Monday, December 26, 2011

To Post or Not to Post - Is That REALLY the Question?

While watching a recent football game, I saw a commercial for the U.S. Postal Service. I thought this was rather odd, because I can’t remember the U.S. Postal Service ever advertising before. I mean, the post office has been an American institution since the ratification of the U.S. Constitution. Why would they need to advertise?

Of course, you’ve most likely heard rumors that the postal service has been losing money lately. As a matter of fact, they’ve been losing lots and lots of money for years now. The stress has been making their employees a bit unstable, hence the popularity a while back of the term “going postal.”

So why is Benjamin Franklin’s pet project in jeopardy? Well…do you pay your bills online? Do you send emails or texts instead of writing letters? Do you even know that stamps haven’t had to be licked since 1994? There you have it – that’s why the post office has had to resort to advertising. Their customer base dwindled away as we started to use more modern methods to communicate.

Unfortunately for the postal service, it is unlikely that these ads are going to convince anyone that snail mail is better than electronic communications. Is putting a check in an envelope that travels from your post office to a truck to a different post office to a mail carrier and then finally to your electric company really safer than paying a bill directly from your checking account online? I don’t think so. I’ve been paying my bills online for years.


How about this second ad? Is receiving your mail directly from the hand of a smiling mail carrier more reliable and safer than receiving an email or text? Not in my experience. I’m not sure what my mail carrier looks like; he/she chucks my mail in a box at the end of the driveway, where anyone could take it before I get home from work. My email, however, is password protected and located on a secure server.

The U.S. Postal Service has not adapted to modern technology, and so it is becoming as relevant as the pony express. I bet Benjamin Franklin would have switched over to email right along with the rest of us. After all, the issue is not whether or not we need the postal service – it’s about how we can communicate most efficiently.

Need a laugh? Watch Conan O'Brien's new Postal Service ad:

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