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Kremlin on the Potomac: Postal Service Communications

Readers old enough to remember the Soviet Union also remember how skilled it was at saying nothing – about anything – no matter what.  If something happened, regardless of whether it was visible to the outside world, it simply wasn’t acknowledged.  A natural disaster?  Never happened.  The disappearance of an important figure?  He’s fine.  A bomber crash into a village?  No bomber, nothing happened.

If outsiders posed a question about any event, the basic answer, if there was one, was denial, deflection, or obfuscation.  The Soviets never admitted to anything going wrong, to any internal failures, or to any event or condition that might break the illusion they so ardently projected or that might provide an outsider a peek into what’s really going on.

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Parsing the Causes for an Historic Service Collapse – Analysis

Usually, after the busy fall mailing season and the holiday rush, things return to normal for the Postal Service and its commercial mailing customers.  As everyone knows, however, the current environment is anything but normal.

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USPS Issues Post-Election Report

In a perhaps unusual move, the Postal Service released a report in late December reviewing the 2020 election and its role in the vote-by-mail process.  Posted on its Link site on December 30, 2020, the 22-page document, Post-Election Analysis: Delivering the Nation’s Election Mail in an Extraordinary Year, summarizes the agency’s actions in support of the election process.

The report detailed its performance at the national level:

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Lack of Information Continues About Delays at USPS Facilities

As the latest wave of illness related to the ongoing pandemic sweeps across the country, the Postal Service, like other businesses, is suffering from staffing shortages as workers become sickened, or are absent to quarantine or care for family members.

Postal officials have stated that USPS facilities typically can have a 3-4% absentee rate – employees on leave for one reason or another – but that some are now facing staffing shortfalls of up to 20%.  For example, if an incoming dock operation at a plant had an approved staffing of 20, and could function with 19 or 18, it likely would be challenged to meet unload times if only 15 or 16 employees were available.

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Can Scan Data Be Believed?

One of the better features of many USPS mail categories and services is the use of a unique barcode on mailpieces that, when scanned by Postal Service machines or people, can yield information about the item’s location (and delivery status).  Of course, the value and accuracy of that information depend on whether the scan actually was captured at the time and location reported to the customer.

The USPS regularly details on its daily Link the percentage of expected delivery scans that actually occur.  For the week ending October 16, for example, the national score was 97.06%, down 0.14% from the previous week.  The areas and districts that do the best typically score in the mid- to high-ninety percent range, meaning that the others do more poorly; the agency doesn’t disclose them.

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Still Paying the Price for Poor Communication

A commentary in the August 3 issue of Mailers Hub News opined on the Postal Service’s failure to offer meaningful communication during times when the popular media is regularly publicizing rumors, leaked documents, and union allegations about what’s going on in the agency.  In concluding that commentary, we urged the USPS to provide accurate and timely information before other parties told their story first.  Similar messages for better communication by the Postal Service came from others in the mailing industry before and since that commentary was published.

From all appearances, the urging has had little effect, and the consequences of the Postal Service’s silence continue.

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Delivery Changes Met by Media Criticism

Changes to mail processing and delivery procedures being adopted by the Postal Service have been met with criticism in the general media.  News articles frequently cite customer and labor union concerns over delays in mail delivery and fault the USPS for placing budgets ahead of service.

Many examples

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Lack of Transportation Impacting International Mail

The article below was produced by Merry Law, Mailers Hub’s expert, and consultant on international mail. Merry may be reached at [email protected].


COVID-19 closures, lack of transport capacity, self-declared inbound rates, expiring USPS consolidator contracts, no bilateral agreements with other countries: Taking this a piece at a time can make sense of what is happening, who it affects and how. Let’s start with the more temporary effects of the current pandemic crisis and move on to the longer-term matters.

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Mailers Hub Coronavirus Response

The scale, scope, and ubiquity of the current health crisis is a situation none of us has encountered before. While we all have to adapt in our personal lives, we also need to do what we can to keep our businesses alive. From the information that’s available, it would seem that the days of uncertainty, challenge, and sacrifice are far from over, and no commercial mail producer has the ability – or bank account – to allay all the fears or overcome all the challenges by itself.

Now, more than ever, members of the commercial mailing community need to work together. 

Our job at Mailers Hub is what our tagline says: to bring commercial mailing, solutions, and resources together – and we’ll do that by providing information and a place to get it.  On our site, as information becomes available, we will do our best to communicate it in a timely and useful manner.  As problems arise for the industry and individual providers, we will do our best to act as a resource and network to help facilitate solutions.  We all need to do what we can; we hope our part will serve our colleagues well.
 
As always, contact us as needed.


FOR UPDATED INFORMATION: https://mailershub.com/covid-19 





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