Saturday Delivery Goes Postal

By Larry Teren

magazinesCome August 2013 no more Saturday delivery of first class mail and magazines from the U.S. Post Office. Or at least, so they say. After hearing this pronouncement the other day, I happened to catch a substitute letter carrier in front of my condominium. I asked him how this change in service affects his job. He said his regular work is to deliver small packages, a service that will continue on Saturdays. But, he did think that the stoppage of regular mail delivery will not pass union approval since many jobs will be lost.mailbox

Supposedly, the US Postal Service lost $8.5 billion in 2010. In the 2012 budget year, it suffered almost double the loss- $15.9 billion. Dropping mail delivery one extra day will save $2 billion a year. Others predict it will save even more- up to $3 billion including reduction in energy use.
Continue reading “Saturday Delivery Goes Postal”

Going Postal

Here we go again. The U.S. Postal Service is threatening dire actions unless the U.S. taxpayer bails them out for the umpteenth time. This time they say they will close many processing centers around the country. This will result in no longer promising to deliver the mail the next day in the same postal zone after it is put in a mailbox but adding a day or two to the length of time. Like that has been a lock for the past several years until now, right?

The Post Office complains that businesses have cut down on the amount of junk mail they send out. Yah, sure. They also say that our use of email has killed their business model. Well, whoopee do!
That’s life. Do you think that the president of the buggy whip association back in 1905 went to Congress and demanded that we all continue to buy accessories for no-longer-existent horses in the backyard barn?

As a society, we are paying our bills more than ever online. Let’s face it. It is faster and a better chance of getting delivered than by the Post Office. And you can tell the bank when to remit the payment rather than releasing the funds immediately.

Those of us who are baby boomers in our 50’s (ahem) can faintly remember that yet in the late 1950’s the Post Office delivered the mail to businesses in Chicago’s downtown area as well as other key locations twice a day . Postage stamps back then cost a mere 3 cents. A new car about $2000, a newspaper 7 cents for a weekday edition, a new house about $20,000, and a movie ticket about 75 cents for an adult.

Today, everything listed about is most likely more than ten times that amount but with all except mail delivery you get the same product or even more for the higher price than back then. Today, a single postage stamp of first class delivery is 44 cents. But, delivery has become less often and shakier. And heaven help you when your mailman (well, at least mine is a guy) goes on vacation and they send out a substitute. Email and electronic transfer of financial data is a good thing. Hey, it’s called progress.

When we first moved into our current office building after the turn of the century (this one- hey, watch it!), we immediately recognized that it had a very important amenity- a mail box pickup location inside.
A sticker posted on the lid you open to drop in the mail listed two pickup times. One around 10am and the other 4:45pm. This made sense as it gave us a chance to compose important business communications, run it through the postage meter and as we went home and dropped it in the mail chute, we knew that by the next morning it would already be on its way to getting processed.

This is no longer the fact. Last year- in a cost-cutting action, the post office decided to reduce pickup to once a day. Fine. No problem. Doable. However, the geniuses decided to make the pickup at 10am and dropped the more beneficial 4:45pm. Presumably because it was beneficial for the paying customer but not their pampered employees who loathed making a pickup late in the day when they preferred to be heading home. What this means is that if I get to the office after the 10am pickup, I have to advance the date in the postage meter before I slide an envelope through. Why? I am a firm believer that the next morning when the mail is brought to the processing plant that a postal employee will see the previous day’s date on the metered envelope and put it on the side to teach me a lesson in ruining that person’s karma.

The U.S. Postal Service has not raised stamp fees from 3 to 44 cents and dropped delivery from twice a day to barely once only because the cost of living that has skyrocketed in 50 years.. It is out-of-control pension plans, vacation and personal leave benefits that our “all types of weather” letter carriers get. But, hey- that’s progress. I tell you what- I quit when my computer starts asking me for the same considerations.

Through Rain, Sleet or Snow

By Larry Teren

Letter_Carrier_with_Mail_SackThe mail gets delivered in all types of weather as the saying goes, but maybe not always when there are vacations to negotiate. At least in my village.

The U. S. Postal Service recently announced that they were going broke within the next few months. No wonder. Recently, I walked past the lobby in my condo building toward the elevators and considered for a moment about checking to see if I had any mail that day. This was at 7:30pm. I had already checked at 4:30pm and the mail slot was empty. Before I turned the corner to the mail room entrance, I thought, “no way! If it wasn’t delivered by 4:30pm then I probably didn’t have any but others probably got theirs.” But then I remembered I had a conversation with a substitute mail carrier late one afternoon the previous week and he told me how he was exasperated because his local office was making him take care of the rounds for absent carriers after his own eight hour route. He was tired and it was unfair, although he was getting paid time-and-a-half overtime. Continue reading “Through Rain, Sleet or Snow”