Postal blues with paper delivery
Our readers in Owatonna got a dose of the postal blues a couple weeks ago, most likely without even really noticing it except for a delay with their delivery.
As we do every week on Wednesday (unless it’s a holiday), we delivered the newspapers to the Owatonna Post Office. The newspapers are tied, sacked up in bags and weighed prior to getting to the Post Office. Once we arrive at the post office, the papers are weighed again. In theory, the weight we came up with prior to arriving at the post office should match what the post office comes up with. Usually, it may be off a few pounds, but nothing big.
On June 10 we found ourselves in the middle of a big issue. Well, sort of. You must read on.
The postal clerk weighed the papers and came up with her number showing a 40-pound discrepancy between our weight and theirs. They found we were 40 pounds UNDER weight of what we said we had. Hit the reject button. That’s what happened to our delivery. The post office refused to accept the papers because of such a big difference.
It sent us into a panic and tail spin for the next 24 hours. The postal clerk was adamant that we did not weigh our papers correctly, and I guess implying that we were shortchanging either them or ourselves. Not sure I understand the logic because it was 40 pounds under. If that were the case, we would have overpaid for postage and the Post Office would come out on the winning end. But it didn’t matter. They would not take the papers.
The printing plant, which handles the postal issues on our behalf, was just as adamant that they did everything correctly. So for the next day, we seemed to be in this tug-of-war with the Post Office about who’s right and who’s wrong and all the while our readers are not getting their newspapers on time.
After many phone calls and discussions with a variety of postal officials as well as printing plant managers, we caved in and decided to bring the papers back to Madelia where they are printed to have them weighed again. “Not going to do any good because our weights are right in the first place,” one of the print managers muttered under her breath.
As our delivery driver was heading to Madelia, his wife happened to glance down at the back of the postal form where the Owatonna postal clerk scratched down two figures and subtracted the difference. Simple math or one would think. The clerk came up with a figure that had not been subtracted correctly. Guess what her incorrect figure showed? You got it, the number 40. Sound familiar? We were off 40 pounds when the clerk weighed the papers.
Almost to Mankato, our delivery driver turned around and headed back to Owatonna with the papers. Of course, this was mid day on Thursday, well after the Post Office’s deadline to get anything in the mail for that day.
A little embarrassed by her slip-up in calculating, the clerk finally accepted our papers around 1 p.m. Thursday. Unfortunately, our readers didn’t get them until Friday’s mail.
It was a maddening and frustrating 24 hours for us. What our readers sometimes don’t realize is that no matter how hard we try, we are still at the mercy of other people, in this case the Post Office, at getting out our newspapers. Once we print them and drop them off at the Post Office, they are out of our hands. In this particular case, they actually never got dropped off for the reasons I outlined.
I guess it just goes to show we’re all human and capable of making mistakes.
Moral of the story: go in hot pursuit of checking your math the next time you have a discrepancy with something. It could save you a lot of heartache.