Re: Postal Employees Ordered to Stop Offering First-Class Mail

 In an article posted by “The Consumerist” on September 21, 2008, it stated in part :

Postal employees have been ordered to upsell pricey express or priority mail services to anyone sending anything more than a letter, according to an anonymous tipster. The directive comes straight from Washington to help combat the Post Office’s $1.1 billion operating deficit. To avoid the upsell, specifically ask if there is a cheaper way to ship your package.

Here is some additional information on the issue submitted by a reader:

Mystery Shop Offices,

Attached is a 5 page comparison chart that shows the current mystery shop questions compared to the FY 09 requirements that will take effect October 1st, 2008.

Realistically there are very few changes to the program that we have not already been coaching, teaching, training, and should have been enforcing for the last 3 years.

I’ve outlined below some of the most noticeable evaluation changes, please print a copy of this message and the attached report and use this for the next 3 weeks mandatory Retail Standup Talks.  Keep in mind many of the requirements aren’t changing such as the associate needing to offer Express & Priority and explain features of both, suggesting Insurance and Delcon and explaining both, etc.  the below highlights are in addition to the current practices.

Mystery Shopper FY 09 Highlights/Enhancements:

*   Express MUST be offered & explained first, pause and then recommend Priority Mail (you’ll loose 10 points if Express is not offered 1st)

*   You MUST say Express comes with Insurance and Tracking

*   You MUST NOT suggest Parcel Post (if the associate suggests PP you will loose 7 points)

*   You can NO LONGER offer to explain the Special Services, every Special Service that is offered must be explained

*   Now you must explain features of EVERY additional item you offer for purchase: example

(“do you need any stamps today, we have a new Classic Car series that just came out this week”, “would you like a book of the Forever stamps they are valued at a 1 oz letter rate no matter what the price maybe”  “do you need any shipping supplies for the upcoming holidays”, “would you be interesting in learning about our PO Box rentals, they provide added protection and security for your mail”etc.)

That’s it……these are the biggest differences…..the only thing we haven’t previously required the associates to do was explain the additional item for purchase; the rest of the changes are minor tweaking of what we’ve already been doing.

The upcoming year is going to be lean and mean, we no longer can be complacent with our requirements your associates performance and productivity are being measured like never before and ultimately it’s up to the local management to ensure compliance.

We’ve got to mentally change our/their perception of what we are being paid to do. If employees feel these position requirements are too difficult for them to perform they need to consider a change in their career path, the window position requirements are going to continue to get more demanding just like the rest of the organization.

Mystery Shopper Evaluation Changes FY-09(PDF)

47 thoughts on “Re: Postal Employees Ordered to Stop Offering First-Class Mail

  1. One of our clerks got Mystery Shopped on a Saturday when we are open 1-1/2 hours. She lost 25 points because it took the Shopper 13 minutes and 16 seconds to get waited on. POOM says fix it. Boss says give us more hours. POOM says observe your clerks a half-hour per day and make sure they’re asking all the questions. I’m being disciplined for taking short cuts in order to keep the line moving and getting the other chores done. “Postal Math” has reached new levels. They win. I quit.

  2. wouldn’t it be nice if every time a new set of guidelines for mystery shopper were enacted, someone “higher up” would leave their name at the bottom of the directive along with their phone number and e-mail address so they could respond to their fellow employee’s questions?

  3. Would you like to save my ass by listening to my prerecorded message. I don’t care what you want because I know better than you what you want.

  4. Sounding like robots is the problem not the upselling. Allow the window clerk to deliver iy his or her way and don’t badger customers who tell you what they want. The ones making the policy have never done the job


  6. I was getting something mailed, and a little old lady came up to the window next to me to mail about 4 sheets of paper to somebody. It could have very easily been folded and fit into a regular envelope with 2 stamps, but the window clerk, (following the new guidelines, I am sure) not only sold her one of those Redi-Post envelopes for , like $1.75, but only gave her then option of Priorrity to send it (when it was light enough to go First Class). So now this poor little old lady ended up paying almost $7 for a service that should have cost her less than $1.00……………We don’t need to get money THAT badly, do we??

  7. Why I am no longer a window clerk…not much better here at the main plant in Omaha. We still have 4 or 5 MDOs and are still doing the first class shuffle with Norfolk to meet “the numbers” on which mgnts incentive pay is based.
    The same affliction is here as in the auto industry, financial industry, etc…it’s called Corporate GREED.

