Evan Baehr and Will Davis had a brilliant idea for a new high tech start-up company. They wanted to give customers the opportunity to receive all their (snail) mail digitally. They launched Outbox, a company that allowed customers to have all their regular mail forwarded to the company’s offices. The mail would be opened, scanned, and then images of the mail would be sent by email to the customers. In its first few weeks of operation, the company received rave reviews from satisfied customers and the word started to spread. Even CNBC carried their story nationally.
Then the government stepped in.
Baehr and Davis were summoned to a meeting with the US Postmaster General in Washington. The two believed the Post Office wanted to work with them to better serve the American public and to simultaneously reduce expenses. The two men were naive; that was not the intent of the US Postmaster General.
In a meeting with US Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe and several of his staff members, the two entrepreneurs were told by the Postmaster General that “we have a misunderstanding. ‘You disrupt my service and we will never work with you.’” Further, “‘You mentioned making the service better for our customers; but the American citizens aren’t our customers—about 400 junk mailers are our customers. Your service hurts our ability to serve those customers.”’
According to Evan, the Chief of Digital Strategy’s comments were even more stark, “[Your market model] will never work anyway. Digital is a fad. It will only work in Europe.”
Digital is a fad? US Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe claims that the American citizens are not his customers? Instead, he works to serve 400 junk mailers?
No wonder the US Postal Service is hemorrhaging money!
You can read the sad details in an article by Derek Khanna in the Inside Sources web site at http://www.insidesources.com/outbox-vs-usps-how-the-post-office-killed-digital-mail/.