Pity the United States Postal Service.
In a bid to stem a downward slide in business they’ve resorted to trying to scare businesses into avoiding the Internet.
The message in full page ads appearing in the Wall Street Journal and other targeted publications depicts a big blow up of a billing statement attached to a refrigerator door with the bold proclamation, “a refrigerator has never been hacked.” The message is simple and to the point: They essentially are claiming the mail has never been hacked but “the same cannot always be said for e-mail accounts, digital files, and the Internet.” The ad states oftentimes customers feel their “important statements, passwords, and PINS are left exposed and vulnerable. So when it comes to giving your customers an added feeling of safety and security, nothing quite compares to the printed document.”
Apparently the Postal Service has never heard of mail theft.
Meth heads - and other dredges of society - have a nasty habit of stealing mail.
It is why many people over the years have abandoned home delivery for postal boxes inside Postal Offices. And postal box thefts inside lobbies of Post Offices have gotten so bad that the doors are no longer open 24/7 to access them.
Thieves have been also known to hammer and pry their way into cluster mail boxes.
As for the printed document, forget to shred them and a Toter diver working for an ID theft ring can hit pay dirt.
The Postal Service not only offers a low tech way of communicating but it also attracts low tech criminals.
The Internet, on the other hand, is the prey ground for everyone from international organized crime and misdirected 16 year-olds who want to raid your electronic accounts to buy stuff.
It is doubtful that any business today - unless they aren’t under economic duress - would be swayed by such an advertisement. Let’s face it. It costs more money to mail a statement than it does to e-mail an electronic statement.
The real targeted audience of the Postal Service’s advertising blitz should be the end receiver. But then again, most of the folks who are resistant to the idea of electronic statements have already dug in their heels.
Essentially, the advertising blitz is a tad ineffective. It is akin to trying to have a 10-year-old boy use his thumb to plug a hole in the base of the Hoover Dam. Not only is it playing to fears - which isn’t exactly a great way to generate consumer confidence - but it is also trying to hold back a massive tide of change.
The mail service isn’t on the road to obsolescence. It simply has to adapt to the forces of change just like it has when modes of transportation have changed through the centuries.
The invention of the telegraph was the precursor for what is happening today. The phone continued the evolution. The Internet has accelerated it.
The ad is also a bit disingenuous. How much do you want to bet that the Postal Service uses the Internet to transmit sensitive information ranging from payroll to even follow up reports to mail theft that would contain the same sensitive information that had already been stolen?
There will be a need for snail mail for a long time to come.
What there won’t be a need for is a small army to deliver the mail.
The remedy may take the form of slower turnaround times to less days of delivery.
As for their advertising dollars, maybe, just maybe, they should take their message taught to the American people that they need to be freed of Congressional control in how they run various facets of their operations. It’s tough enough competing in today’s world without having 535 career politicians holding you back.
Yes, it is true that refrigerators have never been hacked.
Mail, though, has certainly been stolen.
This column is the opinion of managing editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 209-249-3519.