Now open

Open season, the once-a-year opportunity for Postal Service employees to make changes to their health coverage or choose a new plan, is Nov. 9-Dec. 14 this year.

Here’s what you should know:

You should review your coverage. The Postal Service wants you to evaluate your options to ensure you have the coverage you need without paying for services you don’t. During the coronavirus pandemic, it’s especially vital that you have access to health care for you and your family.

Making changes can save you money. Balance your benefits so you save money and maintain the health benefits you require. Most employees overspend on benefits because they don’t take time to compare and contrast plans.

Several options are available. You can choose from a variety of health, vision and dental coverage options through the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHB), USPS Health Benefits Plan (USPSHBP) for non-career employees, Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP) and flexible spending accounts (FSAs).

You can explore your options online. Go to the Open Season LiteBlue page to review your health plan and find out what’s available. You can compare multiple plans side by side through Checkbook’s Guide to Health Plans for Federal Employees, an online tool available on LiteBlue.

You can make changes online, too. To enroll or change coverage in FEHB, USPSHBP or FSAs, go to PostalEASE or call 877-477-3273 (select Option 1). Use the BENEFEDS site to enroll or make changes to your FEDVIP coverage and the FSAFEDS site to enroll in FSAs.

There’s another way to receive information. USPS is continuing a service that allows you to receive open season information and reminders though text messages to your mobile devices. Sign up by texting BENEFITS to 21333.

Help is available. For assistance, call the HR Shared Service Center at 877-477-3273 (select Option 5). The Federal Relay Service number is 800-877-8339.

The Postal Service will provide additional information and reminders throughout open season.

Customer attention

A retail associate’s conversations with two customers mailing packages for their company has led to more than $98,000 in new revenue for the Postal Service.

Timothy Junghans was on duty at Downtown Station in Columbus, GA, when he noticed a regular customer who was mailing a few packages multiple times a week.

The customer works for a company that makes a hydration drink. Junghans talked with the customer, who told him that the packages were last-minute orders going out.

A few days later, Junghans found himself serving a different person with the same company who was mailing more packages. He talked with her and found out that the business had a big need for help with their shipping.

Junghans then submitted a lead through Clerks Care, one of the Postal Service’s employee lead generation programs.

A local business development specialist followed up with the company, and a member of the sales team closed a shipping deal worth more than $98,000.

Revenue generated from Clerks Care leads is counted toward the Postal Service’s Power of One campaign to raise revenue through sales leads from employees.

“Timothy’s attention to his customers has resulted in the first sale from an employee lead for this fiscal year from Gulf Atlantic District,” said Mary Anderson, small-business engagement director at USPS headquarters in Washington, DC. “This is the ‘power of one’ — one person’s action leading to a new customer and new revenue for USPS.”

The Sales Blue page has more information about Clerks Care and the Postal Service’s other lead-sharing programs, which include Business Connect, Customer Connect, Mail Handlers, Rural Reach and Submit a Lead.

Share your feedback at uspslink@usps.gov. Your comments could be included in the “Mailbag” column.

Get packing

The Postal Service is offering customers tips for sending packages during the upcoming peak shipping season.

By becoming familiar with the list of prohibited shipping items and size and weight requirements, customers can avoid having packages returned to sender.

Here’s what customers should know:

Shipping restrictions: There are guidelines to keep certain hazardous, restricted and perishable items out of the mail — both domestically and internationally.

Avoid reusing boxes: Used boxes can weaken in the shipping process or hinder processing if old labels or markings are not removed or completely covered.

Size and weight requirements: Packages sent within the United States can’t weigh more than 70 pounds or measure more than 108 inches total in length and around the widest part of the package. Items sent internationally have separate weight and size requirements.

Also: Don’t use oddly shaped packages, which cost more to send because they must be processed manually.

Instead, customers are encouraged to use free Priority Mail or Priority Mail Express boxes available at Post Offices or online at usps.com.

Additional information is included in a Postal Service news release issued this week.