New US Postal Service Ad Campaign: Email Sucks, So Mail Stuff Instead

from the from-luddites-r-us dept

It seems the US Postal Service (USPS) is starting to get pretty desperate. Losing a ton of money, it's apparently decided that the time is now to attack the competition. The competition, of course, is email. It's put out two TV commercials that focus on bashing email for not being either secure or reliable:
Of course, I'm pretty sure I've had a lot more physical mail "lost" by human carriers than emails just disappear. And you could easily argue that regular mail isn't particularly secure at times either. All in all, though, it seems like a bizarre commercial. Why even bother making silly assertions about email? Do they really think people are going to start saying... "gee, I can't trust this email stuff to communicate with my friends; now I'm going to start sending real letters through the USPS!"


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    icon
    Marcus Carab (profile), Oct 5th, 2011 @ 7:45am

    At least it's not a sad letter carrier talking about how mail piracy is costing him his livelihood.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    crade (profile), Oct 5th, 2011 @ 8:09am

    Am I the only one with a sudden urge to hack my fridge?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    David, Oct 5th, 2011 @ 8:14am

    I also don't have to waste time shredding emails with personal information on them before I throw them away or recycle them. There is no way that the overall physical mail process is more secure than electronic delivery or account login statements. All of my statements, which they showed in that ad, are only available through a login into the respective website.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Oct 5th, 2011 @ 8:39am

      Re:

      Probably not less secure either the way most people are ignorant of electronic informatin security. Password=password

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Sean Palmer, Oct 5th, 2011 @ 9:25am

      Re:

      Are you joking? There is *no* security on emails. Absolutely none. Unless you're encrypting your own email before you send it, anyone on the path from one mail server to another can read your mail if they want to. Not to mention the email admins at your school or business who have access to all of your email. A letter in an USPS building or truck, or your postmaster-general-approved mailbox, is protected by federal law. It is much more secure.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        icon
        PrometheeFeu (profile), Oct 5th, 2011 @ 10:28am

        Re: Re:

        "anyone on the path from one mail server to another can read your mail if they want to."

        You mean kind of like dozens of postal employees handle my mail and have the opportunity to open it? Or the way if my mailbox is full or the postal worker is confused, my mail will sometimes be left in front of my door where anyone steal it?

        "Not to mention the email admins at your school or business who have access to all of your email."

        Yeap. That's somewhat reminiscent of the way anyone at your company's mail-room could open your physical mail if you have it delivered there.

        "A letter in an USPS building or truck, or your postmaster-general-approved mailbox, is protected by federal law."

        That sort of reminds me of the way the 4th Amendment makes it illegal to read someone else's email.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        icon
        A Dan (profile), Oct 5th, 2011 @ 11:33am

        Re: Re:

        He was saying he doesn't have to rely on the security of the email box and transit, since all the vital information is only accessed through a secure website and not sent in an easily-intercepted email anyway.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      matt, Jan 25th, 2012 @ 5:27pm

      Re:

      sites get hacked all of the time. email can be easily hacked. some things are better with a hardcopy

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 5th, 2011 @ 8:17am

    There is one thing mail is still good for.

    Sending that 4 Terabyte drive to others.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Oct 5th, 2011 @ 8:19am

      Re:

      fedex can get there faster

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        icon
        crade (profile), Oct 5th, 2011 @ 8:22am

        Re: Re:

        They could, but if you aren't there when they pretend to come by, they will bring it back to their office in another city and make you drive down to them to get it. Stupid fedex and their suckiness!

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        •  
          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, Oct 5th, 2011 @ 8:54am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Fedex are retarded. Use Puro, cheaper and they don't leave your shipment outside your house unattended without ringing the bell ...

          That being said. Yes let's all start using USPS again and wait 2-8 weeks for that damn letter. You know... old people always so that younger ones need to slow down. I guess only the USPS are paying attention.

           

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          •  
            identicon
            Anonymous Coward, Oct 5th, 2011 @ 9:54am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            2-8 weeks?? I've yet to have USPS mail (including packages) take longer than a week. In-state mail typically takes 1 day.

            The USPS hasn't worked at the glacial pace I remember in my youth in many, many years.

             

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            •  
              identicon
              Anonymous Coward, Oct 5th, 2011 @ 10:36am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              I order something from LA. It ships USPS. Not only does it take over a week to have a tracking update, but it takes roughly a month to get to me. Every single time. And we're not talking about a 5-10lbs package. No. An envelope. A plain little envelope. Takes exactly 32 days (excluding weekends and holidays) to come here.

              Yeah, I wonder if it's not a postal guy walking from LA with my envelope. Would be faster...

