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USPS Hammered on Late and Undeliverable Mail

The USPS has touted its efforts to cut costs, but it’s also getting hammered on the issue of slow and undeliverable mail. A bipartisan group of senators told Postmaster General Megan Brennan that slow mail delivery and poor service was hitting rural America hard. And a new report is out from the USPS Office of Inspector General (OIG) saying the Postal Service is failing to stem the rise in undeliverable mail.

Senator Heidi Heitkamp brought together a bipartisan meeting of senators from rural states to speak with the U.S. Postmaster General about the impact that mail processing facility closures and service standard reductions have had on people and communities throughout rural America. Joining Heitkamp were U.S. Senators Jon Tester (D-MT), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Gary Peters (D-MI), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Jerry Moran (R-KS).

Heitkamp said she pressed the Postal Service on the effectiveness of closing mail processing centers without a thorough understanding of the effects on rural communities.

She also said closing processing centers “likely does not save as much as the Postal Service thought the closures would.”

Meanwhile a new OIG report out this week stated that undeliverable mail, aka UAA mail (undeliverable as addressed), has been increasing in the last few years, despite attempts to reduce it.

UAA mail is costly, since it must be forwarded, returned, or treated as waste, according to the Inspector General. “The Postal Service spent nearly $1.5 billion handling UAA mail in FY 2014, and the mailing industry incurs about $20 billion in UAA costs annually.”

It noted that according to a 2006 study conducted jointly by mailers and the Postal Service, about 40 percent of UAA mail is caused by the public; 35 percent is attributed to business mailers; and about 23 percent is caused by the Postal Service itself due to sorting errors or failed deliveries.

“The Postal Service’s UAA mail reduction strategies have not been effective, as evidenced by a 2.1 percent increase in UAA mail from FY 2011 to FY 2014,” according to the report.

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.