Monday, 10 July 2017

USPS Delivery Lag More Than Expected

For decades, the U.S. Postal Service has pledged that you could send a letter anywhere in the country and see it arrive at its destination within three days.

But lately, only 63 percent of such non-local mail arrives on time. For letters sent from or to some of the nation’s largest cities, including New York and Los Angeles, fewer than half meet the three-day standard.

The picture is somewhat better for mail in the Midlands. In fact, among the Postal Service’s 67 local districts, the Central Plains area that includes Nebraska, western Iowa and most of Kansas so far this year ranks in the top quarter in the nation in on-time performance, for both local and more far-flung domestic mail.

us postal service holidays

Even so, on-time performance for non-local letters in the Central Plains district has dropped from 85 percent last year to 69 percent recently.

Slower delivery was a given this year for what some call snail mail in this instant email age. The U.S. Postal Service in January reduced delivery standards and made other major operational changes to save money.

But according to new Postal 
Service performance data obtained by 
The World-Herald, mail delivery has gotten far pokier than most anyone expected.

Even compared with the reduced standards, the Postal Service is more frequently failing to get mail delivered on time.

The biggest delays have been with single-
piece first-class letters, cards and small parcels that are bound for non-local destinations within the continental United States. A year ago, more than four out of five such mail pieces were meeting the Postal Service’s three-day delivery standard. Today, it’s closer to three out of five.

Postal officials acknowledge the problems but say they don’t represent a new normal. They say it’s more of a bump in the road as the Postal Service adjusts to one of the biggest operational changes it has seen since mail sorting was fully automated more than three decades ago.

“The scope of this change in an organization the size of the Postal Service was enormous,” said Brian Sperry, a Postal Service spokesman in Denver.

But officials with the postal union put the blame squarely on the recent cost-cutting moves.

“That’s not the carrier; it’s the postal system,” said Phil Thomas, president of the postal workers union in Omaha. “We need the public to join us to protect their service. The fact is, they are now getting less for more.”

us postal service tracking

Here and across the country, union officials are calling to reverse the closing of mail-sorting centers under the recent system overhaul. Two Nebraska facilities, in Grand Island and Norfolk, were affected. In recent contract talks — the national union contract expires this week — the union has been seeking to bring quality of service issues, and the jobs tied to them, to the table.

The lagging mail also has the attention of postal regulators in Washington. While the Postal Regulatory Commission first noticed some slippage in performance numbers last year, the latest data reinforces the problem, said Margaret Cigno, director of accountability and compliance for the oversight agency.

“The commission is concerned about that,” she said.

No one disputes that the U.S. Postal Service has recently been going through the most tumultuous time in its 240-year history.

The agency proudly traces its roots back to 1775, when the First Continental Congress created it and tabbed Benjamin Franklin the first postmaster general. The goal was to make sure all Americans had access to affordable and reliable mail delivery.

During the 1970s, the Postal Service was morphed by Congress into a quasi-independent government agency. It would no longer receive tax dollars and was charged with supporting itself with the revenue that it generates.

While for decades, to paraphrase the old saying, neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stayed mail couriers from completing their appointed rounds, the agency has had a little more trouble navigating the Internet age.

Email has replaced cards and letters as the preferred form of communication for many. And fewer consumers are dropping a stack of bill payments in the mail each month, instead paying online.

That’s led to a huge decline in first-class mail — the stamped or metered mail, weighing 13 ounces or less, that has long been the Postal Service’s most lucrative, bread-and-butter business. Over the past decade the volume of stamped first-class mail has fallen off by half, costing the Postal Service billions in revenues.

“That paid the bills,” Sperry said of first-class mail. “Like any business, we needed to adapt to our customers’ new mailing habits.”

The Internet and online sales have led to an explosion of new package deliveries for the service, but growth in that competitive business hasn’t made up for shortfalls elsewhere.

Adding to the Postal Service’s financial woes was a 2006 requirement from Congress that it prepay on the health care benefits that are promised to its retirees over the next 75 years. Both the union and management note that such a requirement is not imposed on other private and public entities, which tend to pay such costs as they’re incurred. The Postal Service has not been able to afford to make the advance health care payments for several years.

united states post office hold mail

To make ends meet over the past decade, Postal Service managers have been jacking up the price of stamps, which have risen from 37 cents to 49 cents in that time, and slashing billions from the budget.

There’s some argument now as to just how financially troubled the agency is. An inspector general’s report last month suggested that it may have turned the corner through recent revenue growth, price hikes and cuts. But future financial challenges remain as the information landscape continues to evolve.

