Postal postulation

I hear the U.S. Postal Service is talking about raising their rates yet again, even though they make huge profits (hundreds of millions of dollars) each year. Why do they get to do this?

How can the government look to break up Microsoft with a straight face, when they have a ridiculous little monopoly of their own in the letter-carrying business?

The success of having diversity and competition in parcel delivery makes it obvious we would be better served with competition in the remainder of our postal service.

“In much wisdom is much grief; and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.” - Ecclesiastes 1:18

Would it actually be illegal to start up a mail-delivery company in competition with the post office?

My comments:

Postage in the USA is cheaper than in any other industrialized western european nation (that I know of.)

There is competition to the postal service. You can send everything UPS or Federal Express if you want. Notice though that you’ll be paying a lot more.

  1. The government hasn’t “owned” the postal service for years. It’s independent and I don’t even think there’s a subsidy any more.

  2. “Success in diversity in parcel post.” Well, even with all the competition, it’s still usually cheaper to send a parcel by the USPS than any other carrier. Overnight mail by the USPS is about 60% of what Fed Ex and other carriers charge – and the U.S.P.S. delivers on Saturday with no extra charge. For instance, a three-pound package via UPS is $4.88 for its cheapest service vs. $3.59 via the post office (actually, UPS charges $7.00 for the same level of service the USPS charges $3.59 for). Two-day services is $8.00 for UPS vs. $4.30 for the USPS.

  3. If you think stamps are expensive, trying sending a letter Fedex. Further 33 cents is one of the cheapest rates in the world for mailing a letter.

  4. Competition does not mean lower prices. I pay more for long distance phone service now that there’s competition than I ever did before (I make very few calls. Often my L.D. before deregulation was $0. Now it’s a minimum of $5 in “required” fees.)

  5. The more carriers, the more duplication of effort. The more duplication of effort, the higher prices. UPS and FedEx doesn’t have an office in every small town in America. What do you think will happen to their costs if they have to expand them? Or expand to handle all the volume of mail the P.O. handles?

FedEx and the others came in to fill a specific niche that U.S.P.S. did not fill at the time. They’re also slightly more dependable (but not by much – 95%+ of USPS mail arrives within the time it’s supposed to). But eliminate the U.S.P.S., and you’d see the cost of a letter jump to a dollar within a year.

“East is east and west is west and if you take cranberries and stew them like applesauce they taste much more like prunes than rhubarb does.” – Marx

Read “Sundials” in the new issue of Aboriginal Science Fiction.

There are federal laws artificially keeping the cost of letters high if you go through carriers other than USPS. For one, UPS and FEDEX are required by law to charge twice as much as the post office for any services that the post office offered first. (such as first-class mail) Then, each parcel sent through UPS or FEDEX must be delivered by hand, as it is illegal for these carriers to use mailboxes. SUPPORT POSTAL REFORM!!!

Karl Butcher
Biased UPS employee.

One thing I do think is weird, is why they raise prices so often. I mean, couldn’t they raise them more, but less often? Maybe it’s not really very often but it seems like it. Why not wait a year or so and raise to 35 cents? It would all even out in the long run but we wouldn’t have to deal with pennies so much.

The mailbox you set up for the post office to use is for their sole use. However, you can set up a second mailbox for everyone else, if you want.

For me, the price isn’t a big deal, but chaninging it every couple years is annoying.

It is too clear, and so it is hard to see.

You should be proud to deal with the penny! The US penny is a coin with a long and noble history.

Thank you, kbutcher, for beating me to the punch on countering the flawed argument of “look how much more it costs you to send a letter Federal Express or UPS now.” Of course it does – because USPS has a monopoly propped up by U.S. government regulations.

I also get the sense that it is a quasi-private organization now. Where does its hundreds of millions of dollars in profits go? Does it stay within the USPS system? Does it count in the federal coffers? Would it be considered a Fortune 500 company if it was fully private?

“In much wisdom is much grief; and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.” - Ecclesiastes 1:18

You really think UPS costs would go down if they have to add all the extra infrastructure to match the USPS? If so, I got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.

We’re talking parcel post, where everything is a level playing field. USPS is consistently cheaper. There are also far more USPS locations than locations for the others.

