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Thu May 21 2020 22:10:42

Is the USPS Planning to Drop Uniform Pricing?

By: Ina Steiner

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Could the US Postal Service be planning to drop uniform pricing? Gone missing from its website today is its commitment that everyone in the US and its territories pays the same for a First-Class postage stamp regardless of their location.

Postal expert and blogger Brian Sheehan of Postal News spotted the change, writing in a blog post today:

"One of the US Postal Service's trademark features has always been that Americans could reliably mail a letter to anyone in the country for a uniform price," but said he noticed its new Mission Statement omits any mention of uniform pricing.

The USPS Board of Governors adopted the mission statement in April - the first in the Postal Service's history, it said - "as part of the governors' work to conduct long-range planning and set strategic policy for the organization."

Does Sheehan's post about uniform pricing indicate some citizens will pay higher rates or surcharges for mail in the future - those in rural areas, for example? And could it also impact USPS package rates?

The new mission statement appears on the page of the USPS website titled, "About the United States Postal Service."

A cached version of the page from yesterday shows a different page, including the following description of the agency's former mission:

"The Postal Service mission is to provide a reliable, efficient, trusted and affordable universal delivery service that connects people and helps businesses grow. Everyone living in the United States and its territories has access to postal products and services and pays the same for a First-Class postage stamp regardless of their location."

One of the goals described on the new page is to "support the legislative and regulatory changes to enable" its vision - and indeed, some people believe the current administration may try to make major changes to the Postal Service. The new mission statement makes mention of the universal service obligation, which has been one concern. But it also mentions private sector partnerships.

The following are just two of the ways the Board of Governors said they would use to meet the new mission:

- Use technology, innovation and where appropriate private sector partnerships, to optimize and adapt our network, operations and business model to meet the changing needs of our customers and delivery recipients, while maintaining our core mission.

- Operate in a modern, efficient and effective manner that allows us to minimize what we charge for our services, consistent with meeting, in a fair way, our obligations to our current and retired employees and other stakeholders.

Take a look at the new mission statement and let us know whether this is a step in the right direction or cause for concern. Does it offer clues to what lies ahead?



Comments (22) | Permalink

Readers Comments

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This user has validated their user name. by: Life During Wartime

Fri May 22 00:43:16 2020

"Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone"

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by: COVID-19 This user has validated their user name.

Fri May 22 02:07:52 2020

Sure, let's punish Farmer Bob for living out in the sticks!

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by: grumpwell This user has validated their user name.

Fri May 22 08:15:55 2020

When first class packages changed to zoned pricing it was likely the first step towards changing all services. It won't be long before first class stamps and media mail follow...  

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This user has validated their user name. by: unsuck
Web Site

Fri May 22 08:36:11 2020

''Everyone...pays the same for a First-Class postage stamp regardless of their location.'' Sure for a letter, but FCM no longer abides by this tenant.

USPS bastardized the notion of the 'uniform price' model and laid the groundwork for cost/distance based pricing when it adopted a commercial carrier-like zone-based first-class mail pricing matrix.

Commercial carriers and cartage agents also often charge additional surcharges (sometimes called something like ''beyond delivery fees'') for remote rural areas where costs are much higher to service.

Is this cost-based model the direction USPS is headed for rural delivery?

If so, it's certainly not going to be well received by ''Farmer Bob'' out in the sticks.  

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This user has validated their user name. by: Life During Wartime

Fri May 22 10:00:42 2020

I spent about 10 years in the 1990s living in ''the sticks'' and plenty of my neighbors thought the USPS was something they were being forced to fund with their federal income taxes -- and didn't want.  Fewer than 70 percent of adults in that county could read at the 8th grade level.  If you can't read even road signs, what you might receive in the mail is beyond your abilities.  

And they didn't want the USPS delivering packages, either.  Even the really old mail order companies were disparaged as part of the means of ''establishing the NWO''.  Because nothing says global imperialism like Lilian Vernon and Sears, don't you know?  If you couldn't buy it at WAL-MART, then you shouldn't have it.   Once their Social Security payments and pensions were being paid by direct deposit (and having to open bank accounts caused another huge outcry of conspiracy theorizing), the USPS needed to be closed.  

