Potter: USPS Delivered Amid Snow, Ice Storms

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Postmaster general John E. Potter yesterday applauded the efforts of U.S. Postal Service employees who dealt with severe weather just three days before Christmas to deliver holiday mail.


Potter noted the weather challenge as well as other December achievements at this year's first meeting of the USPS Board of Governors in Washington.


Despite a "perfect storm" that shut down the nation's transfer air cargo hubs and the heavy snow and ice storms that crippled commercial airlines and surface transportation networks, Potter said, postal employees worked diligently to move the mail through the transportation network for delivery from the nation's post offices.


He also offered an apology to customers who did not get their holiday packages on time for Christmas.


Meanwhile, United Parcel Service Inc. lowered its earnings estimate for the fourth quarter yesterday, citing higher operating costs resulting from the severe weather that hit the Midwest during the height of its peak-season operations as well as an unanticipated volume shortfall in the Christmas-to-New Year's week.


The USPS also achieved two breakthroughs in customer service and convenience in December, Potter told the governors. The first was a record monthly package volume of 4 million pieces generated by the carrier pickup online notification program.


"A lot of the credit for this new volume goes to the success of our Click-N-Ship service, which allows customers to go online to pay postage and arrange for their letter carrier to pick up packages at their home or place of business," he said.


The second milestone was reaching $100 million in revenue generated by the 2,500 Automated Postal Center machines installed nationwide last year. Customer service advisers were in post office lobbies to assist customers and demonstrate the ease of using the automated center.


"Over $40 million of the $100 million was generated in the first three weeks of December," Potter said. "Carrier pickup, Click-N-Ship and our Automated Postal Center kiosks are part of our strategy to make it easier for everyone to do business with us."


In other action, the governors:


* Approved a Postal Rate Commission recommendation for a one-year test of an added fee for the use of repositionable notes. The notes are self-adhesive, 3-by-3-inch paper. Attached to mail, these messages can leave a lasting impression and generate sales and repeat business for companies. The board approved the test implementation date of April 3. The PRC issued its recommendation in December.


* Authorized funding for site acquisition, design and construction of a 428,951 square-foot processing and distribution center for southern Maine and renovation of the existing facility to serve as the Portland Main Post Office.


* Adopted a resolution raising the capital funding level for projects requiring their approval from $10 million to $25 million. The lower level had been adopted in 1986.


The board also elected James C. Miller III as its chairman and Alan Kessler as vice chairman.


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