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USPS Ending Overnight First-Class Letter Service

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the just-another-troubled-dot-com dept.

Businesses 713

New submitter cstacy writes "The United States Postal Service will be closing half of its processing centers this spring. Currently, 42% of first-class mail is delivered the following day for nearby residential and business customers. But that overnight mail will be a thing of the past, with delivery guaranteed only for 2-3 days. About 51% will be delivered in two days. Periodicals may take up to nine days. (Additional delays beyond this may come into play when Congress also authorizes USPS to close operations for some days each week.)"

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What? (-1, Redundant)

RPGillespie (2478442) | more than 2 years ago | (#38262768)

People are still sending around non-electronic messages?

Re:What? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38262818)

Ever heard of packages?

Re:What? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38262840)

What people are still reading paper books ?
Silly man, of course people still send non electronic messages.
Good old fashoined paper letters are PRIVATE.
e-mail is not private, and good luck getting your contacts to use pgp or s-mime.
e-mail is best effort, paper mail on the other hand is guaranteed delivery (and for registered mail it leaves a paper trail).
e-mail is so impersonal, hand written letters on the other hand are much more personal.
Congresspeople don't give a fuck about e-mail petitions, they hear on the other hand the power of hand written letters.

TV didn't kill the radio, Internet didn't kill the radio; why do you think that email will kill paper letters ?

Of course if all you write is in sms-style then yes using paper is a waste of resources.

Re:What? (0)

427_ci_505 (1009677) | more than 2 years ago | (#38263170)

Technically there's nothing preventing me from slitting an envelope and reading it, no?

"People are still...." (5, Insightful)

DesScorp (410532) | more than 2 years ago | (#38262978)

People are still sending around non-electronic messages?

This is a really tired expression. We didn't stop using the axe when the chainsaw came along, and we didn't stop using the broom when the vacuum came along, and we didn't stop using land line phones when cell phones came along. Most long lived legacy technologies and services survive for a good reason. They don't survive in great numbers mind you, and are used in very specialized situations, but they survive nonetheless. It should come as no more of a surprise to you that some people send letters any more than it should surprise you that some guys still cut wood with a metal blade attached to a wooden handle.

Re:"People are still...." (5, Interesting)

DogDude (805747) | more than 2 years ago | (#38263148)

Case in point: I just bought a brand new USR 56K modem yesterday. Needed it for backup for when the Net goes down at work. POTS is certainly more reliable than DSL!

Re:What? (3, Interesting)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 2 years ago | (#38263052)

Almost everyone accepts electronic bill payment these days. But sometimes one-off payments (medical, dental, etc) need to be in the form of a check. Also governmental agencies such as the USCIS require checks to be mailed in as electronic payment isn't an option yet. Oh, and lets not forget the elderly who still hand-write letters in cursive to other family members.

Netflix (5, Interesting)

The Pirou (1551493) | more than 2 years ago | (#38262802)

That is going to be a pain for subscribers to Netflix, Gamefly, etc. I used to be able to validate the turn around time with local processing centers, but this is going to impact monthly turnover for those with DVD plans. I can see where this is probably going to do more to push consumers to use Redbox and Blockbuster kiosks, furthering the impact to the bottom line of USPS when more Netflix subscribers drop their service, decreasing use of traditional mail.

Re:Netflix (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38262824)

Doubtful. Chances are pretty good Netflix and Gamefly will turn to UPS and Fedex

Let the free market succeed where the USPS only exists by monopoly.

Re:Netflix (5, Funny)

h0dg3s (1225512) | more than 2 years ago | (#38262838)

They won't use UPS if they ever want to see their discs again.

Re:Netflix (-1)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 2 years ago | (#38262856)


Re:Netflix (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38262862)

Or FedEx if they want the discs to arrive in one piece.

Re:Netflix (4, Interesting)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#38263014)

totally depends on the region, some hubs are great, some hubs play forklift hokey with your packages, take a guess and flip a coin

Re:Netflix (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38263078)

Not just that, but pissed off sorters pushing packages off conveyor belts 30' in the air because they're pissed off that 60,000 packages per hour are being crammed through hubs designed for 30,000 packages per hour and they're getting yelled at for shutting down the belt every 7-10 seconds to keep up. Shoving unix boxes and monitors was my particular favorite act of revenge in the early '90s when I worked at UPS.

Then, you have loaders who literally kick holes in expensive packages because the flow is coming down the belt far too fast for even two experienced loaders to keep up, while supervisors are cussing them out for not keeping up. Another tactic was to time it, and load only one box every six seconds, which is the performance level that loaders are required to achieve to keep their jobs, per union contract; they can't be forced to work faster - which would cause the already-overloaded rollers to back up onto the belt, past the pickoff sorters, and occasionally even up to the sorters where the trailers are being unloaded.

Re:Netflix (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38262954)

UPS/Fedex? Ridiculous!

