DailyDirt: The U.S. Postal Service

from the urls-we-dig-up dept

The U.S. Postal Service hasn't been doing well for a while now. Even though it achieved its first revenue increase in five years, it still lost $5 billion in fiscal year 2013. This marks the seventh consecutive year of losses for the USPS, which lost a record $15.9 billion last year. Part of the reason is that people just aren't sending as much mail these days. Why send a physical letter when you can send a message online? The Postal Service's most profitable product, first-class mail delivery, has been going down -- mail volume peaked in 2000 and has decreased by almost a third since then. On the brighter side, it seems that people are buying more things online now, and the USPS's package volume has been on the rise. As the Postal Service struggles to survive, it will be interesting to see how it adapts to the changing economy in the coming years. Here are a few links to some things about the USPS that you may not know. If you'd like to read more awesome and interesting stuff, check out this unrelated (but not entirely random!) Techdirt post via StumbleUpon.


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  1.  
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    Basil Forthrightly (profile), Nov 20th, 2013 @ 5:24pm

    USPS has a handicap

    The Postal Service has a financial handicap though no other business has; by law they have to pre-pay 75 years of pension health benefits.

    See
    http://business.time.com/2013/02/07/how-healthcare-expenses-cost-us-saturday-postal-deli very/

     

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  2.  
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    silverscarcat (profile), Nov 20th, 2013 @ 5:24pm

    Sunday Mail?!

    YES! I want!

    Why?

    Because I'm always checking my mail box to see if I got mail.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 20th, 2013 @ 5:46pm

    Also, the USPS will be partnering with more retailers like Staples. Hope deals like that keep the USPS afloat for a bit longer.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 20th, 2013 @ 6:11pm

    Re: USPS has a handicap

    Prior to this unnecessary and egregious legislation (https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/109/hr6407) the USPS was in the black, by a significant margin.

    This fact is often not mentioned in articles and posts which bemoan the trials and tribulations of the USPS - even though it is by far the most significant contributor to the present financial condition of the USPS.

    Why is this?

    Typically, I assume it is due to bias on the part of the writer and is intentional. This can be attributed to either ignorance or outright malevolence, there really is no in between.

    So - I gotta ask ... why did the OP omit this tidbit from their post?

     

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  5.  
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    Nick (profile), Nov 20th, 2013 @ 6:17pm

    Re: USPS has a handicap

    This. Exactly this. Stop blaming the Post Office's "seventh straight year of red ink" on "less letters being written" and blame it entirely on an arbitrary law passed by congress that REQUIRES the Postal Service to pre-fund, within the next 10 years, retirement benefits it would have to pay out for the next 75 years.

    In other words, it has to expect to pay out benefits to an employee it may gain 5 years down the road that retires in 30 years and have enough funding on-hand to pay for 40 years of his retirement.

    It's a good idea for companies to have retirement obligations paid for, but 75 years is WAY too far forward looking, 10 years is too short a time to gather it all up, and people should not forget why this is happening.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 20th, 2013 @ 6:27pm

    USPS has a handicap
    The Postal Service has a financial handicap though no other business has; by law they have to pre-pay 75 years of pension health benefits.

    See
    http://business.time.com/2013/02/07/how-healthcare-expenses-cost-us-saturday-postal-deli very/

    Re: USPS has a handicap
    Prior to this unnecessary and egregious legislation (https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/109/hr6407) the USPS was in the black, by a significant margin.

    This fact is often not mentioned in articles and posts which bemoan the trials and tribulations of the USPS - even though it is by far the most significant contributor to the present financial condition of the USPS.

    Why is this?

    Typically, I assume it is due to bias on the part of the writer and is intentional. This can be attributed to either ignorance or outright malevolence, there really is no in between.

    So - I gotta ask ... why did the OP omit this tidbit from their post?

    The reason the Post Office was required to put money into the retirement account is that it had not been funding the account at a sufficient level to cover it's obligations.

    Another area of diminished income can be attributed to discounts of services to favored patrons.

    Why has no one mentioned the postal union as part of the problem.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 20th, 2013 @ 6:32pm

    Post offices were only open on Sunday, mail was not delivered back then the way we know mail delivery today.

    The reason Post Offices were closed on Sundays was a result of the Anti Alcohol fight of the time.

     

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  8. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
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    out_of_the_blue, Nov 20th, 2013 @ 6:43pm

    USPS is a PRIVATE CORPORATION, so BOO-HOO!

