OP-ED: Raising the postal rates

Published 12:09 am Saturday, July 24, 2021

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Dawn Burleigh,
General Manager/Editor

The U.S. Postal Service’s plan to raise mailing rates could present one more damaging blow to community newspapers already reeling from the coronavirus pandemic and advertising declines, a trade group says.

Rates on periodicals would increase by more than 8% as of Aug. 29, according to agency filings. The price jump is part of a broad plan pushed by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy to overhaul mail operations, according to an Associated Press article.

The impact of the periodical rate increase is expected to be felt most by small daily and weekly newspapers, as well as rural newspapers, which depend on the Postal Service since they have shifted from using independent contractors for deliveries.

Raising rates has not shown an improvement in services provided by the post office in the past so that expectation is already off the table.

The rates affect more than just the local papers but also the community.

At one point there were thousands of women mailing quilt blocks back and forth across the country and the world. This exchange was referred to as block swaps. As prices went up, swap block exchanges went down. So, increases in postage rates was not beneficial to the post office.

With the advancements of technology, more and more people skip mailing in their bills and take care of it electronically. With another increase in stamps, more will make the switch to paperless bills and pay electronically. Again, not helping the postal system.

Losing packages or delivering them to the wrong address, if delivered at all, is further encouragement to find an alternative way to ship packages.

If the quality of service was being provided, an increase would not be questioned as it is right now. There was a time when carriers were known for their self-imposed high standards. They performed their duties with pride. Now, good carriers are very few.

When complaints of lost mail, mail delivered to the wrong address or not at all are the norm, how is increasing the rates going to improve this?

If this is to overhaul the financial sustainability of the USPS, maybe DeJoy should look into returning quality of service as well.

Paying more would be easier to accept if we had more confidence of something being mailed will actually arrive at its destination in a timely manner.

Dawn Burleigh is general manager and editor of The Orange Leader. She can be reached at dawn.burleigh@orangeleader.com