Sunday, April 10, 2011

Of Big Brother and Postage Stamps

So, I just ordered stamps for wedding invitations online from the USPS website.  I've been procrastinating a bit because I just dread the idea of dealing with government-related websites, but it's better than standing in the interminably slow lines at the actual Post Office substation.

This is the first time I've ordered stamps online -- it's just so easy to buy them at the ATM, but Younger Daughter wanted "specialized" wedding ring and cake stamps, so I suckered in and went to the website.

It's not the easiest site to navigate, in all honesty.  But, I finally found Items 574240 and 574140, entered the quantity, and expected the shipping or payment screen to pop up.  But, no!  A "sign in or register" screen popped up.  With no option to order simply as "guest" without registering.

I hate websites like that.  I mean, who wants to register at five hundred thirty-seven thousand websites and keep up with five-hundred thirty-seven thousand passwords and usernames?!?!

So, being the wonderful mother I am, I registered so my baby could get her cute stamps, using the password "USPS3sucks," and not allowing it to remember my credit card info or send me exciting emails about new products and services from my postal service.  Then, I clicked "continue" expecting the shipping or payment screen to pop up.  But, no!  A "you must acknowledge our privacy policy" screen popped up.  A rather pushy "you must acknowledge our privacy policy" screen.  This is what it said (italics mine):

"The information you supply will be used to provide you online registration capability for Internet-based services, and to provide those services. Please be aware that this service is voluntary, but that requested information is required to provide the service. Collection of information for this service is authorized by 39 U.S.C. 401, 403, and 404. We do not disclose your personal information to anyone, except in accordance with the Privacy Act.

Authorized disclosures include limited circumstances such as the following:
(a) in a legal proceeding in which the USPS is a party or has an interest, or pursuant to federal court order;
(b) to a congressional office at your request;
(c) to an independent certified public accountant during an official audit of USPS finances;
(d) to an authorized credit bureau or other government agency for purposes of identity verification;
(e) to a Postal Service contractor, such as a technology or service provider, if the disclosure is necessary to fulfill an agency function;
(f) to a payee or financial institution for billing payment; and
(g) to a government law enforcement agency pursuant to a federal warrant.

For information about additional protections we provide you, please visit our privacy policy via the link below."
And the referenced link is kinda hard to locate, too.

So, in essence, it's purely optional ("voluntary") for you to provide the information requested by the website, but you won't get your stamps unless you do.  And they won't share any of your info unless one of Uncle Sam's other nieces or nephews asks for it.  Or unless the USPS really screws up and lands in litigation.

Holy.  Crap.

Now they really know where to find me! 

I'm thinking I should have stood in line at the substation. 


  1. I'm surprised ya didn't go here, Moogie. I've never ordered from these people, but I'm pretty certain their web site is a lot less obnoxious than the gub'mint's. The bonus is you can use a photo with these guys, so if Younger Daughter and FSIL had a formal portrait done...

  2. Cool! Thanks, Buck -- I may go play there soon!

  3. I hate dealing with the post office. Wait... I have packages in the mail right now... I mean, O love the U.S. Postal service.

  4. You're a better woman than I am and you continually awe me with your wedding enthusiasm.

  5. written like a true lawyer... i hate it when all that junk makes things so complicated.

  6. Oooh,
    Trestin. It may be too late.

    Awww. Thanks, Lou. This wedding will be my swan song, however!

    It all just seems so over the top, doesn't it, Cuz? SOOO aggravating.