Everyone is used to occasional USPS delays, especially after COVID-19. Even with the occasional hiccup, it’s nice to know that the Postal Service is reliable and reasonably speedy as compared to more expensive shipping companies. However, the organization just announced that slower mail is about to become a permanent fixture.
Starting this Friday, the Postal Service will establish new service standards for first-class mail and periodicals. USPS spokesperson Kim Frum told USA Today that the target delivery time for these mail classes will slow down by about 30 percent.
The change will primarily affect mail that travels long distances, such as parcels traveling from New York to California. Frum assured the public that other first-class and periodical mail will still be delivered at the same rate. “Most first-class mail (61%) and periodicals (93%) will be unaffected,” she explained.
The USPS categorizes first-class mail as standard-sized letters and single-piece envelopes weighing up to 3.5 ounces. Large envelopes and small packages that weigh up to 13 ounces fall under that label as well. In contrast, first-class packages are those that way up to 15.99 ounces. First-class mail and first-class packages currently have the same two-day delivery time. Come Friday, first-class packages will have slower rates.
USPS shipping rates will also change.
In addition to slowing down shipping time for certain mail, the USPS plans to increase the prices on some parcels. From October 3 through December 26, charges will go up on all commercial and retail domestic packages due to the holiday season, Frum told NPR that international products will not be affected.
Part of the reason the Postal Service will increase rates and lengthen delivery times is that it plans to use more ground transportation. New leadership in the organization claims that ground transportation is more reliable and cost-effective than air transportation.
All these new policies are part of the USPS 10-Year-Plan titled “Delivering for America,” which Postmaster General and Chief Executive Officer Louis DeJoy announced back in March.
“The need for the U.S. Postal Service to transform to meet the needs of our customers is long overdue,” DeJoy said. “Our Plan calls for growth and investments, as well as targeted cost reductions and other strategies that will enable us to operate in a precise and efficient manner to meet future challenges, as we put the Postal Service on a path for financial sustainability and service excellence.”
What should you do to avoid costly delivery fees and lengthier transit times? While there aren’t any loopholes in USPS prices, it’s always a good idea to compare different shipping rates and transit times for different services. Chances are you will still get a cheaper rate through USPS than other delivery companies for small packages. For large packages, other services may offer more cost-effective options.