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End of Saturday mail to hit consumers?

By Claes Bell ·
Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Posted: 1 pm ET

Hoping to mail off that bill at the last moment to avoid late fees? It better not be on a Saturday.

The U.S. Postal Service announced Wednesday it is ceasing Saturday delivery and pickup of mail from businesses and residences as of Aug. 1 to try to stem the massive losses it has experienced in recent years. Delivery of packages to homes and businesses -- and full service to post office boxes -- will continue six days a week, and post offices that now operate on Saturday will continue to do so.

"The Postal Service is advancing an important new approach to delivery that reflects the strong growth of our package business and responds to the financial realities resulting from America's changing mailing habits," said Patrick R. Donahoe, postmaster general and CEO, in a statement. "We developed this approach by working with our customers to understand their delivery needs and by identifying creative ways to generate significant cost savings."

The USPS reported an annual loss of nearly $16 billion in 2012, and Congress has been slow to implement reforms that could put it on sounder financial footing. The agency expects five-day delivery to save $2 billion per year after it's fully phased in. That's a small fraction of the agency's red ink. Indeed, a 2011 Government Accountability Office report concluded that "ending Saturday delivery would reduce costs, but comprehensive restructuring is also needed."

The USPS cited internal research and media reports indicating that 70 percent of Americans supported the move as a way for the agency to cut costs and improve its financial position.

For consumers, the impact will likely be felt in terms of payment flexibility and turnaround times for sending and receiving communications with banks.

For example, consumers who normally would have waited until after depositing their paycheck Friday before sending out a credit card payment Saturday will now face a choice between incurring late fees and hoping their paycheck clears before their payment does. Should that fail to happen, the result could be hefty overdraft fees on their checking accounts.

However, your bank's ability to receive any payments you manage to send will probably be unaffected, as many large businesses have special relationships with the USPS that allow them to receive mail more frequently than regular customers.

"We pick up from the USPS and process payments seven days a week, including all major holidays," says a spokeswoman for JPMorgan Chase & Co. "If a customer's payment arrives in the lockbox on a Saturday or Sunday prior to our 5 p.m. local time cut-off, we will date the payment as of that day."

Overall, the negative impact on customers may not be what it would have been a few years ago, thanks to direct deposit and the sort of Web-based financial innovation that's partially responsible for the Postal Service's dire financial straits. Many people now get their paychecks directly deposited, and electronic bill-pay and other online services allow consumers to pay bills instantly as soon as they have the money in their checking account to do so.

That being said, if you have lost your debit card or have some other urgent need to receive mail from a bank, you won't be able to do so on weekends any longer -- and that could lead to financial hardship for some.

What do you think? Will you miss Saturday mail delivery?

Update: Spokespeople from Citibank and Wells Fargo say they don't expect their ability to receive weekend mail to be affected.

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February 09, 2013 at 4:45 pm

If it helps the post office stay solvent, it is fine with me.

Judy Erickson
February 09, 2013 at 4:43 pm

When I was little, we got mail twice a day, six days a week. Removing Saturday delivery means a cost savings.

February 09, 2013 at 4:34 pm

I will be really disapointed if Saturday delivery stops. I get many checks on Saturday that affect my personal finances and ability to live. This will mean 2 more days of waiting to receive these checks. I am siding with the mail carriers to keep delivering on Saturdays. I think it is necessary to keep our bills, income up to date.

Jim Kelley
February 09, 2013 at 4:33 pm

The post office needs to be brought into the 21st century with its business model. I have not mailed a letter for over 6 years, including paying my bills. I do all of it online. I find it faster, more convenient and certainly more reliable. I have opted for paperless billing with all my credit cards and utilities, meaning the only things I find in my mailbox are circulars and other ads. The post office needs to concentrate on it's package delivery services. That area is one with profit potential.

February 09, 2013 at 4:27 pm

If the USPS looking more cuts? if so stop selling ie, boxes,lables,post cards and any and all things THAT don`t need to be in the post offices.They can go back to being a Post Office not a office supply store.

February 09, 2013 at 4:22 pm

If the USPS was a private business and cared about its costomers it would close on Monday not Saturday.

February 09, 2013 at 4:00 pm

My concern is with the federal holidays that fall on Monday. So that means NO mail for three days. Four days on and three days off - not bad!

February 09, 2013 at 3:55 pm

For those of you that have no idea what will happen if the postal service goes to five day delivery. There are far over 10,000 letter carriers that used to be called T-6 they would cover for the regular carrier on their route when they were off, that way the carrier worked five days. what is the post office going to do with all of these T-6 carriers. There is not enough positions in the post office to put them. This could wreck the economy with all these people out of work, unemployment would go over the roof. Lets be real.

February 09, 2013 at 3:52 pm

I have all bills sent to my address , if they don't want to send it then I don't need there bussiness , because of people paying on line or the phone is why the USPS is in trouble

Michelle Teal
February 09, 2013 at 3:45 pm

The idea of reducing Saturday mail is acceptable but I hope that this doesn't signal a trend. I do not trust emails and the banks. I still pay bills in the mail to have a papertrail to manage our finances. What if the data at your bank is destroyed by maintime hackers?? This is an issue of trust and common sense. I put my trust in the hard-working folds at the USPS. And, by the way, does anyone remember how many people would be out work if the whole structure collapses?