More Ignorant Consumers – Symptoms of the Same Problem

A NY Times article titled “In New York, Paying More to Send U.S. Mail at UPS Stores,”  has me fired up.  Now, I know that sarcasm doesn’t come across well on the internet sometimes, so I’ll try to be explicit.
“Posing as customers, reporters for The New York Times visited several U.P.S. stores last week looking to mail an item by Priority Mail — one of the postal service’s signature offerings. In nearly every instance, they were quoted prices well above the government postal rate, and only one of them was told they were paying a premium for the convenience of using a U.P.S. Store.”
and then:
““I think there’s a natural assumption on the part of the consumer that if you’re sending something through the U.S. Postal Service, even when it’s from another store, you’re not paying more, and if you are paying more, it’s just a pittance,” said Tod Marks, a senior editor at Consumer Reports.”
Well guess what, Tod Marks, the consumer is a dipshit, and these sorts of “assumptions” are exactly why we’re economically hosed as a country – because our consumers make too many assumptions and don’t educate themselves enough about the rules, realities and fine print.

There’s an old saying:  “Assume makes an ASS out of U and ME.”

In this case, I can’t understand why anyone thinks that UPS would let you mail something at USPS (US Postal Service) rates. Can you go into McDonalds and send a USPS package?  Can you go into your real estate office and send a USPS package?  No – but you actually can go to UPS and send a USPS package, so you should be thankful for having the opportunity to have that convenience, and guess what – THEY WILL CHARGE YOU FOR THE SERVICE!  SHOCKER!   Do they have a duty to tell you how much it would cost to mail the item at the post office?  Maybe, maybe not – if you want to know how much it costs to mail at the post office, then, … wait for it… GO TO THE POST OFFICE!

When I lived in New York City, I didn’t have a doorman, so I had my packages shipped to a store around the corner called “Your Neighborhood Office.”  I paid a fee for each package received, and they’d notify me so I could come pick up the packages.  It was a terrific service, and, I judged, well worth the $3 a package.   If I wanted to send a package, I could either go to the post office and pay the USPS rates, or I could go to my package store and pay a premium for them to handle it for me!  I certainly never expected them to send a package via USPS at USPS rates – and since I’m a frugal (cheap bastard) consumer, I’d  choose to walk to the post office  if I had to send a package.

What is it with this sense of ignorant entitlement on the part of the U.S. consumer?  Such ignorance is a large part of why we have a financial crisis – because the evil greedy bankers (note: if I had a sarcasm font I’d be using it right now!) took advantage of us by giving us loans we couldn’t afford, or by not making it clear that these mortage payments would eventually change, or by telling me I’d just be able to refinance in a few years.  Because my greedy evil bank charges me when I spend more money than I have in my account – or because I have to pay an unfairly high interest rate on all the money I’ve spent that I don’t actually have.
Responsibility. Education.  Common Sense.     Read the fine print – don’t make assumptions.  And for goodness sake – don’t think the UPS store owes you the right to ship USPS packages at USPS prices.
-KD

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