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Internet Usage Boosts Post Office Revenue

ScuttleMonkey posted about 8 years ago | from the forward-progress-not-always-bad dept.

140

setirw writes "Contrary to popular belief, the New York Times reports that Internet usage has actually boosted the USPS's revenue, instead of decreasing it. It is commonly believed that the rise of the Internet has negatively affected the Postal Service's revenue, since e-mail usage is rapidly superseding snail-mail usage. 'Six years ago, people were pointing at the Internet as the doom and gloom of the Postal Service,' said James Cochrane, manager of USPS package services. However, the widespread usage of e-commerce sites has boosted USPS revenue, since millions of packages are shipped from such sites daily."

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Who cares? (2, Interesting)

baldass_newbie (136609) | about 8 years ago | (#15830386)

As far as I can tell, with all of the junk mail that comes piling into my mailbox, the USPS ain't going anywhere anytime soon.
Besides, they more powers and subsidies than any other delivery corporation out there.
I highly doubt they were scared - considering the quality of service I receive in downtown Philly - job security is not an issue.

Re:Who cares? (4, Insightful)

Jack Action (761544) | about 8 years ago | (#15830498)

I highly doubt they were scared - considering the quality of service I receive in downtown Philly - job security is not an issue.

Unlike the quality of service one receives when dealing with ecommerce sites on the internet.

If I had to chose between script-reading or even non-existent ecommerce help, or a surly postal clerk -- bring on the surly 45 year old with the beer gut.

amen to that (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15831707)

And I have to say that I deal with the post office a LOT and I've never had any trouble with their customer service. In ten+ years of buying and selling through the mail, I've had one lost package, and one damaged package, compared to 3 or 4 lost Fed Ex packages, and literally every UPS package has tears, dents, gouges, and severe corner damage--thankfully the things I get sent via UPS aren't fragile (i.e. boxes and bubble mailers).

Re:Who cares? (1)

bsy_at_play (718756) | about 8 years ago | (#15830501)

the usps does not receive funds from congress, so they have "subsidies" only from the philatelists.

Re:Who cares? (1)

baldass_newbie (136609) | about 8 years ago | (#15830921)

Some consider tax exemption [reference.com] as well (as other legal breaks/privileges) to be subsidies.

Monopoly grant is a big subsidy (3, Informative)

Kadin2048 (468275) | about 8 years ago | (#15832002)

Well the monopoly they have over mail delivery is a pretty big non-cash subsidy, in my book.

I'm not saying that the USPS isn't pretty good at what it does, and I use them all the time, but let's be honest: they have a market that's protected from competition by law. No private corporation is allowed to carry letters for anything less than (IIRC) twice the USPS rate or $3, whichever is lower.

That they're self-supporting is good, but they'd really better be considering that nobody is allowed to touch their business area.

Re:Who cares? (1)

expressionist (987286) | about 8 years ago | (#15830716)

Content (books, movies, etc) shipments through snail mail will decrease. Hardware will stabilize after the major Vista upgrade. Now they should target essentially-physical things. From the amount of spam I get, it seems viagra does very well. We all need some! That's their killer product: imagine the huge extra amount of porn that could be consumed. They could start an special express service: the quick viagra postmen. Or the pornoviagrapostmen, if they want a german ring to it. And they need a new suitable logo, of course. Think about it, USPS.

Re:Who cares? (1)

SillyNickName4me (760022) | about 8 years ago | (#15831209)

Content (books, movies, etc) shipments through snail mail will decrease.

Most likely.. but it won't be anytime soon if it is upto content producers it seems.

Hardware will stabilize after the major Vista upgrade.

Don't worry, there will be a new reason for hardware upgrades once most people can run Vista.

Re:Who cares? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15831005)

Exactly: the USPS is an arm of government. Their bottom line revenue is not determined by the voluntary support of a free market, but the coercive power of government in a non-free market. The USPS is not a business which is subject to natural (voluntary) market forces -- political power grants them immunity from market forces. They simply don't have to compete as a real business does. When they fail, they are rewarded with more revenue, same as any other government program. Quite the opposite of what happens in a voluntary market.

This is like claiming good times because highway traffic is up on toll roads. We were forced to fund the construction of those roads in the first place! Furthermore, there is only one choice!

If you were forced to fund a startup retail store called Wal-Mart, would you find reason to celebrate when they open their 100th store?

Revenue for the USPS is up? I don't see why anyone but the power elite would give a damn.

Re:Who cares? (1)

CRCulver (715279) | about 8 years ago | (#15831819)

When they fail, they are rewarded with more revenue, same as any other government program.

The USPS gets no funds from Congress and is on its own. It has even managed to turn a profit for most of the last decade. Please stop spreading nonsense.

