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Postal Service plan to cut Saturday delivery catches some by surprise

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Updated: February 6, 2013 3:40PM



Coupons for things you’d never dream of buying.

Dreaded bills.

Solicitations not so cleverly disguised as: “Important Information. Open immediately.”

If that’s what’s stuffed in your mailbox most days, you probably won’t care that the U.S. Postal Service plans to stop delivering mail ­— with the exception of packages ­­— on Saturdays.

On the other hand, Jennifer Vu, who still enjoys sending and receiving mail, appeared stunned at the news.

“Oh my gosh — that’s surprising,” said Vu, 30, a River North physician dropping off her wedding invitations at the Fort Dearborn branch post office downtown Wednesday. “I’m not happy about it. It’s one less day to get mail. I already feel it’s difficult when you don’t get mail on Sunday.”

The Postal Service’s new plan is intended to save about $2 billion, the financially struggling agency says.

The service announced Wednesday that the Saturday mail cutback would begin in August.

The move accentuates one of the agency’s strong points — package delivery has increased by 14 percent since 2010, officials say, while the delivery of letters and other mail has declined with the increasing use of email and other Internet use.

Under the new plan, mail would still be delivered to post office boxes on Saturdays. Post offices now open on Saturdays would remain open on Saturdays.

But some folks are so irritated with the current quality of service, they’d be happy to see the Postal Service abolished entirely.

“They’re horrible. Burn it down,” said a River North Postal Service customer who agreed to give only his first name, Scott. “You stand in line. There are 12 people in line, and no one reacts to the fact that you’re there. The level of service — they should be embarrassed.”

But Michael Maruszak, 53, who works downtown but lives in Southwest suburban Justice said the Postal Service remains valuable — particularly for older, less tech-savvy people.

“The older people don’t get out that much — they’re not computer literate. Not having them deliver the mail (Saturdays) is going to cause a lot of problems,” said Maruszak, then adding, “The post office is trying to keep themselves going, but the more you take away, the more people are going to (say), ‘Do we really need them?’”

Over the past several years, the Postal Service has advocated shifting to a five-day delivery schedule for mail and packages — and it repeatedly but unsuccessfully appealed to Congress to approve the move. Though an independent agency, the service gets no tax dollars for its day-to-day operations but is subject to congressional control.

It was not immediately clear how the service could eliminate Saturday mail without congressional approval.

But the agency clearly thinks it has a majority of the American public on its side regarding the change.

Material prepared for the Wednesday press conference by Patrick R. Donahoe, postmaster general and CEO, says Postal Service market research and other research has indicated that nearly 7 in 10 Americans support the switch to five-day delivery as a way for the Postal Service to reduce costs.

Contributing: AP



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