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USPS Ending Overnight First-Class Letter Service 713

Posted by timothy
from the just-another-troubled-dot-com dept.
New submitter cstacy writes "The United States Postal Service will be closing half of its processing centers this spring. Currently, 42% of first-class mail is delivered the following day for nearby residential and business customers. But that overnight mail will be a thing of the past, with delivery guaranteed only for 2-3 days. About 51% will be delivered in two days. Periodicals may take up to nine days. (Additional delays beyond this may come into play when Congress also authorizes USPS to close operations for some days each week.)"
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USPS Ending Overnight First-Class Letter Service

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  • Re:What? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 05, 2011 @01:10AM (#38262818)
    Ever heard of packages?
  • Re:Good plan (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 05, 2011 @01:25AM (#38262920)

    I don't really think they are doing this by choice, they are not run by the government, they are government regulated and required to run but they are still a private business and they are needing to do something to keep afloat due to the decreased business they have been getting due to stuff like Email, Facebook, Fedex and UPS.

    Of course if they actually succumbed and become an actual government run service and ran off taxes instead of how they are run now, all this would become a moot point.

    The fact that such a vital service isn't an actual government provided service and hasn't turned to outright greed is commendable but the fact remains that the nation NEEDs a service like this to run correctly and this is 1 area that there needs to be a steady, stable government run service, allow others to compete with it, but there needs to always be something that we can rely on 100%.

  • Re:It's a SERVICE (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anubis IV (1279820) on Monday December 05, 2011 @01:27AM (#38262936)

    You do realize that the postal service is mandated that it needs to be able to support itself? And that it's been doing so just fine for quite some time? And that none of our taxes have gone to it in any significant amount in recent history? Just because Congress governs it doesn't mean that we provide for its funding.

    The USPS has not directly received taxpayer-dollars since the early 1980s with the minor exception of subsidies for costs associated with the disabled and overseas voters. Revenue in the 2000s has been dropping sharply due to declining mail volume, prompting the postal service to look to other sources of revenue while cutting costs to reduce its budget deficit.

    From Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]

  • Re:It's a SERVICE (Score:5, Informative)

    by Ben_R_R (1177533) on Monday December 05, 2011 @01:37AM (#38263004)
    Actually, 0% of the USPS funding is through taxes. As an entity, it is entirely self supporting. See: http://about.usps.com/who-we-are/postal-facts/welcome.htm#H12 [usps.com]
  • Re:The End of USPS (Score:5, Informative)

    by mabhatter654 (561290) on Monday December 05, 2011 @01:47AM (#38263066)

    Just jack the price of delivery up to its real value... I did a quick lookup at FedEx for sending a package across town... The lowest cost was $7. Add to that that UPS and FedEx essentially "cherry pick" only the profitable areas... Even locally they don't always deliver to suburbs and make you pick up the package.

    The Post is undervalued. That used to be offset with "junk mail". Each of those items subsidized the wages of the mailman that only brought 0-3 pieces of actual mail per day. To turn the figures around, for a person to deliver to your house, you probably need 5-10 pieces of mail each day... Or $2.50-$5.00. That comes close to FedEx quote for $7 I mentioned earlier. Also, there is no way that $.44 now equals $.25 from 20 years ago.

    Mail needs to cost more, I'd say the need to jump to $1 minimum. They also need to trim residential service days to Mon-Wed-Fri. I know I don't get ANY mail at least one day per week, and at least one other is only junk. I could easily get all my bills in one day per week, except that makes receiving things timely a problem. I think Businesses get enough mail to justify 4 day service, maybe take Wed off.

    I don't think for most individuals upping the price to $1 will hurt anybody.. You're paying $4 for an average greeting card now! Packages are a separate business that allows a higher price point already.

  • Re:Netflix (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 05, 2011 @01:49AM (#38263078)

    Not just that, but pissed off sorters pushing packages off conveyor belts 30' in the air because they're pissed off that 60,000 packages per hour are being crammed through hubs designed for 30,000 packages per hour and they're getting yelled at for shutting down the belt every 7-10 seconds to keep up. Shoving unix boxes and monitors was my particular favorite act of revenge in the early '90s when I worked at UPS.

