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Money Minute: How about a latte with your postage stamps? [Video]

May 10, 2012|By David Lazarus

It's fair to say that any business losing almost $1 billion a month needs to rethink it's game plan. And that's what the U.S. Postal Service says it's doing.

The Postal Service lost $3.2 billion in the quarter ended March 31, a hefty increase from $2.2 billion in red ink a year earlier. The cause is obvious: Mail volume is plunging as electronic communications become the norm.

A record loss of more than $14 billion is forecast for the entire fiscal year. That's a huge chunk of change for a federal agency that receives no tax money.

To fix things, Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe says the Postal Service is "aggressively pursuing new revenue streams." So far, though, it hasn't come up with anything capable of generating big bucks.

So what could it do? I have some ideas.

How about going toe to toe with Starbucks and open a chain of Wi-Fi-ready coffee shops at post offices? As it stands, most post offices are unfriendly places. Add some comfy couches and other homey touches, and they could offer a very different experience.

The agency could also follow the example of some of its overseas counterparts and get into financial services. The Postal Service could offer basic banking accounts and issue credit and debit cards. I can think of more than a few people who wouldn't mind cutting ties with money-grubbing banks in the private sector.

Or why not purchase American Airlines when the carrier comes out of bankruptcy. The Postal Service needs to fly mail around anyway. So combine that with passengers and you've got a natural mix. And the Postal Service could market itself as the one airline that won't nickel-and-dime you to death with extra fees.

Do you have any suggestions? Post them below.

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