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Future of USPS, Vital to Ecommerce, to Be Determined

USPS United States Postal Service

USPS United States Postal ServiceThis is a big week for retailers and online marketplaces that rely on the postal service to get ecommerce packages delivered. The President’s task force on postal reform will publish its recommendations on Friday – the day after the USPS publishes financial results for the most recent quarter.

While postal reform appears inevitable (and long overdue), there’s a more controversial call to privatize the post office, which readers discussed in this EcommerceBytes Blog post, where you can also find more information about the administration’s views.

Members of Congress are divided on the issue of privatization, but some have proactively drafted a resolution opposing it. Postcom reported that on July 13, Representatives Stephen Lynch (D-MA) and Rodney Davis (R-IL) introduced a resolution calling on Congress to take all appropriate measures to ensure that the Postal Service remain an independent agency of the federal government and not be subject to privatization. (Link to the proposed resolution on Congress.gov)

In response to concerns over the fate of the US Postal Service, a group of companies including Amazon, Pitney Bowes, retailers, and other mailers have formed the Package Coalition. Geekwire linked the recent organization’s formation to political pressure, writing, “For months, President Donald Trump has been accusing Amazon of ripping off the U.S. Postal Service.”

The coalition made clear the reason for its concern in its press release announcing its formation: “The US Postal Service (USPS) is the only daily delivery service that connects every one of America’s 157 million addresses.” That’s powerful for retailers who need to get their packages into the hands of shoppers quickly and cost-effectively, and even UPS and FedEx take advantage of that unique capability through their UPS SurePost and FedEx SmartPost services.

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The Package Coalition’s goal is to “work proactively with policymakers and the public to highlight the importance of the postal package delivery services to American businesses and consumers.”

Note that we requested a complete list of coalition members and the fees and requirements for joining, and specifically asked if eBay was a member, with no response as of yet.

Ina Steiner on EmailIna Steiner on LinkedinIna Steiner on Twitter
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.

9 thoughts on “Future of USPS, Vital to Ecommerce, to Be Determined”

  1. The biggest part of the USPS problem is that politicians cater to the thuggy union voting bloc, and won’t vote for changes that could have fixed a lot of this mess a long time ago.

    There are offices that should have been closed a long time ago, where a clerk sits and does nothing all day, but when there was an attempt to cut the waste, the union went completely insane and made all kinds of threats to politicians.

    Saturday delivery is crazy. Mail is usually held over until Monday anyway. Amazon wants that, they can pay for it themselves.

    There are postal clerks who refuse to work, break the rules, steal, harass other employees and customers, go slow at all times and avoid work to ridiculous degrees, gum up the system, and cost everyone- they can’t get fired. Union protection.

    There are all kinds of technological improvements that could improve speed, quality, and cost but the unions oppose progress and fight against it. They need union member bodies so they can keep the thuggery going, even while they protect bad employees who hurt other employees.

    The leadership of the USPS follows the Wenig rules lol- drain the customer dry. Keep the leaky boat leaking and just steal more money. USPS is raising postage rates twice a year now. Small business can’t afford it, especially since USPS leaders decided to pull a bad scam and take from taxpayers and S/M business people to subsidize Chinese sellers- to put American small and medium business OUT of business.

    USPS also cut deals with monopolies like Amazon and make the taxpayer and small/medium business subsidize THEIR postage costs, which deals another blow to American small and medium business.

    USPS really has been run like organized crime, but they get away with it because they intimidate politicians, who even get death threats if they try to fix any of this.

    Like the Ebay problem, it is very sad to see small business people try to keep their livelihoods intact because some big players want a voting bloc.

    There are some hard working postal employees who are disgusted by it all. They get punished for hard work, they watch the criminal waste, they see the incompetence, they see the overpaid and lazy supervisors, and watch the incompetent and literally crazy postal workers get promoted so they can sit and do nothing but harass them. Off the record, the good employees will talk about all these problems, but they would never go public. Their lives would be at risk, literally. They know what is wrong, everyone does, but when the strong arm of the union will punch you in the face, they are afraid to speak up. The politicians are too.

    If more of the public would contact their legislators and demand change, and call out the USPS top brass and union gang, then things would change.