    Then, you have loaders who literally kick holes in expensive packages because the flow is coming down the belt far too fast for even two experienced loaders to keep up, while supervisors are cussing them out for not keeping up. Another tactic was to time it, and load only one box every six seconds, which is the performance level that loaders are required to achieve to keep their jobs, per union contract; they can't be forced to work faster - which would cause the already-overloaded rollers to back up onto the belt, past the pickoff sorters, and occasionally even up to the sorters where the trailers are being unloaded.

  • Re:It's a SERVICE (Score:4, Informative)

    by Hadlock (143607) on Monday December 05, 2011 @01:50AM (#38263080) Homepage Journal

    Considering the condition Social Security is in, it seems to wise to plan ahead like that. Social security as we know it will be gone, or severely neutered by the time I reach retirement age. There's nothing wrong with making long term plans; you can't put everything on the national credit card forever.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 05, 2011 @01:55AM (#38263098)

    They'd not only be solvent, they'd be *profitable*. The pre-loading costs them five BILLION dollars a year. Basically the government is propping up FERS by looting the USPS. One wonders who they'll go after next once the USPS craters.

  • Re:It's a SERVICE (Score:5, Informative)

    by captainkoloth (99341) on Monday December 05, 2011 @01:58AM (#38263108)

    The USPS is totally self funded and profitable. The problem is Congress gave them a near-impossible pension funding mandate so that they could borrow against those pension funds. It's more like the government is leeching off of USPS. Not the other way around

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 05, 2011 @02:07AM (#38263150)

    It is a common misconception that the Postal Service uses tax money. They are funded entirely by the money they make from postage.

  • Re:Netflix (Score:5, Informative)

    by cstacy (534252) on Monday December 05, 2011 @02:29AM (#38263256)

    Let the free market succeed where the USPS only exists by monopoly.

    No, USPS is no monopoly. If you think you can deliver letters across the country for less than half a dollar, you're free to do so.

    Actually, USPS is a monopoly. It is a federal crime to deliver a letter. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Private_Express_Statutes [wikipedia.org]

  • Re:Netflix (Score:3, Informative)

    by rtfa-troll (1340807) on Monday December 05, 2011 @02:30AM (#38263258)

    "AMERICAN POST OFFICE - The American Letter Mail company has established post offices in New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Boston, and will transmit letters daily from each city to the others - twice a day between New York and Philadelphia. Postage 6 1/4 cents per each half-ounce, payable in advance always. Stamps 20 for a dollar." [my emphasis]

    Looking at the material it seems the American Letter Mail company never provided universal mail. You have an exception which proves the rule (in the original sense of the phrase).

  • Re:Netflix (Score:2, Informative)

    by Totenglocke (1291680) on Monday December 05, 2011 @02:31AM (#38263262)

    Which is fair enough, but then We The People need to foot the bill for this extra service we demand of them.

    I'm sorry, but which people are demanding it? Seems like the massive amounts of packages shipped via other carries shows that the majority of the US doesn't want the USPS, so why should they be forced to pay for it? You might point out that FedEx and UPS don't do letters, but that's a matter of federal law prohibiting them from competing fully with the USPS, not because they can't / won't provide that service.

  • Re:Netflix (Score:5, Informative)

    by mysidia (191772) * on Monday December 05, 2011 @02:35AM (#38263276)

    No, USPS is no monopoly. If you think you can deliver letters across the country for less than half a dollar, you're free to do so.

    No... you're not free to do so. That proposition would be a federal crime. Under 18 USC S 1696 [cornell.edu]. Also, the "unlawful letters" would then be subject to seizure by US postal workers, and US marshals.

    Whoever establishes any private express for the conveyance of letters or packets, or in any manner causes or provides for the conveyance of the same by regular trips or at stated periods over any post route which is or may be established by law, or from any city, town, or place to any other city, town, or place, between which the mail is regularly carried, shall be fined not more than $500 or imprisoned not more than six months, or both.

  • Re:Netflix (Score:5, Informative)

    by zoloto (586738) on Monday December 05, 2011 @02:54AM (#38263360)
    as a former UPS employee (unload/load, night shift) this is absolutely true.
  • Re:Netflix (Score:5, Informative)

    by dryeo (100693) on Monday December 05, 2011 @03:17AM (#38263428)

    Here the volunteer fire department still gets the fire hall, trucks and rest of the equipment payed by the tax payers. I think the firefighters also get a small amount of money when working as well.

