On-Time Delivery of Mail Fell Precipitously in 2015

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Presort classes dipped below 90% for the first time in five years; increased emphasis on package business plays a role.

In a year when business mailers were still being forced pay an extra 4.3% for the same mail service, service standards tanked, according to the Postal Regulatory Commission. An analysis of the U.S. Postal Service's 2015 Annual Performance Report (APR) by the regulator found USPS failed to meet its goals for delivering high-quality services and providing excellent customer service.

Despite the fact that business mailers have been complying in growing numbers with the Postal Service's call for using the Intelligent Mail barcode system, on-time delivery percentages dropped below 90% for 3-5 day First Class Presort, First Class Composite, and Standard Mail Presort. On-time delivery of the first two classes fell more than 5% below targets.

The most devastating falloff came in 3-5 day Single Piece First Class Mail—largely a consumer product—which was delivered on time only 77% of the time, a full 11 percentage points below targets set by USPS last year.

Delivery times suffered, said the PRC, from the deferral of postal plant consolidation and also from increased emphasis on the Postal Service's single growth business—packages and shipping. Double-digit growth in package mail forced USPS to exceed the limits of its air shipping capabilities.

Glitches in barcode scanning processes played a large role in slow delivery times, directly leading to customers awarding the Postal Service low grades for “experience” in surveys.

The public representative who is called upon to weigh in on analysis of performance reports noted that the Postal Services poor 2015 showing was made worse the fact that performance factor had already been at their lowest levels since 2011. “It is evident that the vast majority of the Postal Districts did not meet any performance indicators for SinglePiece First-Class Mail,” observed Lyudmila Bzhilyanskaya..

She was also skeptical of the Postal Service's making an excuse of workforce disruptions arising from the suspension of the network rationalization plan. Bzhilyanskaya noted that in another area of the APR, the Postal Service claims that it deferred plant consolidations to allow for a “period of stabilization” that it claimed led to overall improvements in service performance.

The Postal Service responded to DMN's request for a reaction to PRC's report with this statement: "The PRC's findings...reaffirm what the Postal Service already revealed late last year when we released our Annual Report, namely, that the we did not meet all of our goals for FY 2015. We acknowledged that we faced several significant challenges in achieving the goals we set for ourselves last year, but we can also affirm that we are committed to achieving our goals in the current fiscal year, and we are dispatching all available resources to improve service, customer satisfaction, employee engagement, and profitability."

Updated May 9, 2016

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