Mail delivery for many Americans will slow down from Friday, as part of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s plan to overhaul the U.S. Postal Service to cut costs. But critics say slower delivery standards could cause issues such as late delivery of invoices while further undermining public confidence in the USPS.
Almost 4 out of 10 pieces of first-class mail will see slower delivery, according to Paul Steidler, a senior researcher at the Lexington Institute and a postal service expert. This “means mail delivery will be slower than in the 1970s,” he said, calling DeJoy’s plan “disastrous.”
Starting October 1, the Postal Service’s current three-day delivery standard for first-class mail – letters, invoices, tax documents and more – will be delivered anywhere in the United States within five days. In other words, Americans should now expect letters and other mail to take up to five days to reach their destination, and vice versa.
The USPS will continue to have a two-day delivery standard for first-class, one-piece mail traveling to a local area, a USPS spokeswoman said, adding that the Postal Service had improved its standards. delivery in 2021.
“The Postal Service has shown consistent improvements across all categories of first class mail, marketing and recurring mail over the past seven months,” she said in an email to CBS MoneyWatch. “We have worked tirelessly to overcome the challenges of the recent storms and continue to recruit thousands of employees for the upcoming peak holiday season.”
But critics like Steidler say rural dwellers, people with disabilities and the elderly will feel the effects of the new mail delivery standards. “It is the less fortunate who will suffer the most,” he said. “Everything in American society is accelerating, it seems, with the exception of mail delivery – which will now slow down.”
People who pay their bills by mail and aren’t prepared for the change may have to pay late fees, for example, if their checks don’t arrive on time. Others may face longer delivery times for important documents such as tax forms or passports. The change could further undermine customer confidence in the U.S. Postal Service, which took a hit in 2020 when delivery delays hampered everything, fromto ballots, experts say.
$ 160 billion in projected loss
The USPS maintains that itsto wipe out an expected loss of $ 160 billion over the next decade. The effort is aimed at boosting revenue through an increase in parcel delivery and postage, with the latest postage increase going into effect in August.
But the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC), the federal regulator that oversees the USPS, asked earlier this year whether the Postal Service’s plan to slow delivery standards would save money.
“The reduction in service will only discourage the use of US Mail, which is not a formula for long-term financial health and stability,” said Christopher W. Shaw, author of the book at appear “First Class: The US Postal Service, Democracy and the Corporate Threat,” in an emailed statement.
On Friday, a bipartisan group of 40 lawmakers asked postmaster DeJoy for more information on consolidating 18 mail processing facilities, as part of his 10-year plan. In the October 1 letter, lawmakers question whether closing the facility “would further degrade the postal service as the peak holiday season approaches,” and result in job losses.
“We believe that at a minimum, these consolidations should be suspended until further information on the rationale and impact is made public,” wrote in the letter representatives including Suzan DelBene, a Democrat from Washington, and Mike Simpson, a Republican from Idaho.
Slower delivery for western states
Among the regions that will feel the most impact are western states like California and Nevada, as well as Florida, according to a Washington Post analysis of USPS delivery changes earlier this year. Other pockets across the country will also suffer from slower delivery times, according to an analysis by Steve Hutkins, a retired New York University professor who runs a blog called Save the Post Office.
Earlier this year, a group of 21 state attorneys general called on the PRC to reject the USPS plan to slow deliveries, calling it a “misguided effort” that would hurt election mail and mailing. essential documents such as passports. They also said the slowdown would have a disproportionate impact on the elderly, rural residents and people with disabilities.
The USPS said Monday that consumers should expect “a day or two of transit time” added for some first-class mail and magazines “traveling the greatest distances.”
“We will make better use of our trucks and our existing surface network to move mail, relying less on expensive air travel,” the agency said in a statement. “By improving service reliability and increasing efficiency, we can keep costs at reasonable levels and help keep postal rates affordable for our customers.”
This could help the USPS results, but consumers should be aware that their mail could take longer to reach their destinations – and that the change is permanent, unless Congress gets involved or the attorneys general. are suing the USPS, the experts said.
“When you lower standards, you perpetuate a downward vicious cycle,” Steidler said. “You tell people that you can take your time to deliver it. It makes people lose confidence in the mail.”