Post Office

Would You Trust the Post Office to Deliver You a Carton of Eggs?

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"It was like that when we got it."
Credit: macattck / photo on flickr

The latest desperate maneuver from our deficit-ridden United States Postal Service (almost $2 billion in losses last quarter) as it looks for a way to survive in a world that needs them less and less every day is to try to push their way into Amazon Fresh-style grocery deliveries.

The Postal Service has sent in a proposal asking for permission to start testing grocery delivery services to homes. From The Washington Post:

Under the plan, USPS would work with retail partners to deliver "groceries and other prepackaged goods" to homes between 3 a.m. and 7 a.m. at locations designated by consumers. Participating grocery stores would have to drop off their orders at post offices between 1:30 a.m. and 2:30 a.m.

To be fair to the post office, they actually do already assist Amazon in their grocery deliveries in the San Francisco area. But if you believe that one of the roles of government is to provide valuable services that the private sector cannot manage for itself, you'd be hard-pressed to explain why we need their help. Instead it looks like they're attempting to participate in a marketplace that is competitive and growing and doesn't require a government participant. Google entered the same-day delivery market last year in a couple of major cities.

In the postal service's proposal, they even note that they're stepping into an existing market: "Grocery deliveries are expanding across the nation, with several different types of companies beginning to offer this service in recent months." That means the post office needs to stay far, far away from it. The involvement of the USPS may generate some revenue for them (and I'm betting a round of new hires) but it also puts a government agency into play for services that the private market is showing more and more it is able to handle on its own.

And in a totally unrelated story, a postal service employee was charged today with hoarding or refusing to deliver more than 40,000 pieces of mail in Brooklyn.

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  1. Yes, your Alt Text is spot on, Mister Shackford.

    +1

    Also, as regards responding to the title, “No, thanks.”

    1. I would. If I liked my eggs scrambled and rotten.

      1. “Scrambled and rotten”, LIKE POLITICIANS, AMIRITE??

  2. If it wasn’t for the post office, how would people who live in rural areas get their groceries?

    See! Capitalists can’t think of everything.

    To be fair to the post office, they actually do already assist Amazon in their grocery deliveries in the San Francisco area.

    I’ve bought some motorcycle parts that were transported across country by private carriers, handed off to the post office, and then delivered by the post office. Whenever that happens, I always make a not to never use that seller again.

    That often happens with sellers that don’t offer an upgraded delivery method. If someone ever gave me postal delivery–and had the gall to charge me for it? I’d send it back and demand a refund on principle.

    1. Also – dial up internet, cause….RURAL!

      1. I’m sure people who live rural hate junk mail as much as the rest of us, too.

        The only thing I get in the snail mail these days is a subscription, and I’d be willing to pay them extra to have UPS or FedEx deliver it–just so I didn’t have to clean out the trash can mail box once a week (which is about as often as I check it).

        Riding down some lonely backwoods roads in Utah and Northern Nevada, over the summer, by the way, sometimes the only other vehicles I’d see for an hour or more would be UPS and FedEx delivery vehicles.

        That used to be the argument, that if it wasn’t for the post office, rural America would completely cut off. I’m not buyin’ it. …not when there are so many other options these days.

  3. Participating grocery stores would have to drop off their orders at post offices between 1:30 a.m. and 2:30 a.m.

    Gotta make sure everyone knows who works for whom in this arrangement.

    1. In this proposal, USPS sets the terms for everyone else to abide by, or else. Somebody has gotten a little too used to operating under a government-enforced monopoly.

  4. But if you believe that one of the roles of government is to provide valuable services that the private sector cannot manage for itself

    Which is, you know, none — no such services exist.

    Unless you consider “acting as a monopolistic criminal gang with good PR exploiting and coercing you, allegedly less than their competitors elsewhere” as a “valuable service that the private sector cannot manage for itself”.

    1. I like to imagine a Japanese Postal Service with a similar failure. Instead of disgruntled postal workers shooting their co-workers. One day the Office Shogun gathers his workers and leads a mass seupuku as penance for their shameful performance.

      Sometimes my mind wanders.

  5. Alt Caption:

    “No use crying over spilled milk…”

    1. “The USPS is just a shell of its former self.”

