COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) – Seeking ways to cut costs, the United States Postal Service is working with its competitors -- and may even stop delivering mail on Saturday.
The postal service is collaborating with competitors like UPS and FedEx, in what they're calling a "co-opetition." The organizations are cooperating and competing at the same time, with the end goal to save money and pass that savings onto customers.
The move allows the postal service -- and by extension, you -- to save money on what is considered the first mile and last mile of delivery. It's a service most customers do not realize exists.
"We do have the benefit of delivering to every residential address every day, and that's what our competition has decided to use to their advantage," said USPS spokesperson Monica Robbs.
There are two easy examples to explain the collaboration.
If FedEx has 60 packages all going to the same ZIP code, it may hand them all over to USPS carriers already making the trip to homes. That saves the cost of sending FedEx trucks to each house.
If someone orders something online via UPS and does not like it, sometimes they can drop that package off at their nearest post office and UPS will pick it up there.
"It's about saving money and convenience for customers," Robbs said.
But collaborating with its competitors may not completely keep the postal service out of the red, which is why the USPS is asking lawmakers to approve a proposal to eliminate Saturday delivery service. Managers say that would save nearly $3 billion a year.
Gerry Mulligan, manager of the Carolina Forest post office, calls the proposed change tough but necessary.
"It's not that the post office wants to go to this, but it's another way that we can try to save some money," explained Mulligan. "If we can get Congress to pass the proposal for five days, we can figure out what we need to do with the employees to help them out so we don't have to do cutbacks."
Unlike other government agencies, the U.S. Postal Service does not receive tax money from the government. So expenses have to be offset by whatever revenue the postal service generates, but Mulligan says this revenue has been declining.
"Now with a lot of people paying their bills online we have lost a lot of revenue when you think about across the whole United States," said Mulligan.
There will be several public hearings before the changes could go into effect, and Congress would have to give the final approval. If the measure is passed, the changes would likely go into effect next year.