Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

Will five-day mail delivery cause chaos?

The New Yorker comes on Tuesday. The Jewish Times comes on Friday. So does The Washingtonian -- once a month. The real estate stuff comes on Saturday. How do I know? I get the mail every day. That's my job. It gets me out of the house. I take great pride in it. Geeky pride. When it runs like clockwork, I get very happy.

There's a flow to mail, I've found. People in the industry call it the float or the drip. Marketers drip direct mail into the flow. Billers talk about floating bills. Companies get paid a lot of money to know when to drop come-ons in the mail so they reach people in St. Louis and Seattle on the same day.

The Postal Service's five-day mail proposal -- stopping Saturday delivery -- has the potential to muck up a rhythm in place for decades. So here's the query: Do you notice certain pieces of mail come on certain days? Do you like to mail cards so they arrive on Saturdays? If your business does direct mail, what day or days do you target? How will a five-day mail week change your own mail patterns? Drop me a note here or tell us about your mail patterns on the comment boards below.

-- Michael Rosenwald

By Michael S. Rosenwald  | April 2, 2010; 10:20 AM ET
Categories:  Build-A-Story  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Pick of the day: Inside the Dear Mr. President story
Next: Time-starved: Is the recession creating a Third Way?


Since moving away from Northern Virginia - in specific, the Merrifield area with the major distribution center - I've found that Saturday mail is fairly meaningless. Out in the Upper Midwest - where population density is lower and people actually work from 9-5 - life is slower. So is the mail service.

My regular delivery postman is off on Saturdays, so I get whoever is performing coverage. So IF I get mail at all (and that "IF" is in capital letters for a reason), it's usually just flyers. Rarely anything first class.

The only impact to me losing Saturday delivery is I won't be able to mail something on a Saturday, which I rarely do anyway.

Posted by: Chasmosaur1 | April 2, 2010 11:11 AM | Report abuse

It won't be missed.

Posted by: jckdoors | April 2, 2010 12:46 PM | Report abuse

As a disabled person who isn't able to get out of the house every day, I depend on mail order to do a lot of my shopping. I look forward to the mail coming, and I receive a lot of packages.

Cutting off Saturday mail service would mean that my items would potentially sit at the post office for three days, possibly four if it's a signed-for package and I have to be out of the house during the delivery attempt time.

If we absolutely have to go to five-day mail service, I'd far rather have the dropped day be Wednesday rather than Saturday. I know that a lot of people I've talked to about this feel the same way -- dropping a day in the middle of the week would be less disruptive than having a long period where mail sat in the post office.

I realize that this doesn't affect direct-mailers as much (and that junk mail subsidizes the system to a certain degree), but to package shippers and receivers, dropping Saturday service would be extremely inconvenient and unpleasant.

Posted by: seven_jaguar | April 4, 2010 8:30 PM | Report abuse

Communication is now via the phone, cell phone, and e-mail. Losing a Saturday will not hurt the public. Key is still having post offices open on Saturday so those of us that work M-F 8-5 will have the opportunity to pick up registered mail, packages, and mail what we need to mail.

Posted by: gdurgin | April 5, 2010 7:36 AM | Report abuse

Cancelling Saturday USPS service will not bother me at all. Mostly junk mail on that day's delivery anyway. Smart creditors send their bills to get to customers earlier in the week. I do on-line banking so I'm not going to miss a check to deposit or to send a bill out. Most of my packages arrive by UPS or FEDEX. The real cost drivers with USPS are their arcane union-driven rules, their routing process caused by having to follow the Zip Code processes, and having a post office in every itty bitty village and hamlet as a way to spread Congressional largesse and influence across the country.

Posted by: DuffyD | April 5, 2010 10:24 AM | Report abuse

Mail is a necessary service which must be provided on a pay as you go basis. It is a business decesion that must not be based on borrowed money.

In the real world, if one cannot pay for something, one does without.

Posted by: williamdwade65 | April 5, 2010 11:06 AM | Report abuse

Five-day delivery is a "palatable" idea that will save less money than the public might anticipate, but will set up further dismantling of a national service that is historic and could be much more useful. But personally speaking, I use home delivery both for mailing letters and some bill payments, and for receiving packages and general mail. Yes -- LETTERS. I still correspond with family and friends by postal mail, particularly if there are important things to say/discuss/record. But more importantly, there needs to be a larger vision for the post office than simply cutting Saturday delivery. It is a far-reaching national system that binds the country together in a unique way (small post offices are the gathering centers of small communities), and someone needs to focus on enhancement, not depletion.

Posted by: NFHolder | April 5, 2010 11:29 AM | Report abuse

keep delivering.the postmaster got a 400.000 thousand bonus last year.78 billion was overpaid in 2008 to the postal retirement fund,also another 79 billion in 2009,the money was never returned to the post office,where did it go?my va check got lost in the mail this month,talked to my mail carier,he said those checks are supposed to be handled by hand,but thier not cause his supervisor gets a bigger bonus if he does more bulk.the post office was never set up to make aprofit but it does,there is to much chaos already.5 days will make it worse on a job they are already cutting corners on.enjoy your bonuses postmaster,and supervisors,congrats on already a sloppy job.they need that extra day to get straight on thier poor wonder people use fedex or ups....grand island nebraska no boo hooooooos for them here?????????????????????????