The USPS is incredibly cheap compared to the commercial alternatives. The USPS goes to EVERY mailbox each day (6 days a week). Nearly everyone gets mail every day and even if there is none to deliver there might be some to pick up. This is particularly important outside of big cities. There are MILLIONS of people living outside UPS/Fedex delivery zones.

What are you going to do for the farmers and ranchers who live 50 miles away from the nearest FedEx drop box? Remeber they don't get internet out there either. So you are going to let them swing? Really? Nothing for the people growing your food? It is not wise to SHIT on the people who feed you.

Government operations like the post office is just one of the many "costs of doing business" in a large society. Change the funding model so that the postal service can raise its rates and fire those that need firing and you'll see that it can work.

Re:Netflix (5, Interesting)

firex726 (1188453) | more than 2 years ago | (#38263022)

Not to get too off topics, but that's something I never quite got.
As society gets larger and more spread out there are certain services such as the USPS/Fire dept that will become a nesesity reagrdless of their bottom line.

Re:Netflix (2)

r_jensen11 (598210) | more than 2 years ago | (#38262960)

I disagree. My suspicion is that most people would rather put up with the slightly slower service and the customers who feel that this will impact their experience will add another disc to their plan. Chances are it's a minority of Netflix customers who watch more than one or two discs per week. The one-per-week customers will not have a real impact to their experience.

Re:Netflix (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38262990)

UPS and Fedex aren't required to deliver $0.44 letters to the boonies.

Re:Netflix (0)

Totenglocke (1291680) | more than 2 years ago | (#38263174)

It's not that. It's that they're legally not allowed to do it - thanks to the USPS. The government took a long time before they allowed UPS and FedEx to do what they currently do and they definitely don't want them delivering letters because they know that no one will use USPS after that.

Re:Netflix (1)

xstonedogx (814876) | more than 2 years ago | (#38263072)

Netflix doesn't want to do DVDs anyway. Unless customers leave in droves they'll just point their fingers in the direction of USPS and say write to your Congressman.

Re:Netflix (5, Insightful)

shentino (1139071) | more than 2 years ago | (#38263088)

The USPS exists by monopoly to preserve service to poor areas.

We decided that mail service was such an important part of our national infrastructure that we mandated it even in the poor areas.

The monopoly was a QPQ that allowed the USPS to serve unprofitable areas with the support of income from high profit areas.

Otherwise a commercial mail service would hog the high spots to itself and leave rural areas out in the cold.

Re:Netflix (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38263122)

Nice fairy tale.

Seems more like an expression of continued government dependency and credibility.

Re:Netflix (3, Interesting)

arth1 (260657) | more than 2 years ago | (#38263132)

Let the free market succeed where the USPS only exists by monopoly.

No, USPS is no monopoly. If you think you can deliver letters across the country for less than half a dollar, you're free to do so. And unlike the USPS, you're not required to do so.
And therein lies the problem - USPS, which is a private company, doesn't get to fight against other companies because laws and regulations hinder them. Which is fair enough, but then We The People need to foot the bill for this extra service we demand of them.

My advice: Nationalize the postal service[*].
The government owned and run postal services of many other countries do pretty well at low cost.
Where they have privatized them, the expenses have skyrocketed and service has taken a dive.

[*]: As well as any other essential services now run as private companies. The US Mint and the USPS are good starters, but there are dozens.

Re:Netflix (1)

Wandering Voice (2267950) | more than 2 years ago | (#38263186)

God I hope not.

A few years ago, UPS dropped packages for me at a restaurant which I used to work at, rather than drive the extra mile and a half to my door.

I got a call from my former employer informing me that there were a stack of boxes for me. I had to either walk a mile and a half on the road or a mile through rough mountainside to get them, and then carry them home.

If there was a free-market, UPS wouldn't be there.

Re:Netflix (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38262832)

man, have i got news for you

if you want to send 5GB, to someone, anyone, anywhere in the dont need to burn out pits
in a metal disk in a plastic carrier. you can just wiggle the wires already present in your home or business

no need to thank me

Re:Netflix (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38262900)

man, have i got news for you

if you want to send 5GB, to someone, anyone, anywhere in the dont need to burn out pits
in a metal disk in a plastic carrier. you can just wiggle the wires already present in your home or business

no need to thank me

Man I got news to you, if I want to send 20 GB of data to a friend/s its 1000 times easier to burn a blu-ray and send him the disk, instead of wasting weaks to upload it on a shitty home connection. And on the other hand you have to assume your recipient has a fast connection (and that he doesn't go overcharge his limit download monthly allowance).
Postal service is here to stay, at least until the late 23rd century when we will all have replicator technology (and you better bet the RIAA/MPAA don't outright ban the technology lol).

with apologies to Andrew S. Tannenbaum... (2)

KingAlanI (1270538) | more than 2 years ago | (#38262986)

never underestimate the bandwith of a postal delivery truck full of optical discs hurtling down side streets. :)

Re:with apologies to Andrew S. Tannenbaum... (1)

Fjandr (66656) | more than 2 years ago | (#38263118)

Latency is a bitch, but nothing compares to the bandwidth you get.