The latest cuts further consolidated operations within the Postal Service’s remaining 320 mail-processing plants. Some processing operations in Grand Island and Norfolk were merged into Omaha in recent months. Collectively, the changes across the country led to a major reconfiguration in how mail was handled and shipped.

As part of the changes, the Postal Service on Jan. 5 dropped its former standard of delivering single-piece, first-class letters within a day between addresses served by the same local mail-handling facility — such as letters within Omaha. Now such mail is part of a broader two-day local service area.

For a first-class letter originating in Omaha, two-day delivery is pledged to anywhere in the eastern half of Nebraska, all of Iowa, eastern Kansas, western Missouri and part of South Dakota. Each location in the country has a similarly sized local mailing zone.

The new standards continue to promise delivery of first-class mail anywhere within the continental United States within three days, and to Hawaii or Alaska in four days.

One-day local service was maintained for presorted first-class business mail, which takes less time to process.

Understanding that weather and other factors at times will delay mail, the Postal Service sets targets of 95 to 97 percent for on-time arrival. It also contracts to have its performance measured on a quarterly basis.

The latest performance data — covering January through March of this year — show that on-time delivery has fallen off considerably in the wake of the latest changes.

Nationally, just over 90 percent of single-piece first-class local mail during that time was delivered within the allotted two days. That’s well below the 97 percent target. And it’s markedly below last year’s performance for the same quarter, which was 96 percent for one-day mail and 94 percent for two-day.

usps postal service

Numbers were better in the Central Plains district that includes Nebraska, where the two-day performance was just below the standard and close to last year’s results. Among the 67 local postal districts, that performance ranked as the sixth-best.

But while the overhaul was expected to have the biggest impact on local mail, the performance on three-day, anywhere-in-the-country service has lagged the most.

Nationwide, only 63 percent of single-piece, first-class mail met the three-day delivery standard, a figure that was 32 percentage points below the target goal and 21 points below last year.

In the Central Plains district, on-time performance on such mail was 69 percent — far below last year — although it still was 16th-best in the nation.

Other parts of the country would love to have Nebraska’s numbers. Non-local letters sent from the heart of New York City, for example, reached their destination within three days only 44 percent of the time. That’s an eye-popping 37 percentage points worse than last year. In Los Angeles, 48 percent of non-local letters took more than three days, down 36 percentage points.

Other big cities where only about half of such letters are on time include Miami (48 percent), Houston (50 percent), Chicago (51 percent) and Boston (53 percent).

It’s not just big cities that have slow mail service. The region that includes Colorado and Wyoming, for example, has 56 percent on-time performance for those three-day letters.

Performance numbers for other types of mail also have fallen, including presorted first-class commercial mail — which actually makes up the majority of first-class mail. Nebraska outperformed the nation in those areas, too.

Curtis Telemaque, an analyst with the Postal Regulatory Commission, said his agency has only just started diving into the latest data. But he said the problems with three-day mail “is something that is on our radar. We need to figure out what is going on.”

U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., has in recent months expressed concern about slow mail delivery in rural areas, but said the latest data shows it’s a problem across the country. She said she spoke recently with the postmaster general about “the need to really assess what we are saving by downsizing our mail processing plant network.”

Postal officials say any assessment of the latest data should take into account the harsh winter weather that led to significant delays and disruptions. Sperry noted that the first three months of this year saw 22 major winter storms across the country.

But postal officials acknowledged it’s not all weather. According to the Washington Post, the service has deployed teams of operations experts to some parts of the country to help clear up service issues. It has declined to disclose where the teams have been sent.

Thomas, the Omaha union leader, predicted that things will be getting worse in Nebraska before they get better. He noted that the shifting of mail-handling from Norfolk and Grand Island to Omaha wasn’t completed until last month. He thinks the changes will be a big drag on Nebraska’s on-time statistics when the next quarterly data comes out.

“The last 30 days have not been pretty,” he said of the adjustment to increased volumes in Omaha.

While Sperry had no recent data for the Omaha area, he said figures nationally have ultimately been trending up as kinks are worked out of the new sorting system. Overall, he sees better numbers ahead. He said the agency remains committed to improving service throughout the country.

“Our commitment to customer service is unwavering,” he said.

usps post office change of address

Does USPS Deliver On Mondays?

Is the post office open on Presidents’ Day and will FedEx and UPS be delivering packages on Monday, February 20? Whether you refer to the federal holiday as Washington’s Birthday, or Washington and Lincoln’s Birthday, there is always a bit of confusion when it comes to figuring out what’s open and what’s closed during the holiday weekend.

