More of your mail is about to slow down. At first it was letters and now some packages may take longer to arrive.
The US Postal Service currently considers a first-class package late if it is delivered more than three days after it was posted. But under new standards that come into effect next month, more than 30% of first-class parcels will be considered delivered on time if they arrive within four or five days.
The new standards are part of the Postal Service’s decision to rely more on its own ground transportation network rather than air transportation. The USPS wants to be more efficient and says it will save money by reducing airfare costs.
This is what the changes will look like
The changes that come into effect on May 1 only affect first-class packages, which primarily include small and light packages such as prescription drug orders. Currently, more than 20% of these packages have a two-day delivery standard and almost 80% have a three-day delivery standard.
Some packages will see their deliveries delayed, especially if they travel long distances. But the new rules won’t affect about 64% of first-class packages, according to the USPS. A small number – 4% – will switch to a shorter standard of two days instead of three.
“The Postal Service is continually looking for ways to improve performance and provide customers with consistent, cost-effective, and reliable service,” USPS spokesperson Kim Frum told NPR. “Changing service standards would allow for additional transport time and increased efficiency on the networks.”
The longer delivery standards for packages come months after the USPS slowed delivery standards for first-class letters last fall. Parcels was originally intended to be part of that same change, but the agency delayed that part of the change until this spring.
In the first quarter of 2022, the average delivery time for a mail or package was 2.7 days, according to the USPS. First-class mail, which had achieved nearly 90% on-time delivery after standards were relaxed last fall, fell to 86.7% in the first quarter of this year.
This is the latest policy change at the Postal Service
The USPS has been the subject of heated debate over its mission and goals for the past two years, following the appointment of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy by former President Donald Trump. DeJoy has been criticized for his cost-cutting plans. And last summer, news broke that DeJoy, a top donor to Republican politicians, was under federal investigation for possible campaign finance violations during his tenure as head of New Breed. Logistics.
The USPS says it wants to make the most of its ground network, saying the average truck is only operating at 40% capacity. By increasing this usage, it claims it can provide a more reliable service that is unaffected by changing air travel conditions and costs.
The service’s regulator, the Postal Regulatory Commission, has repeatedly said that DeJoy’s plans could have an outsized effect on USPS customers, relative to its bottom line.
In an advisory last September, the commission agreed that the package volume designated for longer delivery times had still not met goals, and it said the USPS appears to provide better service when it relies on its own network.
But the commission also questioned the USPS’ predictions of the impact of the new standards, noting that its models used data from October 2020 – a unique period in its history, given the strains caused by the coronavirus pandemic. coronavirus.
The regulator also said the Postal Service failed to factor in another challenge to its plan: the shortage of truck drivers. And he expressed concern that the USPS might not have a detailed idea of consumer preferences for delivery times. It also found that “the service’s estimated cost savings could be inflated.”
On a more fundamental level, the commission doubted the ability of the USPS to implement its proposal, stating, “At this time, the Postal Service has not demonstrated that it can achieve the reliability, efficiency and economy in its changes to service standards.”
Financially, even if the Postal Service’s savings forecast is accurate, the commission said, its own analysis found that “the proposed changes would not materially affect the Postal Service’s overall financial position.”
Those concerns echoed doubts raised by the regulator last summer as the USPS prepared to delay delivery of first-class letters.
As in other recent service updates, the new delays come as prices continue to rise. The USPS is proposing to raise the cost of a first-class stamp from 58 cents to 60 cents, citing inflation and operating expenses. At this time last year, the price was 55 cents.
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