USPS to propose 5-day mail schedule, major cuts

mscriv

macrumors 601
Original poster
Aug 14, 2008
4,911
586
Dallas, Texas
Snail mail might soon get even slower.

The U.S. Postal Service plans to propose Tuesday an adjusted mail service schedule, which will likely cut Saturday delivery. The agency will also suggest closing some branches and expanding its use of self-service kiosks in grocery stores and other popular retail spots, as part of its effort to work its way out of a mountain of debt. USPS posted a $3.8 billion loss in its 2009 fiscal year, the latest in a multiyear string of whopping losses. Mail volume was down 12.7% for the year, a trend the agency expects to continue over the next decade as more consumers opt for online bill payments and message delivery. The Post Office was $10 billion in debt as of Sept. 30 -- not far off from its $15 billion debt limit, which the agency expects to hit in its 2011 fiscal year.

The challenges hurting USPS's bottom line are reflective of a "macro change in society," Postmaster General Jack Potter said at a press conference Monday previewing the proposed changes. "All posts around the world are challenged, just as we are, by the diversion of hard copy to electronic medium." The Post Office, an independent government agency, does not receive taxpayer dollars and is funded entirely by its own revenue. However, the Postal Reorganization Act of 1970 constrains the agency's operations. It prohibits USPS from closing small branches based soled on economic factors, and prevents the agency from expanding its services beyond postal delivery.

Post offices in some countries, including Italy and Japan, have boosted their sales by offering ancillary services, like banking. But unless Congress steps in, USPS cannot expand beyond the postal-mail realm. USPS has already begun taking the axe to its budget. The agency made $6 billion in cuts last year, reducing its workforce by about 40,000 employees and chopping overtime hours, transportation costs and other expenses. Congress passed legislation allowing the organization to cut retiree health benefit payments by $4 billion.

Despite those measures, the agency still expects a net loss of $7.8 billion in fiscal 2010. USPS employs about 600,000 workers, about half of whom will be eligible to retire in the next 10 years. Potter said the agency has historically overpaid into its pension fund, and would reap significant savings if it stopped prefunding its retiree health benefits.

The Post Office plans to announce the specifics of its proposed new business model on Tuesday. Its plans will then go before Congress for review. A significant postal price hike is also under consideration, although the price most consumers care about -- the rate for a first-class stamp -- is locked in at 44 cents for 2010.

"At the end of the day, I'm convinced that if we make the changes that are necessary, we can continue to provide universal service for America for decades to come," Potter said. "We can turn back from the red to the black, but there are some very significant changes that are going to have to be made."
LINK

Looks like lots of changes are in store. I remember when being a postal carrier was considered one of the safest and most stable jobs in America.
 

Rodimus Prime

macrumors G4
Oct 9, 2006
10,132
4
USPS get screwed from all sides. It can not do anything to raise more money by expanding. As postal delivery goes down it losses money.

Now if they try to raise postage congress gets on their case. If it wants to shut down some mail sorting location because it is not needed congress will not let them.

USPS is force to run like a private business for funds but have the federdual government hands in forcing them to burn money or telling them they can not save or try to make more money.
 

rdowns

macrumors Penryn
Jul 11, 2003
27,345
12,408
They should gut the USPS and deliver mail 3 or 4 days a week. The vast majority of my mail is junk that ends up in the recycle bin. I don't get why this is such a sacred cow in these times. Why are we propping up this dinosaur?
 

yg17

macrumors G5
Aug 1, 2004
14,888
2,480
St. Louis, MO
I would be fine if they stopped mail delivery on Saturdays, but they either need to keep post offices open on Saturday or extend hours on weekdays until 8 or 9. For those of us who work during the day, sometimes Saturday is the only chance we have to get to the PO.
 

JNB

macrumors 604
They've been proposing this almost annually. Sooner or later it's bound to happen, but between postal customers screaming about wanting Saturday delivery and the postal unions demanding minimum hours for their membership, all that's likely to happen is that somehow we'll end up paying more for less.

That, or more junk mail, as that's a huge revenue stream for them. Lose that, and a first-class letter will easily cost a buck or more.

The whole thing's so deeply ingrained societally, but fundamentally unsustainable given the state and growth of physical and electronic competition.

I dunno, should the government re-absorb USPS as a taxpayer service?
 

