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USPS To Launch Line of Smart Clothing 206

Posted by timothy
from the please-link-to-sketches dept.
SpaceGhost writes "The Washington Post reports that the United States Postal Service has contracted with Wahconah Group, Inc. to produce a line of USPS-branded smart clothing. Per USPS Licensing manager Steven Mills 'This agreement will put the Postal Service on the cutting edge of functional fashion... The main focus will be to produce Rain Heat & Snow apparel and accessories using technology to create 'smart apparel' — also known as wearable electronics.' USPS Spokesman Roy Betts reports that the line will be found in premium department stores and specialty stores starting in 2014. The Washington Post points out that the USPS had done a similar retail line in the 1980s sold exclusively at Post Offices, but the line was discontinued after lobbyists complained of competition with the private sector." I hope it has hidden pockets for lost letters, and a loop for the package smashing mallet.
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USPS To Launch Line of Smart Clothing

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  • FYI (Score:3, Informative)

    by Sparticus789 (2625955) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @02:26PM (#42969935) Journal

    The package-smashing mallet has been outsourced to India. The USPS union said that it was not in the mail-carrier's contract.

    • by gstoddart (321705)

      The package-smashing mallet has been outsourced to India. The USPS union said that it was not in the mail-carrier's contract.

      Is that why mail is so slow? They ship it around the world so cheap labour can maul the packages?

      Wouldn't it be cheaper to just skip the mauling step?

      • Re:FYI (Score:4, Insightful)

        by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Thursday February 21, 2013 @02:41PM (#42970157) Homepage Journal

        Is that why mail is so slow? They ship it around the world so cheap labour can maul the packages? Wouldn't it be cheaper to just skip the mauling step?

        It would be cheaper, but it is absolutely essential in order to provide feature-parity with UPS and FedEx. In any case, they must still be using local mallet-smashers for relatively local (regional) mail, because I still get stuff from within the state in two days or less.

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by butalearner (1235200)

          It would be cheaper, but it is absolutely essential in order to provide feature-parity with UPS and FedEx. In any case, they must still be using local mallet-smashers for relatively local (regional) mail, because I still get stuff from within the state in two days or less.

          They never seem to care when they break stuff, either. I remember a conversation I once had with a rather chipper mail carrier over a beat-up box clearly marked FRAGILE:

          Me: Sounds broken.
          Delivery guy: Most likely, sir! I'll bet it was something nice though.

          And then he stole my dog.

      • Re:FYI (Score:5, Insightful)

        by PopeRatzo (965947) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @03:09PM (#42970577) Homepage Journal

        Is that why mail is so slow?

        Slow? I can send a five pound text book from Chicago to California in 3-4 days and it's less than $4.

        The Post Office consistently does a better job than FedEx or UPS. That's why when UPS sends stuff, they do it via the US Postal Service.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by fuzznutz (789413)

          The Post Office consistently does a better job than FedEx or UPS.

          I could agree with you if I didn't receive (portions of) mangled letters in plastic baggies with half assed apologies written on the sides. Or just not receive them at all. Or if I didn't regularly receive my neighbors' mail and packages. UPS and FedEx may not be perfect, but at least their tracking software works and I actually GET what is addressed to me delivered to me.

          I had to have two paychecks reissued over the last 12 months b

          • by Obfuscant (592200)

            And next time you are standing in line at the Post Office, think about how much better it is than standing in line at the UPS Store. You'll have LOTS of time to think about it.

            I'll think about it the next time I have to drive ten miles to the nearest UPS office to pick up an envelope, compared to five blocks downtown to the post office.

            That's two out of twelve.

            You got only twelve pieces of mail during an entire year? You mean they lost/mangled two pieces of mail out of hundreds or thousands they delivered normally. That's pretty good odds, and much different than "2 out of 12".

            If you wanted to paint a really dim picture of USPS using statistics, you should have said "they mangled EVERY paycheck I got

            • Re:FYI (Score:4, Informative)

              by fuzznutz (789413) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @06:17PM (#42973043)

              You got only twelve pieces of mail during an entire year? You mean they lost/mangled two pieces of mail out of hundreds or thousands they delivered normally.

