Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Mailers Getting Cold Feet About Postal Service Cuts

Recent problems with slow deliveries are causing some mail-dependent companies to think twice about supporting the radical downsizing of the U.S. Postal Service. Good idea.

An influential group of publication printers sent a letter to postal management last week to “express our concerns over the recent increase of customer complaints related to the late delivery of their catalogs and magazines."

“SCF drop shipments have increased from 3-day to 5-day at a large percentage of facilities,” stated the letter from Idealliance’s POISE committee. The POISE printers produce and distribute more than 70% of the Postal Service’s flat mail. Mailers typically look to these printers for help navigating operational issues with the Postal Service, including late deliveries.

The letter, which was distributed via Idealliance to numerous mailers, notes that postal management has asked the printers to support its “aggressive network optimization initiative.”

“To date, we have publicly supported the efforts of the US Postal Service, but the POISE group feels this is becoming increasingly difficult as we face these delivery issues and concerns from frustrated and unsatisfied customers.”

If they think things are bad now, they should take another look at what might happen if all of Postmaster General Pat Donahoe’s recently announced cuts are carried out. The USPS’ Radical Plan: Good in theory, potential chaos in reality, my article in the new issue of Publishing Executive magazine, explains why.

In short, it’s not that there aren’t plenty of opportunities to make the Postal Service more efficient, as noted in yesterday’s article Why Mailers Support Radical Downsizing of the Postal Service. The problem is that the groundwork hasn’t been laid for successfully restructuring USPS and ramping up its efficiency.

Real productivity improvement is built on a foundation of investments -- in equipment, technology, training, procedures, etc. Donahoe’s plan to downsize the USPS workforce by 30% in the next four years is like trying to install the roof before the foundation has been laid.

Mailers should expect more customer service problems in the next few years if politicians force the Postal Service to make huge cost cuts without giving it the resources to work more efficiently.

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Anonymous said...

The magazines are late because of new automation, called FSS and we get all our stuff late. The post office refuses to see it. It really sucks for us letter carriers to have to deliver them so late. All I can say is Im sorry and please continue to support us durning this difficult time and that means SIX day delivery!

Anonymous said...

SIX day delivery is pretty much off the table, sorry for your luck. It is no longer business as usual - you can't lose $8 billion a year without some radical changes. Blaming automation for late delivery simply makes no sense. Neither does having the same number of employees/total employee workhours make sense with the lower volumes. As printers and mailers, we have learned to survive through doing more with less - it is time the USPS came up with a similar business model

Anonymous said...

ditto, usps spent billions on flat sorting machines the size of football fields. and they do not work.
and lately, there was that pesty rural mail count. the less mail delivered during that time meant more money for the usps for the next year.

Anonymous said...

same number employees? 120,000 less means less to process, means more time to process, means later arrival, means later delivery, means less on time service, means more complaints, means more employees cut? brilliant strategy!!

Anonymous said...

15% of carrier positions were cut in 2008, which means routes are longer (street time-number of stops). Another 'route adjustment' process added more street time in 2010. Akk of this was done based on lower mail volume. The missing variable is that from about 1980 through 2008, mail volume increased every year, while carrier positions dropped.
The last two 'route adjustments' mean management pushes carriers to use less office time (sorting catalogs, parcels, letters which cannot be sorted on automation equipment. The return of bulk mail catalogs means management just tells carriers to delay bulk rate 'color-code tagged' by USPS own system (by 1-4 days,typically), to cull out mailer dates printed on catalogs. Another advertising form of mail, the postcard sorted in DPS (auto-sorted delivery sequence letters), takes extra street time because they are usually close to complete coverage and putting 2, 3 or even 4 mailings means carriers trying to separate the postcards WHICH STICK TOGETHER, thus stopping, either their walking, or spending extra time sitting at each rural/mounted delivery stop (you can't page through mail while driving).
Finally, surprise/surprise, management gets bonuses ('Pay-for-performance') by keeping office time lower, among other various 'measurements' that are really not based on daily workload.
Selling Congress and the Postal Regulatory Commission on their justifications for automation equipment (lower office time) and the high number of management at USPS (and their 'bonuses') trumps following the carrier labor contract and providing actual timely delivery of bulk mailings, every day. But, the multiple layers of management that 'report' their daily analysis of delivery standards, volume, labor hours, etc ALWAYS make said management look very, very impressive: ON PAPER.

Anonymous said...

If the nalc and the narlc would stop telling their members to slow down and force the USPS to increase jobs is the real problem. The carriers are cappable and the products are in a place to help the carrier do more in less time. THere are too many cariers that feel their "Old School" way is the best way. Let them get rid of the dead weight carriers and window clerks and hire the Vets coming back from the Middle East, that want to do the job, and will do it better with more courtesy, because the want to, not because of Mnagement/union rules that say they have to. Which the current employment rolls prove on a daily basis. 5 day delivery will weed out the undesireables and the pension waiting hanger ons. Love the job, do the job or get another. The jobis bigger than you, it is Community Service.

Steve Riggs, Kentucky said...

Huge news-eBay sent out an email to its millions of members asking them to communicate with Congress about assisting the USPS. This is a huge grass roots effort. Sellers on eBay use USPS frequently

Anonymous said...

After the draconian massacre of the USPS is accomplished BY THE MINORITY TEAPUBLICAN PARTY and the AMERICAN PEOPLE are saddled with no choice left regarding AFFORDABLE MAIL DELIVERY, there will be much remorse AND NOTHING THEY CAN DO but live with FedEx and UPS.
Another case of BUYERS REMORSE from the ELECTORATE that brought you "three pointed hats" and the rest of the paraphernalia of insanity that permeates Washington, DC today...too little...too late.

Anonymous said...

For gods sake, blaming the tea party folks for the USPS woes is waayyy out there, isn't it? USPS woes go back many years and the tea party has been around for about 2.
And yes, they have trimmed some employees, but not nearly the same percentage as the drop in volume. And guess what - they are hiring in my area.

Anonymous said...

yes, the u s postal service and knucklehead donahoe want the public and businesses to believe that the cutbacks won't hurt them. nothing could be farther from the truth. donahoe wants to take twice as long to deliver the publics first class mail and the ignorant knucklehead has the nerve to claim the the changes will be "imperceptible" to the public! imperceptible?! for those of you reaching for your dictionary i'll spare you the time. imperceptible means , "very slight or difficult
to see". donahoe is a complete fool if he thinks the public won't "see" that he is taking at least twice as long to deliver mail they send or twice as long for the usps to deliver first class mail sent to them! donahoe shows no respect for the mailing public. furthermore, donahoe apparently diosen't have any respect for the value of the first class service that the usps nowe delivers! donahoe also claims his slowdown of the mail will be "seemless" to the business community. lol, postal management gives great lip-service as i have heard this term from them before. in that instance, what they called seemless was in reality a delayed mail fiasco. there changes costs millions in added costs and uncountable delayed service to usps customers. yet, postal management described these changes as being "seemless." donahoe has to be fired and a complete overhaul of postal management is needed if the usps is to survive.