Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Going Postal

Mrs. Darwin here, with a post about neither religion nor demographics.

I went to the post office yesterday, with two bouncy little girls and a package that needed to be shipped priority. As luck would have it (for it certainly was not as a result of my good planning or even awareness of hours of operation) I was the last person to squeak in before 4:30. At the very stroke of 4:30, a large postal employee who bore a striking resemblance to Michael Moore in physical appearance, style, and personality lumbered out of the back office and hung a flimsy plastic chain to shut off access to one entrance to the line.

Two seconds later, a man walks in and gets into line behind me (I was about the only customer in the post office at this point in time). "Hey," snaps the Employee, "we're closed."

"What?" asked Customer. "What time do you close?"


"Wait -- what time is it now?"


The Customer starts to walk off, and murmurs, "Oh, that's just great." Moore-man hears this and demands to know what Customer just said. When the Customer repeats himself, the Employee tells him that look, they close at 4:30, and that's what time they close. The Customer explains that he just wants to pick up his mail after vacation because he knows that there are bills waiting for him. Employee obviously doesn't care. Customer asks if it can be delivered to his box. "Sure," says Employee, "but if there's too much the postman isn't going to shove it all in." Customer says he doesn't need all the junk mail. Employee snorts. "Junk mail is what pays for it all."

Nor did the Employee care that the Customer had to work during business hours, instead of dancing attendance on the post office's schedule. As the man walked off, maintaining the civility that had marked his end of the exchange, I thought to myself, "There's someone who will ship his packages with UPS from now on."

When did rudeness to the customer become the norm? Most of my career moves have involved customer service positions, and the sort of dismissive attitude displayed by this employee would have been cause for firing. Is this a Post Office thing? And what's with the 4:30 closing time? C'mon, is your boss going to let you off early because you have to get to the Post Office?

To be fair, I've never seen anything else like that while at the Post Office, but the fact that such behavior is tolerated there (for Darwin has also seen Moore-man in action on other occasions) certainly doesn't speak well of their customer-service ethic.


CincyDarwin said...

Mrs D - some hope here. My company, a large fortune 500 business, has in the last year modified its corporate culture, goals, and strategy to be "customer-first". It's a huge change, and actual work and employee review has been completely changed. The leadership of the company has recognized that if its employees do not place the customer first, then the company will not survive the next decade. All of us employees are now only involved in projects that show direct links to benefits the customer cares about. Other projects don't make the cut. It's very refreshing.

mandamum said...

I just wanted to thank both of you, Mr & Mrs Darwin, for a refreshing blog. I'll be back often!

Mr. Felderhoff said...

Ooh, I do hope the bablets are doing fine. I must say, I had an experience a couple months ago at the post office up this way.

I went to go pick up our mail from the main office downtown; since we didn't quite have a physical address yet, we were using general delivery.

Well, even though the post office would be open for a little while longer, general delivery pickups end promptly at 4:30. I get to the clerk at 4:29! She did a double take at the clock, because I knew she didn't want to go get my mail. She said, "You're lucky. We stop general delivery pickup at 4:30."

I thought to myself, how ridiculous is that policy. We must be to the minute! No... to the second! Just one minute, and I would have been out of luck.

What drives them to do things like that? I feel for that guy, because I have a feeling I would have been less charitable! The USPS seems to be self-interested rather than service oriented. But doesn't the second S in USPS stand for SERVICE?