In a move that is surprising to, well, no one, the United States Postal Service is ceasing all Saturday delivery in an effort to stop hemorrhaging money.
From the AP (via Yahoo!):
Apparently trying an end-run around an unaccommodating Congress, the financially struggling U.S. Postal Service says it will stop delivering mail on Saturdays but continue to disburse packages six days a week.
In an announcement scheduled for later Wednesday, the service is expected to say the Saturday mail cutback would begin in August and could save $2 billion annually.
The move accentuates one of the agency’s strong points — package delivery has increased by 14 percent since 2010, officials say, while the delivery of letters and other mail has declined with the increasing use of email and other Internet services.
Under the new plan, mail would be delivered to homes and businesses only from Monday through Friday, but would still be delivered to post office boxes on Saturdays. Post offices now open on Saturdays would remain open on Saturdays.
I was seated next to a UPS executive on a flight recently and I asked him why the Postal Service had so much trouble competing with UPS and FedEx when they had the backing of the federal government. “Unions”, he said. He went on to say that while there were many factors that contributed to the woes of the USPS, the biggest one was the fact that unskilled Postal Service workers made much more than a comparable UPS or FedEx worker. If this is true, it’s no wonder why taxpayers keep getting a raw deal where the USPS is concerned. In any case, don’t expect to go to your mailbox on Saturday anymore.
I’m always up for union-bashing, but also keep in mind the USPS charges a lot less than UPS or FedEx. For instance, overnight delivery starts — starts! — around $40 at both UPS and FedEx, while the USPS charges $18.95.
USPS isn’t always cheaper, while UPS and FedEx provide better service and even deliver on weekends! Also, USPS is heavily subsidized by our tax money.
Well, I think that’s part of my point. Most of the time I’ve been really impressed with Priority Mail (2-day) and Express Mail (overnight) services, and I use them because they are way cheaper than UPS or FedEx. They do deliver on weekends, Saturday for no extra charge (unlike UPS) but they will even deliver Sunday, for an extra charge.
Now, obviously, they can charge less because they are subsidized by the government. I’m not sure how I feel about this. I enjoy paying lower rates for satisfactory services, but in principle, it’s not the government’s business to deliver the mail. I say this from the luxury of a densely populated urban area with about 5 UPS stores within easy access. If I lived out on the prairie somewhere, where it wasn’t profitable for UPS or FedEx to have a store, maybe that makes more of a case for government subsidized mail service. Then again, with the Internet being what it is, where you can print out postage from your home computer and schedule a UPS or FedEx pick up, maybe gov’t mail isn’t necessary anymore.