Automation: P.O. Woe

Like many a U.S. businessman who regarded automation as an effortlessly efficient conveyor belt to future savings, the U.S. Post Office is discovering that the automated ride has its bumps and grinds. The first automated post office, costing some $20 million, went into operation after Thanksgiving, in Providence, R.I.

By last week it was proving far from providential. The electronic canceling machine turned out to have a promiscuous eye, happily approved any spot of color where the stamp should be, including Christmas seals and trading stamps, on test mail sent by the Providence Journal-Bulletin. All were delivered. (But when the...

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