Am loving the irony!

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This user has validated their user name. by: toolguy

Fri May 22 11:15:55 2020

Benjamin Franklin called, he's pissed and wants to know who's in charge!

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by: comments This user has validated their user name.

Sat May 23 02:21:01 2020

The only thing the postoffice is committed to is raising prices and being fiscally irresponsible with spending and benefits they can't afford to give to workers with no accountability.

Instead of wildly raising prices to the maximum allowed by law they could make a lot more money though innovation, reduced risk, and cracking down on under-performing workers.  

Every missed scan or "I don't know where that package is" is a risk of an insurance claim.

The sheer cost of postal insurance and trouble making claims has made 3rd party insurance a multi billion dollar industry that the postoffice can easily compete for.

Paying China and Amazon to deliver their packages is just moronic.

Lets not raise prices. It is far more cost effective to gut the management and their backwards thinking and hire fresh staff with fresh ideas. A staff that holds workers accountable for loss, theft, and laziness.  

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by: FeelingFroggy This user has validated their user name.

Sat May 23 09:27:25 2020

With the exception of maybe a birthday card we haven't sent a first class letter in months. Everything is done by the internet.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Life During Wartime

Sat May 23 11:55:57 2020

Yes, yes, FeelingFroggy -- that's how those of us participating here live today.  But sparsely populated rural areas often have no high speed internet access, no cable service, and no mobile access.  

Even when communications providers are willing and eager to hook up residents in rural areas, there can barriers set up by the municipal and/or county officials that involve censorship or demand for ongoing bribes.  It would be a dream-come-true for remote rural areas if the USPS withdraws service there because any replacement letter carrier service could be shaken down for annual $$$$ payments to all local officials.  

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by: Shanna This user has validated their user name.

Sat May 23 14:30:25 2020

My local post office was in a building built in the 70's. They moved around the corner to a strip mall with a Walmart Neighborhood Market grocery store in it, so instead of their own parking lot, they now share it with a dozen others. The location was gutted and rebuilt, to the exact same standard the old one had, no locations for automated work centers for people to buy stamps or package postage 24/7 instead of waiting in line. The only package drop off is the same shute in the wall, that clogs on weekends after 4 packages are dropped off, and no ability to drop off 20-40 packages at once. The have the same mindset as a post office from the 50's, selling an old lady an individual stamp, while 50 others wait in line, because 3 out of the 4 counter workers all took lunch at the same time.

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by: FeelingFroggy This user has validated their user name.

Sat May 23 15:02:18 2020

@life during wartime.

Sorry but we live in rural america. In fact its sometime called bum -----egypt. We have over 2000 acres of land which we raise cattle and corn on. Our closest neighbor is about 2 miles down the road, and the gas station a good 10 miles down the road. We are at least 100 miles from the big box stores. We have always had great internet service . Anyone that tells you they can't get internet service is lying to you as its call satalite service by Hughes. Just might not be as fast as your cable you pay through the nose for but guess what we don't need all that keeping up with the jones stuff. And we still can watch a few movies via hughes each week.

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by: justchangecarriers This user has validated their user name.

Sat May 23 20:40:39 2020

So if I mail a bill I now have to potentially know where its going and how much its going to cost and a single stamp might not cover it?

The USPS is such garbage. Quit changing stuff every day. I already roll fed ex for any package of actual weight or size. Its about 25-50 percent cheaper practically every time. The USPS is turning into a rip off for parcel service.

This new change potentially sounds so confusing. Going to cause mass lines because people might not know if their stamp(s) will cover a letter.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Life During Wartime

Sun May 24 01:33:43 2020

@FeelingFroggy -- We sold our home and left in 2000 to be closer to my late husband's work.  In the late 1990s there were ISPs advertising in the local weekly newspaper but the county commissioners had drawn up a list of households that were ''approved'' to purchase internet service, and we weren't on that list.  My husband tried offering to pay for service for a year in advance, but no deal.  Not on the list, no service.  The place where we lived was remote more in terms of censorship and attempts at the control of information than anything else.  

