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Window Clerk





F-1, Post Office Accounting Procedures -

 November 1996, Updated by Postal Bulletin Revisions through October 2, 2003

Do you want to know the value of nondenominated stamps? See
Postal Service's Quick Service Guide


Pub 275 Post Office Robbery

(July 2003)


Stamp release schedules

  USPS Administrative  Decisions (Debt Collection Act & more)
  Automated Postal Centers
  Article 37 Clerk Craft  Questions & Answers

Sales and Services Associate (SSA) Training



Uniforms Information

New Jersey Post Office Trains First Hearing Impaired Window Clerk(6/26/04)
News Articles 
USPS Wants Windows Program to replace POS Software
Reduction in Force
"I have reported to you before on the plan to abolish the window clerks or retail sales clerks, as they are now called and man the windows with PTF clerks. The unassigned regulars produced by this move will, for the most part, be assigned to tour one. The plan will produce a lot of involuntary retirements because most of these people will be very senior employees."



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Postal Window Clerks

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Mystery Shopper Results Are In:' Questionable Retail Practices to Change

Sales and Services Associate Exam Q & A

USPS Letter on Mystery Shopper Evaluations

To All Window Clerks

Changes in the F-1 331 Cash Reserves Polo shirts for Retail Clerks
Window Training Suspended  HAZMAT Question:


Mystery Shopper Dispute Settlement

September 23, 2008
The APWU and USPS resolved a national-level grievance on Sept. 15, 2008, stipulating that, “Evaluations generated through the Mystery Shopper or similar programs shall not be used as the basis for discipline.” The
agreement [PDF] settles a Step 4 dispute, filed in 2007, which challenged management’s policy of issuing discipline to employees as a result of programs that are similar to but not technically part of the “Mystery Shopper” program.

U.S. Postal Service Selects NCR for Hardware Technology Refresh

NCR workstations to be installed at 16,000-plus post offices utilizing NCR POS ONE software platform

July 7, 2008

NCR RealPOS 80XRT POS WorkstationDAYTON, Ohio –The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has selected NCR Corporation (NYSE: NCR) as the exclusive provider of retail point-of-service (POS) hardware for thousands of postal counters across the United States.

Under the three-year, multimillion-dollar contract, the USPS will install NCR RealPOS™ 80XRT workstations at larger, high-traffic post office locations currently running the NCR POS ONE postal software solution.  This comprehensive solution from NCR, designed to deliver improved operational efficiencies and streamlined customer service, is expected to be installed beginning in the second half of 2008.  NCR will also provide services, including help desk, project management and maintenance.

“This contract is an affirmation of the successful relationship NCR has shared since 1996 with the world’s largest postal service,” said Jim McMullen, president of NCR Government Systems, LLC.  “NCR’s industry-leading solution is delivering dramatic improvements in performance and efficiency, enabling the USPS to better manage expenses while enhancing the customer experience.”

The NCR RealPOS 80XRT is NCR’s most advanced workstation.  Employing next-generation architecture, this device delivers industry-leading power, scalability and systems management capabilities to the point of service.  Coupled with the NCR POS ONE software, NCR’s solution allows the USPS to focus on accommodating customers with faster service and better information during visits to local post offices.

Need to Know: The Postal Service notified the NAPUS National office that the Point-of-Sale (POS) and the Web Box Activity Tracking System (WebBats) will be integrated in August.  Automated Postal Centers (APCs) will also be integrated with WebBats to allow customers to pay their post office box fees from an APC.  (6/22/08)
New Weight Limit for Packages

A new decal prohibiting stamped mail weighing more than 13 ounces from being deposited in collection boxes began appearing this month.

Currently, customers using collection boxes are greeted by a familiar label instructing them to take stamped mail weighing 16 ounces or more to a retail service counter at a Post Office. Starting July 30, that weight limit changes from “16 ounces and over” to “over 13 ounces.”

USPS is distributing a new decal for collection boxes announcing the change. The decal also reminds customers that any mail placed in the collection box that weighs more than 13 ounces and bears only postage stamps as postage will be returned to the sender. The change was made to reflect the threshold between First-Class Mail and Priority Mail as well as for heightened security reasons.

The Postal Service also is eliminating the “Known Customer” designation. That means city carriers and rural carriers as well as contract and delivery service suppliers — highway contract carriers — will no longer be allowed to accept stamped mail weighing more than 13 ounces from a customer or a customer’s mailbox.

Rural carriers and contract and delivery service suppliers will, however, be able to accept mailpieces more than 13 ounces that require a retail transaction and that have a return address matching the point of pickup. (USPS News Link - 7/17/07)

Mystery Shopper Evaluations Should Not Be Used to Discipline Window Clerks - From Gary Kloepfer, National APWU Assistant Maintenance Director : "This is a summary of Arbitrator Michael Wolf’s decision "This is a summary of Arbitrator Michael Wolf’s decision in case C00C-4C-D-05085599. The issue in this case involved the discipline of an employee under the mystery shopper program. The Union took the position that the discipline was improper in light of the Postal Service's position that the Mystery Shopper program was only to be used as a diagnostic tool and not the source for disciplinary action." (9/02/06)

USPS OIG Audit Report (PDF)

