USPS Loses Sight of Who is the Customer
March 5, 2019
Being able to pay conveniently the way you want is a universal right of any customer in today’s economy. Any business that does not match or exceed the payment options offered by competitors ceases to be in business. Most commerce is moving away from currency and paper checks to seamless, almost effortless, real-time electronic transactions.
Reflecting these facts, the Postal Service began offering easy electronic payment for mailers in the 1990s. The system was called the Centralized Account Payment System (CAPS). The CAPS platform basically allows mailers to pay centrally if they mail in multiple locations, and to pay with electronic debits or credits through the Automated Clearinghouse (ACH).
ACH is the system used for almost all electronic payments, from your bank’s bill pay service to automatic recurring payment of your mortgage or utility bill. Banks and billers constantly update their software and web pages in ways that usually are invisible to the customer.
The USPS is replacing CAPS with something new called the Enterprise Payment System (EPS). We looked up the definition of “enterprise” and found three:
Definition of enterprise
1: a project or undertaking that is especially difficult, complicated, or risky
2a: a unit of economic organization or activity
especially: a business organization
b: a systematic purposeful activity
//agriculture is the main economic enterprise among these people
3: readiness to engage in daring or difficult action: INITIATIVE
//showed great enterprise in dealing with the crisis
We think that USPS intended definition #2, but actually achieved #1 and/or #3. We say this because we have heard many anecdotes about customers having difficulty “migrating” over to the new EPS from the old CAPS. Many have found it necessary to hire consultants to help with the migration. Not all of the permutations and combinations of services paid for seem to have been anticipated.
It is hard to think of any other business that makes customers go through a difficult, expensive “migration” just to keep paying. And we wonder whether USPS did any user testing before launching the migration, especially since it seems to be relying on customers to do most of the work.
As a result of the difficulties of migration and the fact that not all customers seem ready or able to meet the April 1, 2019 “cutoff date,” USPS is offering an extension to July 1, 2019.
There are two incredible aspects to the extension. First, you, the customer, must fill out an “ENTERPRISE PAYMENT SYSTEM MIGRATION EXCEPTION REQUEST.” In it you need to provide an “exception reason” and a “migration plan.” The Postal Service will decide whether to accept your extension request or not: “The Postal Service will notify the customer via email to confirm receipt of the exception request and to provide approval/dis-approval status.” Remember, this is just to continue paying USPS the way you have been and the way every other business uses.
But even more amazingly, if you miss the ultimate July 1 cutoff date, you really will be punished:
Customers who have been granted an extension but do not complete their CAPS to EPS migration for eligible products by the extended July 1st deadline, will be required to open a Local Trust account which will need to be funded by depositing a check at the BMEU where the permit is located. This option will be EPS eligible customers’ only option for paying for EPS eligible products after the July 1, 2019 migration deadline.
The Postal Service is threatening its customers with a return to the early 1990s methods of local payments in advance with paper checks, if they miss the migration cutoff date to the new, improved system for real-time electronic payments.
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