      1. If you want to make an omelet…

  6. I no longer get mail on Thursdays. Also, occasionally our postman will deliver the entire block’s mail shifted one address to the right, so I get my neighbors mail, the next neighbor gets my mail, etc. Seems often enough to be intentional. Nonetheless, these people are not going to deliver my food.

    1. See, I would try this if I was in your situation, because I live next to some foodies with expensive taste. They can have my store-brand bacon, I’ll take their truffle oil and gouda. Unfortunately, my mailman is very good about getting the junk mail to the right house.

  7. *commences work on proposal to provide ten million bicycles with baskets on the handlebars to USPS at $622,962.03 each”

  8. “To be fair to the post office, they actually do already assist Amazon in their grocery deliveries in the San Francisco area.”

    There’s nothing quite like watching tracking your package, seeing it was delivered to the post office, and then it disappear into “in process” purgatory.

    I’ve ordered stuff through Amazon direct from the factory in China, had to wait for it to clear customs–and it still beat the ol’ private carrier to post office hand off system, just coming from across the country.

    It’s usually offered (without explanation) as a free delivery method. Even though it’s free, it isn’t worth the price you pay for it.

    1. Incidentally, you know those little, fit in the palm of your hand, backpacking stoves they sell at REI for $100?

      You can order them from the factory in China via Amazon and get ’em for less than six bucks now.

      I got mine for less than $2 with free shipping! The kind of shipping that doesn’t come by way of the post office.

      1. pocket rocket? butane stove?

        those were actually more like $10-15. but still, your point.

        Those things (if you’ve used them) are notoriously ‘breaktastic’

        or did you mean the self standing, multi-fuel kind?

        http://www.rei.com/product/830…..king-stove

        1. Yeah, that’s right!

          They actually sell a model that’s cheaper than that…

          http://www.rei.com/product/830…..king-stove

          This one is $7 with free shipping from China.

          http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer…..dition=new

          The one I bought, which uses the compact fuel canisters, is actually $15 right now–but when I bough it, it was less than one dollar and change with free shipping.

          It got here in about a week.

          1. The freestanding, multi-fuel burners are actually much better, and hence more expensive. Those pocket-rocket jobbies are basically single-trip items, and are most popular with the extremes of ‘me and the family are going on ‘just this one trip’…. and the ‘dude i’m doing a straight, no stops ascent of X mountain and we need emergency water melting option’

            i mean, they’re ok, but if i were doing a multi-day trip i’d actually go for the more hearty, freestanding #. Just more functional, robust, less tippy.

            As far as good camping stuff – yes, REI is generally 30% more pricy. This allows them to offer 20% discounts to ‘members’ without having to undercut Campmor et al. I don’t even remember who I used to buy stuff from on discount… I think it was “Sierra Trading Post”. I bought like $1000 worth of stuff there one year, and then comparison-priced it and it would have been 2.5X as much at REI. And I was an REI *employee*

            *to be fair = employees got 50% off. Which made a real difference with things like Skis, Bikes, etc.

            1. What do mean more functional?

              They sit on the top of the fuel canister, and the fuel canister is as study as anything.

              You mean they’re self-igniting? I’d rather have something smaller and bring matches (I always bring safety matches, anyway).

              I boiled spring water out in the back country with my little one over the summer. We didn’t see anybody but one Ranger for days.

              And in terms of robust, I think it’s just branding. There aren’t that many different designs. It’s just branding.

              It’s amazing how bifurcated that market is, for camping stuff. It’s like the people who shop at REI have never even heard of Bass Pro Shops, and the people who shop at Cabela’s have never even heard of REI.

        2. Here’s one for $5.62 with free shipping…

          http://www.amazon.com/Ultralig…..pack+stove

          It’s inferior because it’s tall. Takes up too much room in your backpack.

          That one at REI is the worst of all. It’s tall, it uses a big fuel cylinder…

          I swear, sometimes you can get better quality camping gear at Wal*Mart.

          REI does do some things really well–if you’re into rock climbing, for instance.

  9. How long before the President cancels your grocery order because his wife said it had unhealthy items and you have children in the house and they might eat that unhealthy item and get an ass as big as hers?

    1. I think they’d start by tracking it, and if you aren’t feeding your children, properly, why shouldn’t the government know?

      Just kidding, of course, but it might make for an interesting EBT reform to require that stuff to be redeemed at an Amazon store.

