Retailers testify on USPS' five-day delivery proposal

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The elimination of Saturday mail delivery would force Amazon.com to shift about one-sixth of its current Postal Service business to other carriers, Paul Misener, VP of global public policy for Amazon.com, told a joint Senate-House postal oversight hearing on Wednesday, June 23.

Amazon.com spends “nine figures” annually with US Postal Service, shipping more than 2 million packages a week, and it has been working to increase its use of the USPS, Misener said. Ceasing Saturday delivery makes the Postal Service less competitive, he said.

“Our customers will not wait for Monday or Tuesday delivery if Saturday delivery is possible via other carriers,” Misener said, adding that Amazon.com might even shift some deliveries that otherwise occur on Friday if the company believes there is too much risk of non-delivery on Friday.

Misener was one of six customers to testify Wednesday before a joint hearing of Congress on the future of the Postal Service. The second panel consisted of leaders of USPS' four unions and three management associations. The employee groups were unanimous in their opposition to the elimination of Saturday delivery, while the six customers were split.

Along with Amazon.com, officials from Hallmark Cards Inc. and Prime Therapeutics spoke in opposition of the five-day delivery proposal. Prime Therapeutics, a pharmacy management benefit company that fulfills prescription drugs through the mail, also said it would consider alternative delivery companies. On the other side were Netflix, the American Lung Association and catalog company Paul Fredrick MenStyle Inc., which voiced tepid support to the USPS' plan because it provides such huge costs savings that would help the long-term viability of the USPS.

All six customers agreed that Congress should first restructure the Postal Service's pre-funding payment schedule into its retiree healthcare fund to bring those payments in line with other federal agencies and the private sector. The Postal Service will pay $5.4 billion in the retiree fund this fiscal year if Congress does not make a change.

“Congress should, as a matter of great urgency, make those changes within its power to provide a sustainable business environment in which the Postal Service can stabilize its finances and reduce costs of operations to protect jobs now and in the future,” said Donald Hall Jr., president and CEO of Hallmark Cards.

Senator Tom Carper, D-DE, said he is planning legislation that would address the pension and retiree health issues.

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