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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 1:18 am

Another brilliant idea by the USPS to drive revenue away. This will only encourage even more people to transact business via the internet and will make sense to the consumer because nobody wants continued postage increase and more days to send and receive mail. The choice is crystal-clear. THE INTERNET. To the elderly and to those who depend on a Saturday're on your own because you just clearly run out luck. The name of the game is Survival-of-the-fittest.

Cricket Wood
February 09, 2013 at 1:13 am

I still think it would be more prudent to keep Saturday service and eliminate Wednesday service.
This way any 'new' employees could be hired on a M-T or Th - Sat basis. Since they'd be working less than a full week, USPS wouldn't have to pay benefits. This would save untold amounts of money.
Those who did keep the 5 day week would have a break and be prepared to work better, with more enthusiasm the latter part of the week.
Giving a 2 day break in service will only lead to poor service and late fees for those who still use USPS for bills.

Beverly Adams
February 09, 2013 at 12:56 am

For all people who agree about no mail delivery on Sat, I hope you like getting your mail 2-3 days later than usual. We don't work 6 days, other employess are hired to carry the sixth day, they may no longer have jobs. Have you ever noticed getting mail later on Mondays than other days? That's because we don't deliver on Sun, but processing continues, getting more mail to us on Mon (or two days worth). What about Mon holidays (three days of mail), you will be getting your mail very late, maybe even on Wed. We don't get paid overtime, we get paid the same if we work 6 or 10 hours, the pay is the same for the day. Yes, there are many people who still don't use computers, don't want to or can't afford to, who still rely on the mail. Hey, I wouldn't mind not having delivery on Sat, it's working two days worth of mail in one day, and still getting done by 5PM, that is very hard on a body.

robert ballester
February 09, 2013 at 12:24 am

How will this effect the pay of the mailman? If they are working one less day per week will they be paid less? What about the savings made by not using the the mail trucks?

Donna DeMoura
February 09, 2013 at 12:22 am

Not a problem for me and I agree it is about time they instituted the 5 days a week delivery. Wish them luck. Agree with the comment about the government being involved--the unions certainly don't help matters either--look at Wonder Bread. Two bad for the people losing some money--maybe they'll have to get a part-time job like many others have to do to survive already. It's a hard sell, but we have all had to make adjustments in our lives--what's one more?

Maxine Frey
February 09, 2013 at 12:12 am

I am upset that the mail won't be delivered on Saturdays. I do mail bills and letters on Saturdays, and enjoy getting mail on the weekends no matter what it is. Many seniors either do not have computers by choice or because they haven't the income to purchase them. If they do have them, they may not wish to do their banking on line. Many seniors who are unable to get out that often and have few supports and whose children live far away, may be longing for that greeting card or letter that might come on Saturdays. They may be shut-ins or no longer able to drive and depend on the postman to pick up their mail and deliver it to the post office.

Unlike the above people, there are many Middle Age or older folks who still write letters or send greeting cards for Birthdays, Valentines Day, Christmas, Easter etc. by snail mail.
Often if Birthdays fall on Saturdays, people enjoy getting their cards on that day.

For all the postage increases we have been hit with the past years, the post office should not be in such debt and should still be able to deliver mail 6 days a week! I can remember as a child receiving mail twice a day during Christmas. The service was great and I don't remember the postal service being in such debt!

February 09, 2013 at 12:10 am

It will not bother me at all. The Postal department is losing money every day. They cannot offord to pay for medical, retirement and wages of their Union workers. Any time the Government gets involved with anything they lose money. Let the Postal Sevice be sold!

Ed Smith
February 09, 2013 at 12:00 am

The truth is the Postal Department can no longer bear expense due to Internet usage. Pure and simple. Junk mail has been paying the bills. Who writes letters as much as they used to? Lighten up...they are trying to reduce debt. Unfortunately, in the cycle of time, some jobs will be reduced. Get a life and get a job. If you want to work 5 days a week, then let them do the same. Truth is in being honest. Ed

Jeanne Knudson
February 08, 2013 at 11:59 pm

What about the 60,000 people who will no longer have jobs? One sixth of their very large workforce will be joining the unemployment lines. That will impact us all in the long run, as our governments struggle to pay these added benefits. And there will also be less taxes for the governments to use as these people will no longer be paying them. The Post Office (no longer Service) is the most mismanaged company in the world.

eva bencur
February 08, 2013 at 11:57 pm

so we are being uptodate and modern..I enjoy getting any kind of correspondence. a contact with the outer world. being of the old school and a little confused by on line stuff. AND what about all the people who will now be out of work? this is my story and glad of it.