USPS Switch Slows Delivery in West

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Direct marketers and mailers in parts of some Western states have been seeing one-day delivery delays to customers in the region after the U.S. Postal Service changed the two-day delivery zones into more reliable delivery areas served by trucks.

"We attempted to move some of our two-day volume that had been flying via commercial airlines to more dependable service transportation," said Chuck Gannon, national program manager for service standards at the USPS. "In doing that, we had to exchange some two- day deliveries with three-day deliveries, and three-day deliveries with two-day deliveries, so that we could balance our network and be able to get consistent two- and three-day service."

From January to May 2000, the agency redrew mail delivery schedules nationwide because of what Gannon said was undependable airline service that often left mail sacks on the tarmac.

Gannon said that the West had the greatest number of ZIP codes moving from two-day delivery to three-day delivery due to the region's larger distances between population centers. Overall, a reported 1.5 billion pieces of mail per year, most of it west of the Rocky Mountains, now will fall into three-day zones rather than two-day.

Postal critics see the new delivery standards as a step backward and a hardship for businesses and other customers. Some wonder how these changes could have happened without approval from the Postal Rate Commission and without public comment. Others said the changes discriminate against Western states.

Postal officials said there was no proof of discrimination or hardship in the changed delivery zones and that no public participation or PRC approval was required for this type of decision.

Nationwide, many more ZIP codes overall have mail being delivered "in two days as opposed to when we started," Gannon said, "but we haven't received too many pats on the back from the people in areas where we have gone faster." He said Ohio, West Virginia and many other areas along the East Coast have had "tremendous gains."

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