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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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  • Man, oh man! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @02:19PM (#42810987)

    If only there were some article of the Constitution that could be used as an argument to convince conservatives that the Post Office is a vital national service and that it is okay to pay for it in much the same way as it is okay to pay for a navy.

    I guess one can only wish.

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

      by hawguy ( 1600213 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @02:27PM (#42811107)

      If only there were some article of the Constitution that could be used as an argument to convince conservatives that the Post Office is a vital national service and that it is okay to pay for it in much the same way as it is okay to pay for a navy.

      I guess one can only wish.

      Why is Saturday mail delivery a vital national service? Will people die if they don't receive their Victoria's Secret catalog on Saturday?

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

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @02:38PM (#42811295)

      Preparing to get a Wooosh! but Article 1, Section 8, Clause 7. The enumerated powers of the Federal Government include establishing Post Offices. Same section establishes paying for a Navy. The privatization of the postal service was either a delegation or abrogation of the responsibilties of Congress, depending if you take your politics straight or with soda. I'm in the abrogation camp, myself.

  • by alen ( 225700 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @02:20PM (#42810991)

    most of my mail is paper catalogs i throw in the trash without looking at. bills get paid by computer or smartphone.

    i guess the old people will be complaining

    • by maird ( 699535 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @02:27PM (#42811105) Homepage
      If they only made those catalogs soft, absorbent and with dye that doesn't run then at least it would be possible to save money on toilet paper.
    • My mailman hates me. First off, they were trying to deliver my previous tenants mail into the box before I purchased the place, so he was mad when he met me that I hadn't picked up the mail in like 6 months (when it was really like a week).

      My mailbox is gets 100% full within a week from all of the junk mail that comes in. It's pretty bad.

      I only have a handful of bills that still come in through paper-mail, and most of that is from places that offer e-billing but not to cancel the paper-billing.


    • by JeanCroix ( 99825 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @02:31PM (#42811173) Journal
      Or people waiting for the next Netflix DVD...
    • Kramer: I got three Pottery Barn catalogs in one day. That makes eight this month.

      Jerry: Why don't you just throw 'em out?

      Kramer: Oh, no. I've been saving them up here in your apartment. And now, it's payback time. Pottery Barn is in for a world of hurt.

    • Depending on how it works, you might still get the junk mail, as it mentions only that they're stopping delivery of first class. Junk mail is sent Heck, at most it'll just be delivered on Monday.

    • by ApharmdB ( 572578 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @02:53PM (#42811507) [] - I've been using the free part of the service for a while now and I get vastly less junk mail than I used to. Not having the extra volume to deal with is worth the time it takes to use the website.
    • by DogDude ( 805747 )
      Sure, old people will be upset. But so will the people who live waaay, waaay out, off the grid. It won't make any difference to the average suburban/urbanite. The great thing about the USPS was that it enabled anybody to live *anywhere* in the US, and still have a connection to the outside world. Soon, if you don't live within reach of a cable company's lines, it'll be very difficult to live a modern life.

      But then again, most Americans are so short sighted, they won't consider this to be a problem.
  • It saves money (first-off) and more importantly, makes a weekend feel more like a true weekend.

    • The potential of mail in your box doesn't affect the "feel" of your weekend. If you get all OCD about it that's your decision.
  • It doesn't help... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by moosehooey ( 953907 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @02:20PM (#42810999)

    It doesn't help that Congress is basically stealing $5 billion a year from the post office. They're making the USPS fully fund retirement plans over a very short time, and that money is going into government bonds, which ends up in the general fund. If it wasn't for the budget shenanigans that Congress pulled, the Post Office would be doing fine.

    • by SydShamino ( 547793 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @02:30PM (#42811163)

      Add to this that, without them having to spend the last few years in massive debt trying to figure out how to fund these pension plans, they might have been able to spend the time and money reinventing themselves as a common carrier capable of surviving in the internet age.

      I'm pretty sure that half of Congress - ironically the half that prefers a strict interpretation of the Constitution - wants the Constitutionally-mandated postal service to go bankrupt and go away because it interferes with the profits of several other private businesses. (The vote on the bill in the House in 2006 was done by voice, so there's no official record of who voted for it.)

