If you were running a business and things weren’t going well, what would you do? Would you increase your prices and reduce the qualify of your services? You would, apparently, if you were running the U.S. Postal Service.
In case you missed it, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy is calling for longer delivery times for some first-class mail, shorter hours for some post offices and more expensive postal rates. It’s all part of a 10-year reorganization plan for the U.S. Postal Service he unveiled last week.
Under the plan, "a small percentage" of post offices would have their hours reduced, and "a small percentage" of city stations could be closed.
That seems like a strange plan for an organization that lost nearly $9 billion in 2019, especially in a time when people can ship packages with private companies and pay bills electronically instead of putting checks in the mail.
It seems especially strange since the Postal Service is already providing what can only be described as lackluster service to many of its best customers, including newspapers. Many of our out-of-area and out-of-state subscribers have experienced serious delays in getting their newspapers in recent months. It’s disturbing for them, and also for us considering the amount of time and effort we put into making sure the newspaper arrives to you as quickly as possible.
Local newspaper delivery at the post office and by mail carriers has never been a problem and continues to be very reliable. And while getting a newspaper from Cuba, St. James, or Steelville to places like Dallas, Denver, and Detroit—and even St. Louis at times—has been slow in the past, it has done nothing but get worse since late last year.
Several of our customers in other states have shared their delivery problems. One customer in a Dallas suburb, for instance, used to get his newspaper that was mailed from Rolla on Wednesday at his home on the next Tuesday. In December, however, some of his newspaper didn’t arrive for more than a month.
Others in the St. Louis area have also experienced longer delays. Newspapers that used to typically arrive on Friday, are now not showing up in their mailboxes until Tuesday or later. And, that is happening after we deliver those papers to the Sullivan Post Office on Wednesday afternoons to make sure they get on the truck headed to St. Louis that day, rather than mail them from Cuba.
If that is the service being provided to one of their best customers, how can the average person who simply leaves an envelope with their electric bill payment in their mail box ever expect the U.S. Postal Service to get it delivered on time?
And what about businesses? Most depend on the mail for payments from their customers. When those payments arrive later than they used to—or they should—it can have serious impacts on cash flows and a company’s ability to pay their own bills.
No matter what the question is, making the mail slower is not the answer. The Postal Service has got to come up with a better plan.