Next week, the Springfield Post Office will reduce the hours it staffs its service windows by 30 minutes on weekdays, closing at 6 p.m. instead of 6:30 p.m.
Tuesday, people in the post office lobby, which is open 24 hours a day, were using automated services and getting materials for online services that at least partially replace the need for a clerk’s help in processing packages.
Springfield Postmaster Sue Vanzant said a post office study “showed we didn’t have the traffic” to justify keeping the service clerks on the job from 6 to 6:30 p.m. The windows will continue to open at 8:30 a.m., and Saturday hours will continue as is, from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
On Tuesday, Springfielder Erik Greiffenhagen was mailing a package using the automated system in the lobby. Asked how often he uses the station, he replied “loads.”
Designed like a self-service checkout line in a supermarket, the station has a computerized system for printing labels and a scale for weighing packages. Next to it is a display with free boxes people can assemble for shipping.
“It has its limitations,” said Greiffenhagen, who says he still prefers the service counter for international packages.
But, he said, “This is handy because you don’t have to wait in line. It saves time.”
Although Greiffenhagen said he has had to wait in line to use the automated station, Vanzant said that after being around for 10 years, the station still does only about $500 in business a day, about $170 less than the post office’s target.
The station does not take cash, she said, and many older patrons don’t like to use credit or debit cards in their transactions.
While Greiffenhagen was using the station, Michelle Thornton of Smithfield, Va., was picking up boxes so that her retired parents, Springfielders George and Evelyn Walters, can mail packages without setting foot in the post office.
Thornton said she regularly logs on to USPS.com to fill out forms and print labels, then just leaves packages for the post office on her front porch.
She’s encouraging her mother, who told her she doesn’t like trips to the post office, to do the same.
Referring to the automated station, she added, “I wish we had one like this” at her post office.
Vanzant said those who want to do postal business after hours can go to the postal substation at the customer service desk in the Meijer Store at 1500 Hillcrest Ave.
The UPS store at 2071 N. Bechtle Ave., also is open until 6:30 p.m. weekdays, with the final package truck leaving at 6 p.m.