How the Postal Service Cuts Will Effect YouThe impending changes to the U.S. Postal Service are about to give new meaning to the term "snail mail."

When the post office makes cuts to mail service come spring to stem billions of dollars in losses, it will not only slow mail delivery, but eliminate the possibility of first-class letters and other mailings being delivered to nearby areas in one day. Currently, around 42% of first-class mail travels from mailbox to destination in a single day.

The U.S. Postal Service, suffering through a major and extended financial crisis, has announced plans to shutter about 252 of its 487 mail processing centers. The cuts are critical to the post office's survival: For the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, the Postal Service racked up a $5.1 billion net loss, Darleen Reid, senior public relations representative for the USPS, tells DailyFinance. "Any business that has no customers has to make changes."

Here's what you need to know about the unprecedented changes to the U.S. mail delivery system, and some tips that will keep you from going, well, postal.

Your Daily Paper Could be a Thing of the Past

Currently, first-class mail promises delivery to homes and businesses in one to three business days. The proposed cuts will shift that to a two- to three-day window, according to the USPS.

Based on that, consumers in the habit of getting their media the old-fashioned way -- by regular mail -- might want to rethink those choices. If you or your business relies on the mailed delivery of daily newspapers and time-sensitive periodicals, you may find yourself running behind the times.

Because the post office will be operating with fewer processing facilities, "Customers could receive their daily publications a day later than they regularly do," she says. "It's more likely than not that we will not be able to provide same-day service."

To avoid that delay, consumers should consider subscribing to publications online.

And if you're a Netflix (NFLX) fan who still prefers to receive DVDs-by-mail, you might want to consider switching to the company's streaming-video service, says Jim Corridore, an analyst with S&P Capital IQ who follows the shipping industry. Companies such as (AMZN) and Hulu (GOOG) also offer streaming video services.

Plan Ahead, Pay Online

If you're sending something through the mail that must reach a destination by a certain time, plan ahead, says Sue Brennan, a spokeswoman for the USPS.

"Consumers sending checks or bill payments out should give [it] an extra day, but this only applies to mail in a localized area," Brennan says. "If they are sending mail across the country, it will still be delivered in a three-day period."

Those people who are still wedded to dropping their bills in the mail would be wise to switch to online bill-paying, Corridore says. Virtually every bill can be paid over the Internet: "Your mortgage bill can be paid online, your cable bill can be paid online."

No Slowdown for Mail-Order Prescriptions

The Postal Service cuts have also raised concerns for the millions of Americans who rely on mail-order pharmacies for prescription drugs. Will this group -- which includes many people with limited mobility, such as some seniors and the home-bound -- still be able to get their medications in a timely fashion?

Rest easy, says Brennan: "Mail order prescription drugs are sent via package services or Priority [mail], and there won't be any change in that," she says.

More broadly, delivery times for most of the more-expensive classes of mail, such as Priority Mail and Express Mail, will not change.

Medco, the pharmacy benefit manager which runs one of the nation's largest mail order pharmacy, says it doesn't foresee delivery disruptions. "Our commitment is to make sure that our members get the right medication in a timely fashion," Jennifer Luddy, a spokeswoman, tells DailyFinance.

The company, which shipped 110 million prescriptions last year, relies on the U.S. Postal Service for most of its shipments, but augments that service with UPS (UPS) and FedEx (FDX).

"The bottom line is that we don't anticipate the [postal] changes will have any meaningful affect," she says.

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The Post Office management continues to say they have too many people and are treating their problem as if it is a labor problem. It is not a labor problem.
They have not figured out how to deal with email, and when they figure that out they will discover they have too many trucks.
Mail moves from a Post Office to a processing center, to another processing center, to another Post Office, then distributed locally. If they could manage to get rid of the first two trucks (PO to processing center to processing center) they solve the largest part of their problem.
If they had a way to electronically route the majority of the first class mail, bills, notices, and other non-personal mail to the destination, then print and distribute it, they might stand a chance. Until they move the business model into this century they have no hope, and will eventually go under, at which point it will become privatized anyway.
For example... go to the new usps web site, drop your PDF format mail in, pay the postage (which could be a lower rate than the door to door trucking version), Post Office electronically sends the mail to the destination where they (or a vendor) prints the document, stuffs the envelope, then it is delivered as it is done today.
The technology exists to do this today, which is how businesses are managing to spend less than a few pennys to get their bills to the customers by using email and the web, instead of spending about $0.50 to print the bill, stuff the envelope, sort the mail, deliver to the Post Office, and finally pay the postage to have it delivered.

