My daughter who lives in Brooklyn paid a visit a few weeks back. We had a great time, but when she packed, she forgot her brand new $90 electric toothbrush. That’s what led me to discover a stunningly dumb aspect of the sales process of our friends at the US Post Office.
By the way, the USPS operated at a $16 Billion loss over the past year. Something tells me they might have a few more dopey practices in force. But I digress… I bubble wrapped the toothbrush, put it in a large envelop and took it to the post office. I was delighted to be able to use the self-service machine since the line, served by a single clerk – a single surly clerk, was 14 people deep.
I pressed all the buttons, answered all the questions, accepted the weight and fee calculated by the machine and went on my merry way in less than 3 minutes. Annoying toothbrush errand complete! Well, not exactly… Today – six days later – the envelope shows up in my mailbox with 56 cents postage due.
Brilliant, right? It jacks up their revenue by 30%!
Who wouldn’t jump all over an opportunity to make the value of a transaction 30% higher? You can hear the proud sales rep, “Do the math, boss. $2.17 is 30% more than the original $1.87!”
So let’s look a wee bit closer at what happened. An organization that just lost $16 Billion re-weighed my envelope, kicked it off to someone who rubber-stamped “Postage due:” and hand-wrote “56 cents” on it, then shipped it back to me. That involved some amount of sorting and carrying and loading and driving and delivering cost.
Next I took it back to the post office. (“Only” 8 people in line this time, served by 2 non-surly clerks.) I timed how long it took to handle my issue. Just a tad over 4 minutes to weigh the envelope yet again, recalculate the 56 cents due – again, print and stick an additional stamp on the envelope, rubber stamp something else on it, put a bar code sticker on it and process my American Express card payment. (I just HAD to use my AmEx card with it’s at least 8 cent processing fee charged to USPS for the additional 56 cents revenue to add to the ridiculousness of the whole shebang.)
OK, picking on the Post Office is way too easy. That said, I guarantee you have equally stupid, painfully costly practices firmly embedded in your sales process. Hunt ’em down. Fix ’em. Otherwise I’ll write another blog post making fun of you.
PS to Jill: Now you know why your toothbrush isn’t there yet.