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AuctionBytes Blog
Covering auctions, collectibles and marketplace selling.

AuctionBytes Blog The AuctionBytes Blog has been giving a voice to online merchants since its launch in 2005. Named one of the world's top 30 blogs in 2008 by "Blogging Heroes." Weigh in with your thoughts on the joys and pitfalls of selling online.
Wed Sept 25 2013 15:49:11

Creative Ways the Postal Service Can Stop Losing Money?

By: Julia Wilkinson
Sponsored Link
I was driving back from, appropriately enough, dropping off a package at my local post office when I heard on the radio that the U.S. Postal Service is considering raising rates again; this time from 46 to 49 cents for a first-class letter stamp. Also, "the cost for each additional ounce of first-class mail would increase a penny to 21 cents while the price of mailing a postcard would rise by a cent, to 34 cents. The cost to mail a letter to an international destination would jump 5 cents to $1.15," according to the AP. But the hikes must be approved by the independent Postal Regulatory Commission; if they OK it, the  the new rates would become effective Jan. 26, 2014. But the thing I'm wondering is, are there other ways the U.S. Postal Service can get out of the red and into the black...creative ways, perhaps, that wouldn't necessarily involve rate hikes?



One thought I had was that the Postal Service could start selling to businesses postage stamps with company names or logos on them. These stamps could even celebrate some historical aspect of their business; for example, Levi Strauss could have an image of the oldest pair of jeans, or of founder Levi Strauss. Or Coca-Cola could have a picture of an old glass contour Coke bottle from 1917.

Of course, the Postal Service already offers people some freedom with their stamps; they can print pictures of themselves or family (or what have you) via PhotoStamps. And these cost from $5-$10 for a sheet. But these don't apparently seem to be plugging the holes in the Postal Service's budget.

But the business would in effect be subsidizing the stamps, and getting advertising from them. Would they sell? Well, that I don't know, but it could be started with one business on an experimental basis.

Are there other ways the Postal Service could save money? One article in the Baltimore Sun reported "Inspector General David C. Williams recommended that the Postal Service adopt a cohesive strategy for forging more public-private partnerships with businesses as a way of bringing needed cash into the system, which posted a $15.9 billion loss in 2012." One example of such a successful partnerships cited was  the long-term contract Maryland signed with Ports America to build a new container berth and to operate the port's Seagirt Marine Terminal.

However, a spokeswoman for the American Postal Workers Union, Sally Davidow, blamed the Postal Service's budget problems on Congress' requirement that the agency fund retirees' health benefits 75 years ahead, according to the article, and she said public-private partnerships are not the solution.

Why?  "It's really just a pretty way of saying "contracting out the Postal Service's operations,"" Davidow said.

She claimed such partnerships would invite businesses to "scoop up the profitable parts of the business while leaving behind such unprofitable services as delivery to rural areas," according to the piece. But I don't know that that's true. If Congress can't get the "75 year ahead" funding rejiggered, isn't it time to think, well, out of the box? (Sorry).

What do you think? Is there a solution to the U.S. Postal Services woes that might make businesses and consumers happy, and the Postal Service at least solvent? Post a comment here!



Comments (42) | Permalink
Readers Comments

Creative Ways the Postal Service Can Stop Losing Money?   Creative Ways the Postal Service Can Stop Losing Money?
This user has validated their user name. by: Anonymous Annie
       
Wed Sep 25 17:03:33 2013
I thought it was now some sort of law that postage rates would increase every year... if any considering is to be done, it's to do with how much the rate increase will be (not whether or if).

The BEST thing that could be done to save the US Postal Service would be for Congress to eliminate the absurd requirement that the USPS must fund health care for retirees SEVENTY FIVE YEARS into the future.

When Congress imposed those mandates in 2006, the Post Office was doing just fine. Digital communication had yet to take such a huge bite out of the amount of mail the USPS processed and delivered. First-class mail volume was about 97 billion pieces in 2006. So there wasn’t much of a backlash when Congress decided that the Post Office was healthy enough to lock in health benefits for future retirees — for the next 75 years, mind you, something no other public or private agency does.

Read more: http://business.time.com/2013/02/07/how-healthcare-expenses-cost-us-sa
turday-postal-delivery/#ixzz2fwNWcWfp
Creative Ways the Postal Service Can Stop Losing Money?   Creative Ways the Postal Service Can Stop Losing Money?
by: Patricia This user has validated their user name.
       
Wed Sep 25 17:54:10 2013
Annie - its a deliberate ploy to drive USPS into privatization and then we are at the mercy of a for profit company that will raise its rates to compete with UPS and the rest and will not reach out to where folks are and will end up with fewer workers and then you will finally hear the public wake up....but by then it will be too late!  Its just amazing how many people don't know about what congress did to the USPS!
Creative Ways the Postal Service Can Stop Losing Money?   Creative Ways the Postal Service Can Stop Losing Money?
This user has validated their user name. by: Marie
       
Wed Sep 25 20:47:28 2013

Yes and here is more if you want to read it.  

http://www.cepr.net/index.php/blogs/beat-the-press/backg
round-on-the-159-billion-loss-by-the-postal-service

http://www.cepr.net/op-eds-&-columns/op-eds-&-columns/killing-the-messenger-the-downsizing-and-death-of-the-postal-service

It
is ridiculous that Congress is requiring this.  I honestly do not know why it is even being allowed.  Not just the prefunding for those that not only are not even employed by USPS yet, but for those that have not even been born.  
Creative Ways the Postal Service Can Stop Losing Money?   Creative Ways the Postal Service Can Stop Losing Money?
by: CypressC This user has validated their user name.
       
