Small business owners will be affected by new standards from the U.S. Postal Service

The U.S. Postal Service adopted new delivery standards. This changes the time it takes for certain mail pieces to reach their destination.

Friday, October 8th 2021 in Economy by Mitch Alborn
Small business owners will be affected by new standards from the U.S. Postal Service

Changes in mail delivery could have major consequences for business owners who depend on shipping products, such as Tammy Jordan of Lincoln.

Jordan is a fiber artist, and an instructor. She founded Goldieknots Montana in 2016, where she sells yarn, crafts kits, and other products made with Montana wool. She claims she ships orders via the post office on average twice per week - some even to California and Maine.

Jordan uses first-class mail to send items in many cases. This is the mail service that is used for small packages and letters, as well as flat envelopes. Prior to the Oct.1 changes, first-class mail within the continental U.S. was expected to arrive within three days. The new USPS protocol will see that this standard will be extended to four to five days for certain mail, especially if it is traveling long distances across the nation.

Jordan said she was disappointed to learn about the changes, especially because prices for first-class mail have increased numerous times since Jordan started her business.

"To make it take longer to get it there, it backs up everything - all through the business line - from production and getting inventory," she stated.

The Postal Service insists that the goal is not to slow down mail delivery, but to ensure people have access to the same delivery dates.

A spokesperson for USPS stated that the new service standards would increase reliability, consistency, efficiency, and productivity for customers and across our network, in a statement sent to MTN.

These changes are part of a 10-year comprehensive plan called "Delivering For America". 61% of first-class mail won't be affected by the new service standards. 68% of first-class packages will still be expected within three days.

An analysis by the Washington Post suggests that Montana could have a greater impact than other states. According to them, 57% of Montana's first-class mail will arrive later than expected.

The old standard required that first-class packages arrive within two days for nearly 20%. For all other packages, the standard was three days. More than 23% of packages now fall within the two-day delivery standard. However, 17% will receive a standard four-day standard and nearly 15% will receive a standard five-day standard.

The USPS claims that the old standard was not realistic.

The statement stated that “regardless of how far you travel, the current standard for FCPS [First Class Package Service] requires that three days be provided for all destinations within the contiguous U.S with a driving time greater than six hours. This is impossible and makes us reliant on air transport, which results in unreliable service. We will now offer two- to five-day service based upon distance. This will increase service reliability and predictability, as well as drive efficiency across the Postal Service network.”

Leaders claim that the changes will allow them to shift more long-distance mail into their truck network which is more consistent. They expect that this will result in fewer mail pieces being delayed beyond their expected arrival times.

Jordan claims that she has seen more variation in the delivery time of her packages, particularly in the past six to nine months.

She said that in the past it took two, three, or even four days. "Now, even in these last few weeks, I'm receiving responses saying that it takes seven days. To send it to Eureka in Montana took five days."

Jordan stated that she is optimistic about more reliable delivery dates and will continue to monitor the situation over the next few months.

She said, "Just keeping an ear on how the times actually are, so I can communicate with customers and keep them satisfied - just so they have realistic expectations and they don't get upset with me."

The Postal Service also announced that they will temporarily increase the prices of commercial and retail package shipments until Christmas. Leaders predict another large jump in package volume in the fall and peak holiday seasons, similar to 2020.

About the Author

Mitch Alborn

Mitch is a small business reporter who has more than 25 years of experience in journalism. 

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