Whole system interaction I appreciated over the holidays

2 Jan 2009 - 11:17pm
700 reads
Michael Micheletti

I gave the US Postal Service "Click-N-Ship" and carrier pickup services a
try over the holidays to send parcels hither/yon. In a nutshell, you create
an account and enter shipping details on their website, pay for postage with
a credit card, and then print out a shipping label with your printer. You
can then request that your postman stop by your house to pick up the
packages for you.

This all worked out pretty well, eventually. I had some trouble with the
website, especially the first time when a multi-page registration intruded
while entering credit card data. Gave me that edgy feeling of "oh boy do I
need to enter all that package stuff again, or will it remember?" (it did,
but was distinctly uncomfortable). It felt like there were about 35 steps to
sending that first package. Other problems I had were finding an accurate
scale (third kitchen drawer from the top, in the back, on the bottom - at
my house, it may be someplace else in yours) and coaxing my aging printer
into doing an acceptable job on the label.

The non-web/non-Micheletti parts of the system worked very well though. My
mailman came by and picked up the packages from me, and the post office sent
me a tracking number. I could also sign up for the recipients to get a
tracking number emailed to them if I wanted. No charge for a pickup and a
little discount on the postage if I remember right.

The web interactions succeeded (uncomfortably), but need work yet. The
entire thing works like a wizard, but you don't know exactly where you are
in the process. There are confusing multiple entry points on their website's
home page - even after I'd done this a couple times I had trouble
remembering which choice I needed to make. But overall, this was an extended
system interaction that I appreciated. I can see that this is also a cost
savings for the post office - if more people schedule pickups from their
postman (who's coming around anyway) then they don't need so many post
offices, employees...

US-based folks maybe give it a try when you need to send a parcel:
http://www.usps.com/ Happy new year,

Michael Micheletti

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