The End of USPS (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38262820)

This means that getting a bill from my credit card companies will take 15 to 30 days, which means the check payment for that months current charges will be late and later with each billing cycle.

This will push the remaining people into e-payments, which will further decrease USPS revenue and further increase USPS expenses, a feedback cycle that the USPS will not escape from.

The USPS-Titanic is going under water on the 100th anniversary of the real HMS Titanic sinking. How poetic. How tragic. What will history say about the United States of America, a "Super Power" country that cannot maintain a functional national postal service.

What a disgrace.

Re:The End of USPS (0)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 2 years ago | (#38262866)

They might say a national postal service became redundant in the nineties, what took you so long?

Re:The End of USPS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38262892)

Never underestimate the bandwidth of a large hard-drive sent by post.

Re:The End of USPS (5, Insightful)

riverat1 (1048260) | more than 2 years ago | (#38262908)

The USPS would be doing ok financially if they didn't have to fund medical coverage for employees who aren't even born yet. They have to fund 75 years of retiree health care benefits, $59 billion, in 10 years after the passage of the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006. Who else has to do anything even close to that?

Re:The End of USPS (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 2 years ago | (#38262998)

They're half way there then.

So they should see a huge expense plummet in 5 years and all will be fine.

Re:The End of USPS (2)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#38263058)

At the rate they're going, in 75 years there will only be a handful of people left at the USPS. When they split that $59 billion between themselves, they're going to be rich!

(Hey, this is Slashdot. I was told there would be no math.)

Re:The End of USPS (5, Insightful)

DogDude (805747) | more than 2 years ago | (#38263158)

The USPS would be doing fine financially if the gov't didn't mandate that the USPS is profitable. It's a red herring. Our military isn't (officially) profitable. Our schools aren't profitable. Our infrastructure isn't profitable. Our police and fire aren't profitable. The USPS exists to provide a basic level of delivery service to ALL Americans. If the USPS goes away, it'll be really, really difficult to live anywhere other than in cities and suburbs.

Re:The End of USPS (5, Informative)

mabhatter654 (561290) | more than 2 years ago | (#38263066)

Just jack the price of delivery up to its real value... I did a quick lookup at FedEx for sending a package across town... The lowest cost was $7. Add to that that UPS and FedEx essentially "cherry pick" only the profitable areas... Even locally they don't always deliver to suburbs and make you pick up the package.

The Post is undervalued. That used to be offset with "junk mail". Each of those items subsidized the wages of the mailman that only brought 0-3 pieces of actual mail per day. To turn the figures around, for a person to deliver to your house, you probably need 5-10 pieces of mail each day... Or $2.50-$5.00. That comes close to FedEx quote for $7 I mentioned earlier. Also, there is no way that $.44 now equals $.25 from 20 years ago.

Mail needs to cost more, I'd say the need to jump to $1 minimum. They also need to trim residential service days to Mon-Wed-Fri. I know I don't get ANY mail at least one day per week, and at least one other is only junk. I could easily get all my bills in one day per week, except that makes receiving things timely a problem. I think Businesses get enough mail to justify 4 day service, maybe take Wed off.

I don't think for most individuals upping the price to $1 will hurt anybody.. You're paying $4 for an average greeting card now! Packages are a separate business that allows a higher price point already.

check online? (1)

dutchwhizzman (817898) | more than 2 years ago | (#38263084)

You could of course check your credit card bill online and pay it on time, like you mentioned yourself. I don't hear people complaining about the lack of jobs in the wooden-wheel-making-market, or the horse-and-carriage driver business lately. Maybe quick mail isn't that what it's used to be and a few niche players will fetch more money for the few letters that still need fast delivery. The rest of the dead tree spam doesn't need to be anywhere in a hurry, so why bother?

Good plan (4, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#38262830)

They're going to encourage people to use their services by dramatically reducing the service quality they offer.

Re:Good plan (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38262920)

I don't really think they are doing this by choice, they are not run by the government, they are government regulated and required to run but they are still a private business and they are needing to do something to keep afloat due to the decreased business they have been getting due to stuff like Email, Facebook, Fedex and UPS.

Of course if they actually succumbed and become an actual government run service and ran off taxes instead of how they are run now, all this would become a moot point.

The fact that such a vital service isn't an actual government provided service and hasn't turned to outright greed is commendable but the fact remains that the nation NEEDs a service like this to run correctly and this is 1 area that there needs to be a steady, stable government run service, allow others to compete with it, but there needs to always be something that we can rely on 100%.

Re:Good plan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38262984)

Of course if they actually succumbed and become an actual government run service and ran off taxes instead of how they are run now, all this would become a moot point.

I don't know of any private business that doesn't have to pay property tax!

