Yesterday marked the 4th postal rate increase in 5 years.
I am on deadline for a few projects so today will be a pretty short blog post. I just wanted to share some of my feelings about the Postal rate increase and give you some interesting facts. As I pointed out above, this is the fourth postal rate increase in the past five years –but did you know that the amount of mail delivered by the US Postal Service has dropped almost 6% and the number of employees increased by 5% during that same period.
I was listening to the radio and learned that the USPS, with 800,000 employees, is the third largest employer in the United States after the Department of Defense and Wal-Mart. The average salary of a USPS employee is 3 times greater than the average Wal-Mart employee and they have the kind of benefits that you or I could only dream about.
So what are we getting for our 41 cent stamp? More employees, delivering less mail, at higher prices. It sounds like they need some competition to me. If you mail a 1-ounce card to your sister you will pay 41-cents, but Lands End or Brookstone can mail a 4 ounce catalog to you for about 15-cents. If you wonder why you get so much junk mail, now you know.
The sad fact is that ordinary users who send first class mail, and parcel post have subsidized the business users for years.
And then there is the retail business: When you are standing in line at the post office have you ever noticed all the stuff for sale. There are calling cards that only a dufus would buy because they cost almost double per minute as the ones you can buy at 7-11. They sell toy mail trucks, stuffed animals, overpriced special mailers and other stuff that no one buys. So the post office is competing with local merchants and losing money doing it. A congressional budget office report last year showed that the postal service loses over $30,000,000 a year on their retail services. The only profitable line of products the postal service sell is stamps. You would think they would realize that and stick to the basics.
The USPS provides a valuable service that a private company could never duplicate. They deliver mail to every address in American including Eskimos in McGrath Alaska and a farmer living at the end of a ten mile rural road. UPS or FedEx would never do that at a reasonable price, but one of those companies could take over the Junk Mail delivery business instead of having it subsidized by the rest of us.
What can we do about this. I guess you could try writing your congressperson, but I doubt if they will do anything about it. They have heard these complaints from us for years and nothing changes.
As for the average eBay seller, even with the rate increase the USPS often delivers packages for less than the private carriers –but not always. In yesterday’s blog I mentioned a new service called Shipping Sidekick that can compare the rates on a package between USPS, FedEx, DHL and UPS. As shipping rates continue to rise, getting the lowest rates will be important to remain competitive.
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