Vending Machine Eats Money, Demands ID

Well, add the post office to the list of places that have now become airports.

Over the weekend I bought a stamp in a post office vending machine. The machine ran out of change and printed a neat little receipt that said to take it to the desk and get a refund. The lost amount was printed on it. While ordinarily I would find it annoying for a vending machine to take my money, I did think it was really good design for the machine to be self-equipped to handle the situation.

Today, when I went to the post office to cash it in, the clerk told me I had to fill out a form stating who I was, where I lived, and how they money became lost. I protested by asking “do I really need to identify myself on this form in order to get my money back?”

“Yes,” she replied. “And you have to show identification.”

Personally, I don’t get it. The credit receipt says that the machine recorded the loss. They can easily check that record to see the receipt is legit, so I don’t think fraud is a real problem with this. So, what’s the deal? I doubt someone is going to fly a stamp into a building.

Anyway, not wanting to hold up the line, I just stated that the requirement was unacceptable to me and that she should just give me the receipt back.

But the story gets even better. I called the post office hot-line (the number is (800) 275-8777, in case you were wondering) and I was told that there is no postal regulation that required them to ask for ID. “Some post offices do and some post offices don’t” was the reply. She offered to connect me to my post office, but I know that they were already closed.

Hmm. I’ll have to think about how to respond to this one.

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