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End of Saturday mail to hit consumers?

By Claes Bell, CFA · Bankrate.com
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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197 Comments
Phillip C
February 08, 2013 at 11:49 pm

THANKS DARRYL-

Wendy Burt
February 08, 2013 at 11:42 pm

I will be affected by the fact that I am a netflix subscriber...that just means another day in which the monthly fee I pay, will be wasted. I won't be able to receive dvd's on Saturday or ship them. I think it might hurt netflix the most, as many might cancel their memberships like me.

Jeff
February 08, 2013 at 11:33 pm

The only things I get in my mail are unsolicited mail and advertisements. Only real mail i get is Christmas cards or birthday cards and for those I can live without having Saturday mail delivery. I do not use the mail unless I have no other alternative. It isn't reliable. I have test mailed a letter to my next door neighbor during non peak time of year and it took 7 business days to get to him, so why depend on the mail. I pay my bills by direct bank ACH transactions. I have all my checks direct deposited. If I must pay something immediately I go directly to their web site and it is posted immediately and I have a written confirmation in seconds.

Darryl
February 08, 2013 at 11:32 pm

Junk Mail?, well someone bought and sold the ink, someone used a printer or publisher, someone paid for newspaper space and ads, someone took it to the Post Office for delivery, and by the way when its all said and done and when you throw the "junk Mail in the trash, it's someone's job to pick up your trash.
It's a big picture, get it!!!!!!!

Phillip C
February 08, 2013 at 11:30 pm

DORI
REMEMBER THAT UPS AND FEDEX DO NOT HAVE SERVICE EVERYWHERE. THEY RELY ON USPS TO MAKE THINGS HAPPEN IN RURAL AREAS.
THE POSTAL SERVICE IS AS OLD AS AMERICA AND PART OF OUR CONSTITUON. PEOPLE RELY ON THE POSTAL SERVICE SO DONT MAKE SUCH SELFISH COMMENTS.
JUST SO YOU KNOW I DELETE ECARDS AND DONT APPRECIATE THE LACK OF THOUGHT THAT GOES ALONG WITH THEM. i APPRECIATE CARDS WITH THOUGHT AND PERSONAL THINGS LIKE A ACTUAL SIGNITURE OF A LOVED FAMILY MEMBER, OR SOMETHING CREATED SPECIAL FOR ME BY MY CHILDREN. THE INTERNET WILL NEVER PROVIDE THE HUMAN RELATION A LETTER OR CARD CAN.
THERE IS NOTHING MORE POWERFUL THAN THE WRITTEN WORD. FOR SOME REASON I BELIEVE THE BIBLE WOULD HAVE LESS MEANING IF IT WAS WRITTEN ORIGIONALLY TO A FLASH DRIVE..

Terry Lee
February 08, 2013 at 11:23 pm

If cutting mail delievery by 16.67% (one day) only produces a mere $2 billion savings of red ink, why doesn't it save 16.67% of the postal service cost? Wouldn't it be better to get service every other day and to see as much as a 50% savings? Who need daily mail service any more anyway. It's a relic from day gone by.

Rapid Roy
February 08, 2013 at 9:51 am

It is about being responsible yourself. One day should not make an impact on your payments. You can actually take your mail to the post office and it will be handled quickly.

Carole forman
February 07, 2013 at 6:06 pm

Can't remember the last time I actually got a real letter. All the rest is junk mail or bills which can be delivered during the five days of mail. No problem for me! Email is my mail and most bills either paid online or from the bank.

William Turri
February 07, 2013 at 1:56 pm

I am with the other post ,Saturday Mail Delivery wont affect me one way or the other,all of my Bills andcorrespondence with other people are thru the internet now.If someone sends me a letter I usually wont get right away as my mailbox is outside my apartment building and I always forget to check (may be get my mail once or twice a week).That being said the internet will now become more cluttered with ads we dont get by mail.
Those people effected are going to be the ones who dont have bank accounts or direct deposits or a way to pay bills online.But these people need to address this issue themselves have a way to get online.
I wont miss Saturday delivery too much..

Dori jeffries
February 07, 2013 at 1:25 pm

Most of my mail is junk mail,advertisements. Stuff I throw away
I don't need mail even five days a week. Ipay my bills by phone
or on line. Don't sent christmas cards anymore. My friends have other ways to communicate. What I am saying is the Postal Service is outdated and archaic.