In Response: Don't blame us carriers for slow mail — or for businesses' struggles
We have heard of the U.S. Postal Service having problems, but we never thought those problems could contribute to a business closing, as a letter to the editor in the News Tribune March 31 suggested (Reader's View: "It's no wonder fewer are mailing cards").
We think that Hallmark deciding its $1.95 birthday cards of just a few years ago should cost $7.95 instead was maybe more of a deciding factor in the closing of a card shop at Miller Hill Mall.
The letter expressed several issues with the postal service. But there are things postal customers can do to help carriers get the mail more quickly to its destinations.
First, mail should be dropped in the collection box by the time posted on the box. If that time is missed, the mail is automatically a day later. If it is on a weekend, it could be two days later. Throw in a Monday holiday, and now you're talking possibly three days later.
If you leave a letter in your home mailbox for your carrier to pick up, in most cases, its delivery will be delayed a day. That's because your carrier doesn't return to the post office before the day's mail is sent to Minneapolis for canceling and processing. Local pieces of first-class mail easily can take three days or more to be delivered, depending what time or day the mail is put in the collection box or is given to a carrier.
If you are mailing or receiving an item that can be tracked, be sure to get the tracking number to follow the progress of the item online. You will usually find that number on your receipt.
Money is always a problem for most businesses. Money became a real problem for the U.S. Postal Service in 2009 when Congress created a $5 billion liability, to be paid yearly over 10 years, to cover postal retiree health care benefits 75 years into the future. That means Congress required the USPS to fund retiree health care benefits for employees who have not even been born yet. No other government agency or private business has ever been required to do this. If the Postal Service didn't have to pay this liability, it actually would be making money.
As far as new postal vehicles the letter mentioned, they are needed to replace a fleet so old that at least two vehicles a week nationally are catching fire or are having their rear ends fall off. Perhaps you've noticed our new vehicles are much taller than the old ones. That's to accommodate the massive mailing of packages Amazon and other online shopping sites send through the Postal Service. Those online retailers are why stores like Younkers, Sears, ShopKo, and Kmart have been closing or going out of business.
We suppose the Postal Service is helping to put those stores out of business, too!
Arden Stabs and Kevin Westerlund are retired Duluth letter carriers.