Wed Sep 25 21:18:41 2013
Post Office operations are profitable... the thing killing USPS is the union. They have to pay out so much in bloated pensions, follow crazy five-day rules that require an entire second crew just so they can deliver Saturday, and have Congress protecting them from having to streamline. They should open up First Class Mail to private enterprises. UPS and FedEx could make the volume work at 46-cents, no problem.
Creative Ways the Postal Service Can Stop Losing Money?   Creative Ways the Postal Service Can Stop Losing Money?
This user has validated their user name. by: Map
       
Wed Sep 25 22:16:48 2013
Congressmen & Senators should take 5 Billion Dollars and the entire United States Postal System and just give if all for free to Federal Express.

Fedex could save this Nations Mail service and turn profit while delivering good service and provide good paying jobs.
Creative Ways the Postal Service Can Stop Losing Money?   Creative Ways the Postal Service Can Stop Losing Money?
This user has validated their user name. by: Ric
       
Wed Sep 25 23:37:35 2013
You mean the recently opened US Postal Service store on eBay is not filling the revenue gaps?

I am shocked!!
Creative Ways the Postal Service Can Stop Losing Money?   Creative Ways the Postal Service Can Stop Losing Money?
This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford
       
Thu Sep 26 07:43:42 2013
Still waiting to see how much they lost in international shipping when they raised rates over the moon earlier this year. Numbers anyone?

And still waiting to see some details about these new increases they are currently pushing.  The press ONLY talks about postage stamp increases when they cover these increases and they NEVER write about packaging increases which always impact sellers' bottom lines more.  Will there be packaging increases this time?  Anyone know?

As everyone else here stated--funding the pensions is not sustainable.  They will clearly price themselves out of business and some private entity will move in and you will see price increases like you have never seen in your lifetime.

I'm putting my money on Pitney Bowes, who in my most humble opinion must be watching this situation like a hawk and licking their chops.
Creative Ways the Postal Service Can Stop Losing Money?   Creative Ways the Postal Service Can Stop Losing Money?
This user has validated their user name. by: Puck
       
Thu Sep 26 13:49:36 2013
Here's a revolutionary idea.
Increase their customer base by providing consistently good service.
Creative Ways the Postal Service Can Stop Losing Money?   Creative Ways the Postal Service Can Stop Losing Money?
by: Patricia This user has validated their user name.
       
Thu Sep 26 14:45:30 2013
No alternative suggestions will work until Congress removes the yoke of oppression they put on the post office.  We can blame the loss on various things but NO company can simply put 7 billion of their profit into this nonsense of funding benefits 75 years in advance and come out in the black!  We should be writing and hounding congress because once USPS is privatized we will all be REALLY SORRY!
Creative Ways the Postal Service Can Stop Losing Money?   Creative Ways the Postal Service Can Stop Losing Money?
This user has validated their user name. by: Ric
       
Thu Sep 26 16:10:21 2013
Spoke with the senior clerk at my local PO today.

January's price increase is expected to be across the board.

She said expect Priority & Express Mail to be hit rather hard as they will seek to recover the "improvements" they added which nobody asked for such as included insurance and up to 11 scans now able to be displayed.

eBay is hoping that the increases will be large as well since they now profit from FVF on shipping costs.  Leave it to the Postal Service to enable eBay to fatten their wallets once a year.

Creative Ways the Postal Service Can Stop Losing Money?   Creative Ways the Postal Service Can Stop Losing Money?
by: Bloggo This user has validated their user name.
       
Thu Sep 26 16:12:09 2013
Anybody that thinks privatizing the Post Office would make things cheaper is delusional. Even FedEx and UPS don't claim that.

“Neither FedEx or UPS are even in the same league as the Postal Service, which goes to 100 million addresses every day,'' he tells me. ''What they do, they do well. But they don’t do what the Postal Service does.”