Management of Retail Workhours in Relation to Workload -  From January through May 2005, retail managers could not justify approximately 46% of their retail associates' window service workhours in the NY Triboro District. Local postal managers said they did not consider retail counter activities a primary focus and directed their work efforts to the delivery side of operations. The Postal Service is in the process of developing reporting tools to generate exception reports that will rank opportunities to reduce retail workhours, based on actual performance versus earned workhours (8/26/06)

St. Paul Area Local member Dawn EckerAPWU - Finally: The Polo Shirt
Several APWU members made fashion statements at the Clerk Craft Conference, modeling new polo shirts that window clerks will be able to wear starting on Nov. 18. The long- and short-sleeved shirts have been the subject of long and short discussions, tests, and reviews since 2003. Vendors will begin taking orders on these shirts early in October. One of the last issues to be resolved grants retail clerks the right to wear this style any day of the week that the window is open. They can be purchased using the Sales and Service Associate uniform allowance. The cost is expected to be in the $30-$35 range: APWU 18th Biennial Convention News Bulletin #1(8/15/06)
Single Source Solution
In March, the Postal Service finalized a single source for Point-Of-Sale units at retail counters by using only machines manufactured by NCR. When the USPS allowed only three hours of familiarization training for the conversion, the APWU objected, saying that the training was inadequate due to the memorization of the screen, which proved difficult to “unlearn” in a short period of time. While discussions are ongoing, the APWU is encouraging locals to file grievances on any shortages that may be the result of the insufficient training. The American Postal Workers magazine  (7/13/06)

Postal Window Clerks Protect Your Jobs - By Al Ross, APWU Clerk Craft Director, East Bay Area Local #47 - With the Postal Service’s intent to downsize a lot of window clerk positions based on recorded POS-ONE downtime, it is now crucial for all window clerks to start following certain procedures to reflect accurately exactly with function that you are undertaking. Within the POS-ONE system, that are a number of codes that can be used to record what type of operational function you are doing so the system won’t record you on downtime. Downtime is one of the key elements that the Postal Service is using to eliminate, what they consider, excessive Window Clerk positions. Downtime can cause a station that has five clerks to be down sized to 2.5 clerks based on the data that the POS-ONE system records. Therefore, extreme care should be used to accurately record all window clerk functions. (6/14/06)
From NAPUS: " At their chapter convention in St Simons Island, Georgia Postmasters expressed their concerns to a USPS Headquarters representative over the way the Mystery Shopper program was being conducted. Specifically, GA Postmasters echoed the concerns that many of the nation’s Postmasters have on their inability to challenge scores received during Mystery Shopper visits, as well as the quality of some of the procedural requirements. The USPS representative told Postmasters “I hear you” and pledged to check into their concerns." (6/12/06)
New Window Staffing Tool

Postmasters and supervisors now have a new staffing tool to help them better manage and staff their retail windows. 

 “WOS Earned/Actual Staffing Graph” takes the guess work out of how many employees are needed at the retail window throughout the day. With one mouse click, “WOS Earned/Actual Staffing Graph” compares the earned staffing level to the actual staffing level for each 30-minute interval within a business day and recommends the number of employees needed to staff windows at different times of the day. Senior Operations Vice President Bill Galligan calls it the best tool available to field managers to manage their unit.

 So how can you start using it? It’s simple. The report is available in the Retail Data Mart (RDM) in the “Shared Folder” under the “RDM WOS” folder. For instructions and additional details on the tool, follow this link from the Delivery and Retail website:

source: USPS (5/3/06)

USPS Revamps Retail Training Program - Rob Strunk, APWU Assistant Director, Clerk Division, released the following memo on USPS’ New Retail Training Program, "The United States Postal Service has instituted a new retail training program wherein the classroom training program has been changed to exclude POS training, which will be solely taught by on-the-job instructors." On the following page are some basic questions and answers about the program. (4/30/06)
New Point of Service software deployment begins

Deployment has begun to transition all USPS Point of Service (POS) systems to the same software.
By the end of July, all POS systems — both NCR and IBM — will run NCR software. Pilot users have turned in positive reports, saying the screens are easier to read, and “end of visit” and closeout procedures are faster. Moscow, ID, Retail Associate Marci Jones says log-on and log-out also are easier. “This makes changing associates on the customer counter for breaks and lunches much faster.” Her advice to new users: “Be patient and follow the prompts on the monitor.” Employees who use IBM terminals are being trained with printed transition guides and instructional video clips. There also are quick reference guides to have on hand at their terminals. There’s onscreen help, too. “The User Interface is very easy to use, and ‘Help’ is only a click away,” says Roebling, NJ, Retail Associate Bruce Kafer, who has used the system for more than four months. Conversion to the NCR software will save USPS more than $100 million over five years — and provide consistent service at all POS sites nationwide.
From APWU Executive Vice President

It’s looking like 2006 will be a good year for resolving several long-standing and lingering disputes. I expect four cases that I appealed to arbitration more than 10 years ago to be scheduled for national arbitration in the next few months

