No. of Recommendations: 86
I spent five years in California running a business and shipping product via UPS or USPS, whichever was cheaper (near, UPS, far, USPS). In 1990 I came home to Venezuela. In October 1991 BusinessWeek ran a special issue "The Quality Imperative," Special Issue, Oct. 25, which failed to mention telephone and mail service, to which I replied via a letter to the editor:

You missed two quality services available in the U. S.: the telephone and the Postal Service (''The Quality Imperative,'' Special Issue, Oct. 25). If defects are to be measured as bad connections per million calls made or pieces not delivered per million pieces mailed, then both are tops. Telephones and mail boxes are available everywhere. Both services are inexpensive -- what else can you get for the 29¢ cost of a first-class stamp or the 25¢ cost of a local call?

In the U. S., most people place their own calls. Phone service in Venezuela is so bad that executives have a secretary to make phone calls. This introduces extra people in the process, and a lot of time is wasted until both executives finally get on the line. This alone must cost Venezuela thousands of wasted man-hours.

In the U. S., millions of bills (for telephone, gas, electricity, credit cards, water, BUSINESS WEEK, etc.) are delivered and paid by mail. In Venezuela, no one dares put a check in the mail. Consequently, payments are made in person, and, again, thousands of man-hours are wasted.

In the U. S., the telephone and the Postal Service are marketing tools (telemarketing, junk mail). The telephone supports other services such as E-mail, fax, 800 and 900 numbers, and emergency (911) services. It is so good and so transparent that your writers didn't even think about it (except for the software glitch that paralyzed the system for a few hours). The good news is that Venezuela just sold 40% of its state-owned telephone system to a private group headed by GTE.

Denny Schlesinger Caracas

Most countries in the world would love a service as "poorly" run as the USPS, it would be a thousand fold improvement over what we have. ;)

Denny Schlesinger
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