  • Re:Netflix (Score:5, Informative)

    by blind biker (1066130) on Monday December 05, 2011 @03:17AM (#38263430) Journal

    Or see them intact, for that matter.
    Whenever I get some UPS package (not my choice, I am always forced into this option), I wonder in what creative new ways will the parcel be damaged. Broken items, punctures in various places of the package, even folded parcels (3D parcels, that is, where one dimension isn't particularly prominent, either), leaks of chemicals into the parcel, these are all various joys of a UPS-delivered parcel.

    The fact that they treat you like an idiot by never telling you when they'll deliver it at your home (and doing this repeatedly) just adds insult to injury.

  • Half right (Score:4, Informative)

    by immaterial (1520413) on Monday December 05, 2011 @03:43AM (#38263532)
    They have to fully fund the benefits of every postal employee; that's actual employees, not any potential employee they might hire in the next 75 years. Meaning that for any new (young) employee they get, they must fully fund his retirement/benefits that wouldn't normally have to be paid until his retirement 40 or 50 years from now. The cost you cited is correct, and the requirement is justifiably called absurd and not a thing any private company is burdened with, but getting hyperbolic with the requirements of the law itself simply give your opponents a way to wave off your entire argument by pointing out this one innacuracy. I know it isn't you that started that little misinformational bit of hyperbole, but I've heard it a bunch and I've seen plenty of conservatives shrug off the entire argument by pointing this out and claiming the whole thing is "union lies" or some such. Whoever started the 75 years thing did their cause a terrible disservice.

    That said, another restriction Congress has put on USPS is the requirement not to raise rates faster than inflation (based on CPI or something like that). Fuel costs go up 30% this year? Well, suck it up, because you're not raising rates more than 1.67%!

    Conservatives like to point at the apparent failure of the USPS as an indicator that the government is simply wasteful in everything it does (instead we should privatize things so our corporate friends can take the profitable areas and leave everyone else to rot!), but that is a ludicrous assertion given that USPS is under restrictions such as the above which no private business would have to work under. Add to that the requirement that they serve every American, no matter where, with the same rates (a good and proper one, IMO) and it's amazing they're even close to profitable.
  • by spd_rcr (537511) on Monday December 05, 2011 @03:57AM (#38263574) Homepage

    USPS isn't on the verge of collapse due to any shortfall in business, it's recent changes in politics that have thrown a set of concrete slippers on a historically great swimmer.

    H.R. 1351 would allow the Postal Service to apply billions of dollars in pension overpayments to the congressional mandate that requires the USPS to pre-fund the healthcare benefits of future retirees. No other government agency or private company bears this burden, which forces the Postal Service to fund a 75-year liability in 10 years — at a cost of more than $5 billion annually. Without the mandate, the USPS would have shown a surplus of $611 million over the past four fiscal years.

    from http://postalemployeenetwork.com/news/2011/09/h-r-1351-gains-momentum-on-capitol-hill/ [postalempl...etwork.com]

    There's a lot more to the Post Office than just delivering junk-mail. The Post Office has been the glue that allowed the US to exist almost right from the start. The difference between a 1st class nation and a 3rd world country is the Post Office. Can you imagine if your bills didn't arrive in a timely fashion or you weren't able to put a check in the mail. Sure there's a lot of movement towards electronic payments for everything, but there are still plenty of areas without broadband and getting on the modern web with a modem is painful. Odds are if you're older, the Post Office also delivers your medications safely and quickly regardless of where you live. Rain or shine, you can always count on the Post Office to deliver, Fed-up and OoPS, half the time when the package is in town, on the truck and out for delivery, it still won't show up for another day or two as they skip stops.

    If I was a politician, I'd really think twice about screwing with retirees prescriptions or the people handling the ballots.

