Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Going Postal, Just More Slowly

The financial woes of the US Postal Service are old news. The combination of rising costs, a decline in the desire to write letters and the skills to do so, and the advent of near-instantaneous electronic communication has led to a situation in which the Postal Service is losing some five billion dollars per year. Something has got to give.

And it has.

The Postal Service is considering a number of changes that will help it to survive, including raising postal rates, eliminating Saturday deliveries, closing smaller post offices, replacing Zip Codes with Plod Codes, and selling under-performing postmasters to medical schools for use in anatomy classes. The end effect of these changes will be to require us to pay more for less, and slower, service. What does the Postal Service think it is ... Congress?

In fact, the speed of delivery of first-class mail will likely reach the speed of delivery attained by Benjamin Franklin's original post office department in 1775, when the mail was delivered on horseback, going from an average delivery time of one to three days to an average of two to five days. We'll go from this ...

To this ...

If Amanda thinks it takes a long time for my letters to move from Virginia to Australia now, she ain't seen nothin' yet.

You can read the full story in this interesting article on CNN.

There may be an economic silver lining for the Postal Service inside this dark cloud, though, as long as they're willing to think outside the (mail) box and get creative about raising revenue. For example, they could return to mail delivery on horseback, and charge customers for the manure left at their mailboxes as a by-product of delivery.

The Postal Service could also help battle the national epidemic of obesity by hiring overweight people to deliver the mail on foot, particularly in hilly locations. Even if they're slow, who'd notice?

And instead of hanging wanted posters in post offices, photos of wanted criminals could be printed on stamps so that letter carriers can look for them while they deliver the mail.

In a related story, I have finally finished my Christmas letter. I don't think it's one of my best, but at least it hits the high points and it's finally done. Now I can apply for a loan to pay the postage, and start getting our Christmas cards into the mail, where they should reach their intended destinations in three to five months days.

If your card or letter is late, it's not my fault.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.



Amanda said...

I just read today that in 2012, Australia Post is going to be trialing a travel agent type service to boost revenue. Wonder how that will turn out...

Mike said...

I and other people have said the post office should have raised 1st class stamps to 50 cents years ago.

Margaret (Peggy or Peg too) said...

What can anyone do for less than a $1.00? I find it fascinating that everyone complains every time the rate goes up. I still think it's pretty awesome that for less than $.50 I can mail something from Maine and it arrives in Oregon in a week. Come on!

I have to say that their struggles have made some great competitive pricing and service. For our new company they have been wonderful. Fed Ex and UPS were both rude and unhelpful. No follow through and they just plain acted like they didn't care because well, they didnt. So we went with the USPS. We've been more than pleased and very surprised.