No doubt you've heard about the new service standards being rolled out by the US Postal Service - starting October 1.  The big headline take-aways - taken directly from the announcement made by the USPS - is that they are "lengthening delivery time" and implementing "new price increases".

But how will that affect you?  What impacts can you expect to see from the changes that are part of the 10-year plan to "overhaul the agency " and try to "tackle massive debt"?

First - here's more details about what the program is aiming to accomplish.  The Delivering For America plan announced by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy is a way to address both the positives and the drawbacks associated with mail delivery in America.  But it's plans to "lengthen delivery timetables", "reduce post office hours", and - overall - raise prices - has come with controversy.

The problem stems from the changing ways that Americans utilize their postal service:

"Every hour, an average of 17.7 million mail pieces are processed and delivered by the Postal Service, a portion of which are packages from online retailers like Amazon.  But there's been a massive decline in the volume of first-class mail like letters, cards, and bills as Americans rely more and more on electronic payments and communication."

At the same time, the US Postal Service is seeing competition for some of these (seemingly) outlier delivery services.  "[T]he agency is struggling to match the quick delivery of competitors like UPS, FedEx, and even Amazon itself, which has its own delivery network".

January 28, 2009 in San Lorenzo, California.
Justin Sullivan

The Delivering For America aims to meet the changing marketplace, changing lifestyles, and increased competition head-on.  The set-up includes the background information about the US Postal Service (in operation for more than 240 years), boasting "one of the best last-mile delivery networks in the world", with a reach that is "unparalleled - delivering nearly half of global mail volume, and goods and services to more than 160 million addresses across the country".

Here's a fact that many don't realize about the US Postal Service:  Nine-nine percent of the population in the United States lives within 10 miles of a Post Office.  Additionally - unlike private carriers, the US Postal Service has to provide delivery service to each and every property owner's address in the country; when some of the private carriers delivery zone doesn't quite meet a customers address, they usually end up turning to to the US Postal Service to pick up the pieces and make the delivery for them.

Close up of a stack of old, us letters with postage stamps.

So back to the question:  How will the announced slowdown of USPS services affect you?  In general, "[c]ostlier or erratic mail delivery could lead to delays in wedding invitations, birthday cards, unemployment checks, mail-in ballots, or [even] Child Tax Credit payments." Here's a breakdown:

  • First-Class Mail and Package deliveries:  The USPS says that 39% of mail will now be delivered in three to five days, depending on the distance between origin and destination.  The rest (61% of mail) will be unaffected and will be delivered in one to two days.
  • First-Class Package Service: 32% of these packages will now be delivered in four to five days.  The remainder (68% of packages) will still be delivered according to the previous timetable of two to three days.
  • Periodicals/Magazines/Newspapers:  Only 9% of publications will now be delivered in up to five days; 93% will be delivered - as per usual - in two days or less.

Speaking generally, those most-affected by the delivery changes will be USPS customer shipping coast-to-coast (i.e. say New York to Los Angeles) or customers who have mail going to Alaska or Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and US territories that rely on air transportation.

staff photo
staff photo

As far as the price increases go, some of those already were introduced to customers a month or so ago. On August 29, the cost of a First-Class stamp went from 55 to 58 cents.  Additionally, "other First-Class standard-size mail and large envelopes - including presorted letters like bills and statements, and newspapers and magazines has a price increase, as did media mail such as books".

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There's also one more price increase that has many USPS customers talking:  the temporary price increase that's been applied to commercial and retail domestic package shipments for the 2021 fall and holiday season - effected October 3 through December 26.  That increase "range[s] from, 25 cents to $5 per package on priority mail. priority mail express, and first-class package service".

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