Today Australia Post floated the notion of a user-pays postal system. My only thought (for now) is to ask - what took them so long? Australia Post letter operations suffered a $218 million loss last year because; as it turns out we sent fewer letters than ever. I’d say more emails than ever though and that’s probably the rub.
The user-pays model means residents would pay an annual bill in addition to the stamp price.
In what may soon be one of those evolutionary dead-ends – that innate ability to recognize bills lurking behind those plan looking envelopes. Bad news, those school reports and the odd xmas card hiding a $20 note from a long forgotten relative will all seem nostalgic – from yet another golden age. Who doesn’t open those bills, toss the extra paper, and keep only the parts that are needed. We even open our spouse’s mail too. We wouldn’t want him (or her) to procrastinate now.
What about emails then? What keeps us glued to them…? Here are a few psychological reasons that keeps us interested.
We all have an innate desire to "pay back" other people for their actions. If someone gives you a gift, you feel the desire to return something in kind. The same hold true for emails. Reciprocity means that each email is an invitation to a social encounter.
We love Irregular rewards; it's how our brains know that it's making your body do the right things. And getting an email is a form of reward since emails are often a form of a social glue.
We are wired to value things that are closer in time more than things that are more distant. If we’re offered $10 today or $20 a year from now, we’re more likely to make the poor choice of taking the lesser money now. Similarly, we value email because it's fresh and new, even if it's not especially important or valuable.