The USPS (United States Post Office) is and has been facing a financial, service, and public relations crisis the past few years, before current Postmaster Louis DeJoy was appointed to run the Postal Service by its Board of Governors last May 2020.
It was an odd hire as Mr. DeJoy, unlike other postmasters, had no USPS experience and had been working in the private sector. Shortly after he started the position, he started imposing cost-cutting measures that many mail carriers had blamed for creating backlogs across the country.
I remember reading an article last year that he ordered 1 of the 5 Queens Super-Sorter Machines to cease operations, to reduce mail sorting expenses. Each one of these Super-Sorters can sort over 1,000,000 letters per day. As a business owner in Queens, last year I noticed my mail was taking 1-3 days longer than usual to arrive at their destination.
As per Forbes and the Washington Post, The FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) is investigating Postmaster Louis DeJoy in connection with campaign fundraising activity, allegedly made by employees who worked for him when he was in the private sector.
After last week’s USPS board meeting, it has become clear that the USPS will be changing its operations starting October 1, 2021. Mr. DeJoy presented a 10-year plan that he says “will reduce expenses by $170 million per year” and improve service by “intentionally” slowing down the delivery of first-class mail from 1-3 days to 1-5 days. It is estimated that 30% of first-class regular mail will take between 4-5 days instead of 1-3 days. This seems counter-intuitive and could change how many of us pay our bills and services. They will stop flying first-class mail and instead transport it by truck.
There are pluses and minuses to this strategy, trading time for money. In Arizona and parts of the west coast, driverless trucks are being tested.
The USPS has been hemorrhaging financially for years and certainly can use a system overhaul as they lost $3 billion in the first quarter of 2021; however, I am not convinced that this is the answer.
The question is, what does this all mean to business owners and the “Regular Joe’s” across the country? I have been paying my bills (company and personal) through the internet for many years. There are situations where you receive a bill in the mail which is due in under 2 weeks. I do NOT see companies sending you paper bills 2-3 days earlier to offset these intentional slowdowns; hence, we must make the necessary changes to adjust. See my tips below as to how to save money and combat these changes:
1. Move Your Internet Bill Pay up 2-3 Days: For those who already pay online, consider having your mortgage and other important time-sensitive checks arrive on the 28th of the previous month instead of the first.
2. Consider Setting Up Auto-Bill-Pay Through the Internet: There are many people whether old-school, technology challenged or those concerned about bank account hacking that still write paper checks. Some just do not trust the system. A definition of insanity can be “doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.”
3. Buy Forever Stamps: The current price for a standard weight rectangular envelope is 55 cents. If you buy forever stamps, when the charges are increased in the future to say 70 cents, the USPS will still accept your 55-cent stamp using the “forever” style stamp hence, saving on inflation.
4. Plan Further in Advance When Paying Bills by Mail: If you write out or schedule your online bill pay on the 21st of the month, consider moving the date up to the 17th or 18th.
5. Familiarize Yourself with Standard Priority Mail: If you have important mail that must get there in 1-3 business days, consider using USPS Standard Priority Mail which costs $7.95 and includes tracking. Keep in mind, if you wait until the last minute and your mail needs to be received overnight, the USPS “Priority Express” will set you back a hefty $26.25.
Regardless of how you pay your bills, it is important to understand, as of October 1, 2021, there will be major changes to how your regular snail-mail is sent so it is best to be prepared!