If you have three people delivering mail to your box, you have three people with the same fixed expenses to deliver the letter, each with one-third the income. Of course rates would rise. There’s no way they couldn’t.

If USP can’t deliver packages more cheaply than the USPS, what makes you think they can deliver letters more cheaply?

“East is east and west is west and if you take cranberries and stew them like applesauce they taste much more like prunes than rhubarb does.” – Marx

Read “Sundials” in the new issue of Aboriginal Science Fiction.

You know, you people have the cheapest postal rates in the world, and excellent service.

A friend spent 9 months in Germany working at the Deutchebank, and it cost him nearly $3.00 Canadian to send an airmail letter home.

It costs me 55 cents Canadian to mail a letter to Vancouver, a city not 40 miles away on the mainland, and I’m lucky if it gets there in a week.

And you have mail delivery on Saturdays, as well as the excellent $3.00 Priority envelope.


Launcher may train without warning.

In business school, I did a project relating to how to increase customer acceptance of direct mail (i.e. junk mail). As I recall, more profitable forms of mail (like bulk rate junk) are used to subsidize more razor thin margin stuff (like first class). I don’t recall anyone’s research turning up the fact that they had a ‘monopoly’ on various mail services. I DO know that the US mail frowns on third parties using “their” mailboxes to deliver their stuff, but I’d ask that disgruntled UPS person who posted earlier to actually cite this mysterious law that says other carriers have to charge “twice as much” as the USPS for any services they provide. As was pointed out earlier, it was my understanding that the reason UPS and FedEx are expensive is because of their higher infrastructure costs relative to the USPS which already has the distribution centers and end offices well established. And while they ARE certainly building new post offices to handle the urban sprawl, they have several resources to bring in money to fund that. UPS and FedEx are more a ‘premium’ services that many places avoid using because of the cost/hassle involved as opposed to the conspiracy “2X the price” law that was previously mentioned.

35% of USPS mail is LATE.

Email is better, its free! Wouldn’t surprise me if they put a tax on it some day.

Late? Late how? Is there a certain amount of days expressed or implied by the USPS that a stmped envelope will get to someone’s house? Unless there is, you can say that the mail gets there relatively slowly, but you can’t say it’s late.

Are you talking about something like USPS’s 2-day mail? Either way, I’d like to know where you got the 35% figure from.

We gladly devour those who would subdue us.

Priority Mail is SUPPOSED to get anywhere within two days, but it’s not guaranteed. Express mail is GUARANTEED to get there overnight. First class mail is targeted to get anywhere in three days, but they don’t advertise it because it often takes longer.

Personally, I’m pretty happy with the USPS and their rates.

Wasn’t there a a thread about the USPS raising their rates recently? I couldn’t find it, but I remember someone who seemed informed saying that the post office tries to raise the rates every 5 years. The plan is to make a profit the first couple of years, break even the next year, and lose money the last two years, so that the next over 5 years is zero. Then they raise the rate again so that happens again over the next 5 years. Profits stay in the USPS.

Anyway, this was recently covered, with some informative answers, but that’s all I can remember.


OK, sorry, I should have included this in my first reply:

The part about UPS and FEDEX being forced to charge twice as much for some services is several paragraphs down.

Karl Butcher
Biased UPS employee

I can’t believe what I’m hearing from a lot of you sheep …

“Go ahead and raise our rates … I don’t mind. I don’t care if there’s no particularly good reason to. Nor do I care if anyone has the opportunity to have a fair shot at providing competition.”

Good little consumers.

Um, and who said that, exactly? If you disagree with a specific statement that someone actually made, Milo, then address it. If you want to disagree with a quote you made up then we’ll all just point and stare at the funny man.

I’m sure the inevitable joke involving the words “disgruntled” and “postal” will happen any minute now.

Sounds like you have an axe to grind.

We gladly devour those who would subdue us.

OK, Alph. I was attempting to paraphrase the sentiments expressed in the following quotes.

Boris B:



If I have misconstrued what was meant in these statements, my apologies. They sure seem to be pretty self-explanatory to me, however.

“In much wisdom is much grief; and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.” - Ecclesiastes 1:18