“Most pleasant people in the world” helps ease the mind of worried customer

Waite Park, MN, Network Specialist Kris Roback and Business Mail Entry Techs Cindy Turner and Gary Granning

Waite Park, MN, Network Specialist Kris Robak and Business Mail Entry Unit Techs Cindy Turner and Gary Granning.

On a Friday afternoon, a Waite Park, MN, customer realized she had lost a legal-sized envelope full of checks that were meant to be deposited at the bank. Understandably a bit panicked, she assumed she had mistakenly dropped them in the mail.

“I rushed back to your location and was helped (and reassured) by three of the most pleasant people in the world,” she later wrote in a thank-you note. Although the trio – later identified as Network Specialist Kris Robak and Business Mail Entry Unit Techs Cindy Turner and Gary Granning – were unable to find the envelope, “they never indicated an ounce of irritation or inconvenience to me.”

The customer also provided vivid descriptions of her three heroes in her effort to ensure they received proper credit:

Cindy Turner: “Lady — Cute short haircut, large beautiful eyes, super pretty face, ready laugh… main floor.”

Gary Granning: “Guy — Main floor, great salt and pepper hair, trendy spectacles, relative who is a mail carrier.”

Kris Robak “2nd Guy – Tall, dark and handsome, helpful and reassuring, gallant.”

“These three definitely made a positive impression on her,” said acting Plant Manger Marty Brumbaugh. “I shared this with all three of them. It was priceless.”

The story has a happy ending, as well. As a last resort, the customer’s husband removed the seat in her vehicle and, to their relief, the envelope was there. It had slipped down between the seat and the console awaiting discovery.

Honest Carrier Save One Citizen Some Dough

Council Bluffs, IA, City Carrier Dan Lyons.

Council Bluffs, IA, City Carrier Dan Lyons.

When a Council Bluffs, IA, employee recently found a bank envelope stuffed with cash, there was only thought that came to mind – call his Postmaster to ask how to proceed.

On a sunny Saturday afternoon, City Carrier Dan Lyons was walking along his route when he happened across an envelope lying on the ground. Curiously, he retrieved the envelope and discovered $1,100 in cash and a bank receipt inside. Lyons promptly contacted Customer Service Supervisor Traci Higginbotham and asked her what he should do with the envelope. Higginbotham responded by telling Lyons to bring it to the office so she could take it to the bank.

The receipt tucked inside the envelope amidst the wad of bills contained the address of the bank it originated from, allowing Higginbotham to return it to that specific location. Thanks to Lyon’s efforts and honesty, the bank was able to quickly reunite the cash that went astray with its rightful owner.

“I was very proud of Dan’s honesty and integrity,” said Higginbotham. “These are the kinds of things that the public should think about when they think of the Postal Service.”

A New Way to Avoid High Banking Fees

Avoid high banking fees

Bank fees are nothing new, but increasing amounts and more of them seem to rise with each passing year. While there are still some free banking options available in the financial wilderness, locating them is becoming more of a challenge. As the number of free banking options dwindles, is it time to consider reintroducing financial services to one partucular government entity?

Currently, the Post Office offers low-cost money order services. At one point in time, the postal organization offered savings accounts that were a convenient service to its customers. Several posts throughout the world currently offer financial services such as checking accounts and consumer loans, and many more are looking at the possibility of offering similar services in the future. The precedent has been set for the Post Office to expand into other financial services, and consumer demand for low and no cost alternatives is continuing to grow.

Bank fees of $9 per month or more are not uncommon. But while there may be options for customers to avoid at least some of these fees, such as maintaining higher average account balances and adding direct deposit of income from an employer, some are not able to take advantage of them. When banking fees become prohibitive to maintaining an account, individuals turn to check cashing centers and similar entities to service their needs.

Rather than spend their hard earned money on unaffordable financial fees, individuals could turn to a Post Office Bank to maintain no or low cost basic checking accounts, low interest loans, and a reasonable interest rate for savings. Such an option would ensure that unaffordable banking fees are avoided and that individuals who need access to basic financial services have the ability to receive them.

What obstacles do you think would prevent a Post Office banking system from becoming a reality in the United States?

Postal Network Still Relevant in Modern World

World Post Day 2

This past Wednesday, World Post Day was celebrated around the world. As part of his message during the annual celebration, Universal Postal Union Director Bishar Hussein stressed the relevance of the postal network in the modern world.

“Posts remain important facilitators of national and international trade in this constantly evolving world,” said Hussein. “The postal network, with more than 600,000 post offices, remains the largest physical network on the planet and a fundamental infrastructure for large segments of the economy.”

He also stressed the importance of the online shopping revolution in the evolution of the postal network.

“As ecommerce grows, postal services are positioning themselves as the delivery service of choice for goods ordered online,” said Hussein.

Hussein also advocated the expansion of financial services at post offices, stating that offering such services in locations where traditional banking may not be widely available would help ensure access to the system by all who need it.

More Pain Than Gain for Digital Statements

More pain than gain

There are some who might say digital versions of financial, utility, and other monthly statements are superior to mailed versions. Digital statements are accessible on any computer, printable on demand, and securely stored on a company website. While these might be perceived as valuable benefits, their value against the mailed version is no contest.