Re:Good plan (2)

Anubis IV (1279820) | more than 2 years ago | (#38262980)

Or, phrased differently, they're going to cut their distribution costs in half (from 500 processing centers to 250) while providing virtually the same service in 58% of cases and only slightly diminished service for the other 42%. Considering I wasn't even aware of the fact that letters I mailed to someone local to my area would arrive next-day, I have to wonder how much others will miss it. I just figured they all took 2-3 days, and would've never noticed a different if this hadn't been posted here.

Re:Good plan (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#38263028)

well using their services in the past it was never really a compelling point

It's a SERVICE (3, Insightful)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 2 years ago | (#38262836)

The sad thing is to hear people bitch about the raising cost of a First Class letter - sent *ANYWHERE* for how much? 50 cents or so? Oh yeah, that's WAY out of line...

People, the US Mail is a *service* to the public, there's no way it can every pay for itself and still move mail at the current rates. We fund this *service* with tax money, *not* postage.

Re:It's a SERVICE (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38262888)

If are tax dollars aren't being used to kill someone or throw them in jail then it's just inefficiency and overreaching government!

Re:It's a SERVICE (5, Insightful)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 2 years ago | (#38262934)

The sadder thing is that the USPS's peak delivery year was 2006. Maybe there's been a very substantial downturn since then, but the internet was hardly new.

What is new is a 2006 law requiring the USPS to bank their employees' retirement money 75 years in advance. Since then they've been paying the treasury $5,000,000,000 per year, to cover the retirement of people who haven't even been born yet.

Some people think the Congress did this to kill the USPS.

Re:It's a SERVICE (3, Informative)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 2 years ago | (#38263080)

Considering the condition Social Security is in, it seems to wise to plan ahead like that. Social security as we know it will be gone, or severely neutered by the time I reach retirement age. There's nothing wrong with making long term plans; you can't put everything on the national credit card forever.

Re:It's a SERVICE (2, Insightful)

Uberbah (647458) | more than 2 years ago | (#38263140)

Social security as we know it will be gone, or severely neutered by the time I reach retirement age.

Only if you let corrupt politicians take it from you. There's nothing wrong with Social Security. At all.

The "crisis" bullshit is propaganda to get you to accept cuts now so they can continue to use the 'trust fund' surpluses to fund tax cuts for the rich and the military-industrial-congressional-survellance-contractor complex.

Re:It's a SERVICE (2)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 2 years ago | (#38263188)

Why not make congress or hte military or amtrak or any other government agency do this then?

Re:It's a SERVICE (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38263090)

Some people think the Congress did this to kill the USPS.

Wouldn't be the first time. Shame. The USPS could actually make money, and provide great services which are greatly in demand, and largely unfulfilled... But between Congress and their labor union, pffft.

Re:It's a SERVICE (4, Informative)

Anubis IV (1279820) | more than 2 years ago | (#38262936)

You do realize that the postal service is mandated that it needs to be able to support itself? And that it's been doing so just fine for quite some time? And that none of our taxes have gone to it in any significant amount in recent history? Just because Congress governs it doesn't mean that we provide for its funding.

The USPS has not directly received taxpayer-dollars since the early 1980s with the minor exception of subsidies for costs associated with the disabled and overseas voters. Revenue in the 2000s has been dropping sharply due to declining mail volume, prompting the postal service to look to other sources of revenue while cutting costs to reduce its budget deficit.

From Wikipedia []

Re:It's a SERVICE (0)

DesScorp (410532) | more than 2 years ago | (#38262938)

The sad thing is to hear people bitch about the raising cost of a First Class letter - sent *ANYWHERE* for how much? 50 cents or so? Oh yeah, that's WAY out of line...

People, the US Mail is a *service* to the public, there's no way it can every pay for itself and still move mail at the current rates. We fund this *service* with tax money, *not* postage.

While I completely agree that the Post Office can never be profitable (mainly because it has to carry out Congressional mandates that private services do not), people have every right to complain about it. It's a bastardized organization that tries to act like a private shipping company, while at the same time under public shackles. USPS tries to do too much and be too many things. It should do two things: deliver letters and slow-boat packages. And due to the realities of labor costs, they should do it just a few days a week. And even if you're the biggest fan of USPS in the world, you have to admit that the tide of technology is against them anyway. More and more people do electronic commerce. The only way to make the post office dominant again is to make it a true monopoly by banning FedEx and UPS.

There will always be a need for a small post organization. But reality is increasingly shrinking it to a very small, very specialized legacy service. Paper mail is the serial port of written communications. A few people will always have a requirement for it, but most people moved on to USB years ago (hey, it beats another damn car analogy).

Re:It's a SERVICE (0)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 2 years ago | (#38262946)

You must be new to this country. Around here, if it's not sustained by a profit motive then it's communist and stupid.

Re:It's a SERVICE (2)

BrianRoach (614397) | more than 2 years ago | (#38262950)

Actually, no, it's not. At least not for the last 30 years or so.

The only taxpayer money that goes to the USPS is ~ $100mm a year to cover things mostly for the disabled and overseas voters ( They are only expected to break even.