    • Not entirely true (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Shivetya ( 243324 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @02:34PM (#42811213) Homepage Journal

      The post office was forced into this because their unfunded pension fund was a time bomb waiting to happen. They are only paying this increase till 2016 and have had it reduced when it was pressing. As of 2009 it was estimated their unfunded liabilities were over fifty billion dollars.

      No, where Congress gets a failing grade is similar to how base closings are done. Just like the military knows which bases are not needed the Post Office can tell you which sorting centers, distribution hubs, and which Post Offices, are not needed. When they go to close them then suddenly every Congressman becomes an expert and you end up with stories about how the PO wanted to close nearly 3000 offices and only got a little over a hundred.

      The PO operates under burdensome contracts combined with quickly shrinking sources of income. The number of pieces of mail handled has steadily declined but when the PO tries to downsize Congress interferes or their contracts block them. Trying to hire part time workers is another area they have difficulty with.

      So, no their problems don't stem from just having to pay for liabilities they should be paying for; if anything ask Congress why that rule ain't applied to the US as a whole; its from a myriad of items of which two largest are Congress and the unions.

      • 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 sjames ( 1099 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @03:15PM (#42811863) Homepage Journal

        You fell for the numbers game. That 'unfunded liability' included projected pensions into the future for employees not even born at the time of the calculation (using the excuse that they were projected to need to hire those people in the next 50 years).

        That's like claiming you are $10,000 in debt right now because you have not yet fully funded your eventual funeral and any children you might have before that.

      • 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 lik

    • by dkleinsc ( 563838 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @02:35PM (#42811251) Homepage

      Actually, you're misunderstanding the purpose of that move by Congress: it wasn't about gaining $5 billion a year, it was about gutting the USPS. There are many people in Congress (mostly Tea Party types) that want the USPS to be a relic of the past, some because that would benefit FedEx and UPS and other companies, and some because their philosophy is that the federal government can't possibly do anything useful so the USPS must be by definition useless.

      • Gotta say it: citation? TFA says Obama supports this too.
        Personally, I will miss Saturday deliveries, if I'm waiting on a package; otherwise, meh.. But aren't you progressive types supposed to be all about moving forward and whatnot? Like so many other posters here pointed out, more and more people pay their bills electronically, and the only people who will complain are the geriatric crowd. Now who's being conservative? ;-p
      • by sjames ( 1099 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @03:16PM (#42811889) Homepage Journal

        Or, more to the point, they want to believe that the U.S. government can't do anything useful, so they must kill any contrary example.

    • by TheCarp ( 96830 )

      Its the combination that burns me.

      Once someone pointed out to me (here I think) that fully funding retirement funds is....what every other organization (outside of the gov) is made to do, it makes sense to force them to fully fund, and I would even say...they should ALL be doing it.

      It is also kind of bullshit that what triggered these changes was a Postal Service budget surplus.

      However.... that the money would get funneled into the general fund like that? Thats just corrupt to allow congress to pull tricks

    • by sjames ( 1099 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @03:09PM (#42811773) Homepage Journal

      The really amazing part is that in spite of Congress doing it's very best to crush the postal service, they're able to get by by stopping Saturday delivery.

    • They called Congress's bluff and stopped making excess payments - no cash.

      Similar with Saturday mail. They got tired of waiting for Congress to approve their two year old restructuring plan, so they are acting unilaterally.
  • Wow, didn't think it would happen but it looks like they may have actually saved themselves a ton of money without too much inconvenience. This seems like a good thing.
  • Bout Time (Score:5, Insightful)

    by slackerfilm ( 520597 ) <minguswaits AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @02:22PM (#42811019) Homepage
    I think this is way over due. Although, I like getting mail on Saturday, I don't see a point. It isn't like we can do business on Saturdays.

    Now if only Amazon would start letting us choose USPS over UPS for package delivery. As an apartment dweller, this would make my life much easier.

  • It never made sense that I could send a letter down the street or Nome Alaska for the same amount of money. Just seems like I shold be paying more. Otherwise why not just deregulate mail delivery? UPS, DHL and/or Fedex may be able to do it more efficiently.
    • 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.

    • I'm pretty sure that graduated scales for first-class mail would make postage rates so complicated as to destroy the remaining business.

      People like predictable. Hell, the USPS flat-rate priority boxes are expensive but predictable, and many people I know prefer them over variable-rate boxes.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @02:49PM (#42811457)

      Cost to send a letter via UPS: $30
      Cost to send a letter via USPS: $0.46
      One of them's certainly more efficient, but it isn't UPS.