Posted by: thomasschott52 | April 5, 2010 11:33 AM | Report abuse

A retired Mail Carrier of 30+ years, many were the times I wanted a Saturday off; Business closings meant an easy Saturday work-day but little family time meant poor contact with my family of four. Mail Carriers would give a lot for a regular five day workweek; I know they coveted my Saturday off and nearly gave up our Seniority System to get it away from me; fortunately, wiser heads stopped that attempted raid on our hard-won bargaining rights. A five day week would enable Mail Carriers and some clerks to get a day with their families.

Posted by: naahbob | April 5, 2010 12:07 PM | Report abuse

The U.S. has one of the lowest fees to mail letters of any developed nation. If we insist on maintaining low fees that do not capture the costs of doing business, the USPS will go out of business. Ceasing Saturday deliveries is a relatively painless way to ensure that Americans can continue to receive high quality, low cost postal service. This is the 21st century and email and the internet have changed significantly the way people communicate. The Pony Express was magnificent in its day but along came trains and the telegraph and the Express went out of business. Pony breeders probably complained but that was the price of progress. Many people will complain about dropping Saturday service but such is the consequence of new (and cheaper)ways of doing business.

Posted by: alk2 | April 5, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

I will not miss Saturday delivery, I do most of my bill paying on line and if my packages are 2 or 3 days late, I will live.

Posted by: mbyrd81641 | April 5, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

According to what I've read eliminating Sat delivery will cut 25,000 to 40,000 carrier jobs.Unfortunately I am a city carrier who could be one. We need to create more jobs in this country not laying off more people. We often hear the phrase "Support our Troops". Thousands of postal workers are veterans. Postal workers may not be the only ones laid off. Companies like netflix and newspapers who depend on Sat delivery may also need less workers,or cut their hours.It will just be a snowball effect.Alot of catalogues mailed by the usps,don't even use them to mail their packages they use fedex and ups. That could affect them as well. I never pay my bills online, the electric company wont lower my bill if I do. I do my best to support the American workforce,that's why there are GM cars in my drive way. Do you ever see the police drive through your neighborhood? I do once in a great while. I know the mailman does 6 days a week.And if he or she sees anything wrong they act accordingly. Go to the NALC website and read the hundreds of stories written every year in the "POSTAL RECORD" of how letter carriers have saved lives and property on their routes because they noticed someone or something didn't seem right. Americans should support the postal worker,The same way we support teachers,firefighters,police,military etc.Buy some stamps, and tell your congressman or woman to save Sat delivery.

Posted by: ernmanew | April 5, 2010 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Most of these comments are 'retail' and don't consider the questions in your brief introduction, the business side.

In Hawai`i, for more years than I can remember, Christmas catalogs mailed to arrive -- one would hope -- before Christmas, actually get to receivers in late January or February. The reason: Honolulu postmasters routinely put them in a warehouse and "get to them" when the Christmas rush ends. And that's a fact that I'm sure some high-level folks on Oahu will quickly deny.

The move of the USPS from it's intended position as a government agency to a quasi-private enterprise many years ago was a disaster. Every time the government does that the citizens suffer.

Consider, for example, the increasing use of private agencies such as Blackwater in war and the horrible consequences of contracts to BKR and Halliburton.

At the beginning of our nation, freedom of the press was made possible by free or nearly free mail of news publications to the public, yes, a subsidy on information so vital to democracy. In that and in so many ways, our government has lost track of the necessity of the public for the flow of information between citizens and all the sources of data required. And not all on the internet.

I say tuck the post office back under its original government wing and start a fad in returning our nation to its original goals.

Posted by: HawaiiBill | April 5, 2010 3:45 PM | Report abuse

We can save money by going to every other day delivery, six days a week. Odd number ending Zip codes get delivery on odd number days. Even number ZIP codes on even numbered days.
Most of the mail I get is junk mail that I throw out.
In my business I do a mass mailing twice a year. At the beginning and the ending of the season. 90% of our orders are received electronically. Most of our customers want tracking so 80% of our shipping is other than U.S. Mail.

Posted by: hijayray | April 5, 2010 11:09 PM | Report abuse

America has the best postal system in the world, considering the price of a stamp and the size of the country. If we have to forego Saturday delivery to keep the prices stable, I'm totally for that. And I think my letter carrier would love to have weekends off, which he doesn't now. Come to think of it, if all residential areas were on a 3-day per week delivery cycle, I wouldn't mind that, either.

Posted by: CarlosInReston | April 6, 2010 8:13 AM | Report abuse

Losing a day of mail delivery, regardless of which day is chosen, doesn't matter to me.

Any mail that is of true importance sits at the post office for my signature or is delivered by a same day service to my door at my convenience anyway.

If we could get rid of all the junk mail we'd lessen the mail load by so much that it might even help reduce the costs of maintaining the postal service.

All said, email is where I get the bulk of my mail. I've gone paperless for all of my redundant bills, I fax documents from home whenever needed, all banking is done online, personal and business purchasing and ordering is done online which provides delivery to my door. Soup to nuts....most everything is online.

Best thing I can say is 5 day postal service will mean that I should be looking at UPS/FEDEX, etc. for investment purchases!

Posted by: rjs_donal | April 6, 2010 11:15 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company