    The already mentioned unique burden of paying for future retirees as required by legislation is probably actually to ensure are losses for tax advantages to its wealthy owners. In any case, don't weep for them: if can't make a profit with a legislated monopoly, let the private corporation fail! -- So long as the losses ARE actually private -- and then re-institute it as the Constitutional PUBLIC UTILITY, perhaps with significant control over ALL parcels. (By the way, "Federal Parcel Service" is yet another corporate lie in the name.)

    In my day, every little town had a post office that provided a link to rest of the country, and typically subsidized a grocery so one didn't have to drive tens of miles to get highly processed "food" from the one giant corporation. Them days was BETTER, kids. -- Civilization isn't just to have a few highly "efficient" corporations concentrating wealth: it's to provide FAIRNESS for all.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 20th, 2013 @ 7:22pm

    Re: USPS is a PRIVATE CORPORATION, so BOO-HOO!

    By this demented thinking, all businesses should be saddled with the next 75 years of retirement payments. I am actually ok with that, as long as it is for everyone -- all business of any size or profitability.

    But to say only one has this huge burden and "why aren't they profitable with a FUCKING MONOPOLEEEZE!?!?!?!" is dumb beyond all belief. They don't get to decide their charges, otherwise they certainly would be profitable. They don't get to implement new ideas in case they "compete".

    It's a farce.

     

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    Guardian, Nov 20th, 2013 @ 7:26pm

    4 years after postal service was on WW1

    so 2017 is world war 3

     

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  11.  
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    ECA (profile), Nov 20th, 2013 @ 7:37pm

    Re: USPS has a handicap

    .1 USPS is faster delivery on mail and most packages...3 days.
    2. CHEAPER then UPS.. you can send 6lbs for around $8.
    3. USPS was NOT designed as a FOR PROFIT, business..

    If they would charge MORE for the bills and SPAM I get in my mail box, they could earn GOOD money. BUT, that is Presorted BULK mail, and deserves a cut rate..
    TRY sending BULK mail with UPS..

    I THINK that the USPS should start its only ONLINE mail service.

     

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  12.  
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    ECA (profile), Nov 20th, 2013 @ 7:41pm

    Re: USPS is a PRIVATE CORPORATION, so BOO-HOO!

    the USPS was not setup to be a FOR PROFIT BUSINESS..
    you want to PAY for your mail..goto UPS. $25 to get your package in 5-7 business days...
    USPS can deliver a 6lb package for $8 in 3.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 20th, 2013 @ 7:49pm

    Re:

    "The reason the Post Office was required to put money into the retirement account is that it had not been funding the account at a sufficient level to cover it's obligations."

    I call bullshit. Where are your facts to substantiate your claims?

    The USPS pension fund is over funded, in accordance with the standards set forth in all other private and public enterprise in the US. Just look around at the various pieces written about this debacle, the evidence is quite clear if you want to find it.



    "Why has no one mentioned the postal union as part of the problem."

    Unions are a perceived problem to the GOP, this is why they are attempting to destroy unions. It's an ill conceived endeavor to say the least. There has been plenty mentioned about this misguided GOP attack, perhaps you missed it because it was not shouted loud enough for you to hear it underneath your bridge.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 20th, 2013 @ 10:09pm

    it's another ploy to push out the unions just like hostess did

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 21st, 2013 @ 12:44am

    Australia post employee here:

    We see the reduction in traditional mail.
    We see the increase in 'eBay/ TVSN' parcels.
    We ride 110cc motorcycles, using a LOT less fuel than your vans.
    We deliver to any letterbox, as long as it's
    -on the edge of your property
    -your mail will fit
    -the damn thing isn't likely to slice our fingers off.

    We don't pick up mail, we just make sure there are more post boxes around.
    We do out best to make all our deliveries Mon to Fri, before 5pm
    We have two government granted monopolys:
    -charging 60c a standard letter while any rival must charge 3x that much.
    -our vehicles are allowed on footpaths.

    AND
    We turned a profit.


    Yes, we are maniacs on motorcycles.
    Yes, we are allowed to ride on the footpath while pushbikes are not.
    Yes, if your letterbox is 15cm across, we will fold a 16 cm item to fit it.
    Yes, if you're not answering your door, you will have to go pick up your 'essential' parcel at 4pm after we've finished with everyone else.

    and if you didn't want tyre marks on your lawn, you shouldn't leave your letterbox in the middle of it.

