Contributed by ItsaSecret.
Overview: How would you like to be able to mail a package without paying for the postage? With a USPS shop, you will evaluate the facility condition and customer service while shipping a package. These shops are particularly popular with people who sell on eBay.
Project variations: Postal shops come in four varieties but only three flavors. Scenarios A and D are identical. For these, you ship an item, in a box you obtain elsewhere, to an address outside the zip code of the post office you are shopping. Scenario B is similar to A, except you go in without a box and choose a box or envelope from the Ready Post display. Scenario C requires you to use an oversized box you bought elsewhere and you have to ship it farther away than the other three scenarios. You never use the free Priority boxes for any of these shops!
Visit & Reporting requirements: Most should be in the 10 to 15 minute range, but could take longer if the line is long. The report is mostly check boxes, except for a summary narrative at the end, and should take no more than about 20 minutes to enter online. You will have one receipt to upload, two if you had to buy a box.
Timings: You will do two timings: enter/exit, and the time in line.
Counts: You will count the customers ahead of you, and how many windows are open.
Observations: You will observe cleanliness and condition of interior and exterior, the location of certain posters, and the availability of certain optional mailing forms. You will observe if the clerk is in proper uniform.
Observations that are easy to forget: see if the zip code is on the building somewhere. It isn’t always. Also notice the gender of the person in front of you in line. There are questions about these things.
Shop flow: You will get in line with your package, note your time and once you are called, stop timing (timings need to be to the second for this step). Step to the window, set your package on the counter and let the clerk tell you about the options. Note what the clerk says and their demeanor. For the scenario C, watch to see if the clerk measures the box. For the scenario B, do not tell the clerk if they fail to charge you for the box. (The point of the shop is to see if they do so.) Get a receipt. Note how they close the transaction. Finish your observations if needed after you leave the window.
Once you’ve done a few of these, the observations will be second nature, but I sometimes go back in on the pretext of getting a free Priority mail box because I forgot to look at the posters!
Reimbursed costs: You will be laying out around $10 for A, B, or D scenarios, but the outlay for a C shop is around $40. If you need to buy a box elsewhere, submit the receipt and they will reimburse for this (see instructions for limits). Payment will occur about the middle of the month after the shop.
Helpful hints: For A, B, and D shops, you can mail anything you want to anyone outside the zip code. For a C, the shop instructions say to ship food to a food bank. But if you read through the description before you accept the shop, it tells you if you want to send a personal package instead, you may do so as long as it meets the weight and distance criteria. So check with your scheduler to make sure they are okay with it, and if you want to mail a personal package, chances are you can.
For Scenario B, bring a roll of tape with you. The post office does not provide free tape. If the Ready Post items are not displayed, you will need to get in line and get a box from the clerk, take it to the preparation counter and package it, then get in line again. You will pay for it when you present it for shipment, not when you get it from the clerk.
For Scenario C, although the instructions say the client prefers you pay with cash, they do not say you must pay with cash. Because of the large cash outlay for the C scenario, ask if you can use a credit card. My scheduler has allowed this, even though the editors may comment, “Please remember to use cash.”
Estimated pay: These shops pay around $10-15 but can be bonused at times especially in remote areas.