Postal Service offering high-tech way to preview your mail

Post office pre-mail
Post office pre-mail 01:54

NEW YORK -- First came snail mail. Then email. Now the post office is about to deliver something new: pre-mail.

For some, the first thing that comes to mind when your hear the words “post office” is: antiquated.

“Oh my God I have to go to the post office,” one woman said. “Normally when you come to the post office it takes a long time, things are not labeled. You can’t find where you have to go and people aren’t very friendly.”

But for all of its shortcomings, the United States Postal Service does provide a lot of comedic material, which just may have inspired its latest feature.

In one stand-up routine, Jerry Seinfeld said: “If I could talk to the post office, if I could say to them, if you really want to be helpful to us, just open the letters, read them and email us what it says!”

It won’t be doing that, but starting Friday, the post office is taking the snail out of mail and going nationwide with a new service called Informed Delivery.

If you sign up, you can see who sent you mail the way you view practically everything else -- online.

U.S. mail carriers getting a "panic button" 02:16

The Postal Service will email you a picture of every piece of mail you can expect to get that day. It’s one way to stay relevant at a time when mail volume has dropped dramatically over the last decade.

In 2006, there were 213.1 billion letters sent while in 2016 only 154.3 billion, according to the USPS.

Tom Rhodes pointed out other benefits too.

“It just will I think help with the fraud, don’t you think?” he said. “Cause you’ll have proof that’s it coming to you.”

Proof or no proof, postal worker Sharon Sanders says she’s old school.

“When they have unbreakable unhackable internet I will do email too but until they do,” Sanders said, “I’ll take my chance and get my mail snail mail.”

But for some, the slow slog to innovation is a welcomed delivery.

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    Jericka Duncan is a national correspondent based in New York City and the anchor for Sunday's edition of the "CBS Weekend News."