    US, why yo no turn profit?

     

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  16.  
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    anonymouse, Nov 21st, 2013 @ 2:44am

    Re: Re: USPS has a handicap

    Seriously, you want to link the fact that they were n the black in their pension reserves to the fact that they have to now have 75 years of cover for the staff that have not even been born yet.

    Ok ....I assume that this bias on your part to undermine reality is a part of some intentional attack on a system that is being heavily restricted from having any profits to grow itself and improve it's deliver infrastructure .
    This could be attributed to your ignorance or out right malevolence , there really is no in between.

    The fact that Politicians are just trying to create an environment where people would accept that the USPS needs to be privatized so they can get cheap shares and eventually just take the millions in funds that has been put into the pension system.

    If you cannot see this you are either part of the problem and should be shot or you are just being wilfully ignorant of the fact becasue you believe you will benefit from the fact that they are going to destroy the usps for no other reason than greed.

    See how easy that was to turn around and makes more sense actually.

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 21st, 2013 @ 5:42am

    Re: Re: Re: USPS has a handicap

    Ahhh - what ?

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 21st, 2013 @ 5:45am

    Re:

    Yes, but our maniacal politicians have gone postal.

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 21st, 2013 @ 7:01am

    Re:

    there are other comments addressing this.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 21st, 2013 @ 7:03am

    Re:

    maybe even with the evil socialist union spreading its evil and socalism everywhere, the post office's finacial problems are based off of congressional meddling and not evil socialist unions?

    you know, facts?

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 21st, 2013 @ 7:05am

    Re: Sunday Mail?!

    if there were beer and cards, you know you would be.

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 21st, 2013 @ 7:06am

    Re:

    How's your benefits package, Bruce?

     

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  23.  
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    ltlw0lf (profile), Nov 21st, 2013 @ 7:09am

    Re: Re: USPS has a handicap

    1 USPS is faster delivery on mail and most packages...3 days.

    USPS's tracking system, though improved, is still a joke. Unless you pay for the tracking number, good luck with tracking a package. With packages from the other two systems, I can go online and request a hold on the package, and for a couple bucks a year I can ask them to hold all my packages for that year. With USPS, the package ends up on my doorstep, and then soon after in the trunk of the local thief's car. If I didn't have cameras to catch the delivery and the theft, I'd never know it had been delivered. Fortunately, the police have the pictures, but unfortunately, they can't seem to nab the guy. I called USPS and asked if they could hold packages, and was told that I had to ask the sender to work with USPS to hold the package.

    2. CHEAPER then UPS.. you can send 6lbs for around $8.

    And here, you certainly get what you pay for. When UPS loses a package in the mail, they make every effort to find it, usually without your involvement. When USPS loses a package, if you purchased insurance, you make a claim with the insurance company. If no insurance, good luck. You have to go to the post office and file paperwork so they can place a trace on the package, and if you are lucky, they may find it. Having lost (and had packages stolen,) it is usually cheaper to pay more for UPS/FedEx and know that the package will get to its destination.

    I am not against the USPS, as they try hard, but some times trying hard just isn't enough.

    3. USPS was NOT designed as a FOR PROFIT, business..

    I kinda wish they were. Might make them better at dealing with the competitive pressures of doing business. Of course, doing so would result in loss of some of the less successful programs.

     

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    drewf (profile), Nov 21st, 2013 @ 8:04am

    USPS handicap

    More than the pensions, the real handicap for the USPS is the law governing its operation. It is my understanding that to protect private businesses like FEDEX from the USPS' 'advantages' the ability for the USPS to change its business to compete is seriously constrained. For example, it cannot simply eliminate unprofitable or decreasingly popular services nor can it simple raise its prices when it needs to.

    If the USPS were allowed to make money and govern its own business accordingly, even with the requirement to provide universal service, it could become a powerhouse that would dominate the private carriers. It has the biggest, most expansive logistics infrastructure in the country. The logistics business is on its way up, not down. If the USPS could freely leverage that infrastructure to introduce new products and eliminate unprofitable ones it would quickly crush its competition.