  • Re:Netflix (Score:5, Informative)

    by TapeCutter (624760) on Monday December 05, 2011 @03:59AM (#38263580) Journal
    Here in Oz we have the CFA (Country Fire Authority) and MFB (Metropolitan Fire Brigade), MFB are paid, CFA are not (except for some admin jobs). If you look into the history of it, up until the great fire of London in the 17th century fire brigades in the UK were private organisations (sort of like an auto club that does roadside repairs), they would only put out their customer's fires, the other houses around were someone else's problem. It was realised by the government of the day that a bunch of competing private companies was no match for the fire hazards of a city like London, so they created their own and elevated them to a similar social position held by police. Similarly the Brits realised that large cities need a public sewer system when 19th century London was literally dying in it's own shit.

    Of course the above are examples of where socialism works as advertised, but I'm sure someone will object because their dogma tells them to reject the concept having their wealth redistributed, even if they are receiving more material benefits from it than they could possibly afford by themselves.
  • Re:Netflix (Score:4, Informative)

    by fahrbot-bot (874524) on Monday December 05, 2011 @04:09AM (#38263614)

    I'm sorry, but which people are demanding it? Seems like the massive amounts of packages shipped via other carries shows that the majority of the US doesn't want the USPS, so why should they be forced to pay for it?

    I'm pretty sure your numbers are off - way off. Yes, many businesses use FedEx or UPS rather than the USPS, most likely because (a) they've negotiated shipping rates with carriers and (b) parcel tracking is much better than w/USPS, but I'm willing to bet money that most people ship most of their packages via USPS, especially as it's much less expensive to do so. As for volume, according to this http://www.nalc.org/postal/perform/productivity.html [nalc.org] and at least one other reference on Answers.com - of course, some of this volume is letters not packages.

    1. The USPS delivers more items in one day than Federal Express does in a year and more items in one week than United Parcel Service does in a year.
    2. The Postal Service delivers to 146 million businesses and households each day, six days per week. UPS delivers to 8 million addresses daily while FedEx serves even fewer.
  • Re:The End of USPS (Score:4, Informative)

    by Patch86 (1465427) on Monday December 05, 2011 @04:39AM (#38263736)

    The real problem is that not all deliveries cost the same. If you're a company in downtown Houston, Texas, and you want to mail something to the suburbs in Houston, Texas, the cost will be pretty small. If you want to deliver something to Anchorage, Alaska, the actual costs will be much larger.

    The point of universal postal service is that it allows businesses to treat all customers as equal. Imagine a situation where the cost to buy something from Amazon was dependent on your distance from an Amazon distribution centre; Amazon's business would quickly fall apart as they would be undercut by a hundred local competitors. Same for banks, mailing out bank statements. Or the cost of mailing your Congressman. Maybe that's a good thing, but the government's usual position is that it is not.

    USPS subsidise their tricky long distance deliveries by charging more for their simple local deliveries. If you were to allow private companies to compete on an even keel (but without legally mandating them to provide a universal service), they would simply undercut USPS on the profitable local deliveries, while leaving the taxpayer to carry the can for the expensive deliveries. It's one of those situations where you can't just change it a little bit without massive unintended consequences- if you're going to change it, you're going to need to do a complete overhaul and rethink.

  • Re:Netflix (Score:4, Informative)

    by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Monday December 05, 2011 @06:28AM (#38264022) Homepage Journal

    I've had friends work for UPS in Santa Cruz. When your packages come in they slide down several chutes. One of the chutes has a big ragged exposed bolt hanging down in the middle of it that gouges open packages just barely big enough to go in, but not big enough to go through. A worker will typically climb up the chute, grab your box, and just FORCE it downwards. Then the boxes end up in a big pile and they load them into the back of the truck, then throw the next set of boxes over a wall they've built there.

    If you care about your packages, don't use UPS. Fuckers just destroyed a package coming to me with a $225 rivet shaver, busted it straight out of the side of the envelope, then delivered me an empty envelope in a plastic bag tied to my gate chain in a windstorm.

    FUCK UPS: FUCK UPS.

  • Re:Netflix (Score:3, Informative)

    by thejynxed (831517) on Monday December 05, 2011 @08:50AM (#38264464) Homepage

    It wasn't the unions who did it, it was a Republican sponsored bill passed in 2006 and mentioned by an above poster in one of the threads. Try reading.

