First, I erred. My own recent experience with Verizon, while personally heartening, is not good enough evidence on how large for-profit firms respond when a customer is treated badly. Two commenters said it particularly well.

Commenter Tom Jackson writes:

I seldom disagree with David, but this isn’t, in fact, a good example of how the free market is better than the government. “Knowing somebody” is EXACTLY how you get a problem fixed with a government agency.

And commenter Stationary Feast writes:

While I’m happy for you that you eventually got Verizon to stick to the terms of what they agreed to initially, “a friend in a high place was able to sort things out for me eventually” is a textbook example of an aristocracy of pull. I’m baffled how you can turn this into a pro-free-market anecdote.

I couldn’t have said it better.

As it happens, though, I have been having problems consistently for over a year with my local Pacific Grove post office. We have been getting neighbors’ mail at least once a month and often more. And not just junk mail. And not just neighbors a few doors away. About 2 months ago, we received a federal tax refund for someone who lives on a street in Pacific Grove that I had never heard of. About a month before that, we received our neighbor’s mail and when we took it to her, she had some pieces of our mail, including two checks to my wife for her free-lance business. I’ve complained twice to the post office and twice directly to the particular mail delivery person. The first two complaints seemed to have little effect. The last complaint–to the delivery man’s face–may have worked. That was 2 weeks ago and it’s still too early to tell. Of course, we may not be able to tell. We haven’t gotten any neighbors’ mail in the last 2 weeks. But have neighbors got our mail?

So here’s a test. Next time this happens, if there is a next time, I’ll blog about it. Then we’ll see if things improve the way they did with Verizon.

It’s still not a perfect test. Perhaps I got lucky by having someone at Verizon who reads this blog but I won’t have such a connection at the post office. Therefore the test isn’t apples to apples. It may be more about my particular connections than about the organizations themselves. But it’s closer to a test than the one I presented earlier.

Also, let me point out that many commenters, when I posted this blog post on Facebook and in the comments on the blog, suggested particular cell phone companies to switch to. Which postal service should I switch to?