Normally I don't wish bad on any organization but there is one particular company that DESERVES my spit and venom for right now.
It's the United States Postal Service. That's right. The USPS. F*** them. They suck...and they're only getting worse as time goes on.
Where is this coming from? From 20+ years in working directly with them with my direct mail marketing campaigns AND by using them consistently in just about every avenue in my business that requires something to be mailed and shipped. Yet there's been this subtle shift that's been taking place which seemed to have jolted into a full-blown 8.4 earthquake since the postal rate increase a couple of weeks ago.
Just the other day I walked into the post office. It was just after 8:30am. The phone was ringing off the hook. The only lonely employee standing behind the counter refused to answer it. I listened to that damned phone while I was filling out a label for a package for a returned product. By the time I got up to the counter, I was about ready to start beating my head up against the wall to give me a diversion over the loud phone ringing, all the while wondering how the hell ANYONE could just stand there are refuse to answer the phone when it's on its 35th ring. (I was on the verge of jumping the counter and answering it myself...but the phone stopped ringing. The caller probably just dropped dead...having died of old age waiting for someone to answer.)
I asked the lady behind the counter for 45 rolls of stamps. She looked at me sideways like I was crazy. "I don't have 45 rolls of stamps. Come back at 10 when Christine is here." She was rude and disrespectful, which I've come used to when dealing with USPS employees. It seems that the more money you want to spend with their organization, the more abuse they feel like dishing out. Oh, but if you're the little old lady buying your one book of stamps a year, you'll get the MOST respect from a USPS employee. But...a commercial client like me who writes checks to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars a month for mailings? I routinely get treated like dog sh** by the USPS. And I'm sick of it.
Just the other day, after FINALLY getting my stamps being a bum-like "drifter" wasting time hopping from one post office to another until I collected my 4,500 stamps, I brought them back for a mailing to the ladies at the office. They got the majority of my special mailing done but everyone wanted to leave. It was Friday. I said, "Go home. I'll take the mail." That would be a decision I'd instantly start to regret.
At this point, I knew taking the mail to any USPS counter, I'd AGAIN be treated like a criminal sack of crap for bringing in such a large amount of mail to ANY USPS location because, God forbid, now they actually have to PROCESS the mail and lift those heavy bins off the counter. (Oh, no! WORK!) So, instead of electing to deal with being treated this way, I took the mail to my local distribution center and spent an extra 30 minutes stuffing the mail slots full of mail. Yes, that's right. I drove 15 minutes out of my way and spent all this time stuffing mail bins just to purposely AVOID dealing with any USPS employee who I knew would treat me like crap for, again, spending so much money with them and actually expecting them to do a little work for their paycheck. As I was stuffing the bins, I told myself that my direct mail marketing days were coming to a fast end. In fact, I decided that after my next set of mailings (slated between now and the first week of May), I'll be done with utilizing this as a method for marketing. Sad...but true. Well, actually, NOT sad. Sad for them, not sad for me.
Just as I was having this personal internal conversation about myself in this part pissed-off, part zenned-out state of stuffing these mail bins, this older guy in a large truck came driving through to mail a single bill in an envelope. He made a comment about my large mailing and offered me 2 organic oranges from his farm. Then...strangely enough, started asking me questions about what's going on with the USPS...as if I worked there or something. But I knew. And even more strange, I was able to actually furnish him with answers to all of his questions. He mentioned that he owned an organic farm and that he ships his fruit nationwide. The problem is that he'll mail his packages to his customers on the bases of the 2-day "guaranteed" Priority mail promise and yet NONE of his fruit has been getting to his customers on time. It's been going bad in transit and he's losing his ass in his business now because of customer refunds due to this. I told him to start using FedEx, as that would be his best bet (since UPS blows) and that it's too bad DHL doesn't do nationwide shipping anymore (international only now) because they were the best option.
I also told this gentleman that this all started back in January, when I was told by my mail processing lady at the distribution center that I needed to ADD 2 days on all my pre-sorted first-class mail, making it 5 days now. And that my standard mailings would be going from 10 to 14 days...to now 21 days to be received by anyone. What the freak! The more money I spend, the more I get punished as a commercial mailer. She shrugged her shoulders, gave me the "can't-do-anything-about-it" speech, and we left it at that.
Now the PROMISED 2-day Priority "guaranteed" mail isn't getting there on time...starting only a few weeks ago for many, but I noticed this shift occurring a few months ago. It's now worse than ever. And how the USPS can PROMISE something and NOT deliver (literally) makes me wonder why the FTC isn't finding them a gazillion dollars for false advertising and FRAUD, because essentially that's what that is. Anyone else in the free marketplace selling a product under false pretenses and promises would be fined and possibly jailed depending on the promise. Not the USPS, I guess.
And if I wasn't frustrated enough, I had received a phone call from my step-son who is visiting Michigan for his birthday. I mailed him a birthday card with a gift card inside on MONDAY with the 2-day Priority PROMISE that it would be received by him in 2 days or on Wednesday, which was his birthday. As I was leaving the post office for my after-hours bin-stuffing romp, he thanked me for the card that he just received...on FRIDAY, 5 freaking days AFTER I mailed it with that 2-day USPS Priority GUARANTEE.
Here's the reality: The USPS is in trouble. This is just the tip of the iceberg for the turmoil that's to come with these people. I don't know if they're pissed off about the rate drop or they're just lazy or what the problem is. I've been told that there are cut-backs so there are fewer postal employees. I've been told other excuses as to why things aren't working with them anymore. All pitiful excuses. I just don't understand how a system that's over 200 years old can suddenly not work as efficiently anymore...unless the people working WITHIN the organization aren't working anymore. And I'm sure I'll get a few emails from those of you who work for the USPS with whatever "reason" as to why it is sucking now more than ever, just when I was starting to have some hope that they would pull themselves out of this ditch they dug themselves into. Now they're going backwards...again. Possibly for good this time.
But lately I don't care anymore about the USPS, mail, shipping, and all of it that they stand for. Because nowadays I'm implementing strategies that remove the USPS out of my marketing altogether. They're much more cost-effective, quicker to profit, and much less labor intensive. All upsides, no downsides. Even better, these online campaigns are drastically out-pulling any response I'd ever dream of getting sending out mail to anyone. And this brings me back to that question of: why use direct mail anymore? And my answer? I'm not anymore.
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See you at the top!
P.S. If you think the global and national economic shifts have settled and now everything's back to being "normal," think again! The economic sands have slowed but have NOT stopped shifting yet. This means things are still changing. Don't get too comfortable. Don't think that everything is okay. There are many more surprising and shocking changes on the horizon. Be prepared and you'll profit. Settle in to comfort and you'll probably end up losing the most when the next big change happens, which is always right around the corner.
P.P.S. In an unrelated thought, RIP Prince. He was a musician of my generation and he will be missed. As life goes on and we lose parts of those who have contributed to part of our own life "thread" in a way, it's almost as if we lose a little piece of our soul in the process when they are gone. When Michael Jackson had passed, being a huge fan as I am, I felt what I thought as being a rather substantial loss inside myself during that time. I feel much the same with Prince's loss. It's amazing how someone you've never met can contribute something meaningful to your life and how their death can affect us. But in all reality, I think it's less about their death and more about us being left without them that generates the most sadness when they die. They get to move on to a much better place. We're left behind to still be...here. And when they leave, it makes it all the more obvious about the reality in where we're left. I believe that's why we are sad when they go. Because it's not our time yet to go with them, to experience something better. But that's just my thought on it. Maybe yours is different. Regardless, I know Prince is already at peace. I just wish the rest of us were.