Author Topic: Was I too abrupt at the post office?  (Read 2433 times)

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Raintree

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Was I too abrupt at the post office?
« on: April 17, 2014, 03:31:10 AM »
BG: In Canada, the cost of stamps just went up. It was 63 cents, and now a single stamp is a dollar, but if you buy them in booklets or coils, they are 85 cents apiece. And nowadays they are sold as "permanent" stamps (ie they don't show a monetary value, and they are good in Canada even if the price goes up). [end BG]

I found a bunch of old 43 cent stamps that I would like to use up. So two of those makes 86 cents. I wasn't sure if I needed to put a dollar's worth on the envelope, or 85 cents. (It's confusing, since they aren't permanent stamps from a booklet or coil). So I stuck the 86 cents on and since the stamps were curling off, I taped them down at one edge. I've done this many times without issue; I don't cover the whole stamp. (I have since learned that it's better to use a glue stick, but I didn't have one on hand). I went into the post office.

Me: "Hi, do I need to put more postage on this? I have 86 cents on here but I wondered if....."
Post Lady (PL): "You shouldn't put tape on the stamps."
Me: "Well I kind of had to, The stamps were coming off."
PL: "There shouldn't be tape on the stamps." (A bit of a stern dressing down about tape ensues....) "tape is bad, blah blah blah you shouldn't have tape on the stamps..."
Me: (abruptly bypassing further tape discussion) "So do I need to put more postage on this? There's 86 cents on there now but is it supposed to be a dollar? If so I'd like to buy the 14 cents' worth of stamps. 

The look on her face suggested she thought I was rude to bean-dip her in this way and reiterate my actual question. She was a bit snippy with me, though I pleased and thanked and kept my tone courteous throughout the transaction. Was I rude?

sammycat

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Re: Was I too abrupt at the post office?
« Reply #1 on: April 17, 2014, 04:01:20 AM »
No, I don't think you were rude. I do think the clerk was rude, however, to (1) interrupt you, and (2) basically scold you from the sounds of it. If she had concerns there were better ways she could've handled it.

I've actually had our own PO person tape a stamp down herself on one of my letters when it wouldn't' stick, so I figure if the actual PO person can do it, then it's certainly acceptable for other people to do it too!

And an increase from 63c to $1? Wow, that's a big jump. People here jumped up and down when it was touted that stamps go from 60c to 65c or 70c (I can't remember which and I'm not sure if it's going ahead now).

Raintree

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Re: Was I too abrupt at the post office?
« Reply #2 on: April 17, 2014, 04:10:41 AM »
I know, it's crazy. Just means I'm going to be less quick to grab a stamp and stick something in the mail instead of scan and email, or call up and pay by CC.

Cali.in.UK

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Re: Was I too abrupt at the post office?
« Reply #3 on: April 17, 2014, 06:25:35 AM »
She reminds me of those people that have a rant/spiel/explanation that they have in their head that they want to continue from start to finish, even if you agree with them or it is not relevant. You know those situations where someone will start to tell you a long winded reason for why you can't do something, and you agree quickly, but they still keep explaining as if you had not said anything?
I'm sure she got offended because she wanted to keep telling you why you shouldn't use tape, but I don't think you were rude for changing the subject. Unless you raised your voice or spoke in a condescending tone, but from your story it doesn't sound like you did.

Oh Joy

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Re: Was I too abrupt at the post office?
« Reply #4 on: April 17, 2014, 07:57:20 AM »
Her approach was far from ideal, bit I think you were mistaken in dismissing an employee about a prohibited act (I don't know Canadian postal law, but I suspect stamps can't be taped over because they can't be properly canceled.)

Essentially, she was saying 'What you did is against the rules and I can't accept it,' and your response was 'Too bad.  I did it anyway.'  Then you cut her off as she told you more.

Even if she was crabby or on a power trip, explaining more about the rule was appropriate.  I think that acknowledging the rule and asking her how she can help you make it work would have been both more polite and more productive than ignoring both her and the rule, KWIM?

Not that this is a huge deal.  But you asked! 

TootsNYC

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Re: Was I too abrupt at the post office?
« Reply #5 on: April 17, 2014, 08:39:13 AM »
Her approach was far from ideal, bit I think you were mistaken in dismissing an employee about a prohibited act (I don't know Canadian postal law, but I suspect stamps can't be taped over because they can't be properly canceled.)

Essentially, she was saying 'What you did is against the rules and I can't accept it,' and your response was 'Too bad.  I did it anyway.' Then you cut her off as she told you more.

Even if she was crabby or on a power trip, explaining more about the rule was appropriate.  I think that acknowledging the rule and asking her how she can help you make it work would have been both more polite and more productive than ignoring both her and the rule, KWIM?

Not that this is a huge deal.  But you asked!


I disagree with the bolded. i think the OP's answer wasn't essentially "too bad."

I think it was "I had a reason. I didn't know what else to do."

She also didn't tape OVER the stamp. She taped at the edge. Most of the tape was on the envelope.

And tape vs gluestick--well, often you don't *know* that they won't stick well until they're half-stuck. So do you peel them off? Rip the envelope & the stamp? And provide an ineffective surface to use w/ a gluestick?
    Or do you put on a strip of tape that barely overlaps the perforated edge.