Re:Who cares? (1)

andrewman327 (635952) | about 8 years ago | (#15831042)

The Postal Service only gets 20-30 cents on each piece of junk mail going into your inbox. Compare that to the $8.10 they get for every flat rate Priority Mail box a shipper sends. Without packages the Postal Service would have a really hard time


I live in Bucks County and I have learned that most services in downtown Philly are bad (cheesesteaks excepted). I don't blame the USPS for that.


Am I the only person who still writes real letters? I am only 20 years old but I think it makes things more personal. I e-mail an incredible amount but I still write my friends the old fashioned way.

Re:Who cares? (1)

Gospodin (547743) | about 8 years ago | (#15831296)

I write my friends the old-fashioned way, too. I use pine.

Re:Who cares? (1)

operagost (62405) | about 8 years ago | (#15831821)

Pine? Hmph! It's still the ol' chisel and granite for me! Kids these days-- driving their shiny cars without a callous on their feet!

Re:Who cares? (2, Insightful)

raehl (609729) | about 8 years ago | (#15831063)

As far as I can tell, with all of the junk mail that comes piling into my mailbox, the USPS ain't going anywhere anytime soon.

That junk mail is what allows the post office to offer first class mail for $0.37 when UPS ground and FedEx ground are often $8 and up.

Besides, they more powers and subsidies than any other delivery corporation out there.

Powers maybe, subsidies no, USPS has it's own separate budget.

I highly doubt they were scared - considering the quality of service I receive in downtown Philly - job security is not an issue.

I have never received a more consistent level of excellent customer service than I have with USPS. But if everyone else in dontown philly has your attitude, there may just not be any employees with suitable customer service skills available to hire.

Re:Who cares? (1)

natedubbya (645990) | about 8 years ago | (#15832040)

Besides, they more powers and subsidies than any other delivery corporation out there.

Actually, that's a common misconception. The Postal Service is not subsidized in any way, shape or form. They are fully independent (in financial terms) and operational solely from stamps and postage rates. They do have given monopoly powers of first and third class mail, mainly what everyone considers your standard letters. But as far as your tax money and government spending goes, no money is given to the USPS to help them operate.

The 39 cent stamp is also quite similar and even better than most other country's rates.

I think people just like to "hate" the USPS because they think it's a governmental agency run by our tax money, and stamps are just another way to stick it to us. The reality is just the opposite.


Re:Who cares? (1)

friedo (112163) | about 8 years ago | (#15832213)

A government enforced monopoly and exemption from all taxes is a form of subsidy. UPS and Fedex don't get to deliver first class mail, and they have to pay income taxes.

usps (1, Funny)

xdxfp (992259) | about 8 years ago | (#15830392)

not to mention all the anthrax...

Re:usps (-1, Offtopic)

Bigtall people (992640) | about 8 years ago | (#15830412)

I like your comment

Re:usps (-1, Offtopic)

IntelitaryMilligence (954944) | about 8 years ago | (#15830527)

From Fort Detrick

So?.. (5, Insightful)

Klaidas (981300) | about 8 years ago | (#15830393)

I think this is obvious without any researches - if we buy stuff on the internet, they ship that stuff.
What would be interesting is how much less *letters* are now being sent via snail mail

Lots (0, Offtopic)

lastberserker (465707) | about 8 years ago | (#15830414)

What would be interesting is how much less *letters* are now being sent via snail mail

I send my bills in letters, you insensitive clod!

Re:So?.. (4, Insightful)

Aladrin (926209) | about 8 years ago | (#15830510)

I don't think this is obvious at all. In the last 5 years, I believe I have shipped maybe 2 things from online retailers to myself with USPS. Everything else (and I'm talking dozens of packages) went Fedex or UPS. How many sites even -offer- USPS as a shipping option?

The only 'obvious' thing that would show an increase would be Netflix/Gamefly/etc. There's a LOT of shipping going on there.

Re:So?.. (4, Informative)

sangreal66 (740295) | about 8 years ago | (#15830526)

USPS Priority Mail is pretty common on eBay and smaller retailers

Re:So?.. (1)

weave (48069) | about 8 years ago | (#15830986)

Oh yeah, my wife is an ebay addict and she has stuff going out and coming in via Priority mail all the time.

Re:So?.. (1)

ForestGrump (644805) | about 8 years ago | (#15830551)

If my memory serves me right, amazon.com "free" shipping is by USPS.
With Prime (like 80 bucks a year) it's shipped ups 2nd day (or ground if you're close enough to the warehouse it came from). but seriously, how many people fork up 80 bucks a year for prime?