Contracting Window Work — In this case, we are contesting situations in which the Postal Service contracted out only the labor in a so-called Contract Postal Unit: The property used is leased to the Postal Service, and the USPS pays all utilities, but the USPS contacts for labor separately through a so-called Contract Postal Unit. Our position is that these duty assignments must be posted to the APWU bargaining unit. Furthermore, the contract employees utilized in these circumstances were employed in lieu of career employees. Our position is supported by the Das awards on “Kelly Girls” and casuals hired in lieu of.  March/April 2006 issue of The American Postal Worker magazine

Management Issues Mandatory Mystery Shopper Scripts
According to Dennis Enderson, President, Denver Metro Area Local APWU, he was recently  provided a copy of a document distributed to window clerks called “Denver Post Office Mystery Shopper Script.” Apparently, management is instructing window clerks to read this script verbatim to each and every postal customer. The script walks the clerk through a process of attempting to persuade the customer to utilize more expensive delivery services and to purchase other postal products. (3/11/06)

From USPS Strategic Transformation Plan 2006-2010

The Postal Service will continue to focus on standardization to ensure consistency in retail locations. A retail standardization initiative introduced in 2005 will improve employee product knowledge and management of merchandising and promotion. Workload standards developed from the Retail Data Mart Window Operations Survey (WOS) will improve productivity and staffing efficiency. WOS uses retail transaction data to calculate required staffing in half-hour increments. This allows managers to schedule
the right number of counter personnel and optimize cost per retail revenue dollar. In 2006 WOS workload standards will be applied to all 15,000 offices equipped with Point of Service terminals. The Postal Service will also expand its Customer Service model office concept in 2006. This model applies workload standards to manual distribution, dispatch, and other backroom activities in Post Offices.

APCs - “Axing Postal Clerks” - USPS Plan to Cut Window Clerk Jobs -  An internal postal management memo, leaked to the APWU but legally obtainable, is hard evidence that Automated Postal Centers (APCs) will be used to try to cut clerk jobs, specifically those of Sales and Service Associates, or window clerks.  At a June 15th management teleconference, the “Pilot APC Project” was announced:    “APCs will be deployed ‘in the counterline’ and will be utilized in much the same way as the automated check-in machines are used at the airport (two or three machines staffed with one person…). For counterlines with 6 retail stations, 2 APCs will be deployed and staffing adjusted accordingly . Article by David Yao, Greater Seattle Local APWU (8/12/05)

Polo Shirt Progress

(This article is published in the January/February 2005 issue of the American Postal Worker magazine.)
After two years of discussions, the inclusion of polo shirts as part of a window clerk’s uniform is nearing reality. Late last year, following discussions with the APWU, management finally authorized polo-type shirts as part of the official uniform program. Details regarding what type of shirt will be authorized and whether all employees in an installation must wear the shirt on specified days were released in November; the shirts will first be worn during the spring at the earliest – uniform manufacturers will need a few months’ lead time to arrive at proper uniform specifications and to be able to guarantee costs and delivery. (12/30/04)

From the July August American Postal Worker: APWU Requests Polo Shirt Program to Go Nationwide-" The pilot polo shirt has been concluded with extremely successful results. Our sales associates love them and the Mystery Shopper scores demonstrate that there is a good reason to make these shirts part of the uniform program." (7/26/04)

Polo Pilot Shirt Program

The pilot program that is testing polo shirts for Sales and Service Associates continues in seven districts throughout the United States. Currently, window clerks are testing the shorts for wear-ability, durability, and comfort. The test concludes in May.

 Several options will be weighed at the conclusion of the test. These options include:

* Expanding the test to other locations;

* Considering other shirts for a test; Including polo shirts in the uniform program.

* We will keep you informed on the progress of the program.

source: American Postal Worker-May/June 2004 pg.21

Polo shirts for Retail Clerks-"The union and management are about to embark on a pilot program at five stations that will permit retail clerks to wear open- collared polo style knit shirts. This is a pilot program the union enthusiastically endorses, because we believe a comfortable window clerk is a better window clerk. We hope it will be a huge success. "The shirts for the pilot will be provided by the APWU and will include the USPS and the APWU logos. The shirts are extremely well made and, because they are union made, you can be union proud to wear them."- American Postal Worker Jan/Feb  2003 pg 17

Q & A: APWU position on deployment and use of Automated Postal Centers

As reported in articles and reports to the Clerk Craft Conference, Automated Postal Centers (APCs) are being deployed throughout the United States. The automated equipment is designed to reduce lines at the windows and provide customers another way to mail items and purchase special services.

The following answers to frequently asked questions present the position of the American Postal Workers Union on the deployment and use of this equipment.

Step 3 Decision: Casuals & Transitional Employees Cannot Work the Window
I have posted (11/30/04) on the Clerk Craft page on info regarding the postal service's CURRENT position on the use of casuals and TEs on the window.  I believe this info will save many, many thousands of hours for the clerk craft

Brother Haefner:

What came out from our national clerk craft was an e-mail on 11/24/04 from assistant director Rob Strunk to the other craft directors, regional coordinators and NBAs.

It has untold potential for saving work hours for the clerk craft.

"Following a Step 3 settlement from the San Francisco Region, I have had discussions with Rodney Lambson of the USPS Labor Relations regarding whether Casuals and TEs can be assigned to the
window. Management takes the position that casuals and TEs cannot work the window."

