New standards slow the snail

By: 
Wade Young, wade@montgomerymnnews.com

Maybe you didn’t notice, but according to the U.S. Postal Service mail delivery for many Americans is beginning to slow down.

Is it possible snail for mail to get slower?

Starting October 1, the Postal Service implemented “new service standards for First Class Mail and Periodicals,” meaning an increased time-in-transit for mail traveling long distances, such as from New York to California. The USPS said “most first class mail (61%) and periodicals (93%, these are your third-class-mailed newspapers) will be unaffected” by the changes.

The changes to service standard times are part of USPS' 10-year strategic plan that was announced by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy in March as a way to climb out of the department’s financial canyon.

To be clear, our LOCAL post office does a fantastic job delivering the mail and your weekly Montgomery Messenger - when they receive it. (More on that later.) They have helped us on more than one occasion figure out why a specific reader wasn’t getting their paper. They have always been easy to work with the Messenger office and Suel Printing’s Circulation Department on delivery problems.

The new service standards indicated the slow down comes when the snail has to crawl across the country with mail on its back.

In the newspaper world, at least for many of the Messenger subscribers, snail mail of newspaper delivery outside of Montgomery or Lonsdale began slowing down a long time ago.

Seriously, a long time ago.

Subscribers who live in Faribault often receive their paper eight days after it is put in the mail system.

Some don’t receive it at all.

In my opinion, the journey those papers make before their mailbox is convoluted. After the newspapers are printed at the plant in Princeton (not our back room, as some think), a driver brings them to the local post offices. Some of the bundles/bags remain at the local PO for carrier delivery, while postal workers take others to sorting facilities to be scanned, before they are resent to local POs.

Mail for people living in 560 zip codes make a more perilous journey. They are first dropped in New Prague then sent to sorting stations. It used to be Mankato.

However now that New Prague PO is closed for repairs, that snail goes to Prior Lake, and then a Minneapolis sorting facility, before it returns to the local POs.

If you live in a different zip code, your paper (that little snail) can crawl to St. Paul or Mankato before returning to your local post office for delivery.

Not all of the papers make this trip. In New Prague, human newspaper carriers deliver the in-town product. In Montgomery and Lonsdale, we have filed paperwork to keep the papers in the local POs to ensure timely delivery.

We understand that people get frustrated with the postal delivery of their newspapers. People subscribe to their newspaper because they WANT it. They want to read about the people in the community they grew up in. They want to read the obituaries, student and people news.

I don’t know how many times a month we receive calls from Faribault, Lakeville, and even Kilkenny subscribers who didn’t receive their newspapers. This week I had three from Le Center who didn’t get their paper on Thursday or Friday.

According to Paul Steidler, senior fellow at the Lexington Institute and an expert on the postal service, the new delivery standards "means mail delivery will be slower than in the 1970s.” He called DeJoy's plan "disastrous."

Starting October 1, the PO's current three-day delivery standard for first-class mail — letters, bills, tax documents and the like — will drop to delivery anywhere within the U.S. within five days.

They don’t mention first-class’s cousin, you know, the third-class periodicals (your newspaper). If it takes the snail five days to deliver a letter, how long will it take to deliver the paper to Montana or California? What about the aforementioned Le Center or Kilkenny? Those locations aren’t across the country, and their papers are still not arriving on time.

I don’t have an answer. The delivery frustrates us, but don’t give up on your local newspaper. We are trying to get our product to you. Solutions take time.

In the meantime, watch out for that little snail.

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