Grump

Re:So?.. (1)

goodcow (654816) | about 8 years ago | (#15831077)

Um... I do. Amazon's free shipping is slow. First of all, they hold the package for a few days rather than shipping it right away, and then it goes ground, either by USPS or UPS. For only $80 a year, I can place an order and it'll have entered the "shipping soon" phase within hours, and I'll have it in two days. Or overnight, for $4 per item. You really have no idea how this changes online shopping habits, especially coupled with not having a minimum order to seek now. (i.e. $25) I've always been a huge Amazon fan, and I've had Prime since the day it debuted, and I now buy practically everything from Amazon. Yesterday I ordered a pair of gloves for $4.49 with free shipping and no tax. It'll be here tomorrow. That's a very enjoyable thing to have.

Re:So?.. (2, Informative)

Gospodin (547743) | about 8 years ago | (#15831465)

My personal experience is just the opposite. I ship almost everything from Amazon using the free "slow boat to China" method, and I've gotten orders delivered the next day or the day after quite often. If it takes 4-5 days I'm surprised. It really helps that they have warehouses around the country.

That said, it's interesting to hear your thumbs-up appraisal of Amazon Prime. I've considered the free trial just to see what it's like. So far I'm resisting it - I'm afraid it would lead to a lot of impulse buys.

Re:So?.. (1)

TRS80NT (695421) | about 8 years ago | (#15830741)

I always choose USPS if it's an option. FedEx and UPS don't have access to my building's mailbox lobby and USPS does. So for anything smaller than a breadbox (whatever that is) it's more convenient to have the PO deliver it, rather than running around, coordinating delivery by the other guys.


Re:So?.. (1)

rfunches (800928) | about 8 years ago | (#15830827)

How many sites even -offer- USPS as a shipping option?


The largest online retailer [amazon.com] uses them for Super Saver and standard shipping. I also see a lot of QVC [qvc.com] returns by USPS, and they ship to customers via UPS or USPS.

Re:So?.. (1)

ThadMan (171233) | about 8 years ago | (#15831103)

There is a ton of people that ship USPS. Priority mail in particular. Priority mail is usually cheaper than others for packages that are three pounds or less (plus they provide free boxes). Also, they are the only cost effective means for shipping internationally; and a very popular method to ship to the military abroad (No one else can ship to APO/FPOs). My business ships 90% of our orders through the postal service.

Re:So?.. (1)

brian23 (962399) | about 8 years ago | (#15831477)

FedEx uses USPS trucks and planes to ship items so you are still using USPS indirectly, whether you realize it or not. Notice that the Post Office doesn't have UPS boxes in front of them, it's because FedEx has a contract with USPS. UPS has sued to allow them to put boxes there, but so far the Post Office hasn't allowed them. I think there was an agreement recently, however, that will allow UPS to place boxes there. Also, I actually find it cheaper to ship USPS in most cases. Just as the article said, a lot of people don't ship large or heavy objects through USPS because of the restrictions, but all in all most packages are going through the USPS whether you realize it or not.

Wrong: USPS uses FedEx aircraft! (3, Informative)

Kadin2048 (468275) | about 8 years ago | (#15832080)

Er, no.

You've got that backwards. The USPS doesn't own any planes, and they have a relatively small fleet of trucks for the volume of stuff that they deliver. It's the Postal Service that uses a lot of other people's trucks and planes, not the other way around.

In particular, a lot of US Mail is shipped on FedEx aircraft. It used to be that a lot of mail was hauled on passenger airplanes (and the passenger airlines used to compete for these contracts, which is a story in itself) but they no longer allow packages on passenger flights for safety/security reasons, so they now put most air mail onto other freight aircraft. FedEx has one of the largest fleets of air-freight craft in the world, so it's natural that they actually do a lot of the transportation.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Postal_ Service#Airline_and_rail_division [wikipedia.org] . All of the air and rail transportation of US Mail is handled under contract, and a fair bit of the over-the-road trucking is as well. It's not cost effective for the USPS to maintain their own fleet of aircraft, when they can just have private companies compete to provide that service to them as contractors.

Re:So?.. (1)

winnabago (949419) | about 8 years ago | (#15832305)

UPS has sued to allow them to put boxes there, but so far the Post Office hasn't allowed them.
I have seen many cases where UPS, FEDEX, DHL, etc. have drop boxes immediately adjacent to a post office on the easement or right of way (ex: sidewalk). If you obtain town/city approval, there isn't a thing that can be done.

Why eBay users all use USPS Priority Mail (2, Informative)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 8 years ago | (#15831546)

As mentioned, eBay sellers often use priority email.

Why? Because the integration between eBay, PayPal, and the USPS is so seemless. With just a few clicks through a few screens a bidder has paid you, and you are printing out a pre-paid shipping label that you stick on a free box the USPS delivered to your door and that you can drop off in special priority mail drop containers that do not require standing in line.

You can also pre-print other forms of shipping but Priority is generally a little faster (though there is no gaurantee) which means everyone is happier.

I would say the masterstroke of gettting eBay shippers to primarily use USPS and on top of that use one of the more expensive shipping options means huge profit increases for the USPS. Now instead of sending letters which must generate very little profit they ship more packages with a better margin.