And I am proud to say that the Step 3 decision that Rob is referring to is from Glendora, California (California Area Local). One NBA told me that the initial grievances leading to the Step 3 and the other pre-arb settlements - with the "straw that broke the camel's back" citation - were put forth by my appointed business agent David Gordillo. The F-1 Handbook, Section 141 states:

"The postmaster or responsible manager consigns postal funds and accountable paper to other career employees."

The Step 3 and the other pre-arbs from California Area Local state:

"In accord with discussions with the Area office it was agreed Management is to cease and desist assigning cash and/or fixed credits to Casuals. It was also agreed Casuals shall not work in Window

Regardless of management's many contentions which they felt they would never have to part with, management is bound by the handbookds and manuals which they actually composed, as provided for in Article 19; for example, Handbook DM-901, Section 721.22 with respect to registry, states, "Use only career employees in the registered mail function."

I hope this helps everyone.

Terry Stoller <>
California Area Local

According to Denver APWU - "The Postal Service is pursuing plans to establish contract retail services in Hallmark and Office Depot stores across the country. This represents a serious threat to jobs in customer service offices. The APWU will do everything in its power to resist these initiatives. We believe retail services are best performed by genuine postal employees. " (6/22/04)


USPS, Hallmark join forces -to offer customers added convenience The Postal Service and Hallmark Gold Crown Stores are teaming up to serve their mutual customers better. Hallmark stores sell cards and gifts. USPS sells stamps and mailing services. Customers can now do their shopping and shipping at the same location. “USPS and Hallmark Gold Crown are highly respected brands that customers know and trust,” said USPS Chief Marketing Officer Anita Bizzotto. “This partnership is about expanding access, increasing customer convenience, and generating new revenue,” — important Transformation Plan strategies. Selected Hallmark Gold Crown stores will offer postage stamps, special services, and package services. Customers can send First-Class Mail and Priority Mail cards, letters, and packages up to 20 pounds. Special services offered include certified mail, insured mail, return receipt, Delivery Confirmation, and Signature Confirmation service. USPS employees collect mail from the stores each day.

(USPS April 2003)

Electronic hand-held measuring device-USPS is seeking information for potential sources to provide a hand-held pen, wand or similar portable device that will be used for determining the length, width, and height as well as the combined length plus girth on parcels that qualify for additional rates and surcharges

What You Should Do When Issued A Letter Of Demand

By Cassandra Sharpley, Chief Shop Steward Stations Oakland Ca. #78 APWU Local

 The Preamble of Article 28 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) requires management to inform an employee in advance in writing of any money demand, and the demand must include the reasons therefore. The procedures that management must adhere to in order to collect a debt are found in section 462.2 of the Employee and Labor Relations Manual (ELM) and Article 28, Section 4 of the CBA.

 If you are issued a “Letter of Demand”, and believe that you are not in debt to the Postal Service, you should contact your shop steward immediately and file a grievance. If you fail to initiate a timely grievance or the union fails to make a timely appeal, or you receive a partial settlement of your grievance, or your grievance is declared nonarbitrable by an arbitrator, you have a right to petition for a hearing, pursuant to the Debt Collection Act. Sections 452.336 and 462.22 of the ELM provide the procedures an employee should follow when petitioning for a hearing.  If a grievance is initiated and advanced through the grievance-arbitration procedure or a petition has been filed pursuant to the Debt Collection Act, regardless of the amount and type of debt, collection of the debt will be delayed until disposition of the grievance and/or petition has (have) been had, either through settlement or exhaustion of contractual and /or administrative remedies. (Article 28, Section 4 of the CBA)

 If you are issued a Letter of Demand for the recovery of pay that was erroneously paid , you may request a waiver of the debt by submitting a PS Form 3074 in triplicate to the installation head within 3 years immediately following the date on which the erroneous payment of pay was discovered. (Section 437 of the ELM) However, the submission of a Form 3074 does not stay the collection of the debt. (Section 451.6 of the ELM)

 To effect the collection of a debt, management must complete a PS Form 3239 in triplicate, and submit copy 1 to the Postal Service’s Accounting Service Center in Minnesota, copy 2 to Personnel and copy 3 to the employee. (Section 462.5 of the ELM)

 The incorporation of the retail floor stock concept under the Segmented Inventory Accountability (SIA) has virtually eliminated the need to issue window clerks Letters of Demand.

From Question & Answer Forum

April 7, 2004
Question : I am a SSA in an office with POS ONE terminals. Is there a certain number of transactions or a formula used to determine how many SSA's should be on the window, or how many hours are needed on the window in a day ?
Answer: PM 21- Yes, a WOS report. Your supervisor can pull this for you. Key thing to remember if your a window clerk is to hit the non transaction button whenever you collect hold mail, answer a question, or do something that does not require a transaction. Its a great report. Of course it must be utilized with some common sence. Have your supervisor check it out for you.
Answer: betz:-Jim, any ssa authorized to consolidate can run the report. make sure your ssa's are entering the nonrevenue transactions--hold mail, passport requests, coa's and parcel pickups, otherwise the report will show you only need 1.1 clerks and not reflect heavy pickup volumes.

