People care a lot about their local post offices, at least if the number of news stories on the topic and the comments we receive on our blog and Audit Project pages are indications.
For some, the neighborhood Post Office serves as everything from the source of a community’s name and identity, to a spot where neighbors can connect and keep track of each other. Of course the Post Office is also the place where folks drop off holiday goodies and care packages, or buy stamps and other mailing supplies. And rentable Post Office boxes create physical addresses for local entrepreneurs.
So, it’s no surprise that when the Postal Service decides to relocate a Post Office – whether moving it to a less costly property or consolidating several facilities into one –communities have an opinion about it.
The ubiquity of its Post Office network is one of the Postal Service’s most valuable assets. But, the Postal Service says more than one-third of postal retail purchases are now made somewhere other than a Post Office, including on usps.com. It’s therefore understandable that the Postal Service is making changes, such as instituting shorter hours of operation, encouraging local businesses to offer some postal services, or consolidating low-traffic facilities.
The Postal Service recognizes that it matters to customers when their local Post Office is shuttered. And there are specific regulations and guidelines designed to give affected communities information about planned moves, and the right to appeal portions of those plans. But is the Postal Service following the letter and spirit of those regulations and guidelines? Our recent audit looked at the relocation process and we found it could be more transparent. The public may not always have the information it needs, when it needs it, to understand the implications of relocations and make meaningful comments on them.
What about you? If you have experienced a Post Office relocation in your community, were you satisfied with how and when you were informed? What, if any, changes could be made to make Post Office relocations more transparent or otherwise improve the process?