The Postmaster General announced today that the Postal Service will stop delivering letters and catalogs on Saturdays. (They will continue to deliver packages and Express mail.) I believe this is a death sentence for the USPS.
When I heard the news, I wondered – and so did some news analysts – how the Postmaster General could do this without Congressional approval. I found the answer when I went to mail a couple of packages this afternoon. I mentioned the news to the clerk who took my boxes. She said that by continuing the delivery of some mail, this bypassed Congress.
I said that if this was really necessary, there would be less disruption for residential customers if the USPS chose a mid-week day. The clerk agreed, saying it should be Tuesday, which is the slowest day for the Postal Service. But she thought businesses would prefer Saturdays.
The clerk thought this plan wouldn’t save a lot of money since each post office would continue to have an employee in the building on Saturdays to facilitate delivery of packages. Some mail carriers would still need to be scheduled for the limited deliveries. My friend also mentioned that every Monday would be busy, like the day after a holiday. That made me wonder if the extra work on Mondays had been calculated into the savings total for this plan or conveniently ignored (figuring that existing employees could somehow handle the additional work). I also wondered if the Postal Service would have to pay overtime after national holidays – those are usually on Mondays, so there will be three consecutive days without mail delivery.
The clerk I talked with today made an astute observation: The people in Washington who made this decision do not understand what things are like in the local post offices.
Today I noticed a new display of merchandise for sale: Valentine charm bracelets and stuffed animals with the image of a postage stamp on their paw. A rack of Valentine’s Day cards was put up last week. Over the past several years the Postal Service has lost its way. In a bid to get more revenue, they offer all kinds of things for sale that are not related to their primary mission. Packaging supplies and stamp collecting items make sense, but how many people are going to buy a cloth shopping bag with the Postal Service logo? Maybe instead they should examine their mail services and see if there are ways to be more efficient and cost effective. The Postal Service decision makers would never be able to hold jobs in the private business world!
I am all for the Post Office saving money so the price of stamps stays low. But I will be writing to my Congressional representatives to ask them to order a review of USPS services and items sold to see if there are other ways to save money, and a comparison of savings for alternative days without delivery. The Postmaster General has been pushing this exact plan for months; I have to wonder if alternatives have been considered. If you would like to send an e-mail to your Congressmen to support or complain about this plan, click here or on the “Contact Congress” tab above and follow the links.