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The deadline for the United States Postal Service to repay its $5.5 billion loan from the U.S. Treasury is tonight, and the USPS is not expected to be able to make the payment.As it tries to streamline itself in its struggle for survival, the USPS is bound to end up cutting more services.
Over the years, the USPS has been trimming services and dumping products due to constant technological advancements.
What’s the next service to get the axe? We’ll just have to wait and see.
After free city delivery was established in 1863, postal law necessitated that carriers deliver the mail 'as frequently as the public conveniences may require.' According to the USPS, the number of daily trips made by workers was determined by the postmaster, but there were no official rules.
A 1905 Annual Report of the Postmaster General showed that the number of daily deliveries made by carriers varied from as many as nine per day in New York City to just one per day in Saint Paul, Minnesota.
It was not until 1950 that residential deliveries were limited to once a day by the Postmaster General.
Founded in 1911, the system was like a savings and loan association, and it had an advantage because deposits had explicit government backing. It lost that leg up when the Glass-Steagall Act created the FDIC in 1933.
At its 1947 peak, it had nearly $3.4 billion in deposits.
In 1941, the Postal Service experimented with Highway Post Offices (HPO), buses that allowed workers to sort mail while in transit. This followed the gradual decline of Railway Mail Service.
After 33 years in operation, Highway Post Office service ended in 1974, following the introduction of regional service centres.
Special delivery was a service available from 1885 to 1997 that provided for the delivery of urgent mail. For an extra fee, senders could have their post delivered as soon as it reached the Post Office--even on Sunday.
Customers were able to send the post office electronic messages for hard copy delivery from 1982-1985
E-COM, or Electronic Computer-Originated Mail, was a service that began in 1982 and allowed customers to send an electronic message through a computer terminal to post office networks. The receiving post office would print the message and deliver a hard copy within two days.
Initially, in addition to a $50 annual fee, users paid 29¢ for the first page and 5¢ for each additional page. E-COM was discontinued in 1985 when the Postal Service's request to raise rates was denied by the Postal Rate Commission.
Back in 1985, there were 400,000 corner mailboxes in neighborhoods across the country. Now, there are just 160,000--that's a 60% decrease. People simply aren't using them anymore, and the Postal Service says that it doesn't get many complaints about the reduction.
Brick-and-mortar post offices are also on the chopping block. In 1901, there were approximately 77,000 post offices. By 2010, that number has been slashed to about 30,000.
International 'sea mail' was cut on May 14, 2007 because of rising costs. It was also getting pummelled by competition from FedEx and UPS' airmail services.
Primarily used for packages, the move drew the ire of individuals, nonprofits and businesses alike that relied on the lower price. For instance, charities would send items in bulk to needy countries via sea mail.
Tape for Priority Mail had traditionally been given out free, even though it was against official policy. But in 2011, there was a crackdown on employees giving away free tape. Here's the memo that was sent to post offices:
'This message is for All offices.
When a customer needs Packaging Tape in order to seal a parcel in order to mail it, the process has not changed. SELL THEM A ROLL OF PACKAGING TAPE. No-one (sic) should be taping parcels for customers or giving them tape to seal it themselves. USPS paid for the tape so that it is available for customers to purchase. We have instructed everyone to offer Packaging Tape as the additional item during every transaction.
This past weekend there was a situation in one of our offices where the customer put on a scene because she could not get free tape to tape her parcel. She named 6-7 neighbouring offices that always give her the tape. Unfortunately for the SSA that was doing her job correctly, she had to be subjected to the screaming with other customers in the lobby.
Please refrain from giving the Packaging Tape away.'
On April 17, 2011, the postal service ended the costly practice of delivering mail to residents of Loma Linda, California on Sunday.
Loma Linda was the only ZIP code in the nation where mail was dropped off on Sunday instead of Saturday so that the large Seventh-day Adventist population could observe the Saturday Sabbath. In 1997, the community spent an extra $33,000 to support Sunday mail service, according to the Riverside Press-Enterprise.
December 5, 2011: The Postal Service announces plans to eliminate next-day delivery for first-class mail
In addition to slowing first-class delivery to 2-3 days, the proposed change will close 252 of the 461 mail processing centres around the nation, resulting in 28,000 lost jobs by 2012. The centres were supposed to shut down this Spring, but the move has been delayed.
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