      I’m sick of walking into glorified liquor stores with gas pumps with a sign on the front door that says, “We accept EBT”. Let ’em use EBT exclusively on something like the Amazon marketplace.

      They can order milk, formula, bread, dried beans, cheese, spinach, and maybe chicken thighs.

  10. To be fair to the post office

    Why on earth would you want to do that, Scott?

    1. I always try to be fair, so let’s give the USPS a fair trial. If any post office is found to be heavier than a duck, we burn it.

  11. Public Option!!!!!

  12. I honestly have no problem with the USPS service. They’ve always done fine by me. But at this point they have become so obsolete that it is just stupid to keep propping it up (it has always been stupid, but at least it used to offer a useful service that people used). Just end the mail monopoly, let them set postal rates without Congress’s permission and make the whole thing go private and sink or swim.

    1. ^^^ This

      Spin the post office off as a private entity. Hell, FedGov could almost certainly get a fair amount of money for the treasury by offering USPS for sale.

      1. Wouldn’t they essentially just be auctioning off the monopoly on first-class mail?

  13. Between Peapod and Amazon Prime, we’ve reduced our grocery store visits by 80%. And with Amazon, we can even subscribe to stuff so I don’t have to realize at 4am that goddamit I forgot to order coffee.

  14. Oh Jesus, just stop. Just… stop. I can’t get the USPS to deliver my mail to my house I wouldn’t trust them with anything perishable.

    I get the wrong mail delivered to my house at least once a week, and periodically, a soaked, damaged piece of mail gets delivered properly, with hand-written scrawl all over it saying, “wrong address”. So god knows where my mail gets delivered.

    Just… stop.

  15. Oh, yeah, yeah, don’t get me fucking started on their utterly retarded ‘tracking system’– which has become solid comedy material between me and my friends.

    “Tracking system”. Yeah…

    EVENT 1. THE USPS HAS BEEN MADE AWARE THAT A PACKAGE MAY OR MAY NOT EXIST FOR YOU.

    *two weeks later*

    EVENT 2. DELIVERED.

  16. Ha! Fun fact, I just started typing USPS TRACK… into google, and the auto fill completed with ‘USPS TRACKING USELESS’.

    Then a string of articles about the douche-canoe tracking system, problems so horrible, even I didn’t know they exist. The USPS often issues DUPLICATE tracking numbers to multiple packages to different people around the country… because they recycle the tracking number!

    Forum post:

    Why they hell are my tax dollars going to support this “process”? Has anybody in the history of time ever actually had anything show up on their website before it was delivered? If you are going to claim package tracking, then allow me to track my fucking package. I live alone, I don’t sit waiting by the mailbox, I am at work. If I have something really important coming, I need to figure out when so I can slip out of work to get it.

    Their commercial brag on package packing, but they don’t use. I feel like Seinfeld at the car rental counter. I don’t think they understand the tracking number. Anybody can give a tracking number, the key to the whole thing is to actually track the package.

    The one thing USPS can’t seem to do is… deliver the fucking mail.

  17. “a postal service employee was charged today with hoarding or refusing to deliver more than 40,000 pieces of mail in Brooklyn.”

    NOW I KNOW WHY ALL THOSE VICTORIAS SECRET CATALOGS NEVER ARRIVED!

    Also, those x-ray glasses, my sea monkeys, and that thing from High Times that lets me grow weed in my closet! GGRRRRR!!

    1. Hydroponics. It’s the future.

  18. We tried Peapod but they kept leaving items out and substituting crap products for good ones. We’d have to take a trip to the store anyway to get the things they left out. So to us it was pretty damned worthless.

  19. The involvement of the USPS may generate some revenue for them (and I’m betting a round of new hires) but it also puts a government agency into play for services that the private market is showing more and more it is able to handle on its own.

    Right up until USPS convinces Congress to grant them another monopoly because only your government can be trusted with your precious food.

  20. Its of no use crying over split milk.

    Scriptreplica

  21. It seems to me that I would not trust the delivery of my products by regular mail, because I had a bad experience with delivering even those products that were difficult to spoil, but they did it. So now I have a problem with trust in delivery services, if I didn’t like their service once, I’ll never use it again. But Amazon proved to be quite effective in deliveries and if I have problems, I can check the package through https://pkge.net/couriers/amazon-logistics. Trust, but verify.

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