Read more: http://www.minyanville.com/business-news/editors-pick/articles/postal-
service-usps-post-office-post/8/3/2012/id/42951#ixzz2g2012kdy

This
from FedEx's website.
Why FedEx SmartPost?
When you need to ship low-weight packages to residential customers, consider efficient, economical FedEx SmartPost shipping service. By utilizing the U.S. Postal Service® (USPS) for final delivery, FedEx SmartPost reaches every U.S. address, including P.O. boxes and military APO, FPO and DPO destinations. You can even use FedEx SmartPost to ship to Alaska, Hawaii and all U.S. territories.
Creative Ways the Postal Service Can Stop Losing Money?   Creative Ways the Postal Service Can Stop Losing Money?
by: Digmen1 This user has validated their user name.
       Web Site
Thu Sep 26 16:34:16 2013
Here in NZ our Post Office is asking the government fro permission to reduce mail deliveries from 6 days to 3 days a week.
Most people accept this proposal as it only means one extra day for your mail.
Creative Ways the Postal Service Can Stop Losing Money?   Creative Ways the Postal Service Can Stop Losing Money?
This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow
       
Thu Sep 26 18:13:51 2013
My post office looks like a Hallmark store now. There are racks of greeting cards almost the entire length of the building. I guess they're hoping for impulse buys like when you're standing in line at the grocery store. Don't know how much revenue they are making from that.
Creative Ways the Postal Service Can Stop Losing Money?   Creative Ways the Postal Service Can Stop Losing Money?
by: Massachusets Howler This user has validated their user name.
       
Thu Sep 26 19:16:27 2013
Patricia is DEAD-ON.

This is a long-term plan by the big wigs UPS FedEx and others to put the Post Office out of business.

The Post office has to put away $$ to pay retirement benefits on employees who HAVE NOT YET BEEN BORN.

If they succeed you will see out postage TRIPLE right into the pockets of FedEx and UPS.

Pitney bowes stock is up because of their THEFT and COLLUSION with ebay.
MH
Creative Ways the Postal Service Can Stop Losing Money?   Creative Ways the Postal Service Can Stop Losing Money?
by: Bloggo This user has validated their user name.
       
Thu Sep 26 21:06:36 2013
Rural America, as well as Alaska and Hawaii would see prices skyrocket if the Postal System were to be privatized.
Creative Ways the Postal Service Can Stop Losing Money?   Creative Ways the Postal Service Can Stop Losing Money?
by: Bloggo This user has validated their user name.
       
Thu Sep 26 21:27:16 2013
vice.
United States Postal Service
United States Postal Service Logo.svg
Logo used since 1993
Agency overview
Formed July 1, 1971
Washington, D.C.[1]
Headquarters 475 L'Enfant Plaza SW
Washington, D.C. 20260-0004
Employees 522,144 (2012)[2]
Agency executive Patrick R. Donahoe, Postmaster General
Key document Postal Clause of the United States Constitution
Website
www.USPS.com
The full eagle logo, used in various versions from 1970 to 1993.

The United States Postal Service (USPS), also known as the Post Office and U.S. Mail, is an independent agency of the United States federal government responsible for providing postal service in the United States. It is one of the few government agencies explicitly authorized by the United States Constitution.
Article I, Section 8, Clause 7 of the United States Constitution, known as the Postal Clause or the Postal Power, empowers Congress ''To establish Post Offices and post Roads''.


Creative Ways the Postal Service Can Stop Losing Money?   Creative Ways the Postal Service Can Stop Losing Money?
by: Bloggo This user has validated their user name.
       
Thu Sep 26 21:28:28 2013
Oops, didn't mean to post the top part of that.
Creative Ways the Postal Service Can Stop Losing Money?   Creative Ways the Postal Service Can Stop Losing Money?
by: PowerSeller2007 This user has validated their user name.
       
Thu Sep 26 23:24:24 2013
With fewer surviving US sellers and more Asian mega sellers, USPS needs to keep charging the US sellers much much more to afford giving even more subsidies to the Asian sellers.



Creative Ways the Postal Service Can Stop Losing Money?   Creative Ways the Postal Service Can Stop Losing Money?
This user has validated their user name. by: Bijoux Dragon
       Web Site
Thu Sep 26 23:48:24 2013
Loving your idea of commercial stamps.  Companies would get the advertising visibility and collectors would snatch them up.

As for private companies doing the job, I'd be laughing if it weren't such a serious, crying shame that anybody would consider this a good idea.  Living in a rural area that get to bear most of the cuts, no private company is going to want to deliver to an area that has but a few houses per mile, severe winter weather and and poorly repaired roads.

I'd say ''Congress FIX THIS MESS!  You created it now you fix it by rescinding the 2006 law''  I would say it if I thought there was a prayer our congress could manage to work 5 days a week for just a few months and if I had any thought that, if in session, they could do anything to benefit the people of America and not the corporations!
Creative Ways the Postal Service Can Stop Losing Money?   Creative Ways the Postal Service Can Stop Losing Money?
by: tb This user has validated their user name.
       
Thu Sep 26 23:54:46 2013
If they HAVE to do this 75 year pre-funding (insane), then the answers are simple. 1) Quit the 1 or 2 cent price hikes. Go for a quarter or more. The cost of having these constant increases is probably more than the revenue it will bring in. 2) Seriously increase the cost of going into the post office. Virtually everyone can use a computer and print their own postage. If you want to live in the stone age, you should pay the cost. Medium Flat Rate online at $11.00. In the post office $27.50. Make all services available online (Media, 1st Class, etc). 3) Reduce personnel. Automate services at the PO. Waiting on line to buy a stamp? What century are we in? My 2 cents.
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