At a time when retailers around the U.S. are bemoaning the shortened Christmas buying season and holding their breaths to see its impact on their 2013 profitability, there is one vendor that apparently is doing just fine. In fact, while other merchants are making it easier for customers to shop by staying open more hours and augmenting their sales staffs with seasonal workers, this one has decided to CUT its normal business day by 2.5 hours. As of December 7th, it will be open from 8:30 a.m. till 5 p.m. Monday through Friday – and closed on Saturday and Sunday.
Who is this retailer? My local branch of the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). Yes, beginning two and a half weeks before Christmas, during the busiest mailing/shipping season of the entire year, the USPS is making it harder for customers to do business with it. Today I noticed that this branch has two kiosks that allow some customers to purchase stamps and send small packages. Unfortunately they are located in the part of the lobby that is locked during non-business hours. Honestly, what other business in the world deliberately throws obstacles in front of customers who want to use its services?
Could the fact that the USPS agreed to provide Sunday delivery for Amazon.com have anything to do with its decision to cut the branch’s hours of operations by 23% beginning the first Saturday in December? Based on my understanding of what I’ve read about that deal, its executives said they could take on Amazon’s business without incurring additional labor costs. So maybe they decided to cut branch employees’ hours during the week and have them deliver packages for Amazon on Sundays instead. I have to say I’m skeptical: surely the union contract has something to say about how much more employees must be paid when they work on Sunday rather than during the regular work week.
For the above reasons, the USPS gets my vote as the organization that best exemplifies the miserly spirit of Ebenezer Scrooge this year. Although I will allow for the possibility that the USPS decision-maker will go through a Scrooge-like transformation and reverse this anti-customer service choice, I’m not holding my breath. I suggest you don’t either. Ship FedEx.
©2013 Pat Lynch. All rights reserved.