  8. You know if you look and listen the next time you go into a fast food chain, they do the same things to promote their products. They ask if you would like an apple pie or something else to boost their sales. Because we push and promote our premier products first is not arm twisting our customers, it is simply selling our business and giving customer’s options. I feel that if our Sales Associates were cordial and made our customer’s feel important when they come in, then we would not need to require SSA’s to comply with the Mystery Shopper Guidelines; but most of our customers hate they way they are treated by our SSA’s. It is a crying shame and I hear it from my family and friends. Get with it or get out!

  9. We had a customer call the 1800 number and complain about the required questions, they were told to come to the window and say “I’m not the Mystery Shopper, this is what I want.” We were told by the postmaster we still have to ask the HaZMat question. Get the public on our side!!! Have them call the 1800 # and complain.

  10. First class mail volume is down and will continue to go down. We are being asked to offer & explain products that we sell to our customers. They are not required to buy, but we are required to offer. If you don’t want to, go work somewhere else, because some of us understand business and we understand that our future is in packages. Our products are cheaper than UPS and Fed Ex…..don’t like it go work at McDOnalds…oh I’m sorry you can’t work there either…because they will ask to ask the customer to supersize it…what a shame!!! Believe it not, your future will depend on it.

  11. This is what happens when you forget what you are here for —-SERVICE! NOT trying to gouge customers. We have far too many services that are confusing –Del confir., express, certified,etc that people simply dont know that the best deal is and what service goes with what mailout. Simplify our services and give the customer the best bang for their buck. But I guess when you have to justify Hundreds of milliions in useless management positions you focus on screwing the customer instead of serving them.

  12. stop complaining, you go to Mc Donald and they offer always something. The same with the Banks etc. So what is the big deal? Customer complaints show that the window personal don’t offer enough, that they want to be asked. So they get forced to ask. Big deal. They make more than the fastfood people and they don’t have a problem trying to sell you their stuff.

  13. One of our window clerks were being evaluated by a 204B(previously a carrier) and a customer wanted to send something Express Mail. After the window clerk completed the transaction, the 204B said to the clerk, “I am giving you a bad evaluation because you did not offer the customer Delivery Confirmation with Express Mail.” The window clerk became a little upset because you have a Carrier 204B give an evaluation who apparently knows nothing about Customer Service. The window clerk had to explain to the 204B that Delivery Confirmation is not a service offered with Express Mail. Only in the Post Office……..

  14. well here it is December 3, 2008 , what is suppose to be our busiest season and today I was offered an early off. I’m a window clerk and I work in a office that is at one of the districts. First time I’ve been offered an early off in probably 15 or more years and never in December.

  15. No wonder people are going to UPS. Having a line to the door while window clerks ask stupid questions is a joke. I agree all window clerks should stick together and stop this practice.
    Stop ripping people off by trying to sell them something they don’t need. I am copying this and hanging it everywhere the public can see it!!

  16. APWU needs to step up the game and stop this mystery shop .If you look back at the beginning apwu was against it.All these questions and up saleing is pissing off the customers at my office.We used to have people lined up to the doors but now management is talking about cutting back clerks.By the way our cutomers went down the road to going postal.But keep changing this mystery shop thing and threatning clerks with discipline.I’m sure that will bring back the customers.All management is dumb asses.

  17. If you take all the time wasted by EACH Window Clerk asking the 5+ questions, I believe that you will find that the USPS is losing money on this program. The successful upsells cannot pay for all the time used. If you consider the annoyance factor experienced by the customer, we lose even more money.
    The Postal Service out to leave us alone to do our jobs. We know what we’re doing. We understand the financial predicament that we are in. I think if they left us alone to do our jobs and encourage upsells when the transaction calls for it, we would be ahead of the game. We’d have less annoyed (thus happier) customers, and we’d definately have happier Window Clerks.
    Acting like we are desparate only repels customers.

  18. There’s such a thing as offering services and then “shoving it down peoples throats”. Yes, people usually DO know what they want to do when they get to the window.. but maybe they didn’t know about sig/conf or insured or maybe they DID mean to grab a book of stamps…
    The “frequent” mailers know it’s blah blah cause the the clerks will apologive and tell em why and it’s a known “I gotta ask you this” and it’s brushed through.. no big deal.