Retail Lobby and Employee Observations-Effective February 5, 2004, PS Form 4000-A, Retail Lobby Observation, and PS Form 4000-B, Retail Employee Observation, have been revised. The purpose of a lobby observation is to review the total retail environment. Actions on the lobby observation will result in additional revenue opportunities and increased customer satisfaction. The purpose of the employee observation is to observe interactions between retail associates and customers to determine the level of the employee's sales skills and product knowledge. Both forms have been revised to reflect changes made to the Mystery Shopper Program for FY 04. Both observations should be conducted at least once a month. (source: Postal Bulletin)

Senate Approves Extension for Breast Cancer Research Stamp -The U.S. Senate today (January 22, 2004) voted to authorize the USPS to continue selling the Breast Cancer Research Stamp for at least two more years

Excerpts of a  letter dated 11/14/03 from John W. Dockins Manager Contract Administration

"Business success includes controlling funds through a system of internal controls including controlling revenues........, a Retail Data Mart' Revenue Unit report will .soon be made available. This report will help individual field management spot patterns that are known to Indicate a loss of revenue control. A prototype is attached with column headings that show what a postmaster/manager or supervisor should be monitoring. In addition, a Random Operation Count worksheet is attached. Conducting random counts on a regular basis In accordance with the F-1 is expected to result In retention of more retail revenue."

"Offices will be monitored for progress concerning revenue retention. Those offices that continue. to show a need. for improvement will be visited by an SIA support team made up of Area, District, and Headquarters employees for the purpose of assisting under performing units In gaining control of their revenue."

Mystery Shopper Results Are In:' Questionable Retail Practices to Change

DURING THIS PAST SUMMER, THE POSTAL SERVICE CONTRACTED WITH the Gallup Corporation to survey customers, sales and service associates and supervisors regarding the effectiveness of the Mystery Shopper program. The results are in - there will be changes.

If nothing else was revealed by the survey, it was firmly documented that the American public believes that APWU workers offer professional service. We knew that. A surprising result of the survey, however, is that USPS customers want to know their options and want our sales associates to ask the questions.

The survey also showed that the public wants continued access to the retail postal services upon which it relies. What the public doesn't want is long lines.

 We Do Windows (Well)

In a recent meeting with APWU representatives, postal managers from retail, marketing, and labor relations informed the union that window-staffing practices would be a focus for increasing revenue and customer satisfaction.

Management acknowledged that staffing cuts at retail facilities can hurt the Postal Service and if the USPS wants to "grow the business," increased staffing must be considered. Postal Service managers told us that other products and services are being contemplated as well and cited pilot pro­grams in Miami, Denver and Dallas that have resulted in an increase in revenue and customer satisfaction.

As to the Mystery Shopper program, the methods for scoring window clerks will change.

The survey demonstrated that our sales associates didn't like the program's requirement that made them seem so robotic when asking customers questions. From now on, sales associates can use their own methods of phrasing to meet the requirements of the program. No longer will saying "thank you" be such a rigid requirement - as long as the transaction is closed with some variant on "have a great day" or other acceptable phrase.

The associates will not be obligated to ask the customer the "debit card/credit card" question, and making eye contact with a customer will no longer be a requirement.

The changes to the scoring system will be distributed to all offices and will be provided on the APWU Web site once it becomes available.

Mystery Discipline

Postal management recently issued new instructions to the field regarding discipline under the Mystery Shopper program.

The USPS Manager of Labor Relations and Policies stated in an undated letter to all Area labor rela­tions managers that the program "was implemented to improve the level of customer service and generate revenue by ensuring customers are aware of the numerous postal services available."

The USPS Labor Relations Department instructed managers that localized Mystery Shopper programs should not be used as a basis for discipline or to intimidate APWU-represented employees: "The focus of these local initiatives should concentrate on encouraging positive behaviors."

A copy of this letter can be seen on the Clerk Division page of the APWU Web site ( clerk), in the section containing "Infor­mation and Documents."

Localized Mystery
Shopper programs
are not to be used
as a basis for discipline
or to intimidate

Agreement Reached on Compromised Exam

The APWU recently reached an agreement regarding sales associates who were in training on or around Aug. 22, when the retail examination was compromised because copies of the qualifying test and/or the answers ,ere made available around the country.

 APWU subject-matter experts have been working with management to formulate a new exam that is to be validated and tested by mid-November. The affected tail associates will be allowed to continue in the hours and days off of the duty assignment that they bid until they receive a chance to take the new test.

 Immediately prior to the test date, those trainees will be given another 40 hours of classroom training. Employees will be allowed to maintain their training materials during this  period, which will be considered an extension of the training on a one-time basis. However, the training materials must be stored at the retail unit; employees will not be allowed to take them home.

The APWU negotiated this agreement to ensure that all our members would be granted a full opportunity to qualify for these important duty assignments. In the meantime, sales associates who have completed training and are working the window will be held accountable for the amount of their fixed credit if they fail to exercise reasonable care in the performance of their duties.

 Unusual Number of Failures

The APWU has initiated a national-level grievance on a previous test that was deployed beginning in late March that resulted in a higher than normal number of trainees failing.

 Although we received a commitment from management that no one was terminated due to this test, the APWU has challenged the training and testing that took place. We have met with dozens of workers who believe the test was flawed, and we have received dozens of completed questionnaires echoing that sentiment.