Re:So?.. (1)

pkulak (815640) | about 8 years ago | (#15831903)

Amazon ships all their free shipping that way. And I have about 5 CDs a week shipped to me courtesy of Half.com on USPS.

Phishing will push it even further (4, Insightful)

arivanov (12034) | about 8 years ago | (#15830397)

I have an extremely entertaining conversation with one UK bank at the moment.

The clowns insist on using snail mail to reply to mails sent using their "secure" webmail. They have stated that they do not send emails to customers as a matter of policy and they are forced to stick to it even if this means filling Royal Mail coffers.

As e-commerce grows there will be more and more cases like this until the end-users start to actively use encrypted/signed email and banks start to require this for communicating with them.

Re:Phishing will push it even further (2, Interesting)

silvwolf (103567) | about 8 years ago | (#15830512)

The company I have my 401k (retirement plan) with lets me send them "email" through a web form, then sends me a confirmation that my message went through via email. When they reply, I get an informational message via email telling me to login to the website to read the message.

Re:Phishing will push it even further (2, Interesting)

AceJohnny (253840) | about 8 years ago | (#15830612)

Could you elaborate a little further? Because with your short description, I can see the sense of the bank's position of preferring snail-mail to encrypted/signed email. Technically, encrypted/signed e-mail is a valid system, but so is snail-mail. Snail-mail has the advantage that it requires nothing extra to be installed from the consumer, who is already used to receiving smail from the bank. Furthermore, it'll cost more for a phisher (why do you think spam and phishing are so prevalent in e-mail and not in snail-mail? Because the costs to the sender are negligeable in e-mail)
Sure, encryption (by which I mean encryption or signing, mostly through the OpenPGP standard) is accepted and common in techy and specialized circles. But then, I work in a large technology corporation, surrounded by engineers and where industrial secrets are important, and even here encyption use is marginal (maybe slowed by the administrative hassle of declaring your key, granted).
I've long since dropped the idea of getting my parents or siblings to use encryption for sensitive communication. Sure, I've spooked them enough with the horror stories, but they just haven't caught on, despite me leveling the terrain.
What's worse, if they *had* caught on to using the tools, I'm 100% certain that they won't pay attention to the signature of a forged e-mail from the bank. "Oh, the signature changed. Meh, they must've updated".
Remember, don't mistake your values with those of the General Populace.

Y'know, those who prefer security to liberty...

Re:Phishing will push it even further (1)

drsquare (530038) | about 8 years ago | (#15830723)

Banking is important. Imagine they're trying to send you an important message but your computer is broken or you've reached your ISP's monthly quota. This is why snail mail is important.

Re:Phishing will push it even further (1)

twistedsymphony (956982) | about 8 years ago | (#15831344)

Maybe your ISP cut you off because there were insufficent funds to pay last months bill... The bank sent you an email to notifiy you of the problem but...

duh! (4, Informative)

Shivetya (243324) | about 8 years ago | (#15830400)

First class mail isn't where the money is, especially home delivery.

If they could they would not even deliver on weekends. Hell they could save money by delivering fewer days. My Aunt and cousin are Postmasters. Home delivery is the big expense.

If it wasn't for filler (all that junk mail) first class postage would be even higher. Its still the best deal for getting something to someone.

Sig Reply (1)

indifferent children (842621) | about 8 years ago | (#15830705)

* Winners compare their achievments to their goals, losers compare theirs to that of others. * ARMONK, NY - Aug. 8,

So if you set unambitious goals and meet them, you're a winner. If you are the best ___________ shop on the planet and fail to meet really ambitious goals, then you're a loser. This sounds like especially unenlightened management-speak.

By this metric, GW Bush is a winner and may be our best President ever. He has accomplished a great many of his goals. And those historians who compare him to the other Presidents and say that he may be our worst President ever...losers. Sorry, no sale.

Re:Sig Reply (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15830804)

History doesn't know yet, and your opinion is far too insignificant at this stage to have any impact.

Re:Sig Reply (1)

servognome (738846) | about 8 years ago | (#15831721)

By this metric, GW Bush is a winner and may be our best President ever. He has accomplished a great many of his goals. And those historians who compare him to the other Presidents and say that he may be our worst President ever...losers. Sorry, no sale.

Let's compare what he has done to some of the great presidents:
1. Gotten us into an unpopular war - Lincoln
2. Violated the rights of American citizens - Lincoln, FDR
3. Racked up a huge national debt - FDR
4. Pursued an expansionist policy - Jefferson

I'm not saying Bush is a great president (personally I strongly disagree with his policies), but you can't judge the historical significance of people and events during their time.

Re:duh! (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | about 8 years ago | (#15831037)

First class mail isn't where the money is, especially home delivery.

