AS PRESIDENT of the Philadelphia-area local of the American Postal Workers Union (which represents the sales and service associates with whom the public comes in contact with every day), I totally agree with columnist Stu Bykofsky when he said that Benjamin Franklin would be ashamed at what transpired during his recent encounter with the Post Office.
But I don't think he'd be ashamed of the Post Office - he'd be ashamed of how management is running it now.
But I do have a few disagreements with Stu's column:
* Stu stated that an employee didn't know the phone number of their particular station. But employees are instructed by management to only give customers the 1-800-ASK-USPS phone number - not the private station number.
* No one should have to get used to standing in long lines, especially for minor purchases, but that's the situation that management has created. The stations are so shorthanded that it doesn't matter where you go, you will encounter a long line.
Our union, locally and nationally, has been trying for several years to make postal management aware that customers do matter and deserve to be treated correctly.
Management is aware of this situation because it is occurring in stations all over the country, but instead of increasing staffing to assist the customers properly, they continually increase management jobs at headquarters (maybe they are the real "uninterested drones" that Stu referred to in his column).
* Our sales and service asso-
ciates aren't slow-motion clerks.
They are following the instructions of postal management by asking customers a list of questions that is directly related to the "Mystery Shopper Program."
If our clerks do not ask all those questions of every customer, they are subject to discipline that could lead to a removal from employment.
Employees are dedicated and conscientious workers who sometime voluntarily skip their breaks or shorten their lunches because they want to serve the customers and minimize their wait.
The horror stories about the Post Office, unfortunately, are misdirected toward the workers when, in fact, management is responsible for poor decisions that lead to dissatisfied customers.
Workers are following the directives of management, and if they don't, they're faced with discipline.
* The fact that a USPS spokes- man informed Stu that the goal for waiting in line is five minutes is insulting. We are not only postal workers - we are also customers.
We wait in the same lines as any other customer, and postal management has made no attempts to accomplish that five-minute goal. They should stop telling customers that because if it's a goal that you never strive to achieve, then it doesn't exist, and you are misinforming dedicated customers. You can achieve the goal only by increasing staffing, not decreasing it.
* Stu stated in his column that, when he tried to exchange his stamp purchase, the clerk informed him that the manager would be right there to speak with him.
The clerk said that because that is what she was told to tell him. She couldn't process the exchange or return herself because whenever a stamp purchase is made (as stated on the bottom of the receipt, "All sales final on stamps and postage"), the clerk doesn't have the authority to make any changes, only a representative of management can do that.
I've been informed by clerks that when a customer complains and the clerk informs management, supervisors or managers make customers wait, hoping the customer will walk away because the major complaint is "Why are the lines so long?"
Another common complaint is that stations aren't adequately supplied with postal products. In that case, customers are informed that the station doesn't have what they need, and they are directed to another station. That is sad.
Mr. Bykofsky, I'd be glad to sit down with you anytime, and give you correct information of how things are within the postal service.
Management's actions are not those of someone actually trying to improve service. Postal management hasn't forgotten that the intent of the USPS is to provide a service - but they simply choose to ignore that significant fact to promote their own agenda.