 Any other members who have not yet come forward and who feel they were impacted by this test should complete the form on the Clerk Craft page on the APWU Web site, ("Sales and Service Test Score Survey," posted July 25, 2003). We will continue to collect the data until the case is heard.

("Questions & Answers" about the retail exam issue are available on the "Information and Documents" page in the Clerk Craft pages at

source: The American Postal Worker Nov/Dec 2003 pg. 24-25

Sales and Services Associate Exam

Questions & Answers


The parties understand that the Sales & Services Associate exam (CBT 421) has recently been subject to a security breach. As as result of the breach, the exam and related training have been suspended. Exams taken after close- of- business August 22, 2003 are considered invalid and the score will not be considered for any purposes.


This document represents the mutual understanding and agreement of the parties concerning employees who have completed the Sales and Services Associate (SSA) training, however, have not taken the qualifying exam or their exam was invalidated by the suspension.


Question: What is the status of the employees who have completed the SSA classroom and on-the-job training, however, due to the pending exam revisions, have not taken the exam or their exam was invalidated by the suspension?


Answer: Employees who completed their SSA classroom and on-the-job training, will remain in the window position that they bid and are seeking qualification, however, permanent assignment to the position will be deferred until successful completion of the testing. The employees will continue to perform window duties in the hours of this assignment until the test results are received, provided the employee's on-the-job training rating was acceptable.


Question: Will SSA employees who have completed training and are working the window be accountable for the amount of their fixed credit?


Answer: Yes. An employee shall be financially liable if the employee does not exercise reasonable care in the performance of duties.


Question: Will the employee be entitled to out-of-schedule compensation?

Answer: No. Out of schedule provisions will not apply because this is an extension to the training program.


Question: When will the employees be tested?


Answer: The employees referenced above will be tested by close of business on November 19, 2003


Question: Will employees be entitled to any type of brush- up training?


Answer: Yes. Employees will receive 40 hours of classroom training.


Question: Will employees be allowed to maintain their training materials during this period?


Answer: Yes. This will be considered an extension of the training on a one-time basis but the training materials will be stored at the retail unit and not allowed to be taken home.


Doug A. Tulino


Labor Relations Policies

and Programs


James "Jim" McCarthy

Director, Clerk Division

American Postal Workers Union, AFL-CIO

PDF file: Sales and Services Associate Exam Q & A:

September 5, 2003 - This was added late yesterday afternoon about the sales and service window training test. This came from National Headquarters.

Just to keep you informed on this issue, we discussed with management details regarding those employees who are in the middle of training or scheduled for training.

There is no agreement between the parties as of this date. Because  employees must be tested immediately following OJI training, the union must agree with any deviation of that policy. We have sent management a letter outlining  our position absent any agreement. We hope that an agreement can be made but  until we engage in honest and straightforward discussions we will not allow
management to unilaterally establish special rules for these circumstances.
Regarding the issue of the former test and the high amount of failures, we have sent management an information request for the names of those who constructed the test, a copy of the test, names of who validated the test, etc. Management has not responded to our request.

We moved forward with an NLRB charge, and a national grievance. President Burrus has also informed the Inspector General due to the financial and personal waste caused by this examination

Note: The inspection service is conducting an investigation.  The delay will be from 7 to 8 weeks before training can begin.

The following letter came from the American Postal Workers Union, National headquarters.

August 28, 2003

The APWU has been notified that the most recent Test 421 for Sales and Service Associates has been compromised due to the answer sheet being published on a internet site.  Therefore, the Postal Service has suspended all retail training until a new test is developed.

The APWU has provided a list of Subject Matter Experts who will participate in the formation of the new test.  Those SME's will work in the test development from September 8th until September 22nd.  The APWU will then make final recommendation of the developed questions in Washington.

Following the final review, the new test will be field tested by Sales and Service Associates in the field.  After this test is validated, the new test will be used which should take place the last week of October.  All employees in window training will have that training suspended after the first week of classroom training.  The issue of whether those in training will receive the full training or brush-up training is yet to be resolved but it is the position of the APWU that full training must be given due to the gap in the training process.

The APWU will notify all locals immediately upon receipt to any change to this problem.

USPS Letter on Mystery Shopper Evaluations

The Mystery Shopper Program was implemented to improve the level of customer service and generate revenue by ensuring customers are aware of the numerous postal services available. The Program consists of lobby evaluations and retail employees observations. AS stated in previous correspondence from the Chief Operations Officer, dated April 30, 2003, the Mystery Shopper evaluations are not be used as as source for disciplinary action


Several initiative have arisen throughout the Postal Service that emulate the "Mystery Shopper" program. Once again, discipline should not be the focus of these programs and they should not be used as a method of intimidation. The focus of these local initiatives should concentrate on encouraging positive behaviors. Reviewing scores with employees and explaining why the questions are asked helps employees understand the purpose of the program and their role in improving retail operations. Coaching employees based on observations provides employees a chance to gain additional knowledge that can be applied in the future when performing their duties.


