of our control. The powers that be who has control of that, handle that. There are some wonderful caring employees that do so much and never get recognized. There are LOTS of changes that we as employees don’t understand HOW and WHY they come up with some of the things they do. We’ve been scratching our heads and looking to the sky for answers.

    The pressure that the carriers are under, the (sometimes) bullying and pushiness of upper management, the threats, the horrible treatment of some employees. Read Dr Mussaco’s book
    Beyond Going Postal and you will get an idea of what it’s like for some employees.

    Most employees work their asses off for the service….and it goes unappreciated all the time. It’s really sad.

  75. A_ndy says:

    OP here. Didn’t know this had been posted. Have read all the comments. Will make a general response.

    First of all – I never said I was in a hurry. I just don’t like upsells, and the item I was mailing was not particularly valuable, and there was no need for it to get anywhere in a hurry. It was pretty heavy though, hence my interest in sending it as cheaply as possible.

    To those of you who say “that’s just how it is done” – yes, you are correct – and the only thing that will change that is people complaining about it and pointing out that it is counterproductive. Companies DO change policies in response to customer feedback – surely you have read many instances of that on this board if you bothered to read this post.

    To those who say “OMG! it would take 2 seconds to say ‘no thank you'” – please note that I was looking at the bigger picture than my single transaction. The thirteen people behind me had to endure the same thing, and the script (literally) is run all day, every day at USPS locations everywhere … that is an awful lot of 2 seconds.

    I brought this simple example to Consumerist’s attention, and they posted it, because it reflects a poor customer service orientation: the USPS paid no heed to my simple, politely expressed wishes. There is a bad attitude in so many businesses toward prospective customers, and I would like that to change. It’s gotta start somewhere and I was happy to do my part : )