              No. First I doubt I get more than a 100 pieces of "real mail" per year. I do get junkmail and advertisements. I don't care if that crap gets shredded or lost. They screwed up two out of twelve paychecks for the year. Those are the important ones. Screwing up one is unacceptable. I've had bills lost in the mail. Before I moved to my current home, they misdelivered my mail to the wrong address all the time. It was a running joke that at 5:00 everybody in the neighborhood was out RE-delivering the mail to the correct addresses. A couple years ago, I got a large tied bundle of presorted letters addressed to people all over the neighborhood. It was stilled tied together. I just do not count on anything sent by USPS as reliable. period.

              I have to drive ten miles to the nearest UPS office to pick up an envelope, compared to five blocks downtown to the post office.

              And my UPS Store is two blocks away. The Post Office is 2 miles. What's your point?

              Let me tell you about my USPS Office.Their service is so bad and had so many complaints that the postmaster put up signs all over the lobby. It said "If you have to wait more than 5 minutes, call this number." My usual wait time is over 30 minutes on a good day. One day the mail carrier left a "I can't deliver this" card on my door. (They didn't knock or ring the doorbell). I started calling the local branch office when I got to work. The line was busy all morning. At lunch, it mysteriously wasn't busy anymore; it rang and rang, but nobody would answer. Right after lunch it went constantly busy again, and so I left work early and to pick up my package in person. When I showed up, I saw the signs up everywhere about wait times.

              Their solution to angry customers in long lines was to take the phone off the hook. I laughed when the people in line waiting said to me that we should all call the number on the sign. I told them to go ahead, but I had been calling it all day.

              The Post Office has a systemic problem.

          • Re:FYI (Score:5, Informative)

            by _xeno_ (155264) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @05:22PM (#42972267) Homepage Journal

            UPS and FedEx may not be perfect, but at least their tracking software works

            To add another anecdote to the fire, just yesterday I received a package from the USPS that the tracking software said would arrive last week, and that apparently never left their sorting facility as far as the tracker was concerned.

            Actually, the train of events that showed up on the tracker was:

            1. Shipping information received
            2. Package sorted through facility.
            3. Package received by USPS from the shipper. (The day after the previous one where it was "sorted.")

            Then nothing, until the package arrived over a week later.

            Although it was fun seeing the "estimated arrival time" not change days after it was supposed to arrive.

            But, hey, they only slightly damaged the contents of the package, just some minor cosmetic damage. Plus, unlike a previous package shipped via the USPS, this one actually arrived...

          • by PopeRatzo (965947)

            I had to have two paychecks reissued over the last 12 months because one never arrived and one arrived shredded.

            Is your postman dating your ex-wife or something?

            I've heard complaints like yours from other people, and I don't doubt they're true, but it goes against my own experience and the people I know.

            And I know for sure that if the Post Office were to disappear, there would be a whole lot of small and medium-sized businesses who would have a very hard time. And the shame of it is, it's just not necessa

        • by aklinux (1318095)
          And I can download your 5 lb. textbook onto my tablet in of a couple of minutes for less than $4 as well, Weighs less this way too ;)
          • by PopeRatzo (965947)

            And I can download your 5 lb. textbook onto my tablet in of a couple of minutes for less than $4 as well, Weighs less this way too ;)

            Yeah, you would think so, but if you were to go down the list of textbooks for 300 and 400 level math courses, you would find that the total number available as ebooks is less than 1.

            Best you could do is maybe find some pdf file on a dodgy file sharing site that you'd have to print out anyway because the scan job is so bad that it's not legible on your iPad or Nexus. And even

          • by tehcyder (746570)

            And I can download your 5 lb. textbook onto my tablet in of a couple of minutes for less than $4 as well, Weighs less this way too ;)

            Yeah, I'm sure he never thought of that, after all it's unlikely that someone on a fucking technology site would even know what a Tablet Computing Device was.

  • That feature is exclusive to UPS-brand clothing. Also available from them are the UPS-band package punting boots.

    • by gstoddart (321705)

      This is USPS, not UPS ... different entities.

    • by clong83 (1468431)
      I used to live in a stand-alone, single family home, in the middle of a major US city. The streets were gridded and well-marked, and my address was displayed. It was close to the heart of the city, not out in some suburban snake-pit of cul-de-sac roads.

