Dear postal service: Don't tax e-mail, improve service

There have been several reports about the U.S. Postal Service seeking a fee of 6 cents on each e-mail letter transmitted. Happily, Congress has shown no interest in such a proposal.

The USPS reasoning it that since it has sole right to use mailboxes, those on the Internet should pay for using electronic mailboxes. That and the fact that the nation is rapidly switching to e-mail over snail mail.

Although only about 40 percent of American homes are e-mail capable, it takes no visionary to see that the percentage is going to rise and dramatically so now that computer makers are offering systems practically free if the user signs up for CompuServe or another server.

Instead of fighting inevitability, the USPS might want to look at the area of customer service. Instead of promoting special stamps how about promoting more clerks so that customers wouldn't have to wait in long lines?

Case in point is the "express" Post Office at Kmart. One would think that such a site would be ready to serve customers with reasonable alacrity. Such is clearly not the case. Anyone using the facility knows that a sole clerk struggles to provide service, but the load is too much.

In private business, if customers are being hindered by lack of service, the company moves to make the transaction faster. Not at the Kmart facility (although I must say that my former post office in Stateline rarely had such long lines).

But the post office poobahs apparently are more interested in taxing technical innovation that providing service. It's much as if buggy whip makers had asked for a fee for each car produced by Henry Ford.

The USPS is going to be around. While the private delivery systems have replaced the USPS in many areas, such things ase legal letters, smaller packages and the like will probably remain the province of the USPS.

But surely third class mail will shrink as direct mail operators move onto the Web. And surely first-class use will decline as the country becomes wired.

So why not concentrate on customer service instead of trying to tax technological advances? Oh, well, the folks at USPS probably don't bother to read anything that they don't get in the mail anyway.


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