And therein lies the problem. The basic fact of the matter is that e-mail has eroded their bread-and-butter; people needing to communicate with another person. Bills/invoices are also going this way. While not everyone uses e-mail, enough do that this is a buggy-whip manufacturing situation. Eventually there will simply be little reason for it to exist.

The fact that they suck at delivering actual packages when compared to UPS pretty much rules them out of that business. They're slower, don't provide adequate or accurate tracking, etc, etc.

Oh, and in new neighborhoods like mine? UPS, FedEx, etc actually bring things to my *house*, not a community mailbox a 1/4 mile away.

What it comes down to is either it needs to be completely overhauled and shrunk to fit today's reality, or be subsidized heavily by taxpayer money.

Re:It's a SERVICE (4, Insightful)

RalphSlate (128202) | more than 2 years ago | (#38263114)

The USPS sucks at delivering packages? And doesn't provide adequate tracking? What country do you live in?

* UPS does not typically deliver on the weekend unless the sender pays extra. USPS does.

* I can go to the USPS website to track my packages.

* Anecdotally, UPS packages seem to take longer to deliver than USPS. They don't seem to be able to accurately predict delivery time either. With USPS, a priority package arrives in 3 days, and often 2.

* If I am required to sign for a USPS package and I'm not home, I just have to drive to post office within 1/4 mile of my house. If I miss a UPS delivery, I have to drive 5 miles to the next town to their shipping terminal.

I'll take the USPS any day over UPS. The reason USPS is hurting is that UPS is allowed to cherry-pick the profitable package business while avoiding the daily mail responsibility. Seems like in order for the competition to be fair, anyone competing should have to play by the same rules.

Re:It's a SERVICE (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38263092)

This just isn't true. The USPS was historically self sufficient and ought to be so even today. However, Congress has tied its arms: * When they were making profits, by law, they had to "invest" them in US government bonds. * They have to jump an incredible series of hoops before they can close any local office, again, by law. * Most outrageously, they were required to pay-in-advance 75 years' worth of worker retirement benefits, into another special fund. Basically, the US Congress has driven the postal service into the ground. The big drop in mail volumes would hurt any business, but nobody in the private world has to put up with shit like that. Usually people suggest that all of this is a concerted effort from above to drive yet another government enterprise into the ground. I want to assume stupidity instead of malice, but, I also know that UPS and FedEx are both very politically active. Anyway, you have the right intentions, it seems, as the Constitution does include mail service. It's just that the market does actually bear the cost of a well-functioning USPS, if not for our elected representatives going to new heights to make a mockery of effective government.

Re:It's a SERVICE (1)

Fjandr (66656) | more than 2 years ago | (#38263180)

Assuming incompetence before malice is usually a good practice, but not necessarily when referring to Congress. They knowingly and willfully structure accounting to hide as much as they can. It would not surprise me to find out the pre-pay requirement for employee healthcare was structured solely for the purpose of helping disguise the budget deficit.

I don't mean the above to say it was meant to disguise ALL the deficit; that would be sheer stupidity to claim. But you can certainly shrink the appearance of a gaping hole with nickel-and-dime accounting. Just look at how much companies like Enron and Worldcom were able to cover up, and how long they were able to cover it up.

Re:It's a SERVICE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38263104)

No, actually, the USPS does not receive tax dollars. You can look it up.

Re:It's a SERVICE (5, Informative)

captainkoloth (99341) | more than 2 years ago | (#38263108)

The USPS is totally self funded and profitable. The problem is Congress gave them a near-impossible pension funding mandate so that they could borrow against those pension funds. It's more like the government is leeching off of USPS. Not the other way around

Re:It's a SERVICE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38263120)

The Post Office isn't funded the same way that other Government agencies are. It is expected to be self sufficient, which makes the fact that you get the service you do on the cost of postage even more astonishing.

Wedding invitations & Birthday Cards (1)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 2 years ago | (#38262846)

The last 10 non-bill mail I recieved were wedding invitations and birthday cards. It's trivially easy to find someone on facebook or similar and email them. I can't imagine why I would write a letter these days except for the novelty of it - in which case it's generally not time sensitive. It's not like people are writing to their doctor for twice weekly consultations on their condition and expect a response by mail.
It's been proven for at least a decade that if you absolutely, positively need it there tomorrow, people are willing to pay $13-25 to make sure it gets there through carriers like UPS and FedEx.
It's worth pointing out - kudos to the US Postal system for not taking taxpayer money to prop up a self-admitted outdated business model. It's sad to see those jobs disappear, but it's a real mark of leadership that they are taking initiative and solving their own problems. I wish the same could be said for other parts of our government.

get the ponies! (1)

Gravis Zero (934156) | more than 2 years ago | (#38262850)

it's time for the Pony Express to come back!

Junk mail (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38262860)

The USPS plan to fund their crazy generous pension plan is to increase the volume of junk mail. Being an important left wing constituency their contribution to the creation of unnecessary waste is downplayed.

