Archive for January, 2015

Dear USPS deciders-in-chief:

I avoid the Fahm Street branch of the U.S. Postal Service in Savannah because the agents working there are always so unpleasant. Today was by far the worst “service” I’ve ever experienced. What follows is exactly what happened to Eddie, the kids and me today when we arrived for our passport renewal appointment referenced in my last post.

Scene: Two women working the counter. Each has a customer. I am the next person in line.

Woman 1: (Nametag covered by sweater) Can I help you?
Me: I’m here to renew a child’s and an adult’s passport.
Woman 1: (Looks at me blankly for at least five seconds while I look back. It lasts so long that I begin to wonder if I had actually spoken words to her.) The child doesn’t have to be here to renew the passport.

(This seems like an odd thing to say. It doesn’t change my reason for standing in front of her.)

Me: Yes, he actually does, along with both parents.
Woman 2 (to Woman 1): (As if we are not standing there) Do they have an appointment?
Woman 1 (to me): Do you have an appointment?
Me: Yes, at 2:15.
Woman 1: (Sighs and goes to get a book from the back then returns to the counter) Your name?
Me: Concepción
Woman 1: (Looks at me as if my name is an affront to all that she values in life, then looks at the book again) What’s that name?
Me: Concepción. C-O-N-C-E-P-C-I-O-N. 2:15 today.
Woman 1: (Apparently finding my name) Wait over there or in the chairs. It doesn’t matter. She’ll be with you in a moment.
Me: Who will be with me?
Woman 1: (Indicates Woman 2 with her head)

Waiting commences. We watch Woman 1 be unfriendly to four more customers. Woman 2 finishes passport paperwork for her customer.

Woman 2: (To the whole lobby, even though we are standing four feet in front of her and facing her) Concepción!
Me: I have a child and adult passport renewal.
Woman 2: (Nametag reads “Mrs. B. Mobley”) We don’t do adult renewals here.
Me: (Smiling and trying to be friendly) OK, but I can mail it from here.
Mrs. B. Mobley: (Looks at me in a hostile manner) Yes.

I hand her my materials. She looks at Dominic’s photo.

Mrs. B. Mobley: This photo is not the right format. The face is too close. Our camera is broken. You can send it in anyway and see if they contact you.
Me: I followed the instructions on the U.S. Department of State website …
Mrs. B. Mobley: (Cutting me off) That is not my concern. I asked you if you wanted to send it in as is and see if they process it or contact you for a different photo.
Me: (Noting her condescending tone and reflecting my dissatisfaction with a tightness around my eyes and mouth) Yes. I want to send it in.

She fills out paperwork while I make sure Eddie’s renewal paperwork is in order. In a very clipped tone, she requests various things such as signatures, a check for the renewal, and a $25 processing fee (!). (I have to pay for the five minutes it takes to have this paperwork processed by a surly employee?)

Me: (After watching how she attaches Dominic’s photo to the application) May I borrow your stapler? (She hands it to me with a sigh.) I just put it on like you just did?
Mrs. B. Mobley: (No answer. Just a nasty look.)
Me: (Thinking “Why you gotta be so mean?“) How much is the renewal fee for adults?
Mrs. B. Mobley: $110.
Me: And I just put this all in an envelope and send it off? There’s nothing else?
Mrs. B. Mobley: (Still condescending) That’s how it works.

She finalizes Dominic’s paperwork. I finalize Eddie’s and mail it off. The process is over, thankfully. This is 20 minutes of perhaps the worst customer service I’ve ever experienced.

Do you deliberately seek the most ill-natured people you can find for your customer service positions? These two women have no business dealing with the public.

Look, we all know the USPS is in trouble and hemorrhaging money. Don’t you think you could help your situation by improving customer service? Stop advertising and start improving the experience for the people who are paying you. It’s your only hope!

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I would rather gnaw off my own arm than go to the Fahm Street location again. There are other passport locations. For my mail needs, I’ll continue using my local post office. The people are inept, but at least they are nice.


*apologies to Holiday Inn

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67517_600Dear USPS deciders-in-chief:

I think I know why the USPS is in trouble.

  1. I went to my local post office to mail Christmas cards at the beginning of December. They did not have any holiday stamps. None. What’s up with that?
  2. In the middle of December, I requested a mail hold for a three-day span. Two days after it expired, I still had not received my mail. I called my local post office to find out the mail’s whereabouts. The woman on the phone seemed to have no understanding of how the online mail hold request system worked, no idea where my mail was, or how to reach my carrier. She said they don’t have cell phone numbers for carriers because they are not allowed to contact them while they are out. Um … what?!?
  3. I needed to mail a package to my brother-in-law at the end of December. My local post office printed a label for Priority Mail at a cost of $55. Shocked by that price, I balked. The woman told me that there was nothing she could do because she already printed the postage sticker. I had to pay the price.

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.
— inscription on the James Farley Post Office in New York City

Yeah, well, crappy management might.
— Beth, consumer

Is this just December craziness or evidence of a larger problem? I’m inclined to choose the latter because of this:

I need to renew Dominic’s passport. As he is a minor, he must come in person to an authorized passport location, along with Eddie and me. There are only two post offices in Savannah where you can renew minor passports: The main post office on Fahm Street and the Eisenhower branch.

The process took fewer than five minutes last time. The agent had to look at the identification for all three of us and sign the form.

Yet now you require an appointment. An appointment! And when I called to make this appointment, I couldn’t get one for three weeks. Really?!? Is that your bright idea or does it belong to some genius at the U.S. Department of State?

Also, there are no Saturday appointments, so that means I have to pull Dominic out of school, and Eddie and I have to take off work to go to this appointment. Brilliant.

If you’d like to stay in business, you might want to consider customer needs a bit more. Just a thought!


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