It would be a huge problem if those commissioners felt the need to draw up a list of who could, and could not, receive mail from whatever theoretically might replace the USPS there,  

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by: FeelingFroggy This user has validated their user name.

Sun May 24 09:11:05 2020

@life during wartime

We have had hughes since 2001 and never had a problem. Even have it on our 45 foot motor home and no matter where in the US we travel we always have internet service and now they are with Directv and we also get tv service. No complaints. Daughter lives in the city with Comcast and claims she is moving to the country just to get better and cheaper service. The whole bottom line is I hardly think any city or county can interfer with satellite service. What are they going to do shoot it down. Besides there is a big push for internet for rural areas and I have never read anything about any restrictions.

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by: mtgrinner This user has validated their user name.

Mon May 25 00:23:04 2020

And what happens to the hundreds of 'Forever' stamps everyone bought?

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by: ZZ This user has validated their user name.

Mon May 25 00:32:46 2020

eBay sellers should be thankful they don't have to copy Amazon's free shipping BS. Of course there is no such thing and since flat rate shipping is often not the best deal for items that weigh 1-4 lbs, and 1st class also varies by where it's going and weight, you should consider letting ebay figure shipping and charge based on that. I wind up selling mostly to neighboring states because it's cheaper to ship there. That's the way it should be. Why ship across the country and get less or no profit on those sales? If they want it bad enough to pay more, that's fine.

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by: Chicago48 This user has validated their user name.

Mon May 25 06:33:39 2020

More and more I'm shipping packages via UPS.  It's only a few pennies more than USPS and I find their scanning and delivery more reliable.

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by: cvsharkey This user has validated their user name.

Mon May 25 06:43:08 2020

Again....they are NOT losing money on the simple envelopes people (seldom) mail these days--and they have pretty tight restrictions on 1st class envelopes now, and will boost them to "Package" status in a heartbeat.

Again....pushing the burden to the American public to try to ameliorate their losses. Not the solution.

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by: FeelingFroggy This user has validated their user name.

Mon May 25 07:52:59 2020

The post offices answer to a poorly run ineffecent business is to raise prices each year. They should look at the real causes of lost of mail pieces each year. IE the chinese scam where is costs the post office more to deliver their crap than the contents are worth. OR maybe the delivery service that sometimes scans sometimes not. If people ran their businesses as poorly at the post office is run they would be out of business in a year.

On another note I talked with our neighbor yesterday about the post office. He informed me that about 2 months ago they offered him a free postal box in the office if they could stop his home delivery. He lives 8 miles from the post office and their are maybe 4 residents in the 8 miles. Imagine having to drive 8 miles to deliver a piece of garbage and then driving back 6 days a week in the middle of a driving snowstorm in winter. Our roads aren't the best even in the summer. The state has better things to do besides scaping our gravel road each year. He went for it as he says he will only have to go to the post office for his one piece of junk once a month and now he can run over his mail box to make it easier to mow the weeds around it.

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by: railady This user has validated their user name.

Mon May 25 08:28:54 2020

I live 22 miles from the capital city (Albany) of New York state - and we have no cable service here, and the word fiberoptic is in nobody's vocabulary. We do have "broadband" but the only service available is satellite or wireless, and if there is a cloud in the sky it is useless (we've tried). A storm? unusable! not to mention that it costs.  Yes there is an Upstate New York and much of it has been labeled a "broadband desert" by officials who claim to be working on the problem because too many kids can't do homework, let alone any kind of distance learning during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Clearly these unserviceable areas are unimportant to anyone "important" or that would have changed ages ago.

Indeed I agree satellite coverage might well be very useful for motor homing around, but satellite coverage here is incredibly slow for most purposes we need it for and we don't do motor home traveling. I use DHL (telephone) service with a speed booster. I don't do any kind of internet banking, so I am among the dinosaurs using the mail to send in payments to utility companies and get reports from the bank.  

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