Monthly Archives: December 2008

The Check’s in the Mail. Or *is* it?

I'm sure many of you don't know that I work in the direct mail business. Clients come to our company with letters, postcards and brochures that they want us to mail to you, the unsuspecting public. Sometimes the stuff is really cool, sometimes it's things people have asked for specifically, sometimes it's an appeal for money for their organization, and sometimes it really is just plain junk.

But - be that as it may - the expectation is that we will "guarantee" that their mail gets out.

We do everything we have to do here - put addresses on envelopes, print letters, insert the letters and any other materials into the envelopes, add wafer seals to self mailers that can't travel without them, we even have a handwork department that takes care of projects our machinery can't - like those hockey sticks that the team sends out to season ticket holders at Christmas time.

The bottom line is that at the end of the line, the mail has to go to the Post Office. And therein lies the problem. And I'm serious about that. A few months ago, a North Carolina postman was found to be burying standard class mail (what used to be called "bulk" or "3rd class") in his backyard. He just couldn't deliver it all in 8 hours, he said. He got probation, I think. And the public comment on Yahoo the day the story ran was "Yay, postman! No one wants that junk anyhow" or "He should get a medal, not a prison sentence!" Um...tampering with the mail is a FEDERAL matter WHAT you do to it.

I do understand...really, I do. BUT - I also see it from the other side. My livelihood depends on what ends up in your mailbox. My clients pay decent money to put their mail out. And some of the mail that goes out standard class is STUFF YOU ALL ASKED FOR! OK, sometimes it's not, but still. And a large part of my company's business are organizations that rely on donations from their members. If the mail isn't getting to the members, the money isn't getting to the organization!

Early last week, a client called and said that he was worried about his mailing - he'd gone to the website and checked his delivered mail (you can do that now), and only 7% was scanned after 15 days in the mail. Well... now we know why. This article is about our local postal distriution center, which is where a huge part of every mailing goes through. In case you're not up for the read, all mail enters, only some mail leaves. Maybe. And the managers know it and in fact encourage it. The lower the volume out per day, the less overtime they have to schedule. There are all manner of issues...and it affects what I do every day.

It's hard to do my job when the end of the production line is a huge black hole from which nothing ever escapes. And do you think clients accept that as a reason their mail doesn't get out? HELL no - SURELY it's something I've done, something I haven't done, something that I should have done but didn' get the picture.

So anyhow, if you're mailing Christmas cards to anyone over here in the Philadelphia prepared for them to end up mouldering in a bin somewhere in the postal distriution center. You won't get a thank you card back for that gift either (if the gift even makes it), because they'll all be sitting side by side on the floor in the hallway of the Lindbergh Boulevard Postal Distribution Center.