Huh. I guess unfortunately for the USPS, I send a lot of small items by first class, in a DVD-sized box. I know people whine about the cost of mail whenever prices go up, but frankly, USPS is a bargain. As you say, the cost of getting to the home is a lot. Not only is UPS and FedEx more expensive, you have to pay them a certain fee if you want them to stop every day, whether or not packages change hands on any given day.

the Post Office is profitable in every category (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15831111)

The last 2 cent raise from 37 to 39 was not for USPS revenue, it was a general tax that went into the general fund for Congress to spend. There's another raise to 43 cents scheduled June 2007, again as a general tax increase.

This is the first time this has been done, ever. It was fiscal conservative (!) George Shrub who did this. He's spending money like a drunken social worker, and it's OK with his war-monger worshippers.

Junk, that is Standard, Mail is immensely profitable. With processing by Mailers+4 (hint:money making opportunity for a sharp programmer), it goes on a pallet, is machine sorted, and isn't touched again by a human until it's popped into your box. That's about 15 cents gross profit per piece.

USPS delivers more in one day than FedEx and UPS and all others do in a whole year. By rights, First Class should be about 30 cents.

Profit... (3, Interesting)

PinkyDead (862370) | about 8 years ago | (#15830434)

..is about minimising your fixed costs while maximising your variable returns.

Ok - IANAE (economist) and IANAPM (postman) - but this is probably a reasonable simplification.

With the postal service, fixed costs are about delivering a single item, where as high variable returns come from large packages. With the decline of letters and such (due to e-mail etc), and the concurrent increase in parcels (due to online shopping) - how could they not make better returns.

If a postal service is making losses and is in decline (as a number are in Europe), I would suggest that they should stop looking at environmental factors, start modernising their organizations and provide a service that complements the needs of their 21st century customer.

Re:Profit... (1)

Moridin42 (219670) | about 8 years ago | (#15830590)

Err... fixed costs are, well, fixed. That means you owe them regardless of how much business you do. Or even if you open for business in a time period or not.

Being able to turn more profits on packages doesn't terribly surprise me, though. When I have a game shipped from FacelessCorporateVGRetailer.com, they pack it in a box. I'm sure the box with the game generates less revenue than an equivilent volume of letters. But the box is also less dense. It also only has to be sorted once (per facility?), whereas the volume of letters would have dozens or hundreds of sort operations.

Re:Profit... (1)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | about 8 years ago | (#15830603)

..is about minimising your fixed costs while maximising your variable returns.

Ok - IANAE (economist) and IANAPM (postman) - but this is probably a reasonable simplification.

With the postal service, fixed costs are about delivering a single item, where as high variable returns come from large packages. With the decline of letters and such (due to e-mail etc), and the concurrent increase in parcels (due to online shopping) - how could they not make better returns.

If a postal service is making losses and is in decline (as a number are in Europe), I would suggest that they should stop looking at environmental factors, start modernising their organizations and provide a service that complements the needs of their 21st century customer.


Well, a bit too much simplification. Profit is about minimizing total costs while maximizing revenue.

Fixed vs variable comes in when you decide wether to continue an operatoin or shut it down - i.e if continuing to operate loses less money than shuting down (i.e. my revenue covers my variable costs and some of my fixed) it makes more snese operate assuming you see profits at some point in the future. This is why airlines keep operating even when they are losing money - they lose less than if they stopped flying do to the high fixed costs of the airplanes. OTOH, if your variable costs are high and fixed are low, you cease operating when business is bad and start back when it is good - such as seasonal service operations like say an ice cream stand.

The marginal cost of delivering one more letter from the post office to the house is small - so any increase in volume is generally good. The advantage the post office has is they run a fixed, predictable route - so they can deliver the odd package to your house for less than other services who need to make a special trip that they can't reliably plan for in advance (which is why home dleivery is more expensive); the USPS is driving by your door already whether or not they stop. If you aren't home and teh package requires a second delivery to get a signature they are going to be back tomorrow anywhy so the marginal cost of taht second stop is small. They can still reduce costs by cutting Saturday delivery since they have no real servcie guarantee so stopping a run saves gas / vehicle wear and tear and payroll (assuming they don't have to pay the carrier the same salary) while not reducing revenue (they still get the letter to deliver two days later) raising their profitability.

While improving servcie would be nice, they really don't have to since no one can compete with them for the day to day delivery of non-speed sensitive materials.

Of course, now I have over simplified...

Re:Profit... (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | about 8 years ago | (#15832324)

I don't think your correct about the margin being that much higher on packages. Where the money really is, is with pre-sorted, barcoded, mass mailings.

The discount that's given on presorted mail is substantial, but the cost savings to the USPS of all that presorting is even more than the discount; thus they make more money on it. When you do a mass mailing, in order to get the best rate you basically have to presort the mail all the way down (in some cases) to the ZIP+4 or even down below that to the carrier/route level. All the postal service has to do at that point is take the whole sack or bundle and transport it to the end post office, and actually deliver it (which they're doing anyway). All the time-consuming sorting is done. That's their milk and honey.

