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U.S. Postal Service Ending Saturday Delivery

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The U.S. Postal Service announced today that Saturday delivery of first-class items will end in August.

When I asked a few years ago whether we should eliminate the Postal Service entirely, the question generated a good discussion, with many readers agreeing that the best solution to the perennial problem of the service not generating enough revenue to operate would be to cut back service. Calling for the elimination of Saturday delivery was a frequent suggestion, and others further suggested even fewer delivery days.

The U.S.P.S. has listened to suggestions like these and has come up with a plan to save money by cutting service without disrupting certain services that might be considered essential, even on the weekends.

The elimination of Saturday delivery pertains only to letters to street addresses sent via First Class mail. Post Offices will remain open on Saturday, and First Class mail sent to P.O. boxes will be delivered and available for pick-up on Saturday. Shipment and delivery of packages will still be available on Saturday, even deliveries to street addresses.

The above point is important for anyone who relies on the Postal Service to deliver medications, one of the biggest concerns with the elimination of Saturday delivery.

Maintaining the package delivery service six days each week allows the U.S.P.S. to continue working with other delivery companies like UPS and FedEx without any cutbacks. The Postal Service works with these companies in several ways. The companies occasionally share aircraft, and some items sent via an outside company are delivered by the Postal Service.

A recent experience with such a service was not very positive. I ordered a custom-printed cell phone case as a gift well in advance of the holidays from Vistaprint, choosing the least expensive shipping option. This option was called “UPS Mail Innovations.” The service seemed to work with UPS handling most of the transportation of the package except for the final delivery, where the Postal Service takes delivery of the package and handles that last mile from the Post Office to the final destination.

The package didn’t arrive by Christmas though the scheduled delivery date was a week before the holiday. In fact, it didn’t arrive at all. The company offered to send the same product free of charge, and the second shipment never arrived either. When I called the Post Office to check on the two items, the postmaster said she’d need to check with the carrier and get back to me. She never got back to me.

Vistaprint sent a third package gratis, this time with the standard, more expensive, UPS delivery option, and the package arrived without a problem on the scheduled and promised delivery date. The two earlier packages, sent via UPS Mail Innovations and tracked until their hand-off with the Post Office, were never to be found.

For standard First Class mail, I’ve never lost a letter with the Postal Service — as far as I know.

Given that the bulk of the mail I receive consists of junk mail from credit card companies, coupons I wouldn’t use, local newsletters, and other advertisements, I won’t miss Saturday delivery. I would be comfortable with mail being delivered fewer than five days a week. Outside of junk, I receive bills, banking statements, and holiday cards. That’s about it. I can — and should — turn off my remaining paper bills and statements in favor of electronic communications.

I only check the paper statements for changes in terms, like a new banking fee, while I reconcile my accounts online to ensure I haven’t been charged for something I didn’t purchase.

Service cuts at the U.S. Postal Service won’t end with Saturday delivery of First Class mail. While cutting back Saturday delivery of letters might save some money in terms of expenses today, it’s only a temporary fix. The Postal Service’s expenses will continue to grow, and increasing the cost of postage alone won’t offset those costs. It might take several years, but I expect the service to drop even more days of First Class delivery.

What will U.S.P.S. look like 20 years from now? Will it just be a service for delivering packages? Will we receive First Class mail just once a week? Will all First Class mail be digitally scanned and sent instantaneously? We don’t want to see the Postal Service disappear, but will there be a need for it at all within two more decades?

Photo: Flickr

Published or updated February 6, 2013. 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 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 Luke Landes and follow him on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Kurt

We moved to Canada from the US in 2009 and learned there’s no Saturday postal delivery here. It’s not a big deal–Americans will soon forget there ever was Saturday delivery.

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avatar William

Personally, I think this is a great idea. Nothing urgent runs through the mail these days anyway, and it’s a loss of service we can easily afford. In fact, if they went to Mon-Wed-Fri only I wouldn’t complain.

If they are more serious about savings than preserving jobs, they could close probably 40-50% of all post offices.

A while ago someone recommended that the Post Office go to the freemium model: you can pick your mail up at a post office for free, or for $10 a month they’ll deliver it. Radical, sure, but if your survival is threatened, something to consider.

