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!”

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Comments on “New US Postal Service Ad Campaign: Email Sucks, So Mail Stuff Instead”

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David (profile) says:

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.

Sean Palmer says:

Re: 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.

PrometheeFeu (profile) says:

Re: 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.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: 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.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 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…

FM Hilton (profile) says:

The US Mail is not secure, or honest

As this article relates:

“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.

Capitalist Lion Tamer (profile) says:

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:

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

pr (profile) says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

:Lobo Santo (profile) says:

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…

:Lobo Santo (profile) says:

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.

Beta (profile) says:

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.

PrometheeFeu (profile) says:

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.

Spointman (profile) says:

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.

Capitalist Lion Tamer (profile) says:

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.”

P3T3R5ON (profile) says:

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

Jeffrey Nonken (profile) says:

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.

illmunkeys (profile) says:

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.

illmunkeys (profile) says:

Re: Response to: illmunkeys on Oct 5th, 2011 @ 2:18pm

To further clarify: the usps is one of the few govt entities that is self sufficient. Ie: they don’t get tax dollars. It its evidence of govt working correctly. Which makes me crack up when people claim its failing. It does more business today, due to online shopping than ever before. The _only_ reason it is failing is because of the 2006 mandate. They are funding retirement for workers not even born yet. Any company would fail with this burden.

Cyrus says:

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.

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