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US Postal Service Discontinuing Saturday Mail Delivery 582

Hugh Pickens writes "The Postal Service has been losing billions of dollars each year as Americans increasingly rely on online communications that drive down mail volumes. Now, Reuters reports that the Postal Service plans to drop Saturday delivery of first-class mail by August, saving $2 billion per year. 'The Postal Service is advancing an important new approach to delivery that reflects the strong growth of our package business and responds to the financial realities resulting from America's changing mailing habits,' says Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe. But the Postal Service is already facing some pushback for moving forward with delivery schedule changes. 'Today's announcement by Postmaster General Donahoe to eliminate six-day delivery is yet another death knell for the quality service provided by the U.S. Postal Service,' says Jeanette Dwyer, president of the National Rural Letter Carriers' Association. 'To erode this service will undermine the Postal Service's core mission and is completely unacceptable.' Package deliveries will continue under the new plan and were a bright spot in a bleak 2012 fiscal year, with package revenue rising 8.7 percent during the year. Donahoe says the changes would allow the Postal Service to continue benefiting from rising package deliveries as Americans order more products from sites such as eBay Inc and Inc."
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US Postal Service Discontinuing Saturday Mail Delivery

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @02:28PM (#42811129)

    Robotic mail and package delivery is possible, now that driverless vehicles are being legalized. I can find no downside.

    Robots have no interest in reading your mail.
    Robots have no need for the contents of your package.
    Robots have no need of unions or pensions.
    Robots would never be tempted to dump mail in their attic in order to take the day off.
    Robots could easily be programmed with alternative delivery instructions in the event that you need your item dropped elsewhere when you're on vacation.

    All postal willing postal workers could be retrained as robotic technicians. The transition could be a public works project of the future.


  • Makes sense. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Dzimas ( 547818 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @02:29PM (#42811135)

    Here in Canada, we only receive mail on weekdays. It works just fine because the majority of letters in our mailbox are not extremely time-sensitive - the occasional municipal bill, magazines, and periodic greeting cards from around the world. They could reduce letter delivery to M/W/F without really causing any issues. Daily parcel delivery makes sense because they're larger dollar transactions and whenever a parcel is on the way, someone is waiting for it. I cringe every time someone suggests getting rid of the post office and relying on FedEx and UPS instead, because they tend to be far more expensive in Canada. As an example, UPS will charge a brokerage fee for surface packages coming from the USA that easily hits $25. Sending a 2 lb package to the USA by UPS Express (even 3-day) costs about $60. Canada Post runs about 25% of that.

    Back to the USA, there are already some interesting private/public delivery programs that promise to keep service costs low, too. As an example, Smartpost is an economical FedEx service that uses the USPS to deliver the last mile. Expect more of this stuff in the future.

  • Re:Man, oh man! (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @02:35PM (#42811231)

    What? Really? All I can say is finally! Waaaaaaaaaayyy less junk mail will get to me and everyone else now (99% of mail I get is junk -- goes right from my mail box straight into the recycling) Sure, there's probably some poor people who depend on this extra day of mail (I know we kinda did as I was growing up), but too bad...

  • by 0racle ( 667029 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @02:35PM (#42811235)

    It never made sense that I could send a letter down the street or Nome Alaska for the same amount of money.

    It does if the cost of the unusual (sending to Nome) is lowered because the cost of sending the usual (sending locally) is slightly increased.

    UPS, DHL and/or Fedex may be able to do it more efficiently.

    And yet they don't. Both UPS and FedEx use USPS for local delivery often because they're better at it. UPS and FedEx are a coin toss if they can find my house (2 miles from nearest town, 1 mile from highway, not exactly a mountain man), USPS gets it right every time. Unless it needs to be sent next day or so, USPS is far more reliable and cost effective.

    UPS and FedEx also don't deliver everywhere USPS does.

  • Netflix (Score:4, Interesting)

    by acoustix ( 123925 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @02:46PM (#42811413)

    Will Netflix lower the cost of DVD/Blu-ray rentals since I can't view as many movies per month now?

  • Re:Man, oh man! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @02:54PM (#42811525)

    That's what I don't understand. Was raising the price for junk mail not viable? Part of the problem is that the 1st class mail is being used to subsidize bulk mail and as a result as 1st class mail gets sent less and less the subsidy has become insufficient to cover the cost. I'm somewhat unclear as to why they're not raising the rates on bulk mail.

    Anyways, it's a relatively moot point as USPS tends to do a better job in terms of cost control than UPS and FedEx anyways. USPS is just required to do something that aren't profitable. And surprise, surprise, it's the same greedy rural folks that expect their lives to be subsidized who aren't willing to pay the real rate of delivering to them.

  • Re:Not entirely true (Score:5, Interesting)

    by QuantumRiff ( 120817 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @03:01PM (#42811647)

    Kindly point to ANY government agency, or private one, that has to keep enough funds in an account to pay for 70 YEARS worth of benefits if all employees retired tomorrow. (no, you do not get to count interest.)..

  • by XopherMV ( 575514 ) * on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @03:25PM (#42812009) Journal
    The Post Office has successfully paid this $5 billion bill every year since it was passed in 2005. I'd say their business model is still wildly successful. Their problem, as previously pointed out, is that since the Republicans in Congress saddled them with these payments, the Postal Service has been unable to invest in further modernization.
  • by swb ( 14022 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @03:26PM (#42812025)

    Corporate America used to offer pensions to their employees but as greedy, how-can-we-cash-out-today management thinking took over they stopped funding their pensions adequately, basically doing what USPS was doing, "borrowing" from the future.

    As management drains more and more from the company, they eventually file bankruptcy which gives them the green light to unload their pensions "under financial duress" to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, who then takes on the pension obligations.

    It sounds like a good idea, except that PBGC gets to meat-axe pension benefits and people who were expecting to live on pensions find that the benefits they were promised as workers are no longer enough to live on.

    While the whole story is sordid -- many workers accepted lower wages in exchange for generous pension benefits, and corporations who underfund their benefits for short-term profits get to hand the mess over to someone else, scot-free -- why can't the USPS play by those same rules?

    IMHO the USPS can't ever be a success; they have all the handicaps of a government entity, plus burdens that corporate America gets to escape from.

If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants. -- Isaac Newton