Although the official USPS website indicates that all post office branches will be closed, there are a few exceptions when it comes to getting your mail. Get the details below as well as the latest information about the holiday schedules for UPS and FedEx, and a list of banks and retail stores that will be open on Monday.

usps office hours

Presidents’ Day is the third federal holiday of 2017 and it always falls on a Monday and, if you are a federal employee, chances are you will get to enjoy a work-free three day weekend. However, that’s not the case for many people including retail employees, restaurants and fast-food workers, and salespeople who are hoping to sell a car or two at auto dealerships across the United States.

However, most government offices — including courts, the IRS, and the U.S. Post Office — will be closed for business on Monday. And if you need a little cash to shop the Presidents’ Day sales, most (but not all) banks will be closed on February 20.

If you are waiting for a letter or package — or maybe a bill? — to be delivered by your letter carrier, it won’t be delivered on Monday. However, the USPS reports that packages marked “Priority Mail Express” will be delivered on Presidents’ Day. The Wall Street Journal reported that the U.S. Postal Service also delivers Amazon packages on Sundays and holidays, but it’s important to check with Amazon to get your exact delivery date.

Although Monday is a holiday for the USPS, you will see plenty of UPS and FedEx trucks on the road on Monday because their employees won’t get the day off unless it’s a sick day or scheduled vacation day.

According to the official UPS holiday schedule, deliveries are made on three of the ten federal holidays — Martin Luther King Day, Presidents’ Day, and Columbus Day. Expect to find branch offices open if you need to pick up or ship a package and deliveries are made according to the regular weekday schedule.

FedEx runs on a similar holiday schedule with the delivery company’s official website which states that the company will be open for business on Presidents’ Day, Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday, Columbus Day, and Veterans Day.

Wondering what else is open (or closed) on Monday? Scroll down for the list including banks, the stock market, state and local offices, retail stores, and restaurants.

Banks and credit unions: The Federal Reserve is closed and most banks and credit unions will also be closed on Monday. However, all TD Bank branches will be open regular hours and Saving Advice reports that other banks may open their in-store branches, but all transactions will be processed on Tuesday. Call ahead before you go so you don’t waste a trip only to find your bank closed.

Stock Market: The NYSE reports that it will be closed for trading on Monday.

does usps deliver on sundays

Government Offices: Federal, state, and local government offices will be closed on Monday, so you will have to wait until Tuesday to go to (or call) the Department of Motor Vehicles, Social Security, the IRS, or the Department of Human Services.

Retail stores and restaurants: Presidents’ Day sales will be in full swing during the three-day holiday weekend. Most retail stores including Walmart, Costco, Target, Best Buy, and Macy’s will be open regular hours on Monday. Malls may have special holiday hours so check their website or give your favorite store a call before you venture out. In addition to retail stores, Bustle reports that “tons of places will be open on Presidents’ Day” including supermarkets and all major restaurants chains.

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

How To Write A Letter

Knowing how to write a letter is a fundamental skill you'll use in business, school, and personal relationships to communicate information, goodwill, or just affection. Here's a basic guide on how to put your thoughts to paper in the correct format.

Method 1. Writing A Formal Letter

Know when to write a formal letter. Write a formal letter when addressing someone you only know in a professional capacity. This includes letters written to government departments or businesses, instead of a known individual.
These letters should be typed, then printed. You can use any text editing software to do this, such as Microsoft Word, OpenOffice, or Text Edit. If the letter is urgent or the recipient prefers email, you can send an email instead.
When addressing your current boss or coworker, you can be slightly less formal. Email is usually fine, and you don't need an address at the top of the page.
Write your address and today's date at the top of the page. Write your name and address at the top of the page, on the left. If you are writing a business letter, use the company name and address instead, or just write on company letterhead. Either way, skip two lines and write today's date.
Write out the full date. 19 September 2014 (British) or September 19, 2014 (American) are both preferable to Sept. 19, 2014 or 19/9/14.
Skip the date when writing an email.
Write the name and address of the recipient. Unless you're writing an email, skip another two lines and write the contact information for the person you're writing to. Write each of these on a separate line:
Full title and name
Company or organization name (if applicable)
Full address (use two or more lines, as needed)
Write the salutation. Skip a line again, then greet the recipient with "Dear" followed by their name. You may use the last name, or the full name (first and last), but never the first name alone. Include an abbreviated professional title if applicable.
If you know the job title but not the person's name, you may write "Dear Health Inspector:" or a similar phrase. It's usually possible to find the name with an online search, so try that first.
If you don't have a specific contact, write "Dear Sir or Madam:" or "To Whom It May concern:". These sound a little stiff and old fashioned, so try to avoid it when possible.
Write the letter. Formal letters should open with a clear statement of purpose. Do not use contractions (write are not instead of aren't), and phrases questions formally (Would you be interested in...? instead of Do you want to...?). Proofread the letter for spelling and grammar when finished, or ask a friend to help you.
If you are writing on official business, keep it short and direct. If you are writing a distant relative or an acquaintance for social reasons, you can be a little more conversational. It's still best to keep it to under a page.
Use a complimentary close. A complimentary close ends your letter on a good note and establishes a connection with the recipient. Make two hard returns after the last paragraph of the letter, then write the complimentary close. For formal letters, stick to "Sincerely yours," "Kindest regards," or "Best wishes." Sign underneath the close, as follows:
For typed formal letters, leave about four spaces between the complimentary close and your typed full name. Print the letter, then sign your name in blue or black ink in that blank space.
In a formal email, type your full name after the complimentary close.
You may use a courtesy title for yourself when you put your name at the end of a formal letter. For instance, a married woman could sign as "Mrs. Amanda Smith."

