Postal Service to cut Saturday mail deliveries - | WBTV Charlotte

Postal Service to cut Saturday mail deliveries

The U.S. Postal Service will stop delivering mail on Saturdays but continue to deliver packages six days a week under a plan aimed at saving about $2 billion, the financially struggling agency says.

The USPS lost $15 billion last year alone.

In an announcement scheduled for later Wednesday, the service is expected to say the Saturday mail cutback would begin in August.

The move accentuates one of the agency's strong points - package delivery has increased by 14% since 2010, officials say, while the delivery of letters and other mail has declined with the increasing use of email and other Internet use.

The fact that people don't mail letters like they used to isn't exactly a surprise.

Why pay for stamp when you can email from a free account? Why add to the cost of a bill when most companies don't charge you to pay online?

"It's simple. It's easy. It's free, and you cannot beat free," U.S. Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said at a recent press conference.

Under the new plan, mail would still be delivered to post office boxes on Saturdays. Post offices now open on Saturdays would remain open on Saturdays.

"We've taken a very hard look at the future of package delivery and think there is a very strong growth potential for the postal service over the coming decade," Donahoe said.

The one way the web and e-commerce has helped the post office is this: consumers are sending and receiving more packages than ever before. Cornering that market could help drastically.

Over the past several years, the Postal Service has advocated shifting to a five-day delivery schedule for mail and packages - and it repeatedly but unsuccessfully appealed to Congress to approve the move. Though an independent agency, the service gets no tax dollars for its day-to-day operations but is subject to congressional control.

It was not immediately clear how the service could eliminate Saturday mail without congressional approval.

But the agency's biggest problem is actually not due to reduced mail flow, but to mounting mandatory costs for future retiree health benefits, and that makes Charlotte resident Angela Hames mad.

"Congress passed a law that required them to put extra money into the retirement, which caused them to go into financial difficulty. There are other ways that this could have been done other than cutting service," Hames says.

But the agency clearly thinks it has a majority of the American public on its side regarding the change.

Material prepared for the Wednesday press conference by Patrick R. Donahoe, postmaster general and CEO, says Postal Service market research and other research has indicated that nearly 7 in 10 Americans support the switch to 5-day delivery as a way for the Postal Service to reduce costs.

Copyright 2013 WBTV. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.

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