So for only the second time in five years, I went to our 28226 post office. I was sending an overweight first class envelope to the Connecticut Department of Revenue explaining that I did not need to pay their $4,500 tax bill for 2013, because I moved to Illinois in 2012. Fortunately I happened to have a phone camera picture of the Illinois driver’s license from 6 years ago and my 2013 Illinois Income Tax return.
My local post office has three self-service machines with scales that only accept debit and credit cards. I decided to try this technology even though I didn’t need instructions in Spanish. After going through about 6 screens (yes, there are no living animals in the envelope), the machine declared that it could not accept payments for less than $1.00 – would I like to add a $.50 stamp that I don’t want to my order? I hit cancel and joined the line on Friday afternoon.
Standing in line is the reason for the story. While I watch the usual customer service activities, a clerk came from somewhere and his customer is doing what struck me as very unusual. The clerk starts counting a very large stack of bills. I don’t want to look too interested, but the bills seemed fresh and not small denominations. By the time the counting is complete, the stack is about two inches tall. The clerk is behaving very nonchalantly – like getting cash payments of $9,900 is routine. I only saw the customer from the back – he did not look Mexican nor was he exhuding drug dealer vibes. At the end, the customer was given a receipt, but that seemed unimportant.
At least at one time, the USPS didn’t follow the most basic cash precautions. At your local McDonalds, the cash draeer is counted at the end of the shift by the manager to determine if the amount is short or over. You don’t allow the employee to count their own drawer (although they can watch you) – if the employee counts their own drawer, they can steal money with impunity – Either by short changing customers or stealing from the company by not ringing up sales and pocketing the cash. During the day excess cash is removed and put in a safe to discourage robberies.
At USPS, each employee has their own permanent drawer. It contains not just cash receipts but also books and rolls of stamps. The cash and stamps are not balanced each day. The drawer is only counted twice a year! Interestingly, if I understand the procedure manual, the bank deposits are not picked up by a courier or taken to the bank branch, but sent to the bank by registered mail.
How out of control is this?