Adapt or else

December 08 2011 at 10:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mark Evans

Don't Believe the US Postal Service Lies. The USPS has a Line of Credit from the US Treasury, which means the US Taxpayer is funding the USPS. Layoff 30% of all US Postal Employees Now and quit FUNDING a Diminishing Industry Service, that is UNCOMPETITIVE. Reduce Mail Delivery to 3 days a week.

December 08 2011 at 9:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mark Evans

Cut the Postal Office NOW and don't wait until next year.

December 08 2011 at 9:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Slower mail? What is slower than snail mail? Do away with third class mail and I will be happy.

December 08 2011 at 1:25 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Now how damaging is this story to the future of the Post Office? (Ha!!!) "Subscribe to publications online" "Switch to video streaming" 'Pay bills online" The USPS is just loving this contribution to its further demise.

All so true and cost saving, but just saying...

December 08 2011 at 12:49 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Wait. No slow down of prescription deliveries, but a slow down of every other type of delivery?

I'm supposed to believe that?

I've always received great service from the post office. And, I've never expected any letter to be delivered the very next day anyway, didn't know that policy was in place.

December 07 2011 at 1:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

You malcontents who gripe about our postal system do not know how lucky you are!! It is one of the basic institutions that the Founders designed for this nation. There are faults, since it is inhabited by human beings. There are people who work and people who do not work. Who actually cares if your first class letter takes longer than a day? I use the mail a LOT and I never expect next day delivery EXCEPT if I pay for Express Mail! Just plan better and do not get in a position where you have to have next day delivery--it is very simple. Also, some people say their mail is not delivered until after dark. Who cares? Other than older people who wait for their mail to arrive--I have seen them standing by their mailboxes at home and there is another bunch standing in the lobby at the post office waiting for the instant their SS checks arrive. The biggest problem the post office has is that retirement system funding. Congress can help them with that and, with belt tightening, the post office can make it happen. But face it--when have you REALLY EXPECTED delivery except for Express Mail. It can move the mail thousands of miles in a day!! The post office does a great job of moving a MONUMENTAL amount of mail expeditiously. I also have great service with Priority Mail and even Media Mail IF you add delivery confirmation. A lot of the problem with the public is that they do not understand the services offered by the post office in the first place. I do not work for the post office but I NEVER send a package in any other fashion and I use e-mail but I also use regular mail also. We will always need the postal service.

December 07 2011 at 12:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I have just about eliminated my need for the post office this will finish the post office off the next step will be better service privatized

December 07 2011 at 12:04 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Will be interesting to see how this really plays out. If they close more than half the processing centers and delivery is only delayed by one extra day, then those centers were never needed in the first place. If that tracks, they would never have been in the financial mess if they hadn't grown the USPS so big and had so many unecessary employess and subsequent pensions. Anyway, more people will just be paying online or via phone as the stamp prices go up.

December 07 2011 at 12:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

No credible proposal has been offered to shutter the USPO tomorrow. But all kinds of businesses decrease staff as demand for their products decrease
As one of countless other examples, less people work making and selling fax machines today than was the case just 10 years ago. The reason is that less people buy fax machines today than they did 10 years ago.

The USPO also has less demand for its services today than it did 10 years ago. Why shouldn't they also hire less employees?

And if there is less demand for their services 10 years from now, shouldn't they have less employees 10 years from now? Keep in mind that the replacement technologies have more emloyees today than they had 10 years ago.

December 07 2011 at 12:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to warrenbent's comment

As an aside, if the USPO was really interested in remaining relevant on a long-term basis, they'd be looking at ways to potentially add value to current and future communications technologies.

Think for a moment about things like certified mail or return receipt. What if the USPO could devise technical solutions to offer such services in a digital world? Perhaps using deigital certificates to provide signatures? These services don't exist with e-mail, and if they did there would likely be demand in the marketplace.

The point isn't necessarily specific to these particular services, but rather to the bigger picture job the USPO has of adapting to a changing communication landscape.

December 07 2011 at 12:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply