The United States Postal Service has been in the news a lot lately, and not for anything particularly positive. Shortly after Louis DeJoy, the new Postmaster General took office back in June, reports began about USPS mailboxes suddenly being removed en masse, hundreds of mail-sorting machines also being removed from processing centers, and worker overtime pay being cancelled.
Whether you believe that such actions are politically motivated or not, the fact is that the USPS has been struggling financially for a while now. Then COVID hit, making things even worse. These recent attempts to save money may be dramatic and troublesome (and somewhat ill-timed), but they are not the first ones. Nor does it look like they will be the last.
What do all the cutbacks at the USPS mean to you? It means planning ahead when it comes to things like:
-Timing of deliveries
-Sending mail and packages
The removal of mailboxes immediately raised concerns about how it would affect mail-in voting. It seemed too much of a coincidence that mailboxes were disappearing from certain areas/demographics with an election only a few months away, and with more people than ever planning on voting by mail to mitigate COVID concerns.
DeJoy has denied any political motivation to his cost-cutting measures. However, to counteract voting concerns, any further cutbacks are being halted until after Election Day. And USPS is planning on launching a full-scale marketing blitz to reassure voters and tell them how to ensure they meet their state and national voting deadlines.
Enacted cutbacks have already resulted in delivery delays. If worker hours continue to be cut and equipment designed to streamline the process is removed, there is a very real potential for even greater delivery delays. This includes the delivery of any essentials, such as mail-order prescriptions, paychecks, etc.
You can attempt to counteract such delays by anticipating them. Try to order items as far in advance as possible. Doing so better ensures you get your vital deliveries when you need them. Companies who rely on your business–and on USPS to ship their products–are also aware of increased delays. So, they may be more willing to ship sensitive products (e.g. prescriptions) sooner.
With fewer mailboxes available and shortened hours at your local post office, your opportunities for sending mail and packages are likely to become that much more restricted. Similar to planning ahead for delivery delays, you do the same for mailing things.
Mail birthday cards, bill payments, and packages a day or two–or more–earlier than you would normally. Especially when it comes to time-sensitive things like these, “the sooner the better” should become your mailing motto.
Unless something amazing happens, odds are that the USPS will continue to tighten its belt for as long as it can to fend off a complete shutdown. But by knowing that, and planning accordingly, you can continue to utilize and make the most of its services.
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Image attribution: Photo by Holly Vegter – www.shutterstock.com