Packages are a pain because they're tough to automate, particularly when you let people just hand-write the address on. (And don't do what UPS does, which is require a machine-printed, barcoded address label, or charge $5 for reading a hand-written one.) With envelopes at least you can run them through mechanical systems to read the front of the mailpiece and try to determine the address (and failing that, send the image to a human being for interpretation), large packages and irregularly sized mailpieces take a lot of manual labor to get through the system, and require much more expensive sorting equipment (meaning that you have to have more centralized "hubs" for sorting). Not to mention that heavy packages are much more sensitive to variable costs (particularly fuel) while you can pack enough letters onto a truck to make them more dependent on fixed costs. When you have a rate structure that's difficult to change (i.e. you can't just tack on a "Fuel Surcharge" like UPS does), package delivery gets even riskier as a major line of business.

I think you're correct in that the USPS needs to look hard at what's being delivered today, and what's going to move to electronic "delivery" in the future and what's going to remain physical. But right now, they're basically in the letter-delivery business, with a sideline into packages that's probably a lot less profitable. (Or only made profitable because they're already moving large volumes of stuff around, so they can afford to take the packages along for the ride.) The USPS would have to fundamentally alter a lot of its operations if it was to become a package carrier similar to UPS or DHL.

The Royal Mail knows this (5, Interesting)

Don_dumb (927108) | about 8 years ago | (#15830441)

That is why they are just about to change the postal charges for packages to include the size of the object as well as the weight. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/5231576.stm [bbc.co.uk] Previously they only charged based on weight.

i can see it now (1)

polar red (215081) | about 8 years ago | (#15830467)

Postal services around the world buying loads and loads of mailservers just for driving internet usage ... I'll go check my spam-filter now.

How many are A-O-Hell CD shipments? (0)

jkrise (535370) | about 8 years ago | (#15830489)

That's the big question... I guess Viagra and Service Packs would be fairly equal in terms of shipments, and together, they should account for 90% of the non-AOL-CD shipments.

Sounds like a similar story to the UK... (5, Interesting)

Xest (935314) | about 8 years ago | (#15830490)

The story on the old rumour mill over here was that Amazon was almost single handedly responsible for saving the royal mail in the UK due to the massive increase in revenue it brought with postage of larger packages.

Personally, I don't beleive Amazon would've single handedly saved it, but no doubt it contributed alongside all the other online retailers. I think it'll only get better for postal services and couriers too, it's the high street that should be (Well, "is" rather than "should be" in most cases) worrying as people shift from a culture of high street shopping to having everything delivered by mail.

eBay saved USPS! (0)

thealsir (927362) | about 8 years ago | (#15830495)

thank eBay :P

and I always love how people thought that email would mean the demise of the post office; you can't attach furniture to an email message.

Re:Or Netflix (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15830541)

Too many people on eBay use UPS. Netflix has 5 million subscribers and only uses USPS.

Re:eBay saved USPS! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15830933)

Ballmer is working on it.

Gee... duh! (2, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | about 8 years ago | (#15830516)

I mean, even before the advent of emails, who wrote a letter unless he ABSOLUTELY had to? Instead, people called or, if it had to be written, they faxed it. Simply because of the speed difference.

Re:Gee... duh! (1)

Achoi77 (669484) | about 8 years ago | (#15830981)

I mean, even before the advent of emails, who wrote a letter unless he ABSOLUTELY had to? Instead, people called or, if it had to be written, they faxed it. Simply because of the speed difference.


Heh, I wonder if people thought about the telephone system making the postal service obsolete when they first started coming into use a hundred years ago. But I suppose the world was too large for technology to have an immediate impact then. :-P

To quote a famous man... (5, Insightful)

MWelchUK (585458) | about 8 years ago | (#15830591)

"When one door closes another door opens; but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us."
- Alexander Graham Bell

It seems the post office are one of the few places that have found another open door rather than litigating to have the closed door forced open.

Re:To quote a famous man... (1)

Moridin42 (219670) | about 8 years ago | (#15830624)

They didn't really find another open door. They're still moving stuff from point A to point B by way of points C-F.

The door didn't really close. Just the crap they drag through is different. Or rather, the distribution of small, flat crap is down and bulky crap with pesky, ignored instructions* is up.

* (This end up, Fragile)

Re:To quote a famous man... (1)

Tim C (15259) | about 8 years ago | (#15830679)

It's the same door, it's just different people walking through it.

Your analogy would be closer if the music industry had litigated to keep people using cassettes, rather than moving to CDs.

Re:To quote a famous man... (1)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | about 8 years ago | (#15830820)

It seems the post office are one of the few places that have found another open door rather than litigating to have the closed door forced open.

