US Mail Dies, Australia Post Thrives

- Royal Mail MIA

Australian Post Box

In another of life’s great ironies the internet is being both blamed for the failure of the postal service in the US and credited for its booming success in Australia.

A paradox for sure. How can the web be the reason for both failure and success in almost identical institutions?

Why the US Postal Service Is Going Out of Business Forbes

Postal Service Is Nearing Default as Losses Mount New York Times

The U.S. Postal Service Nears Collapse Bloomberg


I’ve been following the slow decay of the US Mail with some mild curiosity because, as almost everyone in Australia is aware, our equivalent institution, Australia Post has been banging on about how wonderful the web has been for its business for years.

In the latest news Aussie post is opening new superstores around the country complete with digital mail boxes for all the online goodies we keep p buying, but are never at home to collect.

Post changes to cope with online shopping boom Sydney Morning Herald

So the contrast is stark – boom for one, bust for the other.

Even the performance of Britain’s Royal Mail is also on life support.

This cynical Royal Mail and Post Office divorce will bring only misery The Guardian


Colonials Do it Better

So it begs the question: What is it that we upstart colonials have been able to successfully do with our postal service that both the US and Britain haven’t?

I mean our service was more or less modelled on the Royal Mail.

The truth is the web is not responsible for these institutions results. The web may be the straw that’s breaking the camel’s back for some, and the lovely cream on top for others, but the real reasons for this lie deeper.

While I’m not familiar with all the problems besetting the US Mail and the Royal Mail, I have had some experience with working with Australia Post a while back for direct response catalogue mailings and instore merchandising.

And basically they have always seemed pretty proactive, always helpful and on the ball.

In fact Australia Post got its business act together long before the modern web came on the scene.


Less Public Money Equals Better Management

The reason for Australia Post’s pro business approach is pretty simple. In 1975 the Government cut its money off. From that year on, the organisation was required to be totally self sufficient.

Eventually the Australian Postal Corporation Act 1989 corporatised the institution and made it totally responsible for its own funding and operation with the Australian Government as its sole shareholder. 

Imagine that, politicians and bureaucrats actually doing something right. (That’s a joke guys.)

Whether the pollies in the US and Britain ever considered taking such a step I don’t know, Maggie Thatcher apparently balked at the idea in the eighties. Perhaps readers from across the pond can enlighten us further.

Anyway, I think this would make a great business case study for any exchange student. 

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