Fold the letter (optional). If you're sending a letter through the post, fold it into thirds. Bring the bottom of the sheet up so that it's two-thirds of the way up the page, and crease. Then fold down the top portion so that the crease matches up with the bottom of the paper. Folding the letter this way ensures that it will fit into most envelopes.

Address the envelope (optional). Find the center of the envelope, both lengthwise and widthwise. This is where you'll write the full address of the recipient, like so:
Mr. John Smith
123 ABC St.
New York City, NY 99999
Write your return address on the envelope (optional). If the US Postal Service cannot deliver your letter for any reason, it will send the letter back to the return address at no extra charge. Write it as you would the address of the recipient (listed above); the only change is that you might wish to simply list your last name instead of your full name.

United States mail hold

Junk mail

USPS mail forwarding

tracking usps

USPS delivery times 

How To Fold And Insert A Letter Into An Envelope

You may not think that there is anything to know about folding a letter before placing it in an envelope, but this is wrong. There is a certain etiquette that goes along with folding a letter correctly, especially if it is for business purposes. Take time to learn about the different methods of folding a letter before inserting it into an envelope.

Method 1. Folding A Standard US Business Letter For A Standard Business Envelope

Write on the envelope. If you are handwriting the recipient’s information on the envelope, do this before you insert the letter so that you don’t leave dents in the paper.
If you want your letter to look more professional, you can use your printer to print out the address on the envelope.
You should write the recipient’s address on the front of the envelope in the center (e.g. if you are in the US: name, address, city, state, and zip code), as well as the return address (your name, address, city, state, and zip code) in the top left hand corner.
Place the letter face up on a table. Before you fold the letter, check that the address on the letter and the address on the envelope correspond. Double check that you have signed the letter.
The text should be facing up towards you as though you were reading it.
Fold the bottom part of the letter up. Take the bottom edge of the page. Fold it up and over so that the bottom edge lines up about one third the way up the page.
If you aren’t sure how much this is, take your envelope and place it underneath the middle of your letter to use as a guide.
Check that the edges are lined up. Before you crease the fold, make sure that the outside edges of the letter all line up perfectly to avoid crooked creases.
If the edges aren’t lined up properly, your fold will be crooked and your letter may not fit into the envelope.
Once you are sure they are lined up, use your finger to crease the fold carefully.
Fold the top part down. Now take the top part of the letter and fold it downwards so that there is about half an inch (about 1 cm) of space between the bottom crease and the top (folded down) edge of the letter.
Again, use your envelope as a guide if you aren’t sure. When your envelope is lying underneath the letter you can check to make sure that it will fit inside by lining up the top and bottom creases of the letter with the top and bottom of the envelope.
Crease the top fold. Don’t forget to line up the top part of the fold with the edges of the page. This will give you a nice clean and straight fold.
You can hold a ruler sideways between your fingers and slide the thin edge of the ruler along the paper to create a flat and crisp crease if you want to.

Insert the letter into the envelope. Take the letter so that the folds face outward, and the top fold coincides with the top of the envelope. Hold the envelope so that the flap of the envelope faces you, and opens towards you. Place the letter carefully into the envelope so as not to dent the page.
The recipient should be able to remove the letter and open it without having to turn it right-
side up to read it.

United States mail hold

Junk mail

USPS mail forwarding

tracking usps

USPS delivery times