USPS changed mail service just in time for the holiday rush. What does that mean for you?

Sara Yonker

Sara Yonker

October 7, 2021

USPS changed mail service just in time for the holiday rush. What does that mean for you?

Earlier this year,  the U.S. Postal Service unveiled a 10-year plan that aimed to save the postal service from bankruptcy.  The plan came with higher prices for postage and shipping, reduced hours at facilities, and slower delivery times that have already lagged behind what once was standard. 

Despite some lobbying efforts against the plan, the plan’s first changes went into effect in August when the price of postage and shipping increased. 

Stamp prices have already increased and packages this holiday season will be subject to surcharges for that range from 50 cents to $5 for peak period usage. 

First-class stamps increased by 3 cents in August and package shipping costs also went up. Consumers will see other changes besides price increases. 

What is the mail delivery service slowdown?

On October 1, the USPS officially changed its standard delivery times. Much of the mail that traveled the United States once fell under a two-day delivery deadline except for mail traveling cross country, which had a three-day deadline. Now, except for first-class mail that is delivered within the same geographic area, the standard delivery time is three days and sometimes as high as five days.

The service delay change might just mean that the postal service is setting itself up with more realistic goals. Before October 1, the postal service didn’t meet its own two-day deadline for mail delivery about 12 percent of the time. 

The new “slowdown” is really a relaxed standard for the mail that’s traveling the furthest. Mail that’s staying in the same geographic region still should be delivered within two days. Mail going from one side of the country to the other now has a three to four day delivery window before the postal service considers it to be late. 

What has changed about mail delivery in the USPS 10-year plan?

One major change in the USPS 10-year plan is that it is decreasing the postal service’s reliance on air transport. When they analyzed the delays in mail delivery, they found that air transportation could be unreliable - flights got cancelled, freight loads were unpredictably full, and weather conditions caused delays. On top of that, it's more expensive. Mail that had traveled via plane will now be driven, which substantially reduces costs but increases processing time. 

What won’t change with the USPS 10-year plan?

The new delivery standards won’t impact the items people send under priority mail, which will keep the speedier delivery time for a higher fee.

Delivery times for local mail and packages remain the same. Although some lesser-used post offices reduced hours, many post offices will keep the same hours.

Even better: SInce the reliance on online shopping and packages shipped from those buys keep coming, USPS will install 112 high-speed package processing machines across the country.  It's doing this to keep up with demand to process packages. 

How to plan and prepare for differences in delivery options:

  1. Know your shipping deadlines 

Whether you are fighting crowds at the post office trying to meet holiday mail deadlines or just trying to get an important business document sent in time, know what deadlines are realistic and pick your shopping methods based on that. When you need items delivered fast, each carrier has options to get things there quickly: USPS has Priority Mail Overnight Delivery, FedEx has overnight delivery and 2 day delivery, and UPS offers UPS Next Day Air. 

2. Include the right amount of postage

If you’re sending something that doesn’t necessitate overnight delivery, make sure you don’t inadvertently delay your delivery by failing to include enough postage. If you're sending a letter of a flat envelope, you can check on the USPS website here to make sure you are including the correct amount of postage. 

3. Track service alerts

No matter what service you use to send or receive a package, you can check for any issues that are causing unexpected delays. Use the tracking number to see where your package is, and if any weather conditions or other issues have caused it to not be delivered.

How USPS speeds affect your virtual mailbox deliveries 

At Earth Class Mail, we’re beginning to analyze how exactly these new delivery times will affect our customers and will report on those changes so that our customers can know what to expect with their mail delivery.

Earth Class Mail aims to make mail easier, with mail scanning, check deposit, and virtual addresses. However, we rely on the postal service to do our work. If you are missing expected mail, you can always notify us and we will look into the issue.

Occasionally, we have an issue with longer delivery times at one address in our network. We continually monitor the health of our virtual address network to make sure we receive mail regularly at our addresses.

Earth Class Mail depends on the U.S. Postal Service. With their help, we want to make your mail easier and more accessible. 

If you experience delivery time problems as a customer, you can always reach out to our customer success team via email at [email protected], or call us at 210-802-5211 (press option 1) between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. CST.


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