The United States Postal Service projects that it will have a $160 billion loss over the coming decade, so it needs to boost revenue and cut costs.
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy thinks he has the answer: offer slower service.
That's right, DeJoy's blueprint for making the USPS solvent includes cutting costs by slowing mail delivery for millions of Americans coupled with hoped-for increased revenues from postage rate hikes, CBS News reported.
However, critics have been quick to point out that this will likely discourage people from using the Post Office.
Starting Friday, DeJoy said, the postal service will officially begin slowing down mail delivery. According to CBS News, the USPS' three-day delivery for first-class mail, which includes letters, bills, and tax documents, will drop to five days. That means customers can expect their bills, letters, and other mail to take up to a business week to get delivered. The agency did say, though that it was keeping its two-day delivery for first-class mail traveling within a local area.
A USPS spokeswoman said in an email to CBS News, "The postal service has shown steady improvements for all first-class mail, marketing and periodical mail categories over the last seven months. We have worked tirelessly to overcome challenges from recent storms and continue to recruit thousands of employees for the upcoming holiday peak season."
But critics are not buying the positive spin and say the plan to slow the mail will only hurt the USPS.
Postal service expert and Lexington Institute senior fellow Paul Steidler told CBS News that the new plan is "disastrous" and "means mail delivery will be slower than in the 1970s."
He also pointed out that it will be the elderly, disabled, and rural people who will be most impacted by the new, slower delivery standards.
"It's the least fortunate who will be hurt hardest by this," he said. "Everything in American society is getting faster, it seems, except for the mail delivery — which is now going to get slower."
The intentional slowdown of bills, checks, and important documents, combined with postage hikes that were implemented in August, will probably make Americans less likely to use the USPS, experts said.
From CBS News:
It's possible that people who are paying their bills by mail and not prepared for the change could incur late fees, for instance, if their checks don't arrive on time. Others may face longer delivery times for important documents such as tax forms or passports. The change could further undermine customers' faith in the U.S. Postal Service, which took a hit in 2020 when delivery delays snarled everything from prescription medication to election ballots, experts say.
Even the federal Postal Regulatory Commission, which oversees the USPS, doubted whether the plan to slow down delivery would save the agency money, CBS News said.
But the PRC refused earlier this year to reject the USPS' plan after 21 state attorneys general asked them to, calling the plan a "misguided effort" that would negatively impact election mail and essential documents and "disproportionately impact elderly and rural residents, as well as individuals with disabilities."
Image source: CBS News video screenshot
Steidler emphasized his warning against the new plan in a statement to CBS News.
"When you reduce standards you perpetuate a vicious downward cycle," he said. "You tell people you can take your time delivering it. It causes people to lose confidence in the mail."