New U.S. Post Office Ads Warn Us About the Dangers of Email

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The U.S. Postal Service, near bankruptcy and losing billions of dollars every quarter pushing a product no one wants, unveiled today its new strategy to regain some relevance. That strategy involves scaring consumers about the dangers of email and online bill payment in several new 30-second TV commercials.

The ads tell consumers that unlike email and online services, paper mail delivered door to door can’t fall prey to a virus. (Lets not count the anthrax scare of 2001, since anthrax is technically a bacteria.)

“A refrigerator has never been hacked,” the ad’s voiceover says as a happy mail recipient pins a paper bill to her fridge. Another ad tells us that USPS customers can be sure that “important letters and information don’t get lost in thin air, or disappear with a click.”

For the record, security researchers have hacked fridges since at least 2005. But more to the point, the ads are a pathetic attempt to stem the tide of digital innovation and convenience that is washing away the Post Office’s dead tree business model. It’s like buggy-whip makers warning about the dangers of those newfangled horseless carriages.

And lest we forget, while the Post Office is now trying to convince us that e-mail is unsafe, in 2000 it proposed a plan to assign everyone in the U.S. an email address based on your postal street address. Mail sent to that address would have been printed out–limit two pages–and hand delivered at a higher(!) rate than first class mail. With that kind of innovative pedigree, it’s a wonder the service hasn’t gone bankrupt sooner.

[via Washington Post]

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Jerry Brito is a contributor to TIME. Find him on Twitter at @jerrybrito. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.