Post Office Customers Still Want To 'Take A Number'

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When the Take-A-Number system recently disappeared from the Payson Post Office, customers got upset.

Payson Postmaster Lori Shewey received a stack of petitions questioning the policy, but those who made the decision insist that it is actually more efficient and people will be served faster than they were by the old system.

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The goals of the U.S. Postal Service include "timely, efficient, courteous service" without "compromising individual attention." To meet those goals, they recently removed the Take-A-Number system.

Now, customers stand in a common feeder line, just as they do in the grocery story or at the bank.

"In order to better serve our customers we will no longer be using the Take-A-Number system," reads the first sentence of a missive to postal customers.

The letter calls the change "customer driven" and states that "studies have shown the Take-A-Number system actually extends a customer's waiting time."

"The downfall of the new method is that we must then stand in line in the order we arrive," wrote Jane Medlock in an e-mail to the Payson Roundup. "The elderly and (handicapped) cannot sit on the benches waiting their turns as they have in the past. Last-minute writing on the back counter will lose your place in line."

"(The policy) is basically to help move mail processing as far as window service. They think it will help reps to move the lines a little faster if they see what they have out there," said Marty Medvec, assistant to Nancy Hertell, the postmaster in charge of operations.

Arizona has 296 post offices, 49 of those have recently had the Take-A-Number system removed.

Payson is not the only town adjusting to the change.

Some of the elderly and disabled residents of Green Valley, a small town located in the southern part of Arizona are not happy about the new policy. They have written of their concerns to their local newspaper, the Green Valley News and Sun, said Tim Hull, assistant managing editor.

"We hope (those who wrote letters to the paper) will attempt to do something about it," Hull wrote in his Aug. 27 editorial for Green Valley News.

People who disagree with the system change may contact the customer service manager at their local post office, fill out a postal service comment form there or online at www.usps.com.

"The white hairs, or should I say the blue hairs, have stood up and are demanding that we put the number system back in," Medvec said.

"So, then we asked them, what do you do at the grocery store, when you go for groceries? Do you pick a number? I don't think so.

"We feel like it (waiting in line at the post office) is no different than a grocery store or a bank or wherever you may be going. Somebody is going to be standing in line waiting for some service."

"Over the last couple of years the post office has offered people additional ways to do business with us instead of going to the post office lobby," said Peter Hass, a spokesperson for the USPS, Arizona district.

Stamps may be ordered by phone at 1-800-STAMP24 and packages may be mailed with carrier pickup by going to www.usps.com.

Those who want personal service still have the option of going to the counter, and Hass added, "Anyone who has some kind of special need, obviously we want to make every accommodation we possibly can for them."

The benches are still in place and, according to Hass, it is going take everyone helping each other while we are in transition to make sure a person who needs to sit down can and does not lose their place in line.

-- To reach Carol La Valley call 474-5251 ext. 122 or e-mail clavalley@payson.com.

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