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Post office offers new 24-hour tool

There's something new at the Alexandria Post Office - an automated postal center (APC). In order to meet the busy schedules of its customers, the post office recently installed the new machine, which can do most of the transactions that can norma...

There's something new at the Alexandria Post Office - an automated postal center (APC).

In order to meet the busy schedules of its customers, the post office recently installed the new machine, which can do most of the transactions that can normally be done at the retail window.

Customers can purchase stamps, send packages, look up mailing information including zip codes and more just by following a few easy-to-use commands.

And best of all, the APC is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. To use the machine, customers will have to use their credit or debit card.

In addition, postal customers can do business on the United States Postal Service Web site at www.usps.com . On the Web site, customers can purchase stamps and mailing supplies, address and post packages, arrange to have outgoing packages picked up by a letter carrier, hold or forward mail and more.

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For those without Internet access who need questions answered, the postal service has a toll-free number to call that was developed in 1996. The number to call is 1-800-ASK-USPS (275-8777).

More than 80 percent of incoming calls can be answered at this level, which frees up local postal employees to concentrate of their primary job - window service and delivering mail.

Calls that require local contact are referred to the Alexandria Post Office for a response, according to Dennis Stang, postmaster for the Alexandria Post Office.

"We understand that our customers work long hours or irregular schedules and don't always have the time to fit a trip to the post office into a hectic day," said Stang, adding that's one of the reasons for the new postal center, along with having a Web site and a toll-free number for customers to visit and call.

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