Working for the Post Office

USPS this one is for free. All I ask is that someone from there posts a comment here saying it was a good idea.

I have a new system for you that will increase your good will from your residential customers by a ton. It will also show that you really care about people and not bulk mailing companies.

First thing is that every piece of mail now gets a 10 digit Alpha-Numeric number added to it on the front or back. Talking with Lamar we are unsure of how many pieces of mail that go through the system per year, but 10 digits at 35 possibles (leaving O out to avoid confusion with zero) results in a possible 2,758,547,353,515,62. That is quite a bit and since my plan would only really need the number to be unique for a while, it should be plenty.

The next step is that every piece of mail that comes in not only gets the “To” address scanned, but also gets the “Return Address” scanned. These numbers are placed in a database along with the unique number and stored.

Now residents at an address go to the site and request an account for their address. The USPS can come up with a system to authenticate that they really live at that site. It should probably involve sending a piece of mail to their address that they then have to return with a code or enter the code onto a website. Just something to prove that they really live at an address and to tie their account to that address.

What then happens is that whenever I get a piece of mail that I do not want to receive anymore, I just go to the USPS site and login to my account. I then enter the 10 digit number and tell the that I want to blacklist that “From” address.

Next time something hits the system that matches my address and the “Return Address” the system just marks “Return to Sender” on it and dumps it back out for delivery to the sender. This will save the USPS time sorting, collecting and delivering the various pieces of and save me from having to get it. Hopefully, companies would start to catch on and remove people's names from their lists. If you actually decided that you needed mail from an address you could always go back to the site and unblacklist it.

Something else that it would allow is for people to go to the site and list people that actually live at their residence. I continue to get mail for my great uncle that has been dead for around ten years. I also get a lot of junk mail that doesn't even have my name on it. That seems to be the latest trend in bulk mailing people. You could even do mail redirects and such with it, so that if a member of your household moves you could immediately change their address to the new one.

The big downside for the USPS is the initial cost of the computers to run the system, but the big one is that the USPS makes most of their money off of bulk mailers. That would probably drop off if people really started using this system. The only other thing that I could think of would be that if someone you blocked them moved and the new person at that address mailed you, it would still be blocked.

I definitely think it is an idea that could be done and would be great for people that receive lots of junk. Until it gets done though, I guess I will just go back to taping their “Postage paid” envelopes to bricks and putting them back in the mail box. They tend to take your name off of their list then, since that costs them a lot of money. 🙂

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10 Responses to Working for the Post Office

  1. maxx says:

    Fantastic idea! I love it… which means USPS will never implement it. In addition to the money they make off of bulk mailers, they’re also an incompetent lot who would get eten for lunch by UPS and Fedex if the government subsidies were stripped away. Privatize the PO, and I guarantee this system would go into effect tomorrow – especially if people were willing to pay a nominal fee for this option. I’d pay at least $5/month to not have to get junk.

    I think the other issue is that the more mail goes through the system, the more money USPS can leech off of the taxpayers. Statistically they’ll need more equipment, manpower, etc if more mail is going through the system – your idea will keep them from getting that statistic which may result in layoffs.

    The brick idea is a good one, but doesn’t address the bulk of junk mail most people get – usually the catalogs and coupons for stuff I’ll never buy and could care less about, or the mortgage refinance offers.

  2. pauline says:

    I just wonder if you could get into legal trouble with these big companies if you did start sending them their junk back… I have often thought about sending them their stuff back, but have never done it because I have wondered if that would cause me more trouble then just throwing it away. I also would like to see this junk reduced just because of the amount of paper that is probably just sent to the landfill. What a nation of waste… It also makes you wonder about the quality of the service that these bulk mailers are providing. I mean, if you needed their services, wouldn’t you be calling them up?

  3. Bryan Cambra says:

    It will never happen because so much money is made not directly from junk mail but from the brand recognition that it creates. you aren’t necessarily going to buy something from junk mail, while in some cases people do, but seeing that same adverisement in the mail every week subconsciously creates a connection and the next time you need a similar product you will think of that piece of junk mail you got. If it didn’t work then companies wouldn’t do it.

  4. Brent says:

    But that money is made by the companies, not by the USPS. Now I won’t argue that the USPS makes most of their money off of Bulk mailings because that is what a lot of the mail is during the year, but they don’t make money directly from the product sale.

    So saying that the USPS will never stop it because the mailings create brand recognition doesn’t make sense since no one connects bulk mailings to the USPS.

  5. Bryan Cambra says:

    It’s a symbiotic relationship home boy. The compnies make money off of the mailings and in turn the usps makes money off of them mailing the mailings and are able to justify their continued exsistence. The usps doesnt care if you like getting junk mail or not because you don’t pay their bills or their pensions (except may I add through taxes of course) and thats why they won’t stopsending junk mail. Why would they implement your system when all it would do is increase spending and reduce revenues?

  6. maxx says:

    This USENIX article has more on junk mail and the USPS, and I think you’ll find proof here of why your idea will (sadly) never be adopted.

  7. daz says:

    why do you all blame usps for getting junk mail? usps is just the carrier, there obliged to deliver if someones paid for there service! just bin the junk mail and stop whinging.

  8. post says:

    the post office has been self sufficient for many years meaning tax dollars do not fund the post office.

  9. maxx says:

    Daz… by your logic, Fedex should deliver anthrax or a bomb without checking it out first because someone paid for it and they have an obligation to deliver? USPS has *two* customers – the sender and the recipient. They have an obligation to both, and should provide a simple mechanism for recipients to request that certain senders be blocked.

    Post… I’m afraid thats incorrect, and believing the USPS rhetoric from their website about being fully funded through postage is a load of crap. This story has more details, but I believe that the specific line in question is this one:
    “…according to the 1970 Postal Reorganization Act is supposed to pay for all its costs through postage it collects. The agency is allowed to borrow up to $15 billion from the U.S. Treasury; it already owes the Treasury $11 billion.”

    I’m going to go ahead and make a wild guess here – if you owe $11 Billion o the US Govt, you owe $11 Billion to taxpayers. Thats money that should be earning interest, BTW.

  10. jeff says:

    Forget the brick; what’s even more fun, and easier, if ultimately less expensive for the receipiant, is to send back different junk mail. Sure, it costs less, and I understand that’s most of the enjoyment for you, but try sending Capital One an offer to have their vinyl siding replaced, and tell me if it doesn’t bring a smile to your face!

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