SilentPanda

Moderator emeritus
Oct 8, 2002
9,808
28
The Bamboo Forest
I honestly wouldn't mind that much if they went to an every other day schedule, maybe just Mon/Wed/Fri. I rarely get useful postal mail anyway and the few things I do get could wait a day. Most of my packages come via UPS anyway. I guess Netflix would be the only thing I'd miss getting daily. Maybe Netflix should buy the postal service... :p
 

GoCubsGo

macrumors Nehalem
Feb 19, 2005
35,743
141
They've been proposing this almost annually. Sooner or later it's bound to happen, but between postal customers screaming about wanting Saturday delivery and the postal unions demanding minimum hours for their membership, all that's likely to happen is that somehow we'll end up paying more for less.
I have a customer here in rural NC who is only running a 5-day shift, she has to use and maintain her own car, and does not see additional compensation for it to cover what maintenance she really has to perform on it. It's unfortunate but it's life. I believe this will happen in more rural areas. I've learned from hot mail boy that he doesn't wear a uniform because I'm considered rural, which I find funny. He is here on Saturdays though ... which usually is a good hair day for me. :D hubba hubba
 

mscriv

macrumors 601
Original poster
Aug 14, 2008
4,911
586
Dallas, Texas
The whole thing's so deeply ingrained societally, but fundamentally unsustainable given the state and growth of physical and electronic competition.
I think you are dead on JNB. It's like the USPS is sort of a part of our national identity. Americans seemed so proud in the past that we could deliver packages or mail in a timely manner. I'm reminded of the "rain, snow, or sleet... the mail always runs" verbage I heard growing up and the wild west stories of the Pony Express risking life and limb to deliver the mail.
 

iShater

macrumors 604
Aug 13, 2002
6,967
370
Chicagoland
This is a sad day indeed. But I agree that the way it is run forces is to follow politicians but still try to make money on its own.

I love my local PO. :eek:
 

dmr727

macrumors G3
Dec 29, 2007
8,621
22
NYC
A stamp is what, 44 cents? That seems like a price straight out of the 50s. Yet for 44 cents the USPS will carry my dumb letter thousands of miles and get it there in about a week. Astonishing.

Heck, I don't think I can name one thing that costs less than 44 cents these days.
 

JNB

macrumors 604
I think you are dead on JNB. It's like the USPS is sort of a part of our national identity. Americans seemed so proud in the past that we could deliver packages or mail in a timely manner. I'm reminded of the "rain, snow, or sleet... the mail always runs" verbage I heard growing up and the wild west stories of the Pony Express risking life and limb to deliver the mail.
Funny you should mention the Pony Express, as I was thinking about that too. Just for comparison, it cost $5 per half-ounce—in 1860! In today's dollars, that would make a one-ounce letter $243!
 

Hrududu

macrumors 68020
Jul 25, 2008
2,190
468
Central US
Most of us as consumer probably won't be too effected by the loss of Saturday deliver, but business's will find it burdensome. The ability to send and receive mail on Saturday is really handy sometimes. Say you need something like a bill to arrive by monday and you miss the late Friday pickup. Being able to have it picked up on Saturday can be a lifesaver. I think its a shame, but the way USPS is tied down in regulation, they really don't have much choice until something is done to allow them to operate as a competitive business. They may also lose a lot of customers to FedEx and UPS who need to have shipments and deliveries on the weekends.
 

Antares

macrumors 68000
I'm a having deja vu about this thread for some reason.

If they are going to cut a day, they should cut one week day. Then, you don't have to go two days, in a row, without mail.

Plus, Saturdays are important. It's the only day that I, and many other people, can really get to the Post Office. It's not open yet when I leave for work and closed by the time I get home.
 

Rodimus Prime

macrumors G4
Oct 9, 2006
10,132
4
Most of us as consumer probably won't be too effected by the loss of Saturday deliver, but business's will find it burdensome. The ability to send and receive mail on Saturday is really handy sometimes. Say you need something like a bill to arrive by monday and you miss the late Friday pickup. Being able to have it picked up on Saturday can be a lifesaver. I think its a shame, but the way USPS is tied down in regulation, they really don't have much choice until something is done to allow them to operate as a competitive business. They may also lose a lot of customers to FedEx and UPS who need to have shipments and deliveries on the weekends.
I think the consumers are effect more by the lost of a Saturday delivery than businesses.