    Clerks can do this faster then it took you to read this. (if you are smarter than a 6th grader)

    *:`) (carrier_10yrs)


  20. Wow! I so agree with so much of what has been said. But what can be done with the fact that we can’t verify the validity of any of these mystery shops? We know positively that our last 4 mystery shops were incorrect. Management won’t accept that we can pick these people out as strangers in our office, looking around suspiciously for forms and posters, and then give us a package that comes up the the exact price as all the mystery shops in the area have had. Then we make note of that transaction, knowing it had to be a 100% What a shock to us to have another failure… give me a break. No one will back us. How many mystery shoppers sign up because they hate the Post Office? Then they are given the power to get even. We actually had one mystery shopper tell us it was a mystery shop and give us a 100%, we even helped her stuff the package. She had the instructions all over the counter. Would management believe that? If they can falsify for a good score, they can falsify for a bad score. I’m so tired of saying I don’t care, because I used to.

  21. Simply put, this shit doesn’t work. That’s what it’s all about, right? – results? I am better at “upselling” than 19 out of 20, but my way is not the Postal Stupid way. I sold Philatelics at one station that were 12 years old, every single thing in the safe. Supposed to have been gone years before. Some person, some kid, came in and said “..oh, what cool stamps”, I talked them into buying them. Easy. Zero reward for me. I worked in an area that was 96% black. I sold 40% of the Black History sets in our District – me, alone. Easy. I sold Corporate Express accounts to one of the largest hospitals in America. I made personal, simple displays to unload ugly stamps like the Buckminster Fuller one, which the occasional geek thought were cool, thus trimming inventory. I wallpapered Express and got rid of $11,000 worth of old stamps in my safe myself. Try it if you think it’s easy. All of this, much more: reward…zero. We are working for very, very stupid people.

  22. Management is pulling at straws..trying to put the downturn of volume on the window clerks’ backs.They’re wasting money with the paperwork of 4000b’s and mystery shoppers..wonder how much that’s costing! And then the failure of a mystery shop..oh my God..PM has to travel 100 miles one way to get his ass chewed out for it…unbelievable. Who comes up with these stupid ideas and what’s their salary?
    Too much paranoia in PO management and they pass the fear mongering onto craft.

  23. PUSH PUSH PUSH; This is another coporate copy cat tactic that the postal service is always last to follow. The hard sell has come to surface in most business over the last few years. Fast food especially, would you like to super size that order for 59 cents. Actually no I am fat enough and knew what I came hear to order. I wont rant and rave over this issue. The bottom line is most people know for the most part what services or products they want when they go to a business. This tactic for the usps delays the line and wastes valuable window time. Waiting in line is bad enough delaying the line because of the hard sell is worse, and really think about this have they ever did a study to see if they sell more products as opposed to down grading postal relations with customers? This may also be to annoy the customer enough to use online and in lobby self service. Oh did I say take another job away. That way the one one ratio of supervisor to employee may run the window service.

  24. Correction from my last posting:

    Selling phone cards at the hight per minute rates, of course not money orders.

  25. I havent worked the window in years and I’m glad I don’t. The stupidest things when I worked the window were upselling first class mail to priority and the customer asking on each how long it takes to get there. The answer for both is 2-3 days. So whats the difference? None as far as time is concerned except priority gives you a little better chance of getting it delivered for over 4 dollars more. I guess the answer to that question now is that you can offer tracking on priority. Soon we will be offering DC on first class letters. Also when we used to offer money orders at the high per minute rates I used to tell the customers to go to the corner store. I was a horrible window clerk and I wonder what my mystery shopper scores would be these days.

  26. I am a retired window clerk.The starting of having to ask all those questions has driven customers away.People want to walk into their post office and see smiling faces willing to wait on them. They don’t want to see employees who are miserable because of some idiotic moron that has nothing better to do than try to make the postal service into MCPostal.We aren’t a drive thru fast food.Customers know what they need if not they are quite capable of asking you for your expertise.They don’t like the machines that are never working or out of stamps,no change,no employees on the windows and lines out the door ,or being told to drive to another office or better yet Wal Mart!!!!!Next I guess they’ll put a post office in all the convenience stores.Get your gas ,food,and all your mailing needs met here at your local EXXON,MOBIL,etc.
    Postal employees are tired of being treated with no respect from their SUPERIORS! It use to be a respectable place to work and people wanted to do a good job.Your customers are repeats on the majority you sure don’t want them upset with you.Let the window clerks do theur job and if they need you they will let you know.How about mystery shoppers on all the Post Masters and supervisors!!!!!!

  27. I’m retiring end of the year: been a window clerk, carrier, and cust. svc. supv. The upselling is part of the “new” plan: the loss of customer service is one reason I’m going. The rest of it is that I can’t take the stress anymore. 34 years . . . hope it improves for everybody. I can do more with less, but not everything with nothing. I can’t even offer a no lunch as an incentive. Ye Gods!

