US Mail Goes Digital, Seeks to Make Junk Mail Fun

24 February, 2018

The United States Postal Service is offering a way for people interested in seeing tomorrow's mail today.

The postal service will send customers images of all their letters, magazines and other mail before they arrive.

The new service is called Informed Delivery. It is an attempt by the U.S. government agency to remain competitive in an ever-changing world.

Postal service officials say the increased use of email, digital messaging services and social media have made it difficult to stay relevant.

David Rupert is a media relations specialist with the postal service who spoke about all the competition the agency now faces.

"Whether you turn on a television, or your computer, or people come to your door with different products and services, all of those are competing for the consumer's time and energy," he said.

Interested users are first required to sign up for Informed Delivery. The service is not available in all areas. Once registered, the consumer receives a daily email with virtual images of letters and other things to be delivered.

The U.S. Postal Service says giving people the chance to see their mail before it arrives can be useful for planning purposes. It can especially help those who have a mailbox at their local post office so they know when to go and get their mail.

Jocelyn Coatney of Los Angeles thinks Informed Delivery is a good idea.

"I think I would like that a lot, especially with checks and things coming in, and things coming in from grandkids. That would be a nice service," she said.

Another postal offering is a service that seeks to make advertising-related mail – often called junk mail - more fun. The service uses virtual and augmented reality to let consumers interact with their junk mail.

Many companies put special coding on their advertising. These images can be scanned with a mobile device to give users an interactive experience. Some companies even put virtual reality eyeglasses in the mail to make their ads come to life.

Consumers have mixed reactions to the virtual and augmented reality advertising. Postal service user Victor Teah said he does not consider all ads junk mail.

"You can find some good things within junk mail. It's a good idea. We'll see how it works out," he said.

But Jocelyn Coatney does not think it would change her mind about junk mail. "For some, that might be fun. But for me, I wouldn't have any use for it," she said.

I'm Bryan Lynn.

Elizabeth Lee reported this story for VOA News. Bryan Lynn adapted it for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

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Words in This Story

delivery n. the act of taking something to a person or place

relevant adj. relating to something in a useful way

customer – n. someone who purchases a product or service

consumer n. person who buys goods and services

virtual adj. existing or occurring on computers or on the internet

check – n. a written order informing a bank to pay an amount of money to a named person

grandkid – n. a grandchild

augmented reality n. an enhanced version of reality using technology to add digital information on an image of something

scan n. the act or process of using a special machine to see the inside of something