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10 Percent of U.S. Post Offices Under Evaluation, 700 to Be Closed

This article was written by in Economy. 8 comments.


The U.S. Postal Service has not been a thriving business for a while, and the recession has worsened its condition. In order to save $7 billion, the government is evaluating about 3,200 offices out of the total of 32,741, and 700 of these are currently marked for closure.

Personally, I am a fan of the U.S. Postal Service. I’ve found their services to be less expensive than other shipping options and just as reliable. The biggest drawback I have experienced is when visiting the facilities. The lines are often too long and the hours are inconvenient. Post office employees, those that I have seen, often seem disgruntled, frustrated and overworked. There are never enough works available to assist customers, and from what I understand, my experiences are not unique.

The U.S. Postal Service is disadvantaged against the capital available for their competitors like UPS and FedEx. They have no competition for the millions of people who first began communicating my phone rather than letter, and later, by email and text messaging. There are many people, possibly even a majority, who would be happy to see the U.S. Postal Service disappear.

People living in the areas served by the 700 offices slated for closing might be the first to experience life without USPS. If not, they will have to travel farther to the post office, make use of more expensive mailing options, and possibly receive mail less often. But the complete disappearance of the U.S. Postal Service would have a devastating effect. Households receive mail every day. Much of it is unwanted marketing, but it’s unlikely that will stop. Without the Postal Services, other companies will have to fill the void with standard daily mail delivery. And the great pricing that the U.S. Postal Service offers customers for this mail — and the even better pricing offered for bulk mail and non-profit organizations (and religious organizations) — would disappear as well.

If the website is available, you should be able to download the list of the 700 stations to be closed here. More information is available at the Postal Regulatory Commission‘s website.

Published or updated August 4, 2009. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Luke Landes, also known as Flexo, is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about him and follow Luke Landes on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Erica Douglass

This is a failure of overarching government legislation. The gov’t “privatized” the Post Office, but Congress still sets the rates for mail.

To make matters worse, the Post Office, like many government agencies, has a pension debacle. They have promised too much in pensions and are unable to deliver.

The Post Office should either be truly privatized (i.e. no unions and 401(k)s just like a private company), or it should be disbanded. If it is disbanded, other private companies will take its place. The world will not end.

IMHO the best route would be to push it into bankruptcy and have it discharge its pension obligations. Then have it re-hire non-union employees and remove the requirement that Congress set postal rates. But this is a pipe dream with the current administration…who will likely swoop in with our tax dollars to “save” this mess.

-Erica

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avatar Tony

The USPS would be quick to tell you that they’re entirely self-supporting and don’t use taxpayer money. However, I’ve been told that the buildings are paid for by tax dollars, as are their employee retirement benefits. It’s only the operation that’s self-supporting, not the entire cost of doing business. I’m sure I’d be much more flush if I didn’t have to pay my mortgage as well.

“I’ve found their services to be less expensive than other shipping options and just as reliable.”

For basic letter delivery, private corporations are prevented by law from charging anywhere near the USPS’ low rates. These laws are designed to protect the USPS. True that they are reliable, but try looking at their online package tracking system, implemented YEARS later than their private competitors. Last time I used it, it seemed to be more of a delivery receipt system than an up-to-date status.

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avatar Jim

We’ll probably see more gradual cuts in postal service. Fewer and fewer people send mail nowadays with email and online billpay becoming so widespread.

The post office works fine for me. Our local office can have long lines but the people working the counter are generally all very polite and helpful. On the other hand there are usually irrate, irrational customers complaining about something that the counter staff can’t possibly do anything about. Our postal rates are pretty good compared to other countrires. In UK or Japan it costs over 80¢ to mail a first class letter.

The USPS is part of the federal government, no matter how they present the budget figures. The U.S. Constitution gave congress the power to establish the post office and the postal service has been a government function since. Trivia: Did you know Benjamin Franklin & Abraham Lincoln were both Postmaster General?

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avatar Curtis

I see this as a positive move. The post office is realizing that, despite the various protections and subsidies it gets, it has to make itself competitive. All the big car makers had to shut down dealerships when they couldn’t make it work financially – why shouldn’t the USPS have to do the same?

Also, there’s no need to travel to a post office building. Going into a post office is like going into a bank – I haven’t done it in many years, even though there’s one a few blocks away from my house. Any mail I send (which is rare) I leave hanging out of my mail slot or I hand it right to the carrier with a smile. And I wouldn’t really care if I didn’t get mail every day of the week – most of it’s junk anyway.

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avatar Kate@LivingTheFrugalLife

I would happily pay $1 to send a first class standard envelope if it meant my junk mail would disappear. It’s not the case that “much of it” is marketing. The overwhelming majority of it is junk mail or organizations soliciting donations. I’m pretty aggressive about getting myself off mailing lists I don’t want to be on, and I probably get no more than 9-10 pieces of “real” mail per month. At least six of those are bills or account balance statements. Too much of my life is spent dealing with sorting through the dross to find what is actually necessary, and then disposing of junk mail I don’t want. The waste of resources (forests, oil to process and move this stuff around, human labor) is unconscionable.

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avatar megscole64

I disagree that we’ll lose good pricing…competition makes pricing better. If UPS and FedEx both got into the standard letter delivery service I think our prices for first class mail would go down (maybe not right away, but eventually). USPS keeps raising rates … they have no competition and no limit to their ability to raise prices.

I wouldn’t like to see USPS go away…I like their service and find them more convenient to use, but they definitely have issues and need some competition to help make them better. Not to mention the unions need to lose their control – our offices here are so tightly controlled…if there are 100 people in line but someone needs their break … too bad for those 100 people. Breaks are REQUIRED. No extra hard work to be given because the union won’t allow it. I’ve talked to the tellers and even they complain about it. Not to mention the tightly controlled delineation of duties. I’ve often seen two or three people standing around when there are long lines because they are NOT ALLOWED to do the teller services. Union rules. It’s insane.

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,435 (Platinum)

I don’t agree that the price to mail a letter in a standard envelope will go down. The price is limited by inflation now; remove the USPS and allow UPS and FedEx to provide standard letter delivery, and there is little possibility for them to be able to provide the same service for such a low price. I can’t think of any other service you can buy that costs $0.44. The price of sending a letter can only go up.

I do agree with your other points, though. The union needs to be more flexible in order to provide effective service.

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avatar Jim

“USPS keeps raising rates … they have no competition and no limit to their ability to raise prices.”

Since 2006 the law limits increases to regular letter postage to the rate of inflation.

For stuff like next day or priority packages where Fedex & UPS compete they are not limited by law so the USPS can set their prices as desired. Course if they jack up rates too much they would just lose business to UPS & Fedex.

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