Postal Shortage

A funny thing happened the other day at the post office…

They didn’t have any stamps.

“OMG,” I thought. “Was there an inflation crisis that I missed? Has the current national inventory of stamps lost all of its value?”

No, they just ran out.

“Ok. Well, where,” I asked, “could I possibly get a stamp?”

I was informed that I could go to another post office (up the steep hill) and perhaps they would have stamps. This helpful bit of information made the situation even more perplexing. Why wouldn’t the other post office just deliver (because that was what they were in the business of doing) more stamps to this post office.

Was this privatization at its worst? But I uncovered an article from May of this year about how, no way, the government was not going to privatize Correios, the postal organization. It’s just too important to the government (but not important enough to provide a branch in the largest city in its country with enough stamps). But good news, they would be adding more employees (nothing said about adding more stamps).

And speaking of stamps, they wouldn’t let me mail the postcard with a stamp I bought at a post office in Minas Gerais, another state in Brazil.

Remember how I raved about the toll road privatization (see Highway Service) and how nice the roads were and how someone would come to save you if you happened to be in trouble? Maybe, just maybe the government would want to consider a similar model. Especially with competition as tough as emails and texts, maybe you put it into the hands of someone who knows how to make it profitable and how to keep supply slightly ahead of demand not behind. Though an interesting PR concept, unlike Apple products, I sincerely doubt that the interest in mailing stuff will sky rocket if it gets around that the post offices are out of stamps. I’m pretty sure that will just make sending an electronic evite or greeting card more attractive.

It’s not like the post offices in the U.S. are great. They are generally not. The term “going postal” wasn’t coined for nothing. And sure, they might run out of commemorative stamps of Elvis’ birthday, and the vending machine might run out of 2 cents endangered bird stamps, but I’m pretty certain they don’t run out of stamps all together.

So on this particular day at this particular location I inquired, “When do you expect to get more stamps?” Maybe Friday, I was told.

It was Monday.

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13 Responses to Postal Shortage

  1. Ray says:

    That sounds odd. Do you think perhaps they just get comfortable with the electronic stamp machine and stamps are not all that vital anymore? Just a thought…still not an excuse, the Post Office of all places is not the place to run out of stamps.
    When I lived in Sao Paulo you could buy stamps at any newstand ( Banca de Jornais ), try a newstand next time, if there is one closer than the next Postal branch.


    • Yes, later, after I had already hiked up the hill to mail my letter, I wondered myself if they could have possibly offered just run it through an electronic stamp machine. But I’ve never seen anyone get an electronic stamp at either place – they just pull a envelop full of stamps out of a drawer. And I’ve sent things to all over the world, sometimes my poor, innocent cards have five stamps on them in various sizes and colors – you’d think at that point if they had a machine, they would have used it…
      Newstand is good to know, but then I need to figure out on my own how many and what kind of stamps I need!

  2. Jenna says:

    Hahahahaha. That totally sounds like the Brazilian post office.

  3. scrubgrub says:

    LOL, I don’t even know where a post office is, or the last time I mailed something… December of last year… at FedEx… private industry is the best.

  4. It’s funny. The only reasons I’ve gone to the post office were to mail invitations, greeting cards or thank you cards – three things Brazilians don’t do! I’ve never gotten a thank you card and the receiver is always surprised when I send. Most invitations come via email (or delivered to building/school) and same with greeting cards (which I’ve actually never received here). So perhaps, from a cultural perspective, I’m the wacky one going in expecting postage stamps all the time! (Although the other post office, the one up the hill, always seems to have them.)

  5. workmomad says:

    You’re right; I can’t imagine a U.S. post office completely devoid of stamps, or at least a postage machine that will print postage! But then, life is always an adventure, isn’t it?


  6. Ana says:

    My experience:
    Brazilians prefer delivering wedding / birthday invitations by hand or via “motoboy”.
    They only mail it when the receiver lives far away as mailing is consider too impersonal.

    Greeting cards are normally sent by post. ( Ive received tons of greeting cards from stores and friends in Brazil.)
    Thank you cards are somewhat common for weddings only.

    If one receives a gift its more common to call the person to thank her/him and recently email is also acceptable.

    • Yes, I was told not to send invitation via mail – instead have your driver deliver these. Having no driver, I actually walked as many as I could to the buildings of the various invitees – and I was a great experience because I got exercise and I got to know more of Sao Paulo.
      I’ve received greeting cards from stores, trying to sell me something, but never from anyone else.

  7. danielle says:

    I’m still not sure why you think a Brazilian privatized company will offer better service than the government. It’s a crapshoot!!

    • I only have one point of reference – the highways. The privatized highways here are much better than the toll roads I’ve experienced in the U.S. Plus, anything has got to be better than the way the postal service is run today. I paid R$48 to get a letter to the US “rapido” and was told it would take 2 to 5 days for delivery. Guess where it is. No, better yet, guess where it is not.
      However, just for kicks, would love to hear about privatization gone wrong, just for another point of reference.

  8. Pingback: The Stalker | born again brazilian

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