Accessing a statement from a company website involves recalling a password, sifting through various menu options, and downloading it onto a personal computer. Retrieving that same statement in the mail involves pulling an envelope out of a box and opening it.

Keeping a copy of a mailed document requires dropping it in a filing cabinet or other storage area. Retaining a copy from a digital source requires printing out a copy before storage.

Storing mailed documents in a filing cabinet can be retained for as long as an individual likes. A company website doesn’t keep statements available indefinitely, and will often purge older documents after a certain length of time.

With the many positive benefits mailed statements have over digital versions, the advantages speak for themselves.

Swiss Post to Spin Off Bank

Swiss Post to Spin Off Bank

PostFinance, the banking arm of Swiss Post, may soon be spinning off from its parent company in the summer of 2013. However, independence from the Post won’t place it on the same playing field with other banks in the industry, as certain restrictions still apply.

When PostFinance begins life as its own separate entity, Swiss Post will still, technically, own it. The Post will own all shares of the financial institution when it ventures out on its own. This places ownership of the bank squarely in the hands of the Swiss government, as they own the Post Office.

As a state owned entity, PostFinance will continue to be subject to restrictions that prevent it from engaging in certain competitive activities that could take business away from existing banks. This limitation is welcome news to competing banks, but that insulation may not last indefinitely.

Currently, PostFinance is prohibited from issuing loans. Considered a major revenue source for other banks, the postal bank must direct customers seeking loans to other financial institutions. This lucrative business has seen an uptick in demand as the country recovers from the recent financial crisis. When PostFinance shares eventually transfer into the hands of the public, the rules that limit its growth as a state-owned organization have the potential of being removed. If that were to happen, an unshackled PostFinance could prove a worthy competitor in the business and mortgage loan market.

Do you think a postal entity should be able to compete with private businesses in traditionally non-postal related markets?

Like Money in the Bank

It builds up slowly over time, but the end result is stock pile of hours that’s as good as gold when we’re sick or injured.

Sick leave is a benefit that comes free with just being a part of the Postal Service. It builds up passively, without ever having to worry about how much to allocate to it from a scarce pool of resources. Accumulation doesn’t take away from present enjoyment of other earned benefits such as pay or annual leave. It’s a stealth pool of available assets, just like a secret savings account, hidden out of side in case of a rainy day.

When that rainy day happens, the bank of sick leave is there waiting for you, acting as a cushion to soften the blow of a difficult time. It’s hard to know exactly when or where such difficult times can happen, but having that safety net to protect income gives the added benefit of peace of mind. Knowing that a stream of income is waiting just in case something happens is a benefit in itself.

Having a pool of readily available sick leave handy is one of the best ways to maintain a steady stream of income, no matter what happens in the future. Keep building that pool today for a more secure tomorrow.

How has saving sick leave helped you during a difficult time when you needed it the most?

Going Public

In the corporate world, one of the best ways to raise capital needed for the expansion of operations is by completing an Initial Public Offering. Through an IPO, corporations sell chunks of their ownership to the public. The public gets the opportunity to enjoy a stock price increase if the company is successful and the company itself gains the money to promote its growth. The process is lucrative enough for China Post Group to consider it for two of their subsidiaries.

China Postal Express & Logistics Co has already filed a prospectus (financial status report for potential investors) for an IPO sometime this year. The company, responsible for domestic and international package services, hopes to raise $1.6 billion from the process to fund the purchase of additional trucks, airplanes, distribution centers and personnel. The infusion of cash is intended to improve both operations and management of the company and make it more competitive in a market packed with rivals.

On a similar IPO path is the Postal Savings Bank of China. Their primary goal is to service the financial needs of individuals and small businesses. The additional capital will allow them to expand their operations and service more loans.

Is an IPO something the USPS should consider for some its business segments?

Banking on Growth

Japan Post is banking on its customers for its future growth. Literally.

Japan Post Bank Co, LTD is a wholly owned subsidiary of Japan Post Holdings, LTD. It began operations as a bank on Sep. 1, 2006 and offers more than just standard savings accounts. Japan Post Bank provides a variety of banking services including housing loans, card loans, credit cards and retirement planning. They also offer investment products designed for low cost, long-term holding, encouraging people to save for their future.

Is the banking industry worth getting into with so much competition already out there? Let’s delve into the numbers and find out.

After tax net income for Japan Post Bank for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2012 was 334,850 million yen. That’s the equivalent of $4.181 billion in U.S. dollars. That’s quite a hefty sum after being in operation for less than six years.

Dr. Sheldon Garon, professor of History and East Asian Studies atPrincetonUniversity, stated that such additional services could increase revenue during a time when the Postal Service is facing declining mail volume. Such “creative” ideas could be a way for the organization to experience greater revenues.

Japan Post banked on their customer loyalty to gain market share in the financial services industry, and that gamble paid off. Do you think USPS would have similar success if it did the same?

  • Hello, I'm Benny the Blogger: I'm the world's most famous postal employee. My hobbies are snappy quotes, kite flying and publishing. I was born Jan. 17, 1706, but don't call me old.

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