This communication was sent to all United Mail’s clients and vendors on Wednesday, September 16th, 2020.
Dear Valued Customer,
When it comes to communicating with your customers, you place your trust in United Mail to be stewards of your business and to treat your customers the same way you do. With you and your business in mind, we want to address the recent news surrounding the United States Postal Service over the last few months.
My intention in writing this message is to provide you with as much information as we have access to from the USPS. I also intend to clarify our relationship with the USPS, where they begin, and United Mail ends, how we partner and to what extent. Our goal, like yours, is to ensure you are experiencing the highest level of service and we are meeting or exceeding your expectations.
As you likely already know, but we think it warrants repeating today, United Mail is NOT an agent of the United States Postal Service and we do NOT employ anyone from the USPS.
How United Mail works with the United States Postal Service:
- United Mail processes your mail file to optimize your postage discounts from the USPS.
- United Mail ensures all required codes are added to your mailing pieces prior to entry into the USPS system.
- United Mail prepares all of the postal paperwork for each project and submits it on your behalf to the USPS.
- United Mail employees are experts in processing your mail to meet the standards set by the USPS for delivery to its final destination.
- United Mail has cultivated relationships with USPS employees who are specifically trained to work with companies like us to keep us informed of the latest processes and offerings of the organization.
- United Mail stays informed of all USPS changes and processes through our direct communication with the agency, reliable news sources, and industry experts.
- United Mail provides square footage to accommodate the USPS employee who works out of our production facilities to clear mail each day. (This person is a USPS employee exclusively)
The United States Postal Service has been in the news almost daily over the last few weeks. We are listening, asking questions, and processing what is fact, what is fiction, and what requires our action. Our assessment today is that most of what the mainstream media is covering about the USPS is not rooted in facts about the agency, it’s scope of work, and its ability to control outside forces.
Here is perspective from Mailers Hub, a mailing industry organization providing mailers with critical information and access to the latest news updates:
From Mailers Hub News Special Issue 6 August 27, 2020 – What is the United States Postal Service? – An independent agency within the Executive Branch of the US Government, the Postal Service has several unique characteristics, including its Universal Service Obligation, monopolies over the carriage of addressed letters and access to the mailbox, and the mandates to be self-supporting and to fully prefund future retiree costs.
Despite that official independence, many aspects of the agency’s business are regulated by the Postal Regulatory Commission, and Congress frequently uses its political and legislative power to meddle in a wide range of postal issues, from establishing community ZIP codes to the closure of processing facilities and other operational matters.
The USPS has staff representatives assigned to liaison with Congressional offices in the field and in Washington but the agency is barred by law from lobbying and cannot offer support to political candidates (financially or otherwise), leaving it disadvantaged in efforts to persuade legislators or counter the messaging of the labor unions.
The Postal Service is traditionally closed-mouth about dis-closing details of its finances, operations, or other internal business beyond what’s required by law. It’s also averse to issuing statements of fact or clarification, let alone refuting media reports. As has been recently illustrated, this reticence has left it to play catch-up in explaining its actions after they’ve been taken and disclosed by others – usually the unions, who are much more adept at presenting their story lines first than is the USPS.
As the pandemic took hold, the impact began to be manifest.
- Loss of mail volume – Spreading contagion led to lockdowns, quarantines, travel restrictions, and other measures that severely depressed business activity. The volume of mail, especially Marketing Mail, fell sharply, driven by the absence of a reason to advertise to potential customers unable to visit closed businesses.
- Absenteeism – Like other segments of the population, and though considered essential workers (the USPS remained in operation), postal employees still fell ill, were quarantined, or had to tend to family members. Absenteeism quickly became a problem for the USPS, especially in areas of significant infection, with obvious results for the staffing levels required to operate equipment, distribute mail, or deliver it. Replacing absent workers with temporary help offered limited benefit given the time required to recruit, select, and train such individuals.
- Transportation – Sharply decreased air travel resulted in airlines grounding hundreds of aircraft, in turn eliminating much of the air transportation capacity used by the USPS to move First-Class Mail, Priority Mail, and similar products. Though UPS and FedEx remained valuable sources of “lift,” significant volume that once flew was forced onto slower ground transportation.
- Parcels – As retail stores and other businesses closed, customers turned to on-line shopping to have items delivered to them, quickly resulting in a surge of parcels flooding the Postal Service and other shippers. Delivery operations, aside from having to deal with absenteeism, had to adapt to moving fewer letters and flats but a growing volume of parcels.
- Revenue and cost shifts – Along with volume, revenue from letter and flat mail fell sharply, but revenue from increased parcel volume more than offset the loss. However, between staffing short-ages and the greater work content of higher parcel volume, work-hour (and overtime) usage shot up, exceeding planned levels sometimes by 10% or more.
Mailers Hub News Special Issue 6 August 27, 2020
We have heard from many of our clients about their mail delivering on time or within the expected timeframe published by the USPS. Based on the information we have today, we have not experienced significant delays from the USPS in terms of delivery. Pinpointing delivery delays is only possible by using a mail tracking process like United Track. This service allows you access to an online dashboard that shows you where your mail is located in the USPS system and when it delivers to the recipients’ street or carrier route. You can track your mail all the way from when it leaves United Mail to when the mail carrier has it in their bag.
Today, our findings are that mail is delayed in some cases, but this is not wide-spread. We have as much confidence in the United States Postal Service today as we have had for the past 40 years of working with the agency.
We are here to answer your questions as they arise. Thank you for trusting us with your business. It means the world to us.
With sincere thanks,