You can mitigate this nonsense here. []

What a great idea! (1)

MYakus (1625537) | more than 2 years ago | (#38262878)

Reduce service to your customers when you are having financial problems? Of course, those are more related to pensions and health care than operations, but who's going to care that there letters will be intentionally delayed? What could go wrong?

Only the government thinks this way.

And now the plan becomes clear... (1)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 2 years ago | (#38262882)

Let Google deliver all your stuff! Once Google has a 'Google Locker' ability to compete with Amazon Locker, all will be right with the world. Just have Google deliver all your mail that once went through USPS.

and nothing of value... (-1, Flamebait)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 2 years ago | (#38262886)

...was lost.

Re:and nothing of value... (2)

DesScorp (410532) | more than 2 years ago | (#38263008)

...was lost.

Oh, I disagree with that. I don't want the post office to go away. I just want it to reflect reality. That means fewer post offices doing less stuff (and specifically, a post office that no longer tries to be a FedEx or a UPS. They can't accomplish that with their mandated unprofitable duties).

Let the private shippers do packages, and just deliver my letters a few times a week, thanks.

Re:and nothing of value... (1)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 2 years ago | (#38263054)

Letters? Remind me, what are those again? On the rare occasions I have to send one, I have to look up online the current rate of postage. Strong indications that the service is redundant, from a couple of standpoints.

Re:and nothing of value... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38263152)

Wait, private enterprise doing something the government should be doing? It's simply not the democratic way.

What about the Health Care Law? We all know what happens when the government runs things...

I'm rethinking how I feel about government run health care; have been for a while, but this simply re enforces the obvious.

fallout (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38262896)

Is this further fallout from the republican bill that hosed the postal service?

Best solution... (5, Interesting)

gstrickler (920733) | more than 2 years ago | (#38262916)

Get Congress to allow 3 day a week delivery on residential routes (and maybe commercial routes), Mon-Wed-Fri for half, Tue-Thu-Sat for the other half. Still offer daily delivery to post office boxes. Anyone who thinks they really need daily delivery can rent a PO Box and pick it up daily.

Re:Best solution... (1)

mikael_j (106439) | more than 2 years ago | (#38263030)

How is this the best solution? Because you offer no explanation other than "Best solution..." in the title. As for the "Anyone who thinks they really need [...]" bit I could point out that you also don't need broadband, telephones (definitely not cellphones), cars, airplanes, electric/gas stoves and many many other things so don't try going that route.

Please explain why this is the best solution.

Re:Best solution... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38263086)

Um, because it reduces the amount of man hours and transportation costs utilized by the USPS? Is it really that hard to figure out?

Re:Best solution... (1)

jonwil (467024) | more than 2 years ago | (#38263136)

Except that the power of the postal workers unions (and possibly also laws passed by congress) mean that the USPS wouldn't actually be able to fire all those posties.

Re:Best solution... (1)

mikael_j (106439) | more than 2 years ago | (#38263142)

First: You're not the parent, you're an AC so you're most likely trying to drag me into an annoying trollish argument...

Second: You don't see how only providing half the service they used to provide might be seen as a reason to choose another company? Really?

The USPS is *not* a traditional business (5, Insightful)

Elrond, Duke of URL (2657) | more than 2 years ago | (#38262924)

I really wish Congress, and the Post Master General for that matter, would stop pretending that the USPS is just another business and should be operated as such. It's not! Mail has been a public service almost since this country was founded and the idea goes back even further in time in some other countries.

Given what the USPS does, it cannot operate like a normal business and it shouldn't have to. Considering how much money they are losing each year, it's clear they need to change something, and I wouldn't mind paying a bit more for first class postage, but this idea that the USPS needs to break even needs to stop soon before Congress completely ruins the postal service.

Packages aside, you simply can't send everything through email. I still get plenty of real non-junk mail all the time, from bank notices to insurance EOBs. This is far more secure than email could ever hope to be. Yes, it would be nice if everybody encrypted their email (especially banks), but until that happens, regular mail is a lot more secure. We actually have laws against this sort of thing and most people even take them seriously. There is little, if anything, to prevent electronic eavesdropping.

I certainly don't want to see the end of the traditional post office in my lifetime, but at the rate Congress is going, who knows. And while I would expect the Post Master General to be fighting the good fight *for* the USPS, every time I hear him talk it seems like he's gung ho to implement whatever idea Congress throws his way.

The USPS is a public service, not a business...

Re:The USPS is *not* a traditional business (1, Insightful)

Atmchicago (555403) | more than 2 years ago | (#38262994)

They can still take a few cues from business. For example, charge more for rural delivery. Why should a letter to Middle-of-Nowhere Alaska cost the same as one to New York City? To put this another way, why should peope who live in NYC subsidize mail delivery to Alaska?

Re:The USPS is *not* a traditional business (4, Insightful)

sethstorm (512897) | more than 2 years ago | (#38263018)

Looks like you forgot about the "public service" bit.