     

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  25.  
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    Andrew D. Todd, Nov 21st, 2013 @ 8:18am

    Realistic Pricing of First Class Postage

    I find that I use first-class mail to send checks, and occasionally, contracts, applications, tax returns, etc. That said, I am willing to pay postage on much the same scale as bank fees. Specifically, I have no objection whatever to a first-class "forever" stamp costing a dollar or so, and that would be enough to get the post office out of its financial hole. When I've spent the better part of the day filling out Form 1040, or something like that, do you think I am likely to complain about a small difference in the postage?

     

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  26.  
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    yankinwaoz (profile), Nov 21st, 2013 @ 10:57am

    Re: Realistic Pricing of First Class Postage

    I agree. I think I mail 6 letters a year now. So I think it is fine if I pay $1 a stamp.

    I also wish the USPS would drop Saturday service. This is left over from the days when phone calls were expensive and there was no email, etc.

    However, I think they should have a 7 day a week parcel delivery service. That makes more sense.

     

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  27.  
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    Barbara Richezza, Nov 21st, 2013 @ 12:07pm

    Postal advertisement

    I got an advertisement in the mail for Christmas stamps. It had a Jewish stamp muslim stamp but no Christian stamp. This offends me. You show a little house decorated for Christmas. Look at the beginning of Christmas This is Christ Birthday and you can't even acknowledge that.

     

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  28.  
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    Vanye (profile), Nov 21st, 2013 @ 12:50pm

    Re: Re: Re: USPS has a handicap

    In my experience, UPS tracking is also a joke. I ordered new phones from my cell provider on Tuesday. Tuesday night, they were listed as having been scanned for arrival at 6:11pm Eastern.

    The next updates were this morning, sometime between 11:30p when I went to bed, and 6:00 am when I got up. Sometime in that time frame, the package had shipped from Lexington, KY, to Wyoming, MI, where it was scanned for departure at 1:10 am, then arrived in Flint, MI at 3:10am.

    That's a 30+ hour block of time where there were no updates, yet apparently it placed on a truck, shipped to Michigan, unloaded then put on another truck.

    FedEX isn't any better.

     

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  29.  
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    Gwiz (profile), Nov 21st, 2013 @ 1:44pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: USPS has a handicap

    I had a UPS package (actually it was 1 of 6) being delivered from vendor that somehow got an incorrect zip code put on it. The other five showed up just fine, but I tracked that one as it circled Michigan for 3 days straight.

    Would have been more funny if my customer hadn't been so anxious for his product.

     

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  30.  
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    Rekrul, Nov 21st, 2013 @ 4:56pm

    Re: Re: USPS has a handicap

    2. CHEAPER then UPS.. you can send 6lbs for around $8.

    Unless you're sending it out of the country.

    I just mailed a 5lb package to Canada and it cost me $37.65. According UPS's web site, it would have cost me around $26 to ship it via UPS.

    I know where I'm going next time.

     

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  31.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 22nd, 2013 @ 12:15pm

    Re: USPS is a PRIVATE CORPORATION, so BOO-HOO!

    Correction for you, Blue: The USPS is a privatized federal service. It runs as a corporation, but receives the balance of its funding from Congress. Your tax dollars STILL at work.

     

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  32.  
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    Anonymous, Nov 22nd, 2013 @ 5:44pm

    Re: 4 years after postal service was on WW1

    One can only hope.

     

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  33.  
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    Stevo, Nov 23rd, 2013 @ 1:27pm

    3rd class issue

    I think one of their problems is trying to keep the same level of infrastructure and people by artificially increasing volumes to justify it via 3rd class mail.

    The type sold at very low cost to advertisers to mail to 95% of people on the mail carriers route. It is unsolicited mail. May be The only class of mail that doesn't require knowledge of the recipient name. And does require that the content be generic and not have personal correspondence.

    I believe if they got rid of this, and just ratcheted down the infrastructure and people as needed to deal with less first class mail incoming; and also using new tech and automation where it would help, they could tackle these monetary problems somewhat caused by lack of revenue.

    Creating a high volume unsolicited class of mail (3rd class aka Standard Mail) at a throwaway cost cheap enough for expectation of low single digit rate of reply is just shooting themselves in the foot while sticking their heads in the sand.

    http://stateimpact.npr.org/new-hampshire/2011/09/27/how-junk-mail-is-helping-to-prop-up-the-pos tal-service/

     

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  34.  
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    Moving, Apr 10th, 2014 @ 5:23am

    Moving

    Oh! its really a great offer. I think this post would be helpful for all. To promote the real estate business this post is much more effective. keep it up.Moving

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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