She was on a power trip, and as far as I'm concerned, she deserved the abrupt subject shift and even the interruption.

Piratelvr1121

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Re: Was I too abrupt at the post office?
« Reply #6 on: April 17, 2014, 08:43:51 AM »
She reminds me of those people that have a rant/spiel/explanation that they have in their head that they want to continue from start to finish, even if you agree with them or it is not relevant. You know those situations where someone will start to tell you a long winded reason for why you can't do something, and you agree quickly, but they still keep explaining as if you had not said anything?

Yep! I have a friend that used to do this, though thankfully seems to have gotten out of the habit.  It was exasperating and felt condescending, too so I sympathize.  With the friend I'd keep saying "Yes, hon, I understand, you don't need to keep explaining it to me" but I wouldn't suggest that with someone you barely know.
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Coley

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Re: Was I too abrupt at the post office?
« Reply #7 on: April 17, 2014, 09:00:31 AM »
I think the PL was rude for interrupting you. Rather than hearing your question and responding to it, she interrupted with her own concern.

This is not to say that her concern wasn't valid. A rule may well exist that tape shouldn't be used on stamps. She also may be obligated as an employee to tell patrons about this rule.

She should have waited until you had finished asking your question and then addressed your question. After that, she still would have the opportunity to talk about the tape on the stamps.

I don't think you were rude exactly. I do think it might have been more graceful to acknowledge what the PL was saying and then change the subject back to your concern: "I understand. So, do I still need more postage ..."

If it were me, after my postage question was answered, I might then switch back to PL's concern about the tape and ask her what a patron should do when stamps don't stick properly (assuming she hadn't already told you).

postalslave

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Re: Was I too abrupt at the post office?
« Reply #8 on: April 17, 2014, 09:10:29 AM »

Her approach was far from ideal, bit I think you were mistaken in dismissing an employee about a prohibited act (I don't know Canadian postal law, but I suspect stamps can't be taped over because they can't be properly cancelled)


I am very versed in Canadian Postal law  ;D finally, something postal came up! Lol

You can tape down postage stamps. You can do what the OP did and just tape part of it so it can still be cancelled, or if they've already been cancelled you can tape over the entire stamp.

And to the OP, because I wasn't sure if the clerk actually answered your question, the postage rate is 0.85$ it's only $1 when you buy a solitary stamp. Don't get me started on how ridiculous that is.... Also, I don't think you were rude, I definitely think the clerk was. If she were one of my employees I would not be pleased...

VorFemme

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Re: Was I too abrupt at the post office?
« Reply #9 on: April 17, 2014, 10:08:08 AM »
Rubber cement or a little glue/paste on a toothpick work fine to get between the stamp and the envelope for stamps that have lost their stickiness.

As to the employee not listening...it seems to be epidemic in the modern world.  I have had computer "help" lines tell me to reboot the computer & read the message on the screen...when the issue that I called about was that the computer would not boot up, period.  Blank black screen, no lights coming on at all, and only my reflection in the screen.

« Last Edit: April 17, 2014, 10:14:07 AM by VorFemme »
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m2kbug

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Re: Was I too abrupt at the post office?
« Reply #10 on: April 17, 2014, 11:24:00 AM »
No, I don't think you were rude.  She was.  There was no need to harp on the issue.  It is perfectly acceptable to use tape as long as the stamp isn't completely covered so that the stamp can be stamped...or the ink can't be wiped off (and stamp reused).  That's the only criteria.  Those glue sticks aren't necessarily that reliable, IMO, it depends on the glue, and unless you have kids and do lots of crafting, I'm guessing if anyone does have glue, it's dried up.  Tape is fine.  Agreed it would be preferable.  Or you could have not attached them to the envelope and let the postal person do it. This is a suggested alternative, but you were perfectly fine taping the stamps on and perfectly fine in how you maneuvered yourself away from the scolding.

sweetonsno

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Re: Was I too abrupt at the post office?
« Reply #11 on: April 17, 2014, 08:38:30 PM »
For me, it depends a lot on tone. Having not been a fly on the wall, I can't say for sure whether either (or both) of you were rude, but I can see a couple of missteps.

It looks like both of you ignored the other's concerns. Based on your account of the conversation, you didn't acknowledge that you understood that your package was pushing the envelope (yuk yuk) regarding postal restrictions as quickly as she would have liked. It also sounds like she didn't acknowledge your question/request as quickly as you would have liked.

I don't get the sense that you were being deliberately dismissive or she was being deliberately condescending, but I can definitely see how you both may have annoyed the other.

SoCalVal

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Re: Was I too abrupt at the post office?
« Reply #12 on: April 18, 2014, 06:31:43 AM »
I don't think you were too abrupt and feel you handled the situation the best you could without feeling forced to call her out on it to get her to stop (but this comes from someone who, for one, recently had to deal with an employee in another dept who just had to have her say and berate me, even though I'd already apologized and acknowledged she was correct twice and was trying to get her to move forward with the situation -- there are those who are just determined to get that part in, the scolding, even though it halts all progress and/or brings no benefit/solution to the situation; in my case, the only thing I could do after getting her to stop berating me was to determine that phone calls were really not a good method of communicating with her anymore...so I don't and strictly use e-mail instead).