Very Last Points on Wawa, Romney, and the USPS

For previous items, see this and this.


1) Wawa and the mysteries of perception.I have seen these convenience-store signs many times over the past twenty years or so, and I have always noted the oddity of the name, since it wasn't something I'd encountered in my childhood on the other side of the country. For some reason, I had always mentally registered the spelling as "WaWa." It turns out that it is "Wawa." My mistake and apologies.

2) Address-change and the mysteries of perception. I recounted Mitt Romney's story about a doctor (actually optometrist) who was frustrated by filling out a 33-page government form to change his billing address. In context it sounded to me and I assume other people in the crowd as if he was talking about normal address changes as handled by the Post Office. After I mentioned this part of Romney's speech, to explain how he was making his case about public/private differences, many people wrote in to make a point I hadn't: that in fact it's very easy to make a USPS change.

So I went back to see the tape. It is possible though not spelled-out that the optometrist had been talking about getting the Medicare and Medicare systems to change his registered billing address, which could well be more complex. I am not inviting more correspondence on how Medicare billing actually works, nor the merits of its being more complex than the either Wawa or the USPS. (For instance: billing fraud is a huge issue for Medicare / Medicaid, so new addresses are a bigger deal there. Similarly, the first time you ask Amazon to send a shipment to a new address, they require extra verification.) I am saying that if this is what the optometrist had in mind when telling his story to Romney, then the 33 pages make a lot more sense.

Again, the entire context in which Romney was presenting these stories, and in which I relayed them, was his emphasis on the difference in convenience between what he had seen at Wawa and what he had heard about from the local address-changer. You can agree or disagree with his point, but that is why he was offering the two illustrations.

3) USPS and the mysteries of micro-billing. Yesterday I quoted a reader who wondered why the Post Office charges $1 for people who change their address online. Very large numbers of readers wrote in, all providing the same answer. Here's a sample:

The $1 fee at USPS for change of address is ONLY if you do it online, and its a token fee so that they can charge your credit card and as a side effect verify your identity. Its free if you fill out a paper card in person at a post office.


The $1.00 charge is to verify that you are who you say you are.  If there was no verification, I could change your address and steal your identity.  The post office has it under control.

I hope this is the last time that the word WaWa, or even Wawa, appears in this space.