  28. I just found this website. Thankyou Anonymous and KK, etal. I was beginning to think I was alone. I got 100% on a Mystery Shop awhile back and felt as though I’d sold my soul. Watched a clerk almost drive a customer to the UPS Store pushing Express Mail. She wasn’t really pushing it. It was more like she was sticking it in the customer’s chest and twisting it until the customer quit bleeding. I’ve seen customers leave because we wouldn’t let them use tape any more. The boss sent a customer to an office 20 miles away to resolve a problem that we could have handled locally. And some of us just want to give the customer a painless experience so that they will keep coming back instead of checking out the alternatives.

  29. i just downsold express to first class for mail traveling less than 50 miles away. as a carrier i’m just providing good customer service for my customers to save them money

  30. Who cares about the mystery shop scores anyway? We all still get our paycheck. It’s time for the clerks to come together and fight this nonsense. I believe a strike is necessary, or a work stoppage, or slowdown. All the clerks nationwide should call in sick for the same 3 days to show solidarity. It’s obvious that the APWU is useless and won’t fight these ridiculous changes.

  31. This is soooo wrong. Customer Service–what is that? When will they start getting rid of superviors and managers. Why do we need managers of stations when we have the area managers have to okay everything the manager of a station does?
    Why should we have to explain the features of a padded bag? I do not want to rip off the customer.

  32. “As a window clerk I refuse to try to rip off a customer and sell them a service they do not need. Instead, I offer them the best option for their needs. ”

    And you have already decided you know what they need? Nice. When you go to a restaurant, does the waitress just automatically bring you a hamburger? “I know what they want, they don’t want an expensive meal, just a hamburger the best option for their needs.”

  33. This will infuriate the customer more. They are already upset with the current mystery shop guidelines and these will push more of them away. I totally agree with upselling, but I think window clerks are smart enough to know when to do it. Not each customer needs express mail, nor do they want it. I think not offering parcel post is a crime. The price difference between parcel post is very small sometimes, and the customer should have all the options explained to them for good customer service, which obviously upper management no longer wants.

  34. As a window clerk I refuse to try to rip off a customer and sell them a service they do not need. Instead, I offer them the best option for their needs. As a customer, I would refuse to deal with a company that tried over and over to sell me more than I need. We all need to watch our money these days with the economy in a downturn so why are we trying to cheat and oversell to our customers? personally, I have more customers thank me for being honest and helping them get the best deal and they always come back. Yet management talks to me about being too helpful and spending too much time with the customer. Hello, we are a CUSTOMER SERVICE business. I am thankfully getting out in a few months under VER. Thank God, I am sick to death of the stupidity of the Post Office. I doubt I will spend much time as a customer either.

  35. common sense… if you had any you would know that 90% of customers at windows across america are customers that come in regularly.. that means that window clerks like myself KNOW our customers and what they want. they are in so often that they are aware of our services. chances are they come to the usps because we are visible. we are everywhere. all they want is to do their regular business and go to their next chore.. we live in a society that does not have the time to wait in line and listen to upsell bull.. ever go to mickey d’s and get asked if you want it supersized or if you want an apple pie..when all you want is your friggin food so you can throw it down your throat and get back to work so you can get your ass kicked on the window again cause post office cut window jobs in your office. all this while two..yes two managers sit in the office with only 1 or 2 clerks in the building since all the carriers are gone on the road..what a damn joke..thank god i dont have much time left. was a great job until the “new regime” came in…

  36. This is why most postal customers in our little city prefer using the two contract stations.all they want to do is mail there stuff and go on about their business… most say they don’t want to stand in line and hear the same spew over and over…

  37. People, this is a joke. Yes, we have been offering Express and Priority for over 20 years. This is an upsell technique that is used by all companies and is helpful to the customers. I would much rather have a sales associate try to upsell me than not. So those who are complaining about this should either go with the flow or leave. I would rather work with employees who are committed to helping out the company and customers than ones who complain about things and never ever offer any solutions.

  38. my name saids it all what a pile of spit
    anything to annoy what few customers we have left
    now they will be seeking somewhere else to mail their parcels, etc However, as I have said before: this is exactly what usps management wants. Fewer customers at the window; usps will need fewer clerks, carriers, mail handlers, etc. But usps will need more ad/min people to contract out and oversee what contractors are doing. Just like what happened to with the mortgage brokers and wall street.

  39. Yeah, drive more customers away w/ your pestering and confusion. There is no customer service, let’s just rip them off to pay for all these upper mgmtment jobs that are totally useless. If you don’t want people to ship parcel post or media mail, then do away with it. I find the whole thing sickening.

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