On August 4, 2009 the Chicago Sun Times published an article that there are 24 locations in Chicago that the US Post Office is considering closing, citing an overall decline in mail volume.
One of those locations is at 2011 W. Montrose. From a business perspective, it makes me wonder just how they base their choices in terms of present versus future growth and providing a service location. This location is easily accessible by the Montrose and Damen bus lines. The Montrose bus also swings by the Wilson (aka Crusty) Red Line Station. The Montrose location is also walkable from the Brown Line Montrose Station. Accessibility to and from public transportation is a big plus for any business, but obviously not a major criteria, or at least not one weighty enough to keep them off the possible closure list.
One of the things about the 2011 W. Montrose station is that the regulars who work there are (yes, I am talking USPS) efficient, careful, friendly and conscientious. Any of their regular customers would know this and rue any decision to close this station, sending customers to the Lawrence Avenue station (bring a book) or the Uptown location (bring a much longer book). This would also assume that one drives.
Case in point: One year I somehow got stuck in that pre-Christmas line, which would be painfully long and slow moving in almost any shipping location. Someone who clearly was new to this location started carping, throwing out his negative, vitriolic vibes and muttering about lousy post office service. Several people looked at him and told him, “this place is pretty good,” and he shut-up. He may have shut-up out of shock, since I was once talking to my uncle who was telling me about his normal painful experiences at the Post Office station he goes to, which by the way, was NOT on this list.
As a reminder of the normative service level, when two of the three regular employees went on vacation, it took one of the employees, who called in, to tell them that they need to send another person. At that time, the line was completely surrounding the perimeter of the post office, which grew longer due to E-Bay sellers who brought boxes of items that each needed to be weighted and stamped. Well, they sent one substitute. In the past the substitutes have included a really nasty younger woman who could have easily been the poster woman for “I just got out of prison for mass murder” but fortunately they sent someone less angry and pissed off. They sent the “I’m not really here to serve you” lady.
You know the archetype. I brought in a small padded envelope. She wanted to charge me for either parcel or priority. Fortunately the regular employees at this station always bring up all options and point out the least costly. It is because of this that I had started to use the USPS to ship almost everything. Apparently that was not the way this lady worked. She told me it would be $4.90 to ship it priority, “do I want delivery confirmation?” I said, “I’d like it to ship First Class.” (It was under 16 oz). She looked at me like I was smoking old postage stamps. Fortunately the regular guy there leaned over, and told her to hit a different sequence of keys to bring up the other options. Como es magico. Like magic, I sent the item for $1.90.
Lately the USPS has taken to sending their parcel delivery trucks out to deliver in our neighborhood. In the past, they delivered mostly large, very heavy packages. Recently they’ve shown up delivering small boxes the size of what would have fit a VCR tape. Call me overly analytical, but wouldn’t the cost per delivery package of something that small and light end up a lot higher than the actual postage paid? Are the business analysts looking at service functions and earnings per function, versus just trying to close stations to save on overhead?
From the consumer side, since the 2011 Montrose station opened up, I’ve sent more packages via USPS versus UPS, due to the USPS being more economical and the location of this station is, albeit a long walk, still walkable. What will I do if this station closes? Since I don’t have a car, taking one or two busses while carrying a bunch of boxes really isn’t all that appealing, plus the lost time, so I will be shipping UPS. I am sure many others will do so as well. By making access less convenient and less accessible (time and location), why would anyone want to give them more business?