Congress Rejects Postal Service Plan to Cut Saturday Delivery
Yesterday (Thursday, March 21), the U.S. Congress passed a binding resolution that mandates that the USPS (the United States Post Office) cannot eliminate Saturday mail delivery, something it had already announced they would do, starting in August. The many public polls taken on the subject of getting rid of six-day delivery, that is, halting mail service on Saturdays, and going to five-day delivery during the week, show that the public supports this move by the Postal Service.
Apparently, Congress sees it differently, with the Senate and the House both approving the resolution. It’s now going to President Obama, who is expected to sign it.
The financial travails of the Postal Service are well known at this point. The USPS loses $25 million per day, as a result of more people using email, mobile phones and the internet to communicate with each other, competition from other overnight services, onerous mandatory contributions to future retirees’ pensions and health plans, and, finally, meddling from Congress regarding their efforts to reduce service levels and eliminate/shrink small post offices nationwide. The mail service lost $16 billion in 2012. Stopping mail service on Saturdays would save the Postal Service a little over $2 billion annually, according to experts familiar with the finances of the mail carrier. At the current loss rate, USPS could run out of money as early as October of this year without reductions in spending or increases in funding.
There have been several attempts by some lawmakers to give the Postal Service more freedom to run their business more like a business, but none of these attempts has been successful, and Congress still wants to control the operations of the Postal Service, while not providing any extra money to fund the service levels they are requiring.
Many businesses, large and small, were not happy about the Postal Service’s plan to eliminate Saturday delivery, whether that was as a result of concern about getting supplies or payments in a timely fashion, or, concern about getting product to customers on time. These businesses brought pressure upon Congress to reject elimination of Saturday mail delivery. Conversely, many other businesses greeted the news that Saturday deliveries would be stopped with nothing more than a yawn. It simply does not affect their business one way or another.
This situation concerning the USPS is far from resolved. In fact, the actions of the Congress yesterday did nothing more than to reinforce the confusing message to the Postal Service that has been repeatedly sent by our lawmakers; the message that says, “Even though your costs have risen, your customer base has been reduced to a fraction of what you had in the past, and you’re supporting infrastructure and service levels that no longer make any sense at all, we don’t want you to change anything, including pricing, and you just need to figure out some sort of magic to make everything remain the same, and be profitable”.
That’s a tough way to go for any business.