A standardized sales skills process was implemented in FY 2000. This process includes supervisory follow-up through ongoing lobby and employee observations, utilizing the PS Form 4000-A for retail lobby observations and the PS Form 4000-B for retail employee observations (both forms can be found in the Postal website blue page under forms). Supervisors should be making independent personal observations of retail associate interaction with customers to ensure they are performing all aspects of their duties. If deficiencies exist coaching  sessions and discussions relating to the employee's responsibilities are needed. if these coaching sessions and discussions fail to provide the desired  behavior  change, then discipline may be appropriate. As with all employee performance observations, however, supervisors should ensure positive performance as well as less than satisfactory performance is recognized. Recognizing good performance can motivate employees and encourage others who are not performing as well.


Please share this information wit Labor Relations personnel and Retail Operations personnel. Feel free to contract Cindy M. Wheeler at (202) 268-4356 if you have any questions or need additional information.


Doug A. Tulino


Labor Relations Policies and Programs

PDF file : USPS Letter on Mystery Shopper Evaluations

To All Window Clerks

All Window Clerks, regardless of whether you have individual financial accountability or have shared stock (segmentation) or if you work in a retail store, you should read and do the following:
  1. Scan and enter every sale item, even a one-cent stamp, a single 37 cent stamp, or a retail envelope. Input every item into your POS ONE, IRT, etc., because you never know whether or not that friendly customer is a Postal Inspector. Although you may make your adjustment later, the Postal Inspector doesn't know that. They will immediately suspect that something suspicious is going on. Is your job worth it? INPUT EVERYTHING!
  2. Use your POS ONE cash drawer. If you don't you may be suspected of manipulating funds.
  3. Change. DO NOT make any change from your personal funds. Always go to your supervisor, T-6, or another clerk. Make the even exchange of money visible and return to your window immediately to place the money back into the drawer.
  4. Too many "GL Adjustments", "Error Corrects", "No Sales", etc. This may give the appearance that funds are being manipulated.
  5. Input all credit/debit transactions into your POS ONE & IRT at the time of sale.
  6. Do not retain more than $100 in your drawer. This is a violation of the F-1. Is your job worth not complying with Postal rules and regulations?
  7. Error on PVI's. Fill out Form 3533 and submit it on the same day. Don't try to use it on your next transaction.
  8. Receipts. Always give your customer their receipt. Do not input "postage affix" to reuse a PVI or to place stamps on the package. Again, you may be suspected of manipulating funds.
  9. Don't have IOU's in your stock for any reason.
  10. Never hold any checks for any reason.
  11. Never use your own drawer to buy stamps, cash a check or buy a money order for any reason!
  12. Use reasonable care at all times. Take the time you need to do the job correctly. Don't let management rush you and don't take any shortcuts. This is really important in light of the downsizing of window clerks.
  13. Don't ever talk to a Postal Inspector without Union representation! NEVER, NEVER, NEVER!!
  14. Always conduct yourself as though you are being observed. Chances are, you are being observed. Take reasonable care and follow all postal procedures. The use of shortcuts may lead to your postal career being cut short!

Please take the time to do your job right. Don't forget to make a written record of security violations at your workplace. Follow the regulations established by the Postal Service. Always report faulty equipment as soon as it malfunctions.


Shortcuts result in losses of money and JOBS!

  • Carry out each task on the window as you were taught in window training.
  • Make certain you witness the verification of monies you turn in and obtain a signed receipt.
  • Utilize the appropriate terminal key when retrieving accountable mail or otherwise assisting customers in non-revenue transactions.
  • Never accept stock while on window - take time to count!
  • Never accept or swap stock without a form 17.
  • When retrieving a certified or registered item, you should log off (if using retail equipment) to "non-revenue" prior to leaving the window and lock your drawer.


(As taken from the Southern Oregon Area Review.)

HAZMAT source: Postal Bulletin 9/4/03

Last month's Retail Coaches Corner included information on the mandatory HAZMAT question at retail - "Does this article contain anything fragile, liquid, perishable, or potentially hazardous?" Several readers had additional questions:

What do retail acceptance employees do if the customer answers "yes" to the mandatory question?

If customers answer yes, they must state the contents. Following identification of the article's contents, the retail associate should consult the HAZMAT-1, Quick Reference poster; DMM C020-024; Publication 52, Hazardous, Restricted, and Perishable Mail; or the IMM to determine mailability of the material and required packaging, labeling, documentation, and any mail class restrictions. If the package meets the requirements, then the item should be accepted.

Where can we get HAZMAT shipper's declarations and hazardous materials labels?

The materials used in shipping HAZMAT are the responsibility of the mailer. The Postal ServiceTM does not provide or sell hazardous materials labels or shipper's declarations. Mailers should be directed to stationery stores or other businesses where mailing supplies are sold.

What if I cannot determine mailability?

If you have used all available references and cannot determine the mailability, the article must be refused for mailing. The customer should be referred to a rates and classification service center for further information. A list of the rates and classification service centers can be found on the back of Notice 107, Some Things Were Never Meant To Be Mailed.

Flat-Rate Envelopes

Due to changes in Express Mail® and Priority Mail® flat rates that became effective with the last rate case, there has been confusion about the acceptance of flat-rate envelopes. These rates offer the customer a predetermined rate regardless of weight or destination zone of the item mailed. Any mailable item is eligible, as long as it fits in a Postal Service-provided 12 1/2" x 9 1/2" cardboard envelope. Flat rates are $13.65 for Express Mail items and $3.85 for Priority Mail items.

