Sunday, June 23, 2024

Is the U.S. Postal Service going to survive?

June 19, 2021 by  
Filed under Money/Business, News, Politics, Weekly Columns

( I don’t know about you, but I spend too much time going through my mail. It was not mail I was expecting, but mail that only can be described as JUNK!

Just before I started to write this, I went through the mail that was delivered to my home in one day – 35 separate envelopes, and none of them was of any importance. No bills, no personal letters, nothing I had requested! It was all advertising and requests for donations to various organizations.

I had to go through them to be certain none was important and for another reason – believe it or not – many of these outfits enclose real currency in their mailings, and some even enclose valid checks!

Their rationale is a request to return the coins or bills – $1-dollar and $2-dollar bills – along with a larger donation to their cause. The same applies to the checks they send – endorse them and send them back with a donation.

I don’t have patience for that nonsense, but I check first because I don ‘t want to throw money away! I keep the coins and bills and deposit the checks in my bank account. I have two jars of what I call “free money,” and at this point I have no idea what it totals. I do know that one week, I deposited $17 dollars in free money in my bank account.


This is not to say I refrain from making donations to various charities, but the whole thing has gotten out of control. It appears that my mailing address has been shared with every charity out there. I made a donation to a religious group in Alaska once, and since then I’m inundated with mailings from every religious order and parish there, asking for donations.

I might add, I DO NOT send money to them.

Aside from the money angle, just the time it takes to go through the mail is out of control. A month ago, for some reason, I didn’t get any mail delivered. Given my history, that is virtually impossible as I have a street address and a post office box.

When I checked at the post office, it turned out my mail was, for some reason, being put on hold. I had nearly 200 pieces of mail waiting for me! Talk about bad service, and talk about a total waste of time going through all that junk.

Speaking of service, the ol’ Postal Service is getting less and less about service. My mail is being delivered later and later each day – now, after 5 p.m. and sometimes not at all till the next day.

I have gotten mail hand-delivered to the door that was ripped and torn and had tire tracks on it – and was told that was how it was mailed in the first place.

My post office no longer has a postmaster, so there is no one to whom to complain. That’s just the way it is. If you have a complaint, all you get is a shrug of the shoulders. So much for postal “service.”

I don’t know about you, but I remember when stamp prices were much lower than they are now. Who remembers the 3-cent stamps from the 1950s? I found some of them, along with penny post cards, as I went through some of my parents‘ belongings.

Stamp prices increased since then and now are about to undergo another increase. Forever stamps were introduced in 2007, and their value remains as they were when purchased.

But, overall prices are going up! Better stock up on those Forever stamps. Their value doesn’t change, and they’ll still be usable despite increases.

Right now, that Forever first-class stamp costs 55 cents.

As of Aug. 29, that price goes up to 59 cents, that’s a 5.5% increase. That price covers a one-ounce letter. Additional ounces cost 20 cents, but that won’t change, at least not yet.

Other rates will increase as well – metered letters from 51 cents to 53 cents.

Postcards go from 36 to 40 cents.

Outbound international letters from $1.20 to $1.30.

One-ounce flats from $1 to $l.16.

These are the announced increases, but they must be approved by the Postal Regulatory Commission first.

According to a May 28 statement from the USPS, the price hikes are just the first step to reverse a projected $160 billion in operating losses over the next decade.

There is widespread agreement that the ongoing financial troubles are the fault of the internet. Email and online business transactions have resulted in a huge financial hit to U.S. Postal Service income.

There’s no doubt this will not change, nor will it improve despite the increases in postage rates.

For a system that was established in 1792, the post office has endured the changes in communication and transportation – think The Pony Express – over the decades, and now it’s facing probably the most challenging obstacle – the internet. How and whether it survives, remains to be seen.

But there are still people who live far from a postal facility who need mail to deliver their personal information and medical supplies.

In addition to the competition from the internet, there are the various delivery services that have increased the package volumes dramatically.

There are threats to eliminate Saturday delivery and Special Delivery and indeed to shorten the daily delivery hours. Postmaster General Louis Dejoy has a plan to eliminate such problems, but he’s also laying off hundreds of management personal and looking at other ways to cut costs as he faces a $10 billion deficit this year.

Will it work? How and when? No one knows, but the bottom line, at this point, is that we should buy extra Forever stamps before the price goes up in August … and then keep your fingers crossed.

Columnist; Barbara Simpson

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