Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Post Office

Last week, I pushed myself to get my packages for Christmas ready to mail.  My trips to the post office are made during my oldest daughter's piano lessons on Monday afternoons so that I have 2 instead of 3 children.  It still was a challenging experience.

I haven't pushed my children to carry packages and belongings.  They don't have to regularly carry backpacks since they don't go to school.  So, on Monday, Sami had a small box to carry in to the post office that she quickly started balking about.  She dropped it and fell and I had little sympathy.  She had been crying about everything all morning.  I'm sure the other gal thought I was a callous mom, but I wasn't budging.  Mean mom.  I encouraged and told her to get up and come.   We made it into the post office with the help of a lady nearby and stood in line to mail our packages.

What surprised me was my conversation with the postal worker.  Before I got up to the counter, I overheard one of the workers explain away the increase in postage as solely due to inflation.  Well, no, actually that's not true.  The reason for the increase is because people aren't mailing as much as much mail as they used to.  Probably for several reasons...  1)  Email is cheaper--it's free.   2) the Post Office often is not a fun place to go.  The attitudes of the workers can be off putting and dour.  It is discouraging.  So, I think many people avoid it if possible.  One can buy stamps in the grocery store or other places.  So, the post office has had to raise rates to compensate for the decrease in their mail delivery--NOT simply because of inflation.  I'm sure some of it is, but from what I've read that is not the primary reason.

When I did get to the counter, the man who was helping me weighed my package and showed me two rates--priority and first class.

I asked, "Isn't there anything cheaper?"  THIS was his reply

"You Asked The Magic Words."

I did?

It turns out that postal workers are now instructed that they cannot offer the lowest shipping rates (parcel post or media mail (for media items only)) unless you specifically ask for those rates or ask the question I did!

Ay Ay Ay!

So, as you are mailing your packages this Christmas season, remember to ask if there are any other cheaper mailing options!  They aren't going to tell you if you don't ask!

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