Postal Service disdains rural U.S.

Published 10:30 am Thursday, September 5, 2013

After the Labor Day holiday, the U.S. Postal Service undergoes its latest change to save money. The last outstate mail processing center is closing. All letters and flat mail in Minnesota will now be sorted in the Eagan Mail Processing Center, packages are to be done in Minneapolis and St. Paul plants. While no postal employees will face unemployment, several truck contracting companies will lose many employees.

What is unknown to the public is the impact of this change. Mail a letter on, say, a Tuesday, it should arrive on Wednesday, right? Nope. It may arrive Wednesday; odds are much more likely it will not arrive until Thursday — possibly not until Friday!

Current operations place priority on customers — making certain people receive mail as soon as possible. Contracted trucks travel back in early afternoon to pick up mail and deliver it to dispatch points for pre-sorting. A few hours later, a van makes a trip to retrieve late arrivals. The trucks arrive from shortly before 5 p.m. to around 5:45 p.m. The vans, carrying the last of the mail, arrive between 6:15 p.m. and 7 p.m. This procedure makes sure everything is collected and delivered to the customer as soon as possible.

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The new procedure eliminates the vans entirely; there will be a single pickup per day with a mandated return to dispatch no later than 4 p.m. Eliminating the vans saves a considerable amount of money yearly. Trucks will leave the dispatch point later each day and return earlier.

This is the great plan to save money?

While it’s commendable that the post office implements cost savings, the problem is rural mail no longer seems to be of value by the U.S. Postal Service. These changes are from the top of the postal system. For years, USPS has demonstrated scant interest in rural America in general. Across the U.S., rural areas receive less quality of service. Office hours going to two, four or six hours; now, rural mail that is not ready by the truck departure time will sit. Need to get that letter sent off to pay a bill? Miss the truck (which in some instances leave before noon) and you may be late with the payment!

The idea is rural people are not going to notice a change. Those of us in the rural communities are used to the metro areas and large cities not even knowing we exist. In small towns, which if you do not live close to probably never knew they existed, we deserve quality of service. We deserve to not be an oversight. It is ironic the Postal Service views rural America as an expense they cannot remove. In fact, rural mail customers send and receive huge numbers of packages — the profitable side of the postal system.

This is not the first impact of quality or care from these changes. It’s only one of many, with more to come.


Kelly Olson