               

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              •  
                icon
                John Fenderson (profile), Oct 5th, 2011 @ 12:16pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                Wow, my experience is completely opposite of this. I order packages from all over the country, and rarely does it take more than a week for them to arrive once USPS has taken custody of them.

                I wonder what the difference is?

                 

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            •  
              identicon
              PRMan, Oct 5th, 2011 @ 12:30pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              There is one benefit from ordering through the USPS. After reporting an SSD drive missing after 3 weeks and the USPS paying an insurance claim to the vendor because they couldn't find it anywhere, I received the SSD few days later.

              Free SSD! It just takes a month!

               

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        •  
          icon
          Berenerd (profile), Oct 5th, 2011 @ 9:57am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Fedex in my town wont bother to deliver it. they deliver t to the post office and the post office tells me to come get it...

           

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      fogbugzd (profile), Oct 5th, 2011 @ 9:00am

      Re:

      >>Sending that 4 Terabyte drive to others.

      If you think about it, a mail truck with a load of Netflix DVD's has awesome bandwidth. Who needs fiber to the curb when we already have the USPS delivering to the curb? USPS FTW!

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 5th, 2011 @ 8:18am

    Why do we hold on to the past?

    Why should there be jobs and professions no longer needed be require to be saved from change by law and education?

    When did progress become a dirty word?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Capitalist Lion Tamer (profile), Oct 5th, 2011 @ 8:19am

    Since 1985...

    ... this has been my image of the honorable local mail carrier.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    WysiWyg (profile), Oct 5th, 2011 @ 8:22am

    Safe?

    How is that safe!? She's handing over the mail directly to people! How can she know if it's the right person?

    And has everyone really gotten a nice big lock on their mailboxes nowadays?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    FM Hilton, Oct 5th, 2011 @ 8:23am

    The US Mail is not secure, or honest

    As this article relates:
    http://www2.nbc4i.com/news/2010/aug/19/mail-carrier-investigated-stealing-mail-ar-199726/

    "Of the 623,000 postal employees and contractors across the country, last year only 446 were arrested for theft."

    "In 2009-- the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General completed 5,501 investigations for suspected illegal activity, including mail theft.

    There were 865 convictions and more than 24 million dollars eventually paid in fines, restitutions and recoveries to the Postal Service."

    My email hasn't ripped me off yet, although the spam tries to-but at least I can delete that.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      Atkray (profile), Oct 5th, 2011 @ 10:09am

      Re: The US Mail is not secure, or honest

      Still safer than the TSA.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      DOlz (profile), Oct 5th, 2011 @ 12:22pm

      Re: The US Mail is not secure, or honest

      You're going to have a few rotten apples in any barrel. At least the USPS prosecutes them ... unlike say the NYPD.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      PRMan, Oct 5th, 2011 @ 1:38pm

      Re: The US Mail is not secure, or honest

      But you have to think that it's not out of the question for each thief to average 10 reported thefts per person. So with 5501 investigations, 446 arrests is quite good.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 5th, 2011 @ 8:24am

    New ad campaign: Mp3s are useless and unreliable. Use cassettes instead. The music you can feel.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 5th, 2011 @ 8:27am

    When I throw an email away, it doesn't go to a landfill

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Robert Ring, Oct 5th, 2011 @ 8:27am

    Holy crap ... They're right!

    So long, suckers! *disconnects internet*

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Oct 5th, 2011 @ 8:36am

      Re:

      hmmm, Now I'll have to find paper and ink and actually write my reply to Robert and then mail it to him. He should get in a few weeks.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Capitalist Lion Tamer (profile), Oct 5th, 2011 @ 8:30am

    Back in 1981...

    the USPS had email, but couldn't even do that profitably. Or with anything resembling adeptness.

    "The USPS would set up a network where a message would originate electronically. It would then be sent to one of a handful of participating postal offices that had terminals, where it would be printed out. The hard copy of the message would then be delivered to its destination - essentially in the same manner and with the same speed as first class mail."

    So... like a telegraph, I suppose. Only at a loss of $5 per piece of 'electro-mail':

    "A message was priced at 26 - and for each email message, the USPS was said to lose around $5."

    More info at this link: http://cybertelecom.blogspot.com/2011/09/us-postal-service-versus-email-historic.html

    Like how the USPS had to override the FCC to get this money-losing system rolling and other such hilarity.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    pr, Oct 5th, 2011 @ 8:33am

    Talking Points

    In my town in the last few weeks there was a postal worker rally for the post office. I've noticed that there's a standard talking point about why the post office can't be cut: poor people in rural areas need to get their prescription drugs by mail, and if there was no Saturday delivery they would have to wait all the way until Monday to get them.

    Unless, of course, they planned ahead and ordered them one day earlier.

