Bad News in Haverford -- Post Office To Close

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Hugh Gordon's picture
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I learned today from a postal clerk in the Haverford Post Office that it will soon be closing.  Services will be transferred to the Ardmore Post Office.

The Post Office is being destroyed by the ideologues who want all services to be privatized and accessible only to those with plenty of $$.

Both post offices are pretty busy.  This is another move calculated to make using the US Postal Service less appealing, so that it can continue along on its downward death spiral.

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carla's picture
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My old mailman told me that a few months before I moved. That stinks.

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"Well behaved women rarely make history" - Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

politeia's picture
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The Post Office is being destroyed by the ideologues who want all services to be privatized and accessible only to those with plenty of $$.

Both post offices are pretty busy. This is another move calculated to make using the US Postal Service less appealing, so that it can continue along on its downward death spiral.

Not sure I agree with this. I agree privatization very often does not work and can harm some and benefit others. Privatization often involves crony capitalism with government playing favorites with the new "private" companies, and it ends up being worse than when government controlled.

However, with USPS, nothing has been privatized. Competition has opened up for parcels and that has benefited consumers, in my view.

I'd say the biggest downfall for the USPS has been the internet and the huge decrease in revenue due to far, far fewer letters being delivered due to email, texting, online billing, etc.

Further, I have not been pleased with the Bryn Mawr post office. I have had three separate packages where I placed orders for products to be delivered to me via USPS in the past two months that made it to the Bryn Mawr post office from the outfits I ordered them from only to be returned-to-sender as "undeliverable address" - when the address was correct. Never had a problem like this with UPS or FedEx. Not even once.

One way of staying in business is to offer quality service - and I have not been seeing it with the Bryn Mawr post office.

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Brotherhood of Thieves ~ As we must account for every idle word, so must we account for every idle silence.

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LexoTime5's picture
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That's too bad. It's been a long time since I lived in that area, but that post office is really part of the town center.

I'm surprised to hear that services wil be moved to Ardmore, since most of Haverford is in Delaware County. Will Haverford become absorbed into 19003 zip code?

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Hugh Gordon's picture
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This applies to the 19041 zip code, which is distinct from the Havertown zip code of 19083, and I think it is mostly if not entirely the Montgomery County part of Haverford.

Anyway, it's bad news for all of us since it will mean even longer lines at the Ardmore PO.  And the staff at the Haverford Post Office have always been great.

The Post Office was semi-privatized years ago when Congress decided it should stand on its own two feet and not receive any subsidy, and the US Postal Service was created to supersede the Post Office first established in this country by Benjamin Franklin.  But Congress still maintains control and, as has been well documented, has undermined it by forcing it to prepay its pension plans in a way no other business has to, with the result being that the plan is substantially overfunded.  Yesterday the USPS decided to default on the $5 billion quarterly payment it was supposed to make. 

Bob Guzzardi and I have had a running argument in these pages about the value of universal postal service.  He has taken the position that UPS and FedEx are more efficient (that's the reflexive argument that  private enterprise is always more efficient than the government, which is not true, as Medicare has demonstrated for years), and an adequate substitute.  This assigns no value to dependable and affordable availability of a communications service everywhere in the country.  Post offices in small communities all over the country have been closed, depriving these communities of their social centers.  It's a bit like closing the local school and sending all the kids on a bus to some consolidated behemoth.  Part of the slow, drip by drip, destruction of public goods. . . .

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LexoTime5's picture
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I understand about the zip code, but in fact most of 19041 (called "Haveford") is in Delaware county. The county line begins at about the duck pond at Haverford college, but 19041 runs all the way to Rt 476. Only a relatively small part of 19041 sticks into Lower Merion.

The loss of a zip code can lead over time to a loss of identity. If Haverford is absorbed into 19003, everyone living there will have to have "Ardmore" written on mail addressed to them. How long before they just start calling that area "Ardmore?"

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LexoTime5's picture
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Answering my own question: Not long. People already call Belmont Hills "Bala Cynwyd," and they call parts of Penn Valley "Narberth," even though neither of those is accurate.

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Ardmore's picture
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I don't think there is a relationship between having a post office and a zip code. 19041 will still be 19041 even without a post office.

 

It is absolutely insane how many post offices we have in this township. Wilmington DE, a town of 75,000 (with a large daytime commuter population) gets by with 2 post offices. Lower merion can survive with that many too. How many do we have? Gladwyne, Narberth, Bala, Wynnewood, Haverford, Bryn Mawr, Villanova, Ardmore? 8 post offices?? That is crazy ...

