5-day delivery: Depends on your perspective

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Daniel Indiviglio, writing on The Atlantic‘s business blog, looks at the Postal Service’s gloomy FY09 financial results and declares 5-day mail delivery a “reasonable idea.” Then he looks a little further ahead — and predicts 5-day could eventually give way to even less frequent delivery:

Bottom line: it seems that technology will increasingly take the place of postal service in the years to come. This time around, Saturday service may be eliminated. But give it a few more years, and we might see Monday-Wednesday-Friday service. One day, USPS may be eliminated entirely.

Indiviglio casts that as a positive — the Postal Service responding to the changing way Americans use mail (and, increasingly, don’t use mail).

Interestingly, though, I often hear the same argument presented by union leaders and many postal employees as a criticism of 5-day. They view the end of Saturday delivery as a stalking horse for 4-day, 3-day, etc.  And they see it as a negative, both because of its impact on postal workers and because they see it as selling off the agency’s competitive advantage. If the Postal Service doesn’t deliver on Saturdays, they argue, how does it differentiate itself from UPS or FedEx? (The mailbox monopoly, for one…)

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  1. Another ignorant remark by someone outside the Postal Service. Mr. Indiviglio I have been carrying mail for almost 30 years and there are plenty of people who still rely on the Postal Service. Yes automation has taken a big chunk of the Postal Revenue. Living in Kansas and having relatives in rural America I see and hear how dependant people are on the mail service. Not everyone trusts online banking and not everyone even has a computer to adapt to this technological age. If the mail service is in such dire strights why I am working so much Overtime to get all the mail delivered? Yes I know it is the seasonal mail and that come spring things will lighten up. However the Postal Service is taking measures to deal with the volume. Just don’t be so quick to write us off. We still deliver. I do agree that Saturday mail service door-to-door can be eliminated and should be. Saturdays have more people at home and thus more clutter around mailboxes causing delays in delivery times. This same volume can be distributed over 5 days with minimal Overtime and a major fuel savings alone. Want to get the real story then put your feet on the ground and observe a Letter Carrier for a week and/or a clerk or mailhandler for a week. Get the prospective from the working side of the mail.

  2. Additionally your comparisons to Fed Ex and UPS hold no water. They drive off packages and that is it. It is Apples to Oranges. I talk with the UPS driver and Fed-EX driver in my area of delivery. Neither wants to do my job added to that they are paid more per hour. The mailbox monopoly deals with more than just the Postal Service delivery. Witht eh Postal service being the only allowed entity delivering to the Mailbox, said mailbox is then Federally protected. If you allow ever fly by night delivery service to have access to the mailbox there is no protection. Anyone can rifle through your box without fear of being prosecuted. Just because someone puts a flyer in your box for lawn care would not mean they don’t pull out your federal refund check, bank statement or even your outgoing mail. Once the Letter Carrier delivers the mail into the box that mail currently has such federal protection from theft.

  3. PERSONAL OPINIONS OF WRITERS ARE JUST THAT. THE PUBLIC WANTS AND DESERVES SATURDAY MAIL SERVICE. NOT EVERYONE USES A COMPUTER AND ALMOST EVERYONE WELCOMES GREETINGS CARDS. BUSINESSES ARE AFFECTED BY SATURDAY DELIVERY AND DEPEND ON SAME FOR DELIVERY OF CHECKS ETC. ALSO, THERE ARE SEVERAL HOLIDAYS CELEBRATED ON MONDAYS WHICH WOULD MEAN NO MAIL SERVICE FROM FRIDAY UNTIL TUESDAY. JIM RADEMACHER, PRES.-EMERITUS NATIONAL ASSOC. OF LETTER CARRIERS

  4. Eliminating Saturday delivery will cause customers to go elsewhere for service. The Postmaster General acknowledges this fact and estimates that the USPS will LOSE about $600 million in revenue by going to five day delivery.

    The problem with Mr. Indiviglio’s position is that he bases his conclusion on the flawed assumption that technology will eventually divert all communications from the USPS to other means. This assumption ignores the facts.

    Personal communication has already moved from letters to the internet and texting. On-line bill paying has taken it’s chunk of volume, however, a recent survey found that 90% of people who pay bills online prefer to receive a paper bill in the mail.

    The bread and butter volume for the USPS is advertizing mail. That volume has declined during the recession, but it will come back. Companies know that direct mail is a much more effective solution than e-mail. How many unsolicited e-mail advertisements do you read? If you are like most people very few. Most people delete these e-mails without looking at them. Direct mail gets opened and read.

