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Lori Ruedi of Carlsbad exited the long line at the Aviara Parkway post office on December 11 and said she would return in the morning. Then she decided to try a self-service kiosk that had only two people waiting to use it. She needed to mail three packages and buy stamps in a hurry, as she was on her way to the gym.

“It took, like, two minutes,” Ruedi said.

A typical wait time to conduct business with a clerk that day was about 40 minutes, according to several people who exited the building. The automated kiosks have built-in scales for weighing packages and the stand-alone machines are similar in shape and size to an ATM. Most of them are located within the post-office lobby and are accessible after hours. They accept credit and debit cards and can be used to purchase stamps, mail letters and non-international packages. Signature or confirmation delivery and payments on post-office boxes are also options.

Eva Jackson, spokesperson for the United States Postal Service, said San Diego County has 58 of the expensive machines in high-volume post offices throughout the county. She said using the kiosks can be time-savers even after the holidays for consumers who need to return items purchased online.

“Our self-service kiosks have a program, where if you want to return something, we return it and track it,” Jackson said.

Friday, December 21, is the last day to send a Priority Mail package that will arrive before Christmas; Saturday is the deadline to send items by Express Mail.

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