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politeia's picture
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I agree it was a mistake in 1971 to make the USPS a GSE like the Federal Home Loan Bank, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (boy did they work out well in fostering the recent housing bubble), the Federal Farm Credit Bank (boy did that work out in how it helped Big Ag while harming small farmers), the Resolution Funding Corp. (bailing out S&L’s in a prelude to the recent Wall Street bailouts), etc. for letter delivery. That is a function private sector businesses will not take up -- letter delivery as a whole and parcels for some remote areas. USPS should have remained fully taxpayer supported for letter delivery.

However, I have no problem with the competition UPS, DHL, FedEx, etc. have brought to the table in regards to increasing efficiency and costs for consumers for parcels in general.

USPS should have been kept fully federally funded and not made a GSE for letter delivery and for remote areas where private companies will not deliver parcels.

However, I don’t see the closing of the Haverford post office as result of Congress making USPS a GSE over 40 years ago, or it would have closed sooner.

I chalk it up to the internet with email, online billing, etc. as these post office consolidations in populated areas are occurring after the advent of this technology that seriously reduced the need for letter delivery and decades after UPS and FedEx came about and USPS became a GSE.

Personally, I think people can manage with going to Bryn Mawr or Ardmore (though others are certainly entitled to disagree). Just as I don’t see the need for a bank branch on every corner (I’d certainly like to see them closing up as it demonstrates the banks are making a fortune borrowing from the Federal Reserve for .25% and lending it to the Treasury for 3% while not lending to consumers and businesses – and we can thank the Fed and Congress for that), I also don’t think we have to have so many post offices. I have a problem with tax dollars being used to provide community centers – like our massive new libraries.

As for lines at the post office, I have no problem with them. The few letters I mail (most correspondence and bills done online) just go in my mailbox with stamps. If I have to send a package, I can go to Staples, Kinkos or a FedEx store and have virtually no line.

Now others may have other delivery needs where they prefer the post office and for that I can understand their consternation.

I certainly don’t want rural post offices closing where there are no alternatives and feel they should be 100% government supported – which they are not.

However, I see the blame for the Haverford post office as the internet. UPS, and FedEx have been around for decades, USPS has been a GSE for decades, yet the real problems did not occur until the heavy use of the internet and email came about.

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Brotherhood of Thieves ~ As we must account for every idle word, so must we account for every idle silence.

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a7368261's picture
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The Haverford PO was more like a "drive thru" easy-access PO than any other in the area. By that I mean, easy to park right off on Lancaster Ave, easy to run it, take care of your postal needs, run out and be on your way. 

Campare that to Bryn Mawr, Ardmore, Gladwyne, Narberth or Bala Cynwyd. You have to manuever for a parking spot, do a u-turn (Ardmore), contend with one-way streets (Ardmore), and wait on red lights.  Maybe I was always going in the right (weaterly) direction, but I always -- for years and years -- got in and got out of the Haverofrd PO super easily.

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LexoTime5's picture
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The Haverford PO was more like a "drive thru" easy-access PO than any other in the area.

Hmmm. To that it has to be said that it's also one of the few post offices in the area that is not handicap accessable. Not everyone can just run up half a dozen steps. Perhaps that even entered in to the decision to close.

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LexoTime5's picture
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I see from today's news that this rumor was only half right. Post offices will stay open as service offices, only the distribution operations are being reassigned. Which means the letter carriers will work out a different office.

http://www.mainlinemedianews.com/articles/2012/08/07/main_line_times/news/doc502167e0e2ac7147057470.txt

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dmuth's picture
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I belatedly frontpaged this, since it's generated a lot of discussion.

My thouhts on the USPS (and you'll heard me say this before) is that their business model of paper letters is on its way out, especially with things like email, Twitter, and blogs.  I'm not going to give them grief like I would the MPAA or RIAA, because they seem cognicient of this, and are trying to be competitive in the best way they can (their website is pretty cool, I can renew my PO Box online...).  Unfortunately, it's not enough, and they're going to need to scale back their operations to cope with reduced volume.

Now should every town have a post office for accessibility reasons? That's a more of a moral question, which I do not feel I know enough about to answer.

 

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dmuth's picture
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I may have spoken too soon about the USPS having an outdated business model.  Here's an interesting article on CNN: 6 ways to help your post office.

Among the suggestions in the article are:

- Banking services

- Photocopy/fax services

- Internet service

These are some good ideas, and given that the USPS has invested considerable money into its existing facilities, may provide them a way to make of their investment, as opposed to closing down those facilities.

 

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politeia's picture
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Also interesting to note the largest customer for UPS and Fedex is the USPS.

Last thing UPS and FedEx wants is for the USPS to go out of business.

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Brotherhood of Thieves ~ As we must account for every idle word, so must we account for every idle silence.

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