Postmaster Proposes a Cutback in Mail Delivery

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Saying the U.S. Postal Service "is in a severe financial crisis," Postmaster General John E. Potter is asking Congress to allow him to cut mail delivery from six days to five days a week.

In testimony prepared for a Senate hearing this afternoon, Potter said he needs "flexibility in the number of days we deliver mail."

"The ability to suspend delivery on the lightest delivery days, for example, could save dollars in both our delivery and our processing and distribution networks, he said. "I do not make this request lightly, but I am forced to consider every option given the severity of our challenge."

Ugh. Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomy

17 Comments
Posted January 28, 2009 at 5:35 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Choir Stall wrote:

Say it isn’t so.  Do you actually mean that in this consumer, “me”-driven culture that services, people, and institutions are collapsing under the weight of instant access?  That there needs to be “down time”? A rest from the “instant”? That people and econimies and institutions need breathing space or they become over-used and collapse under the weight of the need to be so efficient?  That “sabbath” should happen for people, institutions, and economies?
Well. Imagine that.

January 28, 6:41 pm | [comment link]
2. Dee in Iowa wrote:

Old enough to remember mail delivered twice a day 5 days a week and once on Saturday…...also can remember, at Christmas time Sunday deliveries because of Christmas Card volumn…...I am old

January 28, 8:18 pm | [comment link]
3. palagious wrote:

As a residential customer, I can live with it, no sweat.

How about getting rid of the millions of Blackberries infesting the Government along with all the monthly service charges.

January 28, 8:50 pm | [comment link]
4. Old Soldier wrote:

Dee, I also remember the twice a day mail deliveries.  And stamps for 1st Class were three cents.

January 28, 9:39 pm | [comment link]
5. mugsie wrote:

I’m from Canada. I left in 1997. They were still delivering mail only 5 days a week at that time. I don’t know if it’s still the case now. However, when I moved here it took me quite a while to get used to the idea that mail would come on Saturday. I would be out somewhere or just resting at home and then would either find the mail there when I returned home, or would hear it come through the slot on my door. I was totally surprised to see it for quite some time.

I wouldn’t miss it at all. I don’t think we really need mail on Saturdays. The whole world has become so neurotic that folks just don’t know how to stop and relax anymore. They need to be on the go all the time and constantly OVER stimulating their minds.

January 28, 9:50 pm | [comment link]
6. optimus prime wrote:

mugsie,

Yep, just 5 days a week still. I lived in the States for 8 years and found getting mail on Saturdays very strange. But I do most everything, bills, checks, ‘letter writing,’ tax stuff online, so the only cool thing that comes in the mail are my trail running, dirt biking and climbing magazines.

January 28, 10:33 pm | [comment link]
7. Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) wrote:

I suspect it will result in an increase of postal rates. The 2c jump from 39c to 41c, and the subsequent increase to 42c were quite obviously intended to cover the cost of storage for the mail. On evidence the USPS holds mail in storage somewhere for two extra days and they have to cover that cost.

Dropping one day a week from deliveries will obviously require additional storage time, and since they’re losing money they’ll soon raise rates on account that additional storage.

I have a letter from my father to my mother dated 1954. Dad was in DC on Navy business and on Wednesday afternoon he posted a letter—cost three cents—asking my mother to collect him at the 3 o’clock train in New Haven the next day. He obviously had complete confidence she would receive his letter Thursday morning.

Somehow the Post Office of that era made money ...

January 29, 12:16 am | [comment link]
8. Fr. Dale wrote:

I’ve waited for stuff being shipped by the USPS, UPS and Fed X.  The latter two organizations have never been later than the tracking code predicted.  I have yet to receive an article shipped via the USPS that came when predicted.

January 29, 12:17 am | [comment link]
9. recchip wrote:

I think they should go to three days a week.  Half of the customers get (M, W, and F) and the other half get (Tu, Th, Sa).  That way, you only need half as many carriers, trucks etc.  Put me down for the M, W, F.  That way, when there is a Monday Holiday my mail would be on a Friday an then I would get Sa, Su, Mon and Tuesday with NO MAIL!!