      I never had a problem with packages from USPS, or FedEx. But UPS... Oh holy god. I ordered something online, and waited. And waited. I checked the tracking only to see it was labelled as "undeliverable address" or something like that. I drove to so
      • by tlhIngan (30335)

        I never had a problem with packages from USPS, or FedEx. But UPS... Oh holy god. I ordered something online, and waited. And waited. I checked the tracking only to see it was labelled as "undeliverable address" or something like that. I drove to some distribution point way out of my way to pick it up. I thought somehow I must have typed in a bad zip code or something, but when I picked it up, everything was correct. The driver just couldn't find it.

        When it happenned a second time, I decided never to use UPS

        • by clong83 (1468431)
          Your post just reminded me about the second time it happened. The exception they gave that time was: "No apartment number given"

          Again, I lived in a single family home.
  • Have they gone postal?
  • Hmmm ... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gstoddart (321705) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @02:31PM (#42970035) Homepage

    The Postal Service inked a licensing agreement with Cleveland-based Wahconah Group, Inc. to produce the new line, which will include jackets, headgear, footwear and clothing that allows integration of modern technology devices such as iPods, according to agency spokesman Roy Betts.

    What, like pockets?

    I must say, after reading TFA ... I have no idea of what this is or why I'd want to buy it from the USPS.

    I'm more baffled by this tidbit ... In 2006, Congress passed a statute requiring the Postal Service to pre-pay for 75 years worth of retiree benefits within 10 years. No other federal agency is forced to make such an investment.

    Why only the Postal Service and no other agency? To make sure Fedex profits stayed high?

    • >I'm more baffled by this tidbit ... In 2006, Congress passed a statute requiring the Postal Service to pre-pay for 75 years worth of retiree benefits within 10 years. No other federal agency is forced to make such an investment.

      ::CLANG:: In the red corner, the libertarians. In the blue corner, the Keynesians. Round 1 FIGHT!

      • ::CLANG:: In the red corner, the libertarians. In the blue corner, the Keynesians. Round 1 FIGHT!

        Two fruitcakes enter!

        Half a dozen fruitcakes leave!

        • by Sulphur (1548251)

          ::CLANG:: In the red corner, the libertarians. In the blue corner, the Keynesians. Round 1 FIGHT!

          Two fruitcakes enter!

          Half a dozen fruitcakes leave!

          There is only one fruitcake.

          • by Applekid (993327)

            ::CLANG:: In the red corner, the libertarians. In the blue corner, the Keynesians. Round 1 FIGHT!

            Two fruitcakes enter!

            Half a dozen fruitcakes leave!

            There is only one fruitcake.

            Does that mean Mathematicians are in the next title fight?

        • Hey! Keep it clean! This is a family website!
          • by gstoddart (321705)

            Hey! Keep it clean! This is a family website!

            Just because there's no adults doesn't mean it's safe for children. ;-)

    • Re:Hmmm ... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Microlith (54737) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @02:42PM (#42970175)

      Why only the Postal Service and no other agency? To make sure Fedex profits stayed high?

      Yes, basically. They did it so that in the event that the USPS fails to meet the unfair obligation the GOP can point to it and cry about how the government fails at all things and that we should put our trust in private industry.

      Up until this was forced on them the USPS was actually doing fine, fulfilling its constitutional obligation.

    • Re:Hmmm ... (Score:4, Informative)

      by jo_ham (604554) <joham999 AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday February 21, 2013 @03:13PM (#42970635)

      I must say, after reading TFA ... I have no idea of what this is or why I'd want to buy it from the USPS.

      I'm more baffled by this tidbit ... In 2006, Congress passed a statute requiring the Postal Service to pre-pay for 75 years worth of retiree benefits within 10 years. No other federal agency is forced to make such an investment.

      Why only the Postal Service and no other agency? To make sure Fedex profits stayed high?

      That's exactly why. Lobbyists working for businesses that compete with the USPS basically want it forced out of business, or into a crippled state, so that they can ride in as saviours on private business horses to save the day. The problem is that the USPS was actually doing really well and was (and still is) totally self funded (no taxes pay for its upkeep), so they simply manufactured a no-win situation. The bill along will the extremely onerous restriction to fund retirement plans for employees who haven't even been born yet, specifically forbids them from putting up the price of stamps to raise revenue.

