From: Tom Whore (email@example.com)
Date: Wed Aug 02 2000 - 10:02:49 PDT
The Associated Press
W A S H I N G T O N, Aug. 1
Uncle Sam wants YOUUSPS.COM.
Fearing that e-mail and online bill paying could take a fatal bite
out of first-class mail in coming years, officials with the U.S. Postal
Service are testing a variety of e-services for Americans, including one
that would assign virtually everybody an e-mail address.
The new service, postal officials say, could notify
customers by e-mail about an incoming bill or package, which they could
then reroute to another address.
Another proposal, set to begin a three-year consumer test next month,
would allow customers to send e-mails to a post office to be printed and
delivered as first-class mail much like a service already provided by a
And a third program, already available, lets customers pay bills
online through the Postal Services Web site.
Benjamin Franklin, our first postmaster, would be amazed.
Postal Service spokeswoman Sue Brennan called the e-projects a way
for customers to choose how they want to get their correspondence.
The post office predicts that in 2003, first-class mail, now a $35
billion business and its top revenue-producing service, will begin an
unprecedented decline at the hands of booming e-mail and online billing
Under its own online bill system, the Postal Service charges
customers $6 per month to send 20 electronic transactions, or $2 per month
and 40 cents apiece for unlimited transactions.
The e-mail-to-paper system would cost about 41 cents per message
eight cents more than current 33-cent postage.
Your Street .Com
Under the e-mailbox proposal, virtually every American
would be assigned a free e-mail address corresponding to their street
address. Customers could simply link the service to any present e-mail
address they have, or opt for a special online postal box. Customers could
then get an e-mail address using their initials, followed by their
nine-digit ZIP code and the last two numbers of their street address with
usps.com tacked at the end.
For instance, Bill Clinton (1600 Pennsylvania Ave., Washington, D.C.,
20500-0003) would get the e-mail address: bc20500000300usps.com.
Not the sort of thing youd rattle off at a cocktail party, but its
tough to replicate.
Its no news that Americans are avid e-mailers. A new study by the Pew
Internet and American Life Project found that more than 90 million people
have Internet access. Of those, about 84 million use e-mail regularly,
while 16 million have used some sort of online banking service.
But followers of e-commerce had mixed reactions to the
postal e-mail proposal.
Theyre in catch-up mode, said Donald Heath, president of the
nonprofit Internet Society, based in Reston, Va. It sounds like theyre not
in touch with the reality of the Internet at this point.
Heath said most people who would use the service already have e-mail
and that the rest probably wouldnt log on for the tracking service.
As schemes go, this one isnt bad, said Rob Enderle of Giga
Information Group, a Santa Clara, Calif.-based technology research firm.
It absolutely makes sense they are in the business of delivering mail, and
e-mail is a form of mail. So ignoring that mode is a way of making
Other Tech Initiatives The Postal Service already waded
into the brave new world of e-mail in 1998, when it began testing a kind
of certified e-mail service called PostECS, which sends electronic
receipts for contracts and other important documents transmitted over the
Last year, it rolled out its heralded online postage system. The
Postal Service says 280,000 customers have printed $22.6 million worth of
online stamps since July 1999, but the service has yet to deliver a
Gene Johnson, chief executive officer of Mail2000, a Bethesda, Md.,
company that translates e-mail messages into first-class mail, said
customers would probably find little use for the Postal Service e-mail
tracking system, but insisted that reports of the death of first-class
mail are greatly exaggerated.
We really dont see where its going to disappear, he said. Even our
customers who want their messages delivered electronically, they want to
see the hard copy.
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