    When I pointed this out on the news site carrying the original article, a very well prepared troll accused me of trying to cut his great aunt who didn't like email off from the world.

    So it looks like there's a whole campaign going on to keep a bureaucracy in power, complete with astroturf protest rallies and web presence.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 5th, 2011 @ 8:42am

    An online virus has never attacked a corkboard?

    true, but a cumputer virus is easer to deal with then Anthrax.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Lord Binky, Oct 5th, 2011 @ 8:44am

    It just misses that special touch.

    I find trolling so much more personal when I do it by mail.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    cc (profile), Oct 5th, 2011 @ 8:45am

    "Hate the environment. It's overrated, anyway. Use snail mail today."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 5th, 2011 @ 9:10am

    expectation of privacy

    From a legal perspective, snail mail does have a advantage when it comes to privacy. There's serious laws against opening mail not addressed to you and law enforcement can't expect to open people's mail without following proper procedure.
    With this kind of advertisement, the feds are acknowledging that people are using email in the place of snail mail. I would think that equating the purpose of the two would also signify an acknowledgement that citizens expectations of privacy should be equivalent as well.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      :Lobo Santo (profile), Oct 5th, 2011 @ 9:15am

      Re: expectation of privacy

      To push that analogy a little further:
      The Gov has physical control of all mail moving thru their USPS facilities--at any time for no expressed reason mail can be scanned, opened, disappeared, etc and this is normal because everybody expects some mail to just never arrive.

      Perhaps if all email went thru their facilities their wouldn't be complaints...

      Also, Senators/Congressman get "free postage" privileges, perhaps they should get "free bandwidth" equivalent privileges thru the new gov email routine (& inspection) facility...

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        icon
        :Lobo Santo (profile), Oct 5th, 2011 @ 9:19am

        Re: Re: expectation of privacy

        Or, better yet!

        Task the USPS with getting the dark fiber online, connecting strong routers, and collecting money from peering agreements with ISPs and bandwidth providers.

        They can call it the "USPS Internet Backbone Service" or something like that.

        There we go, funding problems solved--and they'll still be doing the same job--packet delivery.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 5th, 2011 @ 9:17am

    Abolish their government established mailbox delivery monopoly!!!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Beta (profile), Oct 5th, 2011 @ 9:28am

    know what business you're in

    E-mail is highly reliable. And the sad fact is that nobody cares about security. PGP (free and open-source) gives Fort Knox security and is quite easy to use, but just try persuading your correspondents to encrypt/decrypt e-mail with it. And don't get me started about the legality of cryptographic signatures.

    The Post Office would have been smarter to play up a quality of paper mail which can't easily be surpassed by e-mail: charm. There is something about holding a letter in your hand, a piece of paper prepared by the hands of someone you know, with the handwriting you recognize, the tidiness or wildness, the post-scriptum crammed in at the bottom, the creases and finger-smudges, maybe the yellowing at the edges. I have a letter my grandfather wrote to my grandmother when he was stationed in London during WWII; he wrote it on the day they announced victory in Europe, and he describes the street scenes and celebrations in a youthful longhand, similar to but different from the inscriptions in some of his books from when he was an old man. In another month I'll write a letter to a couple of my little nieces inviting them (and their parents, natch) to a Christmas party. I'll use my favorite pen and let myself go a little with the capital letters, and maybe add a sketch or two. That's what paper is still best at.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      PrometheeFeu (profile), Oct 5th, 2011 @ 10:40am

      Re: know what business you're in

      My wife and I are long distance and we use the full range of communication services, video-chat, phone, social networks, email, IM and yes, snail-mail mostly for packages. We tried USPS, but gave up on them. They take too long, their insurance service is a scam and the service is poor to mediocre. If USPS wants to be used, they should try to provide a better service.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 5th, 2011 @ 9:30am

    Did they mention viruses???

    Use USPS,
    Because its really hard to send anthrax through the internet.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Daemon_ZOGG, Oct 5th, 2011 @ 9:32am

    "New US Postal Service Ad Campaign: Email Sucks, So Mail Stuff Instead"

    I guess this is the USPS's marketing division's version of: "These are not the droids your looking for".

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Scooters (profile), Oct 5th, 2011 @ 9:35am

    Thank you, USPS. I've seen the error of my ways.

    Cost of a postage stamp: $0.44
    Number of friends: 122
    Cost of stationary: $4
    The ability to file bankruptcy to keep them in contact several times per day, every day of the year: Priceless

    What a failure. Next, they'll go after Twitter in lieu of a postcard.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 5th, 2011 @ 9:54am

    No Viruses through the Mail ? I thought anthrax was a Virus.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Spointman (profile), Oct 5th, 2011 @ 10:06am

    Individuals versus companies

    "gee, I can't trust this email stuff to communicate with my friends; now I'm going to start sending real letters through the USPS!"