Re:The USPS is *not* a traditional business (2)

ub3r n3u7r4l1st (1388939) | more than 2 years ago | (#38263034)

If it is a public service, it designed to be fair irrespective of service location.

Re:The USPS is *not* a traditional business (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38263060)

so that when they go to Alaska they can send a postcard home?

Re:The USPS is *not* a traditional business (1)

lakeland (218447) | more than 2 years ago | (#38263112)

Public service and all that... So that the folks in Alaska are not disadvantaged and there isn't another big reason not to live there.

Re:The USPS is *not* a traditional business (3, Interesting)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 2 years ago | (#38263040)

I always thought this "should be run like a business" stuff was very hypocritical. Pretty much all the "run x like a business" (where x is Amtrak, USPS etc) politicians will then turn around and beg for fat subsidies for airports who often bleed cash like it was going out of style. I guess the difference is that poor people actually use Amtrak and the postal service, but rarely use airports......

Re:The USPS is *not* a traditional business (1)

slimjim8094 (941042) | more than 2 years ago | (#38263050)

Mail has been a public service almost since this country was founded

Which is why it's one of the very specifically enumerated responsibilities of the federal government as set out in the Constitution. They didn't say much in black-and-white, but this is one of them:

The Congress shall have Power ... To establish Post Offices and post Roads

Re:The USPS is *not* a traditional business (1)

ducomputergeek (595742) | more than 2 years ago | (#38263154)

Problem the USPS has is the fact that it has a lot of legacy costs. It got used to doing business one way and like a lot of large bureaucratic organizations has a problem changing to adapt. Especially when it had no incentive to do so as it was a government backed monopoly and one defined in the "postal clause" of the constitution.. And while it is not a "traditional" business , it is going to have to adapt for a new age. An age where the federal government is going to have to get smaller across the board.

For instance, we have a lot of post offices in small towns. It costs a lot of money to keep those facilities maintained and staffed. Thing is allowing other local businesses to sell stamps and accept parcels for post can and do offer the same service. It's worked for UPS and FedEx the past 20+ years. I know the USPS has started doing the same in the past few years, but it was something that should have started 15 years ago. But that does mean fewer postal workers in general, which has been opposed by the union at every turn.

With that being said, the USPS have been getting better with things like the ability to order stamps for delivery online as well as the flat rate shipping boxes have been extremely handy. But those have been services don't require a building with staff in my town operated 320 days a year.

They could have undone the pension requirement (5, Interesting)

sethstorm (512897) | more than 2 years ago | (#38262956)

This just sounds like someone wants to kill the USPS and loot it.

Get rid of the pre-loading of pensions for 75 years as required by Congress, and they'd be a LOT closer to solvent - and no need to have slower packages.

Re:They could have undone the pension requirement (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38263098)

They'd not only be solvent, they'd be *profitable*. The pre-loading costs them five BILLION dollars a year. Basically the government is propping up FERS by looting the USPS. One wonders who they'll go after next once the USPS craters.

My mailbox is filled with bulk mail! (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38262982)

I would like to ask that the post office only deliver once a week. And that should be the day before garbage/recycling day. 60% of the mail I get goes straight into recycling. The next 30% goes into the shredder and into yard waste bin.

We get so little mail which is direct and important correspondence any more that we only check our mail once or twice a week. Every few months the mailman puts a slip in our box saying we have to go the post office to pick things up because our box is full.

We had 9lbs of mail last time we picked it up. We kept two letters out of everything (2oz).

The problem is not with their service, rather, they have discounted their service so much for things that people don't care about that it has degraded and made the delivery of important items a secondary item. Those who say "they make all their profit on bulk mail". I argue, if they didn't have to stop at EVERY BOX and transport TONS of material every day, they should be able to deliver the first class mail much faster and require half the staff.

And talking about staffing, when they closed a mail processing center in the midwest recently, I saw that nobody lost their jobs. Instead, the unions said the employees took new jobs and were "forced" to deliver mail door to door.

I have no sympathy.

Re:My mailbox is filled with bulk mail! (2)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#38263068)

This is true, I personally expect 3 bills and 2 checks a month, I throw 6 grocery store bags of shit away during that same time, and its all penny bullshit bulk rate garbage that I never even look at.

It would probably not cost me damn near 10 bucks to send a couple 5.25 floppies to a fellow retro computer dude if the USPS was not charging 0.01 cents per pound to drive around 400lbs of junk mail daily, in the 3+ $ a gallon gas age.

Re:My mailbox is filled with bulk mail! (1)

Windows Breaker G4 (939734) | more than 2 years ago | (#38263176)

Do you realize how many jobs come from so called junk mail? You do realize it is sent because the return rate is something like 2% (which in the world of marketing is HUGE!) right? Just sayin.

Re:My mailbox is filled with bulk mail! (1)

jgdobak (119142) | more than 2 years ago | (#38263126)

"I don't use it so it must be worthless" is the Slashdot marching song

Yet you still all wonder why everyone hates the help desk and computer janitors in general.