Now I think they have done studies and it was shown dumping either Tuesday or Thursday would be a better choice as those are the lowest volume days. Just the fact that it is an odd ball day prevents it from happening.

Now while I lived in an apartment I tended not to check my mail on Saturday and I would get it Monday evening because I would always check it on my way home from work. If I did not have work that day I would not check my mail.
 

jaw04005

macrumors 601
Aug 19, 2003
4,369
15
AR
Plus, Saturdays are important. It's the only day that I, and many other people, can really get to the Post Office. It's not open yet when I leave for work and closed by the time I get home.
Exactly. If the Post Office needs to cut a day, cut Monday. They miss several Mondays because of federal holidays that fall on Saturday and Sunday anyway.
 

Rodimus Prime

macrumors G4
Oct 9, 2006
10,132
4
Exactly. If the Post Office needs to cut a day, cut Monday. They miss a ton of Mondays because of federal holidays anyway.
Mondays are a bad day to cut. One of the heaviest mail volumes of the week is Monday due to weekend build up and business being open on Monday. I believe the biggest 2 days ever week are Monday and Friday. Lowest being Tuesday.
 

rdowns

macrumors Penryn
Jul 11, 2003
27,345
12,408
Most of us as consumer probably won't be too effected by the loss of Saturday deliver, but business's will find it burdensome. The ability to send and receive mail on Saturday is really handy sometimes. Say you need something like a bill to arrive by monday and you miss the late Friday pickup. Being able to have it picked up on Saturday can be a lifesaver. I think its a shame, but the way USPS is tied down in regulation, they really don't have much choice until something is done to allow them to operate as a competitive business. They may also lose a lot of customers to FedEx and UPS who need to have shipments and deliveries on the weekends.

If they were to stop Saturday delivery, it doesn't necessarily mean that post offices will be closed. In fact, it would be stupid to close them on Saturdays. I bet it's one of their biggest revenue days of the week.
 

Sdashiki

macrumors 68040
Aug 11, 2005
3,512
8
Behind the lens
If they were to stop Saturday delivery, it doesn't necessarily mean that post offices will be closed. In fact, it would be stupid to close them on Saturdays. I bet it's one of their biggest revenue days of the week.
Post Offices and delivery close on sunday, the Postal SERVICE does not.

They still sort, fly, move, drive your mail.

Its just not delivered.
 

iOrlando

macrumors 68000
Jul 20, 2008
1,813
1
its been so long since i sent something in the mail, I forgot you needed to put stamps on the front of a letter and I forgot how to actually get it mailed.
 

mstrze

macrumors 68000
Nov 6, 2009
1,916
0
I bet they are losing money on their flat-rate Priority shipments. If it fits in the box, up to a reasonable weight, it ships for the same price whether it weighs an ounce or 25 pounds.

In the past, the heavier, the more expensive. Methinks that there are a lot of people saving a ton of money shipping this way.

On the other side of this coin: how many more customers were attracted to this method of shipment over a competitor?

Then again, if you can make enough money to fund your operations, something needs to change. In other 'regulated' industries like electricty, for example. Government officials help set the price of the item/commodity to balance the cost vs. expense of providing the item/commodity.

Someone needs to look at the USPS and see why they are constantly losing money these days. (I seem to recall about 10-15 years ago they were ahead of the game and making a profit.) I don't see how cutting a day of delivery will make that much of a difference. Increasing rates are likely a better move....and I bet that is on the table.

I send so few letters that it would not hurt me if stamp prices were tripled! Of course, it would hurt a bit more around Christmas time with the 75-100 cards we send out!
 

Gregg2

macrumors 603
May 22, 2008
5,809
344
Milwaukee, WI
In the past, the heavier, the more expensive. Methinks that there are a lot of people saving a ton of money shipping this way.

... I don't see how cutting a day of delivery will make that much of a difference. Increasing rates are likely a better move....and I bet that is on the table.
Yes, that's on the table when the current freeze expires, as well as closing some light-traffic post offices, and it seems one other much bigger ($15M) item that I can't recall, for a total of over $25M in annual savings.

The cost for shipments of lead have gone way down! ;)