DETROIT - The United States Postal Service has been drowning in a sea of red ink, losing almost $16 billion in the last budget year.
So, it says starting the week of Aug. 5 it plans to stop most Saturday deliveries to homes and businesses. People who still visit the post office don't like the idea.
"I always look forward to getting cards and letters from people and I send out cards and letters, " said Barbara Landrum, of Detroit, who has friends and relatives out west.
Read more: Postal Service to cut Saturday mail
"I've counted on it in the past, it will be kind of an inconvenience," said Vincent Troia, of Livonia, as he mailed a package at the main Detroit post office on Fort Street.
Packages will still be delivered still be delivered on Saturdays, it's the one segment of the postal business that's still on the rise.
"Our package business over the last couple years has grown 14%," said Ed Moore, spokesman for the local post office.
Mixed reactions to Postal Service cutbacks
As you can imagine, there are different schools of thought on the change. Some customers, usually younger, understand that the post office has to change with the times. Others are very reluctant to give up the sixth day of service.
The president of the National Association of Letter Carriers calls ending Saturday service, "a disastrous idea that would have a profoundly negative effect on the Postal Service and on millions of customers..."
Moore responds, "We're looking at what we need to do to make the postal service viable, you know, for the remainder of the week."
USPS pension problem
Mandatory pensions and medical costs are the postal service's biggest fiscal challenge. The majority of red ink in 2012 was because of those challenges and other labor-related expenses. Congress requires the post office to set aside $5.5 billion a year for future health payments for ten years, starting in 2006. It's money that postal service doesn't have, and it's the only agency required to do so.
Some customers would rather see that change. "Quit making them prepay, so we can have six day mail delivery," said Cindy Kelley of Adrian.
House Speaker John Boehner says he's hoping Congress will act on postal reform very soon. That could help alleviate the problem with pre-paying retiree medical costs. And, it could give Congressional approval to cutting Saturday delivery.
Right now, Congress included a ban on five-day delivery in its appropriations bill. However, because the federal government is now operating under a temporary spending measure, rather than an appropriations bill, the postal service believes it can make the change itself. It's hoping postal reform will remove the ban. The postal service says cutting Saturday delivery could save about $2 billion a year.
Times are changing for mail industry
Still, the times are changing. Many younger people rarely use the post office or send mail. Jacinda Gant of Detroit told us she does everything online or via email. We asked her, when was the last time she was in a post office?
"I would say 12 years ago, sending an Easter card to my Grandmother," said Gant.
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