What happens if customers bring in the old Priority Mail or Express Mail 2-lb. flat-rate envelopes?

The flat rate is to be afforded to any customer presenting any version of a Postal Service-provided Express Mail or Priority Mail 9 1/2" x 12 1/2" cardboard envelope. This direction applies to the old 2-lb. envelopes and the old standard envelopes, in addition to the current flat-rate envelope.

Are flat-rate items limited to just documents or can any item be placed in flat-rate envelopes?

Contents in flat-rate envelopes may be documents, but may also be all other mailable matter. A flat-rate envelope does not have to remain flat to be eligible for flat-rate postage. Any amount of mailable material mailed using the flat-rate envelope is afforded the flat rate regardless of the weight of the material enclosed.

Can cellophane or masking tape be used to close or reinforce packages?

When mailing at the Priority Mail or Express Mail flat rate, the contents of the flat-rate envelope must be confined within the envelope with the adhesive provided on the flap as the primary means of closure. The flap must be able to close and adhere to the envelope. Tape may be applied to reinforce the envelope, provided the design of the envelope is not enlarged by any means.

Where can I order flat-rate envelopes?

Call the Express and Priority Mail Supply Center at 800-222-1811.

Changes in the F-1 331 Cash Reserves

[Revise 331 to read as follows:]

The purpose for the procedure on cash retained in window operations is to provide for normal cash flow operations that meet the needs of the office. For the cash portion of the individual stamp credits, retain $100 or 10 percent of the accountability (whichever is less). In addition to the cash portion of the existing stamp credits, units may also maintain a cash reserve to supplement these needs, if required more 9/4

From postalreporter Window Clerk Forum (post #37)
Edited by author 07-19-2003 01:34 PM
I'm a retired window clerk married to a window clerk in a small office in the San Diego District of California.

There is a new "revenue enhancing" program here designed to upsell Priority and Express Mail which I have no problem with. But the methods being used in my wife's office seem highly unscrupulous to me. The window clerks are told not to even mention Parcel Post as an option when a customer asks about the various services available, they are told to basically hustle customers to use Express Mail or Priority, and are being hounded incessantly to bring office percentages of Parcel Post Service down to 10% of all parcels received. My wife is a very honest conscientous person and her percentages were slightly above 10% while one of her co-workers just received an award for reaching 0% in Parcel Post sales. This clerk was loaned to another office for a couple of weeks and told the other window clerks there her secret. "When a customer insists on Parcel Post I simply make a few miscellaneous postage strips for the correct amount so the POS sytem won't show it as Parcel Post". So this cheat gets an award for deception because it makes the office look good on paper. My wife refuses to cheat in this way and might eventually be disciplined for not getting her percentage low enough. This is just the type of management policy that makes it so difficult for honest service-oriented people to work for the USPS.

The HAZMAT Question: Important, Necessary, and Mandatory

When a customer presents a parcel or suspicious-looking flat for mailing, sales and services associates are required to ask: "Does this article contain anything liquid, fragile, perishable, or potentially hazardous?" The percentage of retail associates asking the question is measured through the Mystery Shopper program.

The HAZMAT question is being asked to promote the safety of Postal Service employees, our customers, and everyone who handles or transports the mail. The question is not intended to be a deterrent to any terrorist act.

The HAZMAT question is a "first line of defense" against nonmailable or improperly prepared HAZMAT, liquids, perishables, or fragile items being entered into the mail stream. Asking the question is intended to elicit some thought by our customers regarding the contents of their packages and, if necessary, prompt a dialogue with the retail associate about mailability, labeling, or packaging. Many of our customers, particularly those who deposit their mail at retail counters, are unaware or unsure of what constitutes hazardous materials.

Why does the Postal Service still require the HAZMAT question when airlines no longer ask a similar question at their counters?

There are enhanced security procedures in areas of commercial travel so travelers are no longer questioned at the ticket counter.

What can my district do to improve Mystery Shopper scores for HAZMAT?

Central Florida leads the nation with a score of 90 percent. Employees there went from a national ranking of 41st in PQ 4, FY 2002, to No.1 in the nation in PQ 1, FY 2003. How did they do it? In a series of meetings with executive and administrative schedule (EAS) employees at year's end, the district manager stressed the need for the scores to improve for these reasons - protecting the safety of employees and customers, protecting the traveling public, and protecting our ability to ship on commercial aircraft. Hundreds of managers took the message - and the reasons behind it - back to their employees. The message was repeated in a series of standup talks and written communications. Retail associates understood the reasons and appreciated their importance - asking the HAZMAT question became part of their routines.

Reminder: Placement of Certified Mail Labels

Retail acceptance employees are reminded that the barcoded portion of PS Form 3800, Certified Mail Receipt, must be placed above the delivery address and to the right of the return address on letters, or to the left of the delivery address on parcels. Additionally, acceptance employees should ensure that PVI (postage validation imprinter) labels, postage, or customer meter strips do not interfere with the barcode or the taggant - the beige square located to the right of the barcode of the label. (Note: Newer versions of PS Form 3800 have the taggant to the left of the barcode.)

Questions or comments? Submit them via e-mail to Retail Coaches Corner.

source: Postal Bulletin 3/6/03