Self-service at PO: Not a sure thing – Hasso Hering


A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Self-service at PO: Not a sure thing

Written June 25th, 2015 by Hasso Hering
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But by the time you discover that the machine has taken the night off, it has already withdrawn from your checking account the amount of three dollars and forty cents, or however much in postage it decided a letter to an Albany address required.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)

4 responses to “Self-service at PO: Not a sure thing”

  1. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    We can’t possibly trust anyone else to handle our first class mail.

    There is no better service experience than that provided by government.

    No problem here, folks, just move along…..

  2. Jim Engel says:

    The annoying thing is that the machine is “out sourced” for service. The local USPS employees can’t mess with it. Same with my neighborhood secure mail box. Last Christmas some dim wit pried the Outgoing mail door open & it took three weeks for a work order to make it’s way to the contractor in Portland who then sent someone down. When the lobby machine works it’s great, except when someone not quite so bright is trying to mail a package & a line then forms $%^&*…… JE

  3. Shawn Dawson says:


    This happened to me as well about a month back. It took my $1.35 and did not print out the stamps. It was a Saturday, and I was heading out for the week. I kept the receipt in my wallet, intending to take it back in. But I eventually just decided it wasn’t worth the hassle and tossed it.

    However, I have been using that machine successfully for a few years and this was the first time it happened. But now hearing it happened to others as well, I guess I just won’t use that machine any more. Too bad, but I really do not like being ripped off.

    I am still a huge supporter of the USPS though. They do a great job.


  4. Gothic Albany says:

    The bad thing about these machines is that they will not do media mail, nor first class international. In other-words, it does not do much you can’t already do with a account and computer at home.

    Having said all that many anti-government types like to bash the USPS. But I have had much better luck, pricing, service, and delivery success with USPS compared to UPS or Fed-ex, which (for the government basher’s records) are private for-profit corporations.


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