Self-service at PO: Not a sure thing

Nice arrows, but what good are they when they point to where nothing comes out?

Helpful arrows, but what good are they when they point to where nothing comes out?

The good thing about the lobby of the Albany Post Office is that it is cool and that it is open after hours. The bad thing is that it houses a supposedly automated self-service kiosk that does not always work.

But by the time you discover that the machine has taken the night off, it has already withdrawn from your checking account the amount of three dollars and forty cents, or however much in postage it decided a letter to an Albany address required. Admittedly the letter was a little on the fat side, but still. At that price, it would be a lot cheaper and a whole lot quicker to drive the thing across town and leave it at the door.

If a candy machine swallows your dollar and then refuses to disgorge the Payday bar you want, you can bang on the apparatus and the Payday bar will sometimes shake loose. Nothing like that is recommended as the preferred method for the postal automaton. You don't want to hit the machine for fear of damaging delicate federal property and being observed doing so on the closed-circuit surveillance that you are sure is running.

"No I would not like more time. I'd like my postage."

"No I would not like more time. I'd like my postage."

And anyway, banging on the postal machine doesn't work. So what's your redress? My advice: Save your receipt (assuming the machine gave you one) and take it in when the post office is open. They'll probably give you the stamp or stamps you already bought. That, at least, is my hope. But if you have to make another trip and stand in line at the post office anyway, why risk your credit or debit card in that machine at all? .(hh)

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