    Dropping to five day delivery is short sighted and will do more harm than good. The USPS is too focused on cutting costs and reducing services. They need to expand service and offer new services. No company can survice solely by reducing service.

  5. Change of leadership is badly needed. The Board of Governors think Potter is just all it. Potter AND the BOG needs to be replaced. Remember the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over the same way and expecting different results. There is plenty of that in “management” that are supposed to be running the show. I’m a retired 40 yr USPS employee. Believe me, I’ve seen it up close and personal.

  6. people will go back to the mail sevice instead of electric mailing, for the simple fact that the internet is the leading source of identy theft!

  7. I am a 25yr+ veteran of the USPS and yes, we have lost volume over the years, improved ways to automate much of the letter volume, reduced costs/workhours but we still have a lot of overhead. One of the carriers in my office profusely states “if they don’t touch the mail, their job needs looked at”. We have cut so much at the last line of delivery, our carriers and window clerks, processing jobs and front line supervisors, that just getting through a day and coming close to making the “goals” set by upper management, it’s a wonder any of us want to come to work.

    The elimination of Saturday delivery may be strongly opposed by the “Union” but I would guess that the majority of the carriers on the routes every day would love to have weekends off to spend with their families. Overtime would be greatly reduced, also eliminating many grievances and reducing the need to full time Union leadership, sick leave useage would drop, we all know that much of the Saturday sick leave is not because an employee is ill, reduce fuel consumption and all round make the Postal Service a better place to work.

    Most if not all large businesses, government offices, schools, doctor and law offices are closed on Saturdays. Many of these same businesses receive their mail in a Post Office Box which they can retrieve at any time. The people that need mail on Saturday, why I would not know, have the option of renting a Post Office Box Most bank drive up windows are closed at noon so unless you get your mail before then, you hold it until Monday anyway. Government checks are already scheduled for delivery Monday-Friday. If the 1st, 3rd or whatever day is over the weekend, the checks come on Friday.

  8. Mr Daniel Indiviglio, with all respect, but are you serious?? Example: We have air planes, why drive (elem. them) We have online shopping and in home gyms…(elem. malls and gyms) There is online bill pay (banks? elem. them too ) ….the postal service ( I agree) is a choice…but we blow the comp. out of the water!!! If anything we will go private and combine forces with other parcel services. The USPS isnt going anywhere!! Ever!!

  9. Oh yeah….Mr Daniel Indiviglio…I almost forgot….have you ever heard of people going online and getting their id’s stolen? When your id is stolen from over seas…and all you were doing was paying your bills online…good luck getting anything done about it….Its overseas and is nearly impossible!! So local mail service will always make since…because lets say worse case…someone gets into your mail box?? Which is not that often…they will be local and CAN be stopped =) Have a wonderful day =)

  10. I think the Postal Service is looking at the saving of money through the foggy lenses of broken glasses. You can’t save something you don’t have. First you have to make the money…than save it. The postal service in not a monopoly anymore. Everytime the postal service shortens the hours of the office it boosts the UPS Stores revenue. No one can get to the Post Office between 9am and 4pm. The United States, well most of us, work between those hours. Don’t even think you can go on your lunch hour. Everyone else thought the same silly idea.
    The Post Office hasn’t offered any competitive customer service in years. The public expects good and prompt service. The treatment of the postal employees by management and the insane directives cause poor work relations which than causes poor customer service.
    The Postal Service is a service business. They sell a service nothing else. As soon as the Post office figures this out the issue of a five day delivery will be off the table.

  11. I have been on the website that shows how many “Clerks Mail Handlers City Carriers Rual Carroers” jobs have been lost. But I have not seen how many uper managemet jobs have been lost NONE. I agree if you do not handle the mail your job should be looked at first. I hope for my customers sake they do not take Sat. delivery away before they look at the uper managemet jobs first. Do the right thing for the USPS

  12. Have been a carrier for over 20 years. take our office: each city carrier would only add daturdays office mail volume to the rest of the week. We get 4 feet of mail each day to case and deliver. thats 1 hour of work spread over the other 5 days. That adds 12 minutes to each day. We would hardly notice it and it would be more efficient because our routes are designed for more volume. I know many dont like the idea of 5day. But it is better than no days cause the USPS gos belly up. With our lack of mail volume this seems to be a no-brainer.

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