    I think you missed the point a bit. These ads aren't aimed at Joe Blow sending a love note to his girlfriend, or at a girl writing her Aunt in Nowhere, Nebraska. They're aimed at middle managers at firms, both big and small, who don't understand email and technology. They're designed to remind them that paper mail is traditional, and therefore better (yeah, right), while at the same time sowing some FUD about email. One person sending an email versus a paper letter to a friend or family member won't make or break the Post Office. One company switching all its billing to email instead of paper mail will make a measurable dent in their revenue, though.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      Capitalist Lion Tamer (profile), Oct 5th, 2011 @ 11:02am

      Re: Individuals versus companies

      They're aimed at middle managers at firms, both big and small, who don't understand email and technology.

      "Print out my emails and read them back to me. I can't risk having my account compromised. Also, wear some gloves when you read those emails. And get me some sort of personal ventilation system. God knows where those 'electronic mails' have been."

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    socalgrama (profile), Oct 5th, 2011 @ 10:06am

    e-mail sucks so mail stuff instead

    The US Postal services has stated many times that they are loosing money or going bankrupt. If so, how can they afford this expensive ad compaign?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    btrussell (profile), Oct 5th, 2011 @ 10:43am

    USPS Holds Our Mail During Vacation, Keeps Holding It

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    New Mexico Mark, Oct 5th, 2011 @ 10:43am

    Typical USPS timeliness

    Good timing, USPS!

    http://www.avc.com/a_vc/2004/11/email_is_old_fa.html

    But to give them full credit, I'll bet they are already starting to develop their anti-SMS campaign ads for rollout in 5-10 years. "Do you really trust your important messages to just go flying willy nilly through the air without even being in a sack???"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    P3T3R5ON (profile), Oct 5th, 2011 @ 11:32am

    All those years ago

    The USPS went wrong all those years ago when email started taking over as a main line communication. When e-mail servers started popping up all over the place, Juno, Hotmail, etc. Back then somebody should have had the smarts to get the USPS online and make it a e-mail system. That way it would have opened the door for familiarity with the USPS and kept them in the loop of mail delivery, both electronic and paper. I don't know how many times I've heard complaints about how email is undercutting the USPS, well stop bitching and do something about it.

    Now... it's to little to late.... goodbye USPS

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    DOlz (profile), Oct 5th, 2011 @ 12:26pm

    Not really

    "Losing a ton of money, it's apparently decided that the time is now to attack the competition."

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rNyhX6vmYcA

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    timmaguire42 (profile), Oct 5th, 2011 @ 12:59pm

    I don't how long it's going to take me to use my last 10 stamps, but if this campaign helps them stick around long enough that I don't have to eat the loss, then more power to them!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Jeffrey Nonken (profile), Oct 5th, 2011 @ 2:06pm

    A bit of perspective, though...

    At least they're trying to campaign to convince former users to come back -- instead of trying to pass laws to force them. You know, like certain other industries prefer to do.

    That could still happen, and I wouldn't want to bet against it, but that is one bright spot about this campaign. No matter how much it sucks otherwise.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    illmunkeys, Oct 5th, 2011 @ 2:18pm

    Your were spreading a myth here.

    Interestingly, USPS operates at a profit. So they aren't losing money on operations. Where they are going into the hole is due to a congressional mandate to pay 75 years worth of retirement in 5 years. Which is completely ridiculous. I'll get you links when I can get to something other than my phone.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 5th, 2011 @ 6:06pm

    email = environment friendly

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Cloksin (profile), Oct 6th, 2011 @ 5:47am

    Hypocracy

    Did anyone else notice that at the end of those two ads to try and get people to stop using email and go with snail mail that you have to go online to their website to learn more about it? Kinda hypocritical if you ask me.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    Overcast (profile), Oct 6th, 2011 @ 7:19am

    But my email client isn't rude to me, the way the postal workers are at both the post offices near me...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Cyrus, May 14th, 2012 @ 11:08pm

    I support paper mail.

    I think paper has many more merits, I actually just spent all day in circles between 2 servers, 3 different levels of spam filters and a customer trying to send some important documents to me. And the irony is as mad as i get at the USPS for misplacing something, it has happened twice in my life. E-mail does this to me monthly. Also for security, so what if you have to shred your paper, or even burn it. At least it is one copy and straight forward. The post office does not open, scan and save a copy. My mail servers, isp, senders mail server all save e-mails, Google scans it for information and in the end, you still have to shred your HDD to really get the data off of it.

    Go USPS! & the other big 3 shippers for that matter.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This