Or, litigating to have another door closed, forcing the public to open the first door.

Re:To quote a famous man... (1)

sanyasi (900484) | about 8 years ago | (#15830866)

The RIAA isnt legislating to force open the original door, but rather, litigate the other door shut.

That's because... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15831797)

the other door isn't a door at all, it's people sneaking in through the lavatory window and making off with the product.

Postcrossing (3, Informative)

avij (105924) | about 8 years ago | (#15830605)

This is probably rather insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but projects like Postcrossing [postcrossing.com] wouldn't exist if people weren't able to send post cards via snail mail, so at least in this case Internet has increased snailmail usage. Check out that site if you're interested in sending postcards to random people all over the world. It's rather weird, but I'm told it's an interesting hobby.

So postage stamp prices will be coming back down (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15830643)

Right?

Re:So postage stamp prices will be coming back dow (1)

Zippy_wonderslug (990892) | about 8 years ago | (#15831153)

Sure, postage will come back down right after oil drops to about $30/barrel, healthcare costs follow suit, everyone decides that we want to live on a commune and share wages.

Problem is, everyone wants to make more money, have health insurance, and all the other ammenities of modern life. So in order to keep those postal employees, the USPS, BPO, Australian Post, and all the others have to raise their rates to offset the costs.

At least with this latest rate increase that the USPS is announcing, they are offering ways to reduce the postage. If you are a mailer that routinely sends flat mail (not folded in any way) you will pay a higher rate per ounce than if you send a half fold or a tri fold. This is because of the sorting equipment that is used, flats have a number of different sizes that they can be so the sorting equipment has to operate much more slowly than a 6x9 envelope that will only be a certain thickness and a general area where the addresses will be.

mo3 down (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15830668)

aas of them all, the project is in Things I still believe their

USPS Ranked Most Trusted (3, Interesting)

digitaldc (879047) | about 8 years ago | (#15830670)

Interesting to note that a survey was done recently of the most trusted Government branches/offices/operations and the USPS was ranked #1. This is in direct contrast to the Executive Branch of government.

http://www.directmag.com/news/usps-022306/index.ht ml [directmag.com]

.... at protecting people's privacy concerns (1)

Chmcginn (201645) | about 8 years ago | (#15831703)

The survey was specificly about privacy concerns, not quality of service or anything else.

UK (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15830715)

I'm convinced the only thing keeping the British Post Office running is eBay.

Old news (0, Offtopic)

TwelveInches (976724) | about 8 years ago | (#15830759)

This news is so old I am confident they must have mailed it into Slashdot, otherwise it would have been posted months ago. Seriously, The Economist had an article on this phenomenon months ago.

Not only packages... (1, Funny)

Lars T. (470328) | about 8 years ago | (#15830854)

don't forget invoices, letters from lawyers etc.

Re:Not only packages... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15831085)

Why is this... funny? He made a good point. It should be insightful, if anything. Funny?

Of course... (1)

E++99 (880734) | about 8 years ago | (#15830855)

Of course if the USPS didn't have a government-sponsered letter monopoly to use to gouge the letter-sending public, they couldn't ship packages below cost to undercut UPS and FedEx, and then no one would use those bums for anything.

Re:Of course... (1)

idobi (820896) | about 8 years ago | (#15830971)

The USPS is a self-sustaining company, which in 2005 recieved $37 million from the federal government - which paid for sending congressional mail.

Email Tax? (2, Funny)

TheRhino (87111) | about 8 years ago | (#15830905)

Does this mean they'll be repealing the email tax I've been hearing about?

The figures can lie. (1)

Drewsonian (944980) | about 8 years ago | (#15830911)

They make more revenue, but they've also raised the price of postage several times in the past 5 years.

Maybe this is the real story:
Less mail, higher charges = more money for USPS

Re:The figures can lie. (1)

raehl (609729) | about 8 years ago | (#15831099)

They make more revenue, but they've also raised the price of postage several times in the past 5 years.

1) But not much out of line with inflation.
2) If you don't like it, use their competitors.
3) Apply some common sense. 1st class mail delivery is really not profitable. It's more of a government mandated service USPS is required to provide that they really don't make money on. Delivering packages using an existing shipping network, however, is very profitable - the USPS makes a much, much higher margin on priority mail and express mail deliveries than it does first class mail.

Losing volume on items that wern't profitable for you in the first place in exchange for increased volume in items that are profitable for you will obviously lead to more profit.

Re:The figures can lie. (1)

dapyx (665882) | about 8 years ago | (#15831201)

Of course, you should also take in account the price hike of fuel in the last five years...

Re:The figures can lie. (1)

Drewsonian (944980) | about 8 years ago | (#15831330)

Both true. Didn't think of those angles.

