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One Cobble at a Time

How Postal Services Ate My Day

Sandra Tayler's Journal

responsible woman

A cobble by itself is just a small stone, but when many of them lay together they create a path . My life is made up of many discrete parts. I have to find ways to fit them all into place so that I can continue to journey where I desire to go. This journal records some of the cobbles that create my path.

How Postal Services Ate My Day

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responsible woman

My plan for today was to tackle the first of the year accounting. Then late last night I got an email from a customer who pointed out that some shipping options had vanished from our store. All that remained were the very most expensive choices. I’m already indebted to our customers for supporting us, it is not okay with me that postal services eat up their money for no good reason. This discovery was made at 10:30 pm. I made a couple of stabs at solving it, but I was too tired to find my problem solving brain. It became the first thing to tackle in the morning.

Except the first thing every morning is to get kids off to school. I can’t do any business tasks until they are out of the house or they wouldn’t get off to school at all. Half the time this is accomplished by 8 am, which still qualifies as “first thing”. This morning was one of the other half, the mornings where Kiki starts an hour later than the other kids. I frequently have time to get started on business tasks in between the two drop-offs because Kiki is self sufficient. She wasn’t this morning. And Howard needed some things done urgently. And I ran to staples because it made sense, since I was out anyway, to pick up the tax forms that I would need for my accounting. What with one thing and another I arrived at 10 am, which no longer counts as “first thing.”

The problem with the store started because the US Postal Service raised their rates. This is fine. They have every right to increase the price of their services, particularly when I know that they are not very profitable. I like USPS. I want them to stick around. Unfortunately somehow the rate change broke their automated system which is queried by our store. The store software responded by making all the shipping methods for which it could not find data, vanish. The nice folks at Volusion (our store software provider) already had a fix for the issue and I had it in place within minutes of calling customer service. So Yay! Everything works again.

Only there is a third provider in our shipping process. I use Stamps.com to print out our labels and postage from data that I export from Volusion. Stamps.com was also affected by the postal rate increase. I had to download an update before that program would run. I did and then it crashed. I could print international postage just fine, but domestic postage crashed the program every time. I fired off an email to customer support and then took all the logical steps: restart computer. Re-install program. Restart computer again. None of it worked.

I resorted to printing labels on the USPS website, which works great if you have a single label, but is tedious when I need to import addresses and print many labels. At this point I had successfully turned all of the orders into packages, which solved the immediate trouble. However I still had a long-term issue to solve. I ship things every day. I did not want to use the clunky USPS form every day. And it was time to go fetch the children. Which completely fractured my ability to concentrate and problem solve.

During the next 3 hours I looked into Endicia, which is a competitor of Stamps.com. Endicia would introduce some features I like, but also would create some new hurdles. I pondered whether the problem was an inherent instability in my old computer system. There are some errors which chirp at me occasionally and photoshop crashes with frustrating regularity. I thought longingly of just buying a new computer, expensive though that solution would be. In the end I just walked away from the whole problem in a grump.

Thirty minutes ago I got an email from Stamps.com customer support. My problem is a known issue and they’ll happily talk me through a fix over the phone. During regular business hours. Tomorrow. On one hand, I’m relieved because my shipping system is still viable. On the other hand I’m frustrated because this problem is going to spill over into tomorrow. The gripping hand is that I lost a whole day because other people made mistakes and broke my system.

I want my day back.

Mirrored from onecobble.com.

  • The Niven reference made my day. Sorry that so much suck engulfed your day to lead to it though.
  • (Anonymous)
    Hello Sandra,

    I'd like to apologize for any frustrations that Stamps.com may have caused you yesterday. By now, I hope that we have resolved all outstanding issues. In the event that you still require assistance, please feel free to email me at social@stamps.com so that I can have a member of our technical team call you.

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