There is no chore I dread more than going to the post office.
The lines are long, the workers are mean, and shipping things can get pricey. By the end of the whole ordeal, which is likely much longer than anyone in line budgeted their time for, the letters and packages you left at the post office desk could still fail to arrive on time — if at all.
The U.S. Postal Service’s problems are not new, but they are especially prominent during the holiday season when postal workers know they will have to sort, transport, and deliver 15 billion pieces of mail and 800 million packages in less than two short months.
You might be a post office pro who knows to grab the right box, use the right tape, and input all of your intended recipient’s information correctly, but you’ll still get the universal experience of waiting in a long line while a grumpy postal clerk, who doesn’t care that it’s the most wonderful time of the year, yells at the person in front of you.
Do long lines, terribly unfriendly employees, and a system that never seems to work in your favor remind you of any other government agencies? Swap USPS for DMV, TSA, Social Security Administration, or any other bureaucratic outfit that requires in-person interaction and you get a recipe for frustration.
Agencies like USPS continue to promise perks and delivery in rain or shine but those pledges are overshadowed by the agency’s limited tracking, poor customer support, and staffing issues. Unless you’re trying to interfere in elections via the mass delivery of mail-in ballots, USPS likely doesn’t care if your mail is backlogged.
Service by USPS is so bad that the office of the inspector general decided to launch a service performance webpage dedicated to explaining all of the agency’s national and regional failures. So far, that tracker hasn’t helped USPS improve much.
It’s unclear how much mail USPS loses each year but estimates say it hovers around 3 percent, or 4.38 billion pieces of mail.
Despite its iffy track record, USPS is guilty of wasting excesses of taxpayer cash. In the 2022 fiscal year, USPS lost $4.4 billion in net income. Before that, USPS recorded $4.9 billion in losses in 2021 and $9.2 billion in 2020.
In typical government-agency fashion, after more than a decade of financial loss, USPS still has the audacity to ask for $7.4 billion in capital commitments “to modernize and improve our mail processing, transport, and delivery system.” What financials USPS doesn’t get allocated the agency hopes to gain by jacking up prices for taxpayers.
“[P]rice increases will more than compensate for the revenue lost due to reduced volume,” USPS confidently stated in its 2023 Integrated Financial Plan.
As with most government agencies, what USPS was created for and is paid to do, private companies FedEx and UPS tend to do faster with fewer hiccups.
This isn’t just a Christmas problem. For years, USPS and many other government agencies have failed to swiftly and adequately meet the needs of Americans.
Americans recognize this and have called for change. Yet, every year, the legislative and executive branches funnel more money and status to their favorite agencies.
All I want for Christmas this year is a postal system that can support my mailing needs. Instead, I’m just getting a higher bill.