    • by Dan667 ( 564390 )
      financially, public roads and transit make no sense, but the number of benefit outweighs the cost.
  • Personally I don't really care if the USPS discontinues Saturday delivery, but FTFA the agency was down $16 billion last year and this will only save them $2 billion. $14 billion is a lot to make up each year. I would like to know what they plan to do about that.
  • Yet... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @02:26PM (#42811077)

    We could eliminate the DOJ's yearly anti-terrorism funding and not only save Saturday delivery, but put the USPS back in good shape fiscally.
    Somehow I don't think expanding the TSA, buying millions of rounds of hollow-point ammo and giving them automatic assault rifles to fight boogeymen is helping anything.

  • $5/month if you want it delivered or collect it yourself at the post office.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    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 wi

  • So, I get this note in the mailbox that I have a package that is too big for the mailbox, I have to pick it up at the PO. But, I leave for work before the PO opens, return after it closes, and it's 50 miles away so I can't sneak down there during lunch. Result: If the PO is closed on Saturday too, I have a real problem, having to take off work for yet another thing, getting a package from the PO. If it is open on Saturday, then there will most assuredly be a 2 hour line, out the door and into the snow,

    • Re:Inconvenient (Score:5, Informative)

      by CastrTroy ( 595695 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @02:43PM (#42811353) Homepage
      Do what they do in Canada. Place your "Post-Office" inside a pharmacy, and staff it as long as the pharmacy is open (usually pretty late). The staff of the post office is actually the staff of the pharmacy, who can do things like stock shelves during the times when nobody needs the post office services. The post office pays the pharmacy to run the service, but still saves a bunch of money, because they don't have to rent their own space, and pay employees full time when most of the time there's nothing for them to do.
  • 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.

    • by garcia ( 6573 )

      re: M/W/F - exactly. I check my USPS mail less than once a week unless I'm expecting something. Why? Because there's nothing in there anyway.

      All my billing is online, my paycheck is deposited automatically, and the only thing that appears in my mailbox is garbage anyway.

      I only look around the holidays and birthdays or if a package is on the way, otherwise I just let it pile up in there like the GMail spam folder.

    • From what I've heard, In Canada, they're entertaining the idea of delivering mail every other day. So it would be Monday, Wednesday, Friday on week, and then Tuesday, Thursday the next week. That would be fine for me as well. The only thing of interest I get in my mail is bills, and that can usually wait an extra day. The pay-by date is usually a couple weeks in advance. I usually only pick up my mail a couple times a week anyway, since they don't deliver your my house, but actually leave it at the "comm
  • by hort_wort ( 1401963 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @02:31PM (#42811183)

    I bought a plant on ebay. The seller shipped it to me as "media mail" to save money, something that's supposed to be used only for textbooks. I guess it could become a textbook one day so that's alright?

    Later, also on ebay, I tried to sell a used game. When I typed in the upc, it told me the shipping information used by other sellers of that item, on average. The average listed weight was 6 oz. The actual weight when I measured it on my scale read 9 oz, not even close. It made a dollar difference in shipping.

    Little things like this add up.

  • Why not just do "every other day" delivery for residential service? It seems like it would make for a much bigger savings with a similar impact to the recipient. How many residential delivery points needs to get mail every single day? And if people want their mail every day, charge a hefty fee.
  • Bummer (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Experiment 626 ( 698257 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @02:34PM (#42811225)
    No more getting two Netflix shipments a week by sending the movie back the day after you receive it.
  • 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?

  • by i_ate_god ( 899684 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @02:49PM (#42811455)

    This is the only logical way for a Canadian consumer to buy American. Any other way only leads to extortion in "brokerage fees".

  • by CokoBWare ( 584686 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @03:52PM (#42812375)

    In Canada, we've always had 5-day a week mail delivery service. What doesn't get delivered on a Saturday will be distributed on a Monday instead. Yes, individual postal workers won't get to work as many hours during the week, but you'll all still get your mail. IMHO, Americans will get used to this, and it won't harm the quality of service of mail delivery in any real measurable way.

    • Being the old fart that I am, I remember when Canada had Saturday delivery too. It wasn't missed when it went away decades ago.

Can anyone remember when the times were not hard, and money not scarce?