    • by Urza9814 (883915)

      Yeah, that was my thought. I was given a similar seeming product as a gift once -- it was basically a hoodie, where the pockets had holes in the sides (behind a velcro flap so crap didn't fall out, so that was at least nice) which led to a series of velcro loops up the inside of the zipper that you were supposed to route your headphone cable through. Which is the dumbest idea ever -- I don't understand why anyone would want that. It takes 10 freakin minutes to get the damn cable routed, and then if you wann

  • by way2trivial (601132) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @02:34PM (#42970075) Homepage Journal

    I ride a really old honda pacific coast in the dark, the bitter cold, and snowshowers.

    if'n they have come up with some good heated gear, I'm intrigued....

    • by oic0 (1864384)
      I know you heard smart and all weather, but I think youll see crap like ipod docks and solar chargers instead of useful stuff like heaters.
  • asking WHAT THE HELL the fed seems to have as a hard on for breaking the USPS into dust?

  • This sounds like one of those dumb ideas that government services come up with when they're forced to privatize.

    In come the corporate consultants, they toss around buzzwords, they brainstorm, they come up with brilliant ideas, and they get paid and get out before anyone can see whether their advice worked.

    • by Desler (1608317)

      The USPS hasn't received direct taxpayer money since the 80s. Their revenue shortfalls are due to a Republican Congess passed bill that put the ridiculous retirement obligation on them.

  • I mean, clothing? Instead of focusing on issues which will actually solve their problems, they want to make clothes?

    Does anyone at USPS in a leadership position have a frickin brain?
    • They won't focus on this distraction, they'll just license the logo to it. Give them props for using it before someone else did.
    • by nedlohs (1335013)

      How does raising some revenue (and getting some free promotion) by licensing your name and slogan to someone else who will take all the risk and do all the spending stop you focusing on other things?

  • I can't wait for more random commercial ventures from government agencies. Maybe the FDIC can make an energy drink or the Coast Guard can start a cosmetics line.

    • Be sensible. If the Coast Guard made a deal with one of the sunglass companies for "even better than thermonuclear protection", it could have a WAY cool ad campaign. The FDIC can start the cosmetics line, particularly lipstick for pigs.
  • When you think of the post office you think of clothes. They missed the boat to be a service like paypay which would have made more sense than this because of the postal money orders. Might as well hit this front so they don't make that mistake again.

  • I have to say, I hope the best for the USPS and it's workers, but the first thing that came to mind is a getting a start-up off the ground isn't cheap. Seems like a clothing line would be even more since there are goods involved meaning clothing stock, building, machines, workers, management, marketing etc... I know you need to spend money to make it, but unless someone is sure this is an idea that is worthwhile and not a pipe dream, it seems risky. How much money for all these things have been dumped into

    • by Microlith (54737)

      The Postal Service inked a licensing agreement with Cleveland-based Wahconah Group, Inc. to produce the new line

      So the USPS is essentially getting royalties for this, with Wahconah Group making the venture here.

      How much money for all these things have been dumped into this idea that could have been used to keep the agency afloat for that much longer.

      Probably not much.

      Seems like one more piss poor idea after another coming from the USPS.

      No, it sounds like the USPS is looking for any avenue it can to raise re

  • Just privatize the USPS or remove the monopoly and let the free market take its course like it should have back in 1844...

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Letter_Mail_Company [wikipedia.org]
  • Since they are trying to strengthen their brand awareness, they should have a catchy advertising slogan for this new clothing line.
    I'd suggest "Go postal!"

  • This a joke right? The USPS needs to focus on doing their job well. They loose and damage all too many packages. Their postal clerks are all too often poorly trained and give wrong advice. They make excuses for their poor service citing regulations. Then they wonder why people are switching to UPS and FedEx for packages and email for letters. Service.

    • I would bet that postal workers endure the elements more than just about any job on a nonstop basis other than maybe crab fishing. It makes sense that if they can develop specific clothing to help their line of work, and keep their people warm then they could do their job better. Also if it's really good stuff they could market it to the public, and have a great sample of how it performs in the real world that people see every day.

  • ... getting through a TSA checkpoint wearing said smart clothing.

    Remember back in 2007 when a guy almost got shot at an airport for wearing a tech-art shirt [boston.com] with a only small motherboard attacked? Slashdot reported it here. [slashdot.org] Or in Nov 2012, a got arrested at an airport for wearing a strange watch. [huffingtonpost.com]

    Oh what fun a whole ensemble of tech-clothing will be.

  • None of the clothing will function on Sundays, holidays, (and now) Saturdays.

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