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Post office apologizes for not meeting request


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POSTED: Thursday, May 21, 2009

Question: I recently went to the post office at Tripler Medical Center to mail my federal and state income tax returns. I wanted the envelopes hand-canceled, but the mail lady said that she would not do it, she would put it in a box and it would be the same thing as being hand-canceled. Can you clarify that?

Answer: Unless she hand-canceled it later, the envelopes probably went through an automated canceling machine.

"We apologize to the customer," said Lynne Moore, manager of consumer affairs for the U.S. Postal Service in Hawaii.

Postal clerks are there to handle retail transactions, but they still can hand-cancel envelopes, she said.

Ordinarily, it's more efficient for customers to just drop off their mail, especially if they have multiple items, and to have them go through automated canceling machines, Moore explained.

But, during certain situations such as tax time, "we could be more accommodating," she said.

"I apologize for not meeting the needs of the customer in terms of (giving you) peace of mind. It's not that the clerk couldn't have done it. ... We just need to recognize the needs of the customers."

Q: I often process Priority Mail via "Click-N-Ship" on the Postal Service's Web site. Whenever I drop off parcels at the Kapalama Post Office, I have to stand in a line. Why doesn't it have a bin like the airport post office has? "Click-N-Ship" is supposed to be a convenient alternative to standing in line to mail your Priority Mail packages. It does not seem to be a logistical issue, as there is room to place a cart by the counter where customers can simply drop packages.

Another thing: The clerk at that post office asks if my package contains fluids, etc. I have mentioned to her that the USPS Web site will not allow you to go further without acknowledging that you are not sending items such as fluids through the mail. It seems redundant to ask that question. Me being a regular, you would think they would know that I know of that restriction.

I have come to the conclusion that they do not provide a bin like the airport post office does because they want to ask you that question before they receive your package. The Kapalama Post Office, by the way, also does not have an external drop-off slot where one can drop off mail after hours. The airport post office does, but it's quite a ways from my neighborhood.

A: There's really no space for either a drop-off bin on or near the counter or for a wall drop at the Kapalama station, according to Postal Service spokeswoman Lynne Moore.

Because Kapalama is a retail station, "we don't want to take away a clerk to put in a bin."

Regarding asking you a redundant question, "The clerks don't need to ask the questions at all on prepaid items," Moore acknowledged.

The Federal Aviation Administration does require them to ask specifically what a non-prepaid package contains, but not necessarily of items that already have been paid for, she said.

"I guess they're just in the habit of asking those questions," Moore said. "It's a good habit, because it's required on non-prepaid items."

"We apologize" for any inconvenience, she said.

Online postage payment is great," she added, and said she hopes you continue using it.

The Postal Service's Web site is usps.com.