USPS Been Great Least Common Denominator (2)

AndyMcL (65518) | more than 2 years ago | (#38263036)

Sad to see the USPS getting worse and worse over the years. It has been a very successful least common communications denominator for over 200 years. It delivers all over the world and does a great job doing so. I would have been using them almost exclusively all along if they would have had a package tracking system like the other guys. USPS keeps rural areas connected to everything else. It is still amazing to me that I can be in such far off places as Hawaii, Guam, or Palau and for less than 50 cents send a letter or postcard to someone living at the bottom of the Grand Canyon or middle of Maine and almost never fail it gets there and quickly (3-5 days). This is definitely not the case in some other countries. Of course I know the Internet has changed things (been using Internet since 91), but still things such as legal contracts, business with governmental departments, shipping of precious metals, etc are still done largely via US Postal service because of its reliability and legal protections.

I think the USPS is a public good and an important part of keeping such a large country with spread out citizens on more equal level. Does this mean they need to find ways to be more efficient? Sure! Does this mean they need to compete with fully private companies? Sure! But I think we need them to stay around and be healthy. This means tax payer money needs to added in because some parts of the business will never be very profitable. Someone needs to deliver the things to people who do not live in high populated areas and the letters to Santa.

E-mail + UPS/FedEx USPS (1)

Zargg (1596625) | more than 2 years ago | (#38263062)

USPS does need to get rid of a lot of it's current functions, they are redundant and wasteful compared to e-mail and privatized delivery (UPS/FedEx/etc) . USPS should serve as a government backed, secure mail service for things like legal documents where a physical piece of paper is necessary and next day delivery wouldn't be necessary. Any pure information is relayed through e-mail, and bulk packages are best handled by current delivery services that have much better customer experience and much more consistent results, probably because they aren't government workers. I also always figured the USPS made money from delivering so much spam mail to everyone, but I guess not.

Re:E-mail + UPS/FedEx USPS (1)

lakeland (218447) | more than 2 years ago | (#38263138)

The thing is that DM is way more expensive than eDM. Say you get lift over control of oh, I don't know, 1% with eDM and 5% with DM. That means 4% extra sales with DM but you've had to spend roughly 100 times as much on delivery. Plug in some typical numbers for profit margins and well, DM still has a place but more often than not eDM has a much better ROI.

In practice it's more complicated than that - DM tends to cut through to a different group than eDM cuts through to, and in some contexts that matters. Also both have creative costs so for small targeted mailouts the delivery cost is unsubstantial which puts DM in the lead, and then there's printhouse costs.

Subsidize the USPS (1)

Kotoku (1531373) | more than 2 years ago | (#38263070)

This is going to be a little bias as I ship a lot of packages but I think to compete with cheap imported goods from other nations we should subsidize package delivery in this country. When I can order something from China for $3 including shipping something is wrong. Shipping costs account for nearly 15% of my costs and in an economy where so many items are ordered online subsidies to shipping companies would benefit us all.

Re:Subsidize the USPS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38263130)

Shipping by sea is REALLY cheap. Shipping by land and plane is not. Subsidies won't change that, it'll just shift the cost to taxes on those who never receive goods.

Entrenched tenured incompetence (0)

macraig (621737) | more than 2 years ago | (#38263096)

USPS is forced to do this because it refuses to excise the wasteful incompetent personnel it employs, even when the incompetence is documented in detail. They even get Congress to pass Federal laws that allow them to further shirk liability and responsibilities. In my postal zone, the only way even a lowly mail carrier can get fired is if he's caught on video killing someone's dog. If he's responsible for the theft, damage, or loss of packages, even when it's documented, he'll be back the next day and every day after that, for so long as he shall live. If you thought the SCOTUS judges had it made with their continued employment prospects, they ain't got nothin' on mail carriers.

I guess I'm naive. (1)

drunkennewfiemidget (712572) | more than 2 years ago | (#38263106)

I always thought that the post offices would be OK because with the Internet, sure we're sending way less letter mail, but package deliveries must be through the roof compared to what they were before. Most people do shittonnes of ordering on the Internet now.

wrong way (1)

KingAlanI (1270538) | more than 2 years ago | (#38263116)

yeah, they need to cut costs, but this isn't the way to go about it.

closing a bunch of offices in Podunk might be necessary, though.

of course, not gonna touch "administrative expenses" :(

Losing USPS (1)

Windows Breaker G4 (939734) | more than 2 years ago | (#38263144)

The impact of losing USPS would be fair greater than most people here seem to think. Think of all the "junk mail" you get, ever thought about how many people are employed printing and mailing that stuff? Or magazines? Or coupons? Or Newsletters? Or how many jobs are kept around because of direct mail advertising? I'd bet you the cost of keeping USPS alive is less than the tax revenue it enables businesses to bring in.

Taxpayers money is Not used to fund the USPS!!!!! (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38263150)

It is a common misconception that the Postal Service uses tax money. They are funded entirely by the money they make from postage.

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