New postal rules make no sense

Published 3:47 pm Saturday, July 28, 2007

By Staff
Sometimes an idea may look great on paper, but when it’s implemented it makes little sense.
A new postal rule that goes into effect Monday is a perfect example.
On the surface, its designed to prevent somebody from sending a bomb or other harmful substance through the mail. Nobody will argue that is a good goal. Everybody wants to have a system that keeps us safe.
We question if the new rule will really do that.
Since the 1990s there has been a rule in place that said you couldn’t mail a package that weighed more than 16 ounces if you used stamps unless you took it to a Post Office and handed it to a clerk. The new rule modifies that to bring the size down to 13 ounces. The Post Office is also getting tough on people who mail a package from home but don’t take the time to put their return address on it.
The weight rule alone flies in the face of rational thinking. If you could make a 16-ounce bomb, who is to say you couldn’t make a 12-ounce one? It might be slightly less powerful, but a bomb is still a bomb. Some local postal officials, speaking off the record, question the logic too. No U.S. aircraft has ever been brought down by a terrorist bomb hidden in U.S. mail. It simply hasn’t happened, and it hasn’t happened without the benefit of these new rules that are going into effect.
The Postal Service is quick to say there are options to make it easier on customers. You can still mail a larger package from home, you just have to go on-line and use the Postal Service’s computer program and print the postage label out yourself.
On the surface, that’s great. The problem is what if you are among the millions of Americans who don’t have a computer or on-line access? Picture a grandmother in rural Hyde County who wants to send a Christmas present. She had enough stamps to cover the cost of sending it, but instead she’s got to get in the car, drive to Swan Quarter (during regular post office hours) and hand it to a clerk.
The logic of printing a postage label, either on-line at home or from a leased postal machine, will give the Postal Service a way to find out where the package originated. Or at least that’s the logic the postal system is using. But let’s think about that for a second. If you are so intent on sending a bomb through the postal system wouldn’t you be able to find a way around having your name associated with it? Computer hacking is so prevalent wouldn’t you think somebody who is so focused on harming someone might be smart enough to get a postal-meter stamp through other means so it couldn’t be traced?
Now let’s touch on the home delivery issue. Until now if your friendly neighborhood postal worker came by your house and you left the flag on the mailbox up and a package inside, they would pick it up and take it back for processing.
No longer. If it’s too large and has stamps on it, they will refuse to take it, but will leave you a sticker saying you must take it yourself to the Post Office. Even if it does have stamps, but doesn’t have a return address on it, they will also refuse to accept it. It matters not that you’ve been a customer on their route for 40 years. The Postal Service is clamping down.
The customer will be asked to take the parcel to the nearest post office and give it to somebody at the counter. At that point, even if it has enough postage stamps affixed, it will also get a label that shows the date, time and location it entered the postal system.
Sounds like the change is a veiled attempt to drive customers to the post office where they offer to sell you everything from coffee cups to tote bags.