Unfortunately, your package delivery with the USPS is about to get significantly slower. It started with letters but now packages will take longer to arrive due to changes being made by USPS Post Master General Louis DeJoy
To give you an idea of how this will work, consider the following: If a first-class package arrives 3-days after it was shipped it will be counted as being late. However, new standards that will be taking effect next month in May say roughly 30% of packages will only be considered late if it arrives four to five days after it was shipped.
The reason this is taking place is that the USPS is trying to save money by relying more on its ground shipping services rather than its air shipping services. This cost-cutting move is a big step in their effort to save money but at the same time will likely hurt their quality of service.
Important USPS Changes
May 1st is when the changes will take place and the first to be targeted will be packages that are traveling first-class. For the most part, only lightweight and small packages will be affected. This includes prescription drug orders and other items of similar size/weight. Currently, 20% of packages in this category have a two-day standard while 80% are held to a standard of 3 days.
Naturally, some packages will have their deliveries delayed. This is particularly true if the package has to travel a long distance to reach the recipient. Despite this, the USPS says that this new way of doing things will not affect 64% of packages considered to be first-class and that 2% of packages should be arriving as a part of the two-day standard now instead of three.
The UPSP spokesperson, Kim Frum, stated in an NPR interview that the USPS wants to improve the customer experience and provide a service that is both reliable and affordable. It was also said that the coming changes to the standards of service it offered will better efficiency and more time for transportation throughout the USPS’s networks.
It should be mentioned that these changes come after first-class letter delivery was slowed last fall. Originally the change to package delivery time was to be a part of that move, however, they were instead pushed back to the spring which is why the package delivery time alteration will take place in May.
Speaking of which, first-class delivery for either a package or piece of mail had an average of 2.7 days in the 2022 first quarter according to the USPS. Interestingly enough, on-time deliveries for first-class mail have fallen to 86.7% this quarter from a high of 90% in the fall.
USPS Policy Shifts
Over the past two years, there has been heated debate concerning the USPS and its mission and goals. This came quickly after Louis DeJoy was appointed to the position of Postmaster General by former President Trump. The appointment led to much criticism of DeJoy’s cost-cutting plans which have affected delivery times. Furthermore, DeJoy was revealed to be under federal investigation last summer for allegations of violations concerning his campaign finances while he was leading New Breed Logistics. DeJoy is also known to be a major Republican politician donator.
One of the reasons the USPS claims that getting better efficiency from its ground transportation network is a big goal is that its trucks allegedly only run at 40% capacity. It also says that by making changes to its service, shipping will be more reliable and that it won’t be as affected by the costs of air transportation and other changing conditions.
One thing of note, however, is that the Postal Regulatory Commission stated multiple times that DeJoy’s plan could have a disproportionately negative effect on USPS customers in comparison to the USPS bottom line. The PRC is the USPS’s regulator and last September they agreed advisory opinion last September that package volume for longer shipping times was failing to meet goals consistently. It also stated that the USPS tends to provide better service when using its own network.
Despite this, the PRC has also stated that the data the USPS is using to create new shipping/business models is questionable since it came from October 2020 which was a unique time thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic. As a result, they are wary about whether or not accurate predictions can be made using this data.
Taking all of this into account, the PRC said that the savings the USPS estimates that it will get with the changes are likely exaggerated. This also factors in the driver shortage and the USPS not having a detailed idea of customer preferences, two additional challenges to the cost-cutting plan.
The Postal Regulatory Commission’s Doubts
Given all of the information that they have been provided with, the Postal Regulatory Commission has expressed major doubts concerning the USPS’s ability to carry out its proposed cost-cutting plan. Regarding the matter, the PRC said that it doesn’t have faith that the USPS can achieve a high level of quality with the various changes they’re making.
That’s not all. The PRC has also commented on the USPS’s financial situation stating that there would not be a major effect on it once the changes take place.
This isn’t the first time the PRC has raised such concerns regarding the USPS’s situation. Last summer it also expressed its doubts when the USPS revealed its plan to delay the delivery of first-class letters.Overall the situation is one in which USPS prices continue to go up while the quality of service continues to go down. In fact, the USPS is proposing a price hike on its first-class stamps from 58 cents to 60 cents. It should be mentioned that around the same time during the previous year the price for first-class stamps was only 55 cents. The USPS has blamed inflation and increased operating expenses for this price increase.