Every day I open the mailbox hoping it is empty.  The only stuff I get is bills and junk (sorry standard) mail.  I would be more than happy to only have to deal with mail 3 days a week.  It would definitely lower my Blood Pressure!!!

January 29, 12:45 am | [comment link]
10. scott+ wrote:

No delivery but longer office hours at the post office would be ok for me on Saturday.

January 29, 6:24 am | [comment link]
11. Sarah1 wrote:

Better yet, how about they eliminate delivering mail entirely and also eliminate the regulations that prevent UPS and FedEx from entering the “average mail market.”

Oh—wait . . .

January 29, 9:04 am | [comment link]
12. Jon wrote:

#10… I love your suggestion!  Even better, what about mail service only Tu-F with half of us getting Tu/Th and half getting Wed/Fri?  That would sharply reduce expense, solve problems related to scheduling workers, Monday holidays, and so on.  Can most of us honestly say that it would break our hearts to have (at worst) 3-4 days at a time without mail?

If a person in the US doesn’t have or won’t soon have internet access, then either that’s a choice on principle (these folks are usually happy to stay out of the barrage of modern communication) or it’s the result of poverty, in which case the person has other things higher on his list of priorities than a few days without mail periodically.

Another suggestion: in the modern world of personal communication by email, the fast bulk of USPS mail is now junk mail, which is bad for receivers and bad for the environment (since it gets thrown away).  I suggest the USPS develop a different pricing scheme for bulk mail.  Raise the price on that steadily until further hikes stop producing additional revenue for the USPS (because it starts becoming unprofitable for companies to send out their junk).

January 29, 9:23 am | [comment link]
13. Rev. Patti Hale wrote:

Thanks #1.  I am one who is trying to preserve the almost lost art of actually hand writing letters to people I love.  I love to send mail.  I love to receive mail.  To take the time to sit and compose a letter in one’s own hand is a kind of sabbath.  I love email… but there’s nothing like a hand written letter.  Seeing this article made me chuckle.  Oh! That we should have to wait on one another… never mind that we should wait on the Lord!  Perhaps this could teach us something, eh?  Could it be that God can use the USPS like God used Darius the Mede to bring restoration?  (see Daniel 6-9)  Stranger things have happened.

January 29, 9:49 am | [comment link]
14. Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) wrote:

If you check into it you’ll find that “standard mail” (aka junk) is actually a pretty good profit centre for the USPS and it’s the “first class” letters losing them money.

I think we should require the USPS to deliver “first class mail”—letters and postcards—to all addresses in the nation, and subsidise them as necessary, with subsidies contingent on a Chapter 11 style resetting of wages and benefits.

As for everything else, allow anyone to deliver into a physical mailbox and make it open competition service the USPS is not permitted to run at a loss.

Finally, have some sympathy for rural carriers. They’re contractors bidding against each other for those routes, including the volume factor, which is re-set for existing carriers after periodic measurement of volume on the route. Volume measured intentionally in weeks when junk mail volume is know to be lowest. Nasty.

January 29, 10:04 am | [comment link]
15. BlueOntario wrote:

Ahh. American business acumen. When you start losing customers find a way to cut service!

January 29, 11:15 am | [comment link]
16. Wyatt Q. wrote:

Due to the situation right now, some of us may be considering looking for new jobs for next fall. Perhaps you are not contented to your position right now and look for better one. The next employer that may need a payday loan is those who work in mail delivery.  The United States Postal Service has announced it might be suspending all operations on Saturdays, or possibly Tuesdays.  It seems that recession, not rain or sleet or cold of night, is what the postal service is susceptible to, unlike a payday loan.  Government agencies across the board are making cuts, and this would save billions by eliminating the slowest mail days of the week – so it may not be the greatest idea to clamor to get them a payday loan just yet.

January 31, 3:20 am | [comment link]
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