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Will the End of Weekend Mail Cost You?


If a United Stated Postal Service pitch to eliminate Saturday delivery goes through, consumers could see bigger bills — even as it takes them a few extra days to arrive.

Earlier this week, Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe told USA Today that a projected $8.3 billion loss in revenue this year could force the end of Saturday delivery. He told the paper that he thinks Congress might be more amenable to the strategy — which could save $3.1 billion a year — given the federal debt and budget problems.

Consumers are likely to find expedited shipping for online orders more attractive if there are fewer delivery day options, says L.J. Shrum, chair of the marketing department at the University of Texas, San Antonio. The extra cost seems more reasonable if it gets a purchase to you by Friday, instead of three days later on a Monday. It also increases the attractiveness of free-shipping clubs like Amazon Prime, Barnes & Noble and ShopRunner.com, which include faster shipping options as a benefit to members who pay an annual fee. Retailers have already begun adding new services (and charges) for same-day home delivery.

Another pitfall: the temptation to stock up. Consumers faced with the choice to return their Netflix or Blockbuster mail-in rentals by Wednesday or miss out on weekend movie watching might decide to increase their subscription instead, Shrum says.

Some of the added costs would come from retailers, too, if the lost day shifts order patterns enough to slow processing times or prompt a renegotiation with shippers, says Luke Knowles, the founder of free-shipping-focused site FreeShipping.org. “We might see online retailers promoting [Saturday delivery from] FedEx and UPS delivery a little more,” he says, or programs that ship online orders to stores for free, as a way to cut costs.

Pay Dirt readers, how would a cutback in postal service affect your spending habits?


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Comments (5 of 5)

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    • Over 80% in a recent poll could care less if saturday delivery is eliminated. What really needs to happen is congress to repeal the PAEA that it has saddled the Postal Service with and then quit meddling in the business affairs of the USPS.

    • I get mostly junk mail at home. Everthing else is electronic so I would prefer not getting Saturday mail. It would save USPS money and tons of gas/pollution.

    • The postal service can’t continue for long with the restrictions imposed by congress. This is just the beginning of the total elimination of the postal service in the name of privatization.

    • Somehow I fail to see this as progress (financial or otherwise) for the USPS and may only increase their problems. For example, if I find their service less accessible I also consider it less reliable to satisfy my needs. Will this not be a “set up” for further deterioration on the USPS side and encourage further expansion on the UPS/FEDEX, etc. side? In any case, I don’t like it.

    • Less spending on postal delivery, more on UPS/Fedex=higher prices. The Obamaites will traet the higher prices as lower inflation in their anti-middle-class oppression. Surely the quality of life will FALL, to be treated as a “hedonic improvement” in the totalitarians’ official non-rising CPI.

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  • Pay Dirt examines the millions of consumer decisions Americans make every day: What to buy, how much to pay, whether to rave or complain. Lead written by Quentin Fottrell, the blog examines these interactions, providing readers with news, insight and tips on shopping, spending, customer service, and companies that do right – and wrong – by their customers. Send items, questions and comments to quentin.fottrell@dowjones.com or tweet @SMPayDirt.