Northwest NEWS

June 17, 2002

Local News

Postmaster changes hours to provide better service

by Jim Walters, Postmaster
   Woodinville
   When I became Postmaster here in February 2001, I informed the citizens of Woodinville that I was looking at improvements to my Retail Sales operations. There have been many complaints of long lines, and not enough staffing during peak periods. The situation as it exists now has my Retail Sales Operation hours running 9 1/2 hours daily (8:30 a.m. - 6 p.m.). I have been unable to provide the excellent service this community needs and demands with such a long window of operations.
   My clerk hours are spread out over a longer period of time, and consequently, there is sometimes only one clerk available at the counter for short periods, due to break or lunch coverages. My Retail Associates are typically only able to work eight hours per day per our Collective Bargaining Agreement. Contractually, these employees must also factor in lunches and breaks during the course of the day. Contrary to popular belief, my clerks only take one lunch break and two 10 minute breaks during the course of an 8-hour day. I have eight clerks trained in Retail Sales. However there are other jobs behind the scenes that the public may not be aware of. These jobs start as early as 3 a.m. and end as late as 7 p.m. Someone has distribute and sort mail to the carriers. Somone has sort and distribute mail into the over 2000 Post Office Boxes. Someone has to prepare your outgoing mail for dispatches. Someone has to rate and prepare Bulk Rate Mailings, Permit Mail, and Business Reply Mail. Someone also has to prepare incoming mail for distribution. I have conducted staffing studies in an attempt to identify when my peak periods are. Interestingly enough, I find my lowest peak hours are between 8:30 a.m. and 9 a.m., and again from 5 to 6 p.m. Yes, there are customers who show up at 8:30 a.m., and yes there are times when I have as many as 5 or 10 in line at 8:30 a.m.
   However, this many customers is an exception, not the rule. Typically at 8:30 there will be 1 to 3 cutomers in line then very few until about 9:15 a.m. There are also times when I have as many as 30 to 40 customers between 5 and 6 p.m., but most times there may only be as few as 10 for that same one hour period.
   Therefore, I am adjusting my clerks'hours and the Woodinville Post Office Retail Sales hours to reflect the current situation and to provide better service to the public. My goal is to have three Retail Sales Clerks available for counter duty at any given time.
   Effective July 13, 2002, the Woodinville Retail Sales Window hours will change to the following hours:
   Monday thru Fridays: 8:45 a.m. - 5:15 p.m.
   Saturdays:
   9:30 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
   There will still be a Will-Call Window from 6 to 8:45 a.m. in order for customers to pick up parcels, accountable items, or vacation hold mail before the Retail Window opens.
   While I can't sell postage at the Will-Call window, I encourage the use of this service for those of you who are early birds or who might want to pick up a package or mail before going to work.
   Additionally, there are two self-service vending machines in the outer Retail Lobby, as well as a self-service scale to weigh small parcels. The larger vending machine will take up to a 20 dollar bill and dispenses a large variety of stamps and other postal products such as Phone Cards and envelopes.
   Perhaps even more convenient is the Stamps by Mail program, where customers can submit a check in pre-paid envelopes and have the stamps delivered to them within 2 to 3 days of the request. There is also the Stamps by Internet option at www.usps.gov. This options allows you to order your stamps via the Internet, paying with a credit card, and having them delivered to your home.
   I know that these new hours won't please some people, but I am trying to provide the best service I can for our community. The staffing and hours as they exist now clearly did not work as well as I would have hoped. I truly believe that this change will provide better service.