The U.S. Postal Service Finally Joins The Twenty-First Century

The struggles of the United States Post Office are well, well documented. Essentially, the USPS has to fight Congress with knives to get anything done. But they have a new business plan, and this might actually be fairly effective.

The plan is simple: Cut down on lines at the post office by bringing the surly post official to you. Here’s the plan, according to the unfortunately named Postal News:

The new technology — Mobile Point of Sale, or mPOS — uses a modified iPod hand-held device and printers. With mPOS, lobby assistants can scan and accept prepaid packages, scan package pickups as delivered, or sell stamps, ReadyPost and other retail products. Retail associates also can use mPOS to sell Priority Mail flat-rate postage.

In other words, instead of waiting for hours to send a five-ounce package, you can just flag down a dude in the lobby, tell him what you need, and pay for it right there. Long term, the idea could be broadened out to include any postal official; you could stop your postman in the street and ask him for some stamps, and he could print them out right there.

For now, they’re just trying to reduce the lines in the post office, and to be honest, it’s an innovative idea that deserves more play. Especially since most of us are paying with credit cards in the first place, it would let those of us who are not elderly people shipping what appears to be a sleeping but soon to be hostile wolverine to Sheboygan to just buy our damn stamps and leave.

On the other hand, it also seems like the post office can never get its good ideas off the ground. For example, this same problem could have been solved years ago with one of their useful, brisk kiosks in every office… but they don’t have the cash to make that happen. So we’ll see if this program gets as far as it should.

(Image courtesy of odolphie on Flickr)