  • Re:Netflix (Score:5, Informative)

    by hrvatska (790627) on Monday December 05, 2011 @08:52AM (#38264470)
    To elaborate on what Uberbah is referring to, a 2006 Congressional mandate contained in the “Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006”, required the USPS to pre-fund healthcare benefits of future retirees, a 75 year liability over a 10 year period. It has to project and pay for employees who haven't even been born yet. No other agency or corporation is required to do this. UPS and FedEx are not required to do this, only the USPS. Whose lobbyists do you think congress and the white house were listening to when they passed this provision? This provision costs the Postal Service $5.5 billion a year. When you add in an adjustment that was made in how workers’ compensation costs were calculated based on interest rate assumptions and long term predictions concerning health care and compensation of $2.5 billion (a non cash accounting adjustment), you come up with $8 billion in cost. Actual loss was $500 million and when added, comes to the $8.5 billion reported for 2010. While $500 million is a lot, it doesn’t compare with $8.5 billion and is down from the previous year loss of $1 billion. If you took out the onerous pre-funding mandate, the Postal Service actually shows a $700 million profit over the last four years instead of the $20 billion loss.
  • Re:Netflix (Score:4, Informative)

    by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Monday December 05, 2011 @08:56AM (#38264478)
    OK, a couple of points. First people who live out in the sticks probably are not paying for your firefighters (unless your firefighters are paid out of state funds, they are not in my state). Fire companies in most rural communities are voluntary, non-profit organizations that are not run by the local government. Generally, their operational expenses come from donations (although they sometimes get grants from various government agencies to buy new equipment). Another point, U.S. society is actually less spread out today than it was 100 years ago (that is a larger percentage of the population lives in cities today than did then). As for running water, very few, if any, people living in rural areas are dependent on the government for running water and they like it that way.
  • Re:Netflix (Score:5, Informative)

    by dkleinsc (563838) on Monday December 05, 2011 @10:53AM (#38265674) Homepage

    We decided that mail service was such an important part of our national infrastructure that we mandated it even in the poor areas.

    Also worth noting here is that the people who negotiated the Constitution thought a public mail service was so important that it's one of the 18 powers specifically granted to Congress. (Article 1, section 8)

  • by King_TJ (85913) on Monday December 05, 2011 @11:30AM (#38266160) Journal

    I have to agree, although I've long since switched to FedEx for most of my package shipping needs.

    UPS uses union labor and FedEx doesn't (at least, last I checked -- because I realize there have been some fights to unionize there in the last few years).

    I'm not necessarily a believer in the idea that union labor is always worse in some way, but I think that tends to be the case when you're talking about relatively unskilled labor. Basically, you've got a scenario where the people doing basic, manual labor (loading and unloading of boxes at sorting facilities, etc.) are protected against punishment for wrongdoing in the workplace by layers of bureaucracy. (EG. Shop foreman can't just fire some guy on the spot if he witnesses him flying into a rage and stomping his boot through a customer's "FRAGILE: HANDLE WITH CARE!" box on the shop floor. He has to go through some union-mandated disciplinary procedure that probably means, at the very least, the employee just receives some kind of verbal warning for the first offense.)

    Plus, I'm not impressed with UPS based on personal stories told to me by former UPS employees themselves. For example, one of my buddies used to work at a UPS facility where he said boxes were regularly stacked up into 6 foot high walls, regardless of any warnings printed on them. When a truck would come in, someone would yell "Tear 'em down!" and they'd knock over the walls, letting boxes fall all over the concrete floor, for people to sort through and load up.

    FedEx isn't perfect.... I once had them absolutely destroy a music synthesizer I was shipping to Canada, and then fight me for weeks about paying the insurance claim on it. But overall, I think they have a better track record of getting boxes to destinations on time and in one piece. Additionally, they have a better arrangement for receivers of packages if they're not available to sign for the delivery. Unlike UPS, it's easy to go to a FedEx facility in person, in the evening, and sign for and pick up your delivery.

  • Re:Netflix (Score:4, Informative)

    by LanMan04 (790429) on Monday December 05, 2011 @12:00PM (#38266630)

    Actually, USPS is a monopoly. It is a federal crime to deliver a letter. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Private_Express_Statutes [wikipedia.org]

    Yeah, to an official US mail box. At least be honest in your assessment. UPS and FedEx could deliver letters all day long, just not to your "official" mail box...and they do.

Whenever a system becomes completely defined, some damn fool discovers something which either abolishes the system or expands it beyond recognition.

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