There are no lack of options, only minds to consider them…

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avatar Dawn Jackson

If they offered to let you pick up your mail as opposed to having it delivered I could see a problem of storage space. Where would the post office store all that mail? They would be overflowing with packages and letters and would then have to probably expand their buildings to make room for uncollected mail. They’d end up charging to pickup as well to offset having to hold on to that much mail.

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avatar qixx ♦1,895 (Half-Dollar)

I am currently looking at a “Sorry we missed you” notice. These are the ones the give you for packages that need a signature or is too big for the mailbox. With these they try for a week then return the item to sender. They could do something similar and send a notice that you have mail on hold. This might increase the use of and then the cost of PO Boxes. Both would help their bottom line.

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avatar Juggler314

Mail, much like taxes – should be far more expensive. It’s telling that the cheapest you can ever deliver anything through UPS or fedex (despite both being massively successful companies) is about 20x what it costs to send a letter via the USPS. I know there is a mandate to make mail available to everyone – but people probably don’t remember that ages ago it was quite expensive to send a letter.

In 1919 it was 2 cents – back then the median income was about $1300/year or about 62 cents/hour. Now it’s about 40x higher. Plus buying power is even more out of whack. 2 cents for a letter, but only 5 cents for a movie back then.

The should radically jack up the price of sending all letters.

and seriously – how would M/W/F delivery really differ from 6 or 5 days/week. if you absolutely must have something on a certain day – send it fedex – mostly this will only apply to businesses anyway.

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avatar Amanda

If they could raise the prices, they would. But they aren’t allowed to, just like they aren’t allowed to stop Saturday delivery (despite what one person said that has now been blown out of proportion). It’s sad, but Congress is in charge, and they’re running it into the ground.

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avatar Juggler314

I do have some neighbors – where several of their family members are postal employees. You can’t really suggest paring back postal service without them getting *really* mad – since it likely means lots of people losing jobs. But it is what it is…

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avatar qixx ♦1,895 (Half-Dollar)

Lots of people working for a company that is losing money hand over fist. If this was any other company there would be little or no discussion about downsizing. From the postal workers i know (i know 3) they love their jobs but they all try to always have other employment options ready.

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avatar crashdamage1957

Making official of what is already a matter of actual practice, at least in my town anyway. The only reason I use the post office today is to get my Netflix .( cant do streaming if you live rural like i do and the only internet is satellite ) I have observed that a DVD put in the mailbox on a Saturday arrives back at Netflix the same day as one mailed on a Monday.

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avatar Christian L.

Luke,
I’m fine with cutting Saturday delivery. I wouldn’t mind if operations ceased altogether on Saturdays, giving postal workers a five-day workweek.

I’d also love to work for USPS, although I imagine jobs are in short supply.

-Christian L. @ Smart Military Money

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avatar Ceecee ♦53 (Newbie)

I’d be okay with delivery three days a week. My stack of mail, like Luke’s, is mostly ads and requests for donations. I still get a few bills by snail mail, but not too many. Losing the one day of delivery is no big deal. If people start using other shipping methods, though, the USPS problems could get worse instead of better.

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avatar SteveDH

Maybe in 20 years we’ll have drones delivering our mail – who knows. Although I have little problem with ending Saturday deliveries a little history might be helpful. Since the USPS is no longer a government agency it has been saddled with setting aside a reserve account for unfunded pension and medical benefits. It isn’t the cost of a stamp or even labor cost that’s hurting them the most, but rather the accounting which is not required of any other government sponsored entity (They have missed a couple of payments already).

The M/W/F thing may not work without adding carriers or delivering M/W/F to some and T/T/S to others. My carrier says there would be too much mail to deliver on the current route she runs. (Even if it’s junk she has to deliver it) She said that on many Tuesdays, after a Monday holiday, it’s 7 or 8 o’clock before she gets done with the route she has.

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avatar effer

I think they should sell ads on stamps to help generate revenue.

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avatar Ian

I think it will be one of those changes that within a year it wont be that big of a deal to most individuals. Its kind of ironic though that the internet has definitely lessened the need for mail in terms of paying bills but now many people are using it do deliver purchases. I remember when ordering from a catalog was a novelty. Now we have the biggest catalog ever, Amazon.

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avatar wylerassociate ♦162 (Cent)

while I feel bad that many postal employees will lose their jobs, I don’t think this will be a big deal after a few months.

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