EBay (1)

jackbird (721605) | about 8 years ago | (#15830944)

Yesterday I got a postcard from the US Postal Service advertising free "how to sell stuff on EBay" seminars to be held at the local post office.

Silly (1)

Primis (71749) | about 8 years ago | (#15830953)

If this were the case, why has postage gone up so much in just the past 10 years?

Oh they're hurting all right. Maybe if they developed betetr QoS themselves, they wouldn't be in this bind.

Re:Silly (2, Insightful)

KarmaMB84 (743001) | about 8 years ago | (#15831537)

Inflation + fuel prices + Congress telling them they must put billions into escrow...

And, yet... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15831081)

...the government wants to tax the hell out of e-Commerce. Way to cut off your nose to spite you face, assholes.

Spam/junkmail (1)

bano (410) | about 8 years ago | (#15831124)

I think with the advent of spam, The junk mailers realize they have to send out more of their filth to keep their market share of ripping off old people, and annoying the rest of the general population. This probably makes up and more for the loss of general letters and bills comming thru the mail system. I wish unsolicited mail(both regular and electronic) was illegal much like faxspam.
While I'm ranting on junk mail, I would also like to bitch about the douche that throws the free papers in my yard twice a week, and the people that send me phonebooks every 3 months. Phonebooks should be strictly opt-in, I think a majority of people have found better ways to find the information that is normally gotten from the 10lbs of advertising ladend crap they so graciously dump on my doorstep every 90ish days.

Revenue has Increased (1)

lys1123 (461567) | about 8 years ago | (#15831367)

*Slaps Forehead*

So THAT'S why they keep having to raise the price of a stamp. Uh, wait...

USPS needs to become more shipper-friendly. (3, Interesting)

argent (18001) | about 8 years ago | (#15831377)

There's bunches of online vendors I do business with who I have to use paypal with (if they support it) because they will only ship to my billing address and won't ship to a PO box, and I have my mail sent to a PO box because I've had too much trouble with material sent to my street address going missing.

I don't know what the underlying reasons that they only use Fedex or UPS are, I just now they're pretty damn pervasive, and I wish the USPS would make them unnecessary.

USPS is also doing a great job... (1)

csoto (220540) | about 8 years ago | (#15831384)

particularly at using those very same information systems to both improve their services and availability. Have you been to a post office with an automated postal center? They're amazingly easy to use and convenient! A number of commercial sites that would have used UPS or Fedex in the past have used USPS, and I notice no decline in service. In fact, our postal carriers are among the most friendly people that visit our house. They're always helpful.

I think USPS has only USPS to thank for its improved outlook.

Re:USPS is also doing a great job... (1)

goodcow (654816) | about 8 years ago | (#15831471)

Funny, the post office literally two doors down from me (in Manhattan) always has horrendous lines which I've called four times now to complain about, and an Automated Postal Center which is broken half the time I go in there.

To compound things, the APC won't let you send packages via Media Mail anymore, apparently because people were using it to scam the USPS sending non-media items at highly redcued prices, so I have to wait in that horrible line just so a postal employee can stamp it Media Mail without even verifying the box's contents anyway.

Not to mention proper internet integration (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 8 years ago | (#15831612)

The postal centers are awesome, but what is even more awesome is that you can access all of those features online as well and just pre-print your postage before you even leave the house - no need to stand in line then. Not to mention the awesome integration with PayPal and eBay.

Re:Not to mention proper internet integration (1)

csoto (220540) | about 8 years ago | (#15831862)

Yes, right. I wasn't merely suggesting the APCs were the only good innovation. Rather, they've become a tight ship such that commercial businesses can depend on them for their livelihoods. Information systems (bar codes, JIT transactions, etc.) are at the heart of this resurgence.

Re:USPS is also doing a great job... (1)

andrewman327 (635952) | about 8 years ago | (#15831725)

The enhanced technology doesn't stop at the APC. See that barcode on all of yoru incoming mail? It is designed to speed up the service by reducing the amount of human handling that occurs. Technology has revolutionized the Postal Service.

In a word, eBay (1)

Spacejock (727523) | about 8 years ago | (#15831630)

The internet opened up everyone's junk closet to the world, and we all pay the post office to shift it. They may be losing regular letter postage to email, but parcel mail must be more profitable.

Besides.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15831689)

Its really hard to go postal using E-mail....

amazon (1)

paughsw (620959) | about 8 years ago | (#15831989)

amazon has made usps rich

So if they're making more profit from parcels... (1)

JustNiz (692889) | about 8 years ago | (#15832211)

why can't they stop stuffing everyone's mailboxes with tons of advertising that no-one reads.

Now all we need is the teleporters.. (1)

pjr.cc (760528) | about 8 years ago | (#15832271)

USPS can make a bomb on shipping peoples teleporters around, then complain about how they're going to go out of buisness..
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