    1. @Carol is here
      I don’t know what post office locations you are referring to but I can assure you that almost all of that stuff you mentioned did not occur and was not a regular habit of the people at the post office I was employed at. I worked out of the College Station, Texas (about 100,000 population and another city, Bryan, Texas, right next door, literally RIGHT NEXT DOOR, with another population of about 100,000) and that was most definitely NOT a description of either of those POs. My route, which was rural, was 55 miles and 422 boxes. We needed to have all the mail sorted and loaded in the vehicle (rural route you use your own vehicle) by no later than 12:30 PM and have your route run and back to the PO by no later than 5:00 PM (holiday times i.e. Christmas, excluded). There was no hold over on Friday to deliver mail on Monday. If the mail was there on Saturday morning, it got delivered on Saturday afternoon. As a matter of fact we would catch hell if so much as a junk mail post card got overlooked. There are people all along all of those routes, both city and rural, who have nothing better to do than to make sure that, if their neighbor got a post card offering 5% off of a manicure somewhere, that they got one on the same day or they would raise hell. Now consider this; some of these places the roads were under water part of the time. Someone’s address may be 123 Maple but the house is actually on Walnut but the mailbox is over on Oak Street, makes for a fun time trying to learn the route and they give you about a week to do that. The postal union is pretty weak compared to UAW or some of the others. I guarantee you, it ISN’T the postal union holding up progress. They NEVER hire anyone as full time. Every new hire is part time and has no benefits, some of them go 5, 6 years working part time without benefits. There is no set schedule, the back of the PO is hot in the summer, cold in the winter, always noisy as hell and always in a rush. Does the PO waste a ton of money? Hell, yes, but not on the employees. Do they cook the books, misrepresent the facts? Absolutely!! And contrary to popular belief, they don’t pay all that well, better than average, but certainly not stellar and certainly not enough for me to continue working for Satan’s dumber, meaner brother, the local post master. You may be right about some of that stuff in SOME of the POs but it is unfair to a lot of good, hardworking people who put up with a lot of crap to paint them all with a broad, sweeping statement. Believe me, I am no fan of the PO but that’s not to say there aren’t a lot of good people who do a terrific job under the circumstances.

      1. Ichabod,

        Amen!

        Most of the postal people are good people. I know them by name and they know me by name including the present Postmaster and the previous Postmaster. They do their job right and get it done efficiently. What is the cause of a lot of the problem is the middle management as it is with most organizations. There are way to many with a lot of redundancy and a waste of dollars pure and simple. They do not need that but it has been going on for years and THEY are the biggest drain on the retirement pool. The post office has 3 to 4 people doing a job in the management that one person can do as it is with many government operations. THAT is the main problem.
        Yes I also worked part time for them many years ago when I was in college during the Xmas rush.

  2. What you describe sounds just like anyother american business with a union. The post office will never make money. Its set up not to. Their biggest problem is the last mile that UPS and FecEx have them deliver. Sunday delivery for Amazon is crazy but we love it as I can order on Friday and get it sunday.

    The post office will be in real trouble when amazon sets up its own delivery service and drops the USPS like a hot potato.

    BUT THEN AGAIN say what you want its still the cheapest way to send a letter from Maine to California for 50 cents.

    The real fun would be if they let UPS and Fedex deliver first class mail.

    All these committees, sub committees, panels, etc are just a waste of time and taxpayer money.

  3. At one time the post office made a profit. It could now if it didn’t have to prepay pension and medical costs 5 years in advance. Regardless if it makes money on packages or not, the ones that don’t get shipments to their home or just a few a year should not subsidize those that get many a week. I am sure it can run more efficiency. In my town in Wisconsin we had our Post Office, one about three miles away, one about 5 miles away. One of them they wanted to close because the guy was retiring and it was the post office not the union that kept it open. Often its the community whining that keeps underused offices open. They need to look at treaties that are not to our advantage. Like it cost less to mail a package from china to the us than it does for me to mail a package across town.

  4. Privatization is a fraud that voters just keep falling for because they won’t think for themselves. People crying about union members that don’t work hard enough apparently have no idea they’ll just be paying shareholders that don’t work at all instead.

  5. We are so lucky to have USPS, most have no idea. I can mail 500+ items CHEAP, and not likely to have one missings or broken. I have lived in a few countries (Still in UK and USA) and I have seen them take half your month grocery money to send a package to the neighboring region. If it gets there within 4 months consider yourself lucky, and they will open it to see if there is anything they want in there, and there is nothing you can do because if you say anything you will not get mail for about 3 years. You may even end up under a state investigation of some kind, depending on the temper and ego of the post manager. A lot of countries have horrific postal systems and they have to put up with it. USPS is the best there is, and I breaks my heart to see politicians strangling them. They could do a lot better if their hands weren’t tied behind their backs, and maybe get some proper modern era training for their command staff. I wish them all the best, and I sure wish someone will stop this nonsense of making them ship stuff around the country at a loss.

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