Friday, July 05, 2024

More than 200 newspapers complain about U.S. Postal Service's poor mail delivery and escalating costs

The following report is from John Galer, chair of the National Newspaper Association and publisher of The Journal-News in Hillsboro, Illinois.

On June 28, the National Newspaper Association delivered letters from more than 200 newspaper titles to the Postal Regulatory Commission, complaining about inadequate mail delivery and escalating postage rates.

The comments were part of a review by the PRC of its postal rate regulations, which it is required by Congress to do periodically. The commission last completed a rate review in 2021 at which time it gave the U.S. Postal Service authority to raise postage rates beyond inflation levels. The result for community newspapers has been an increase by 35-50 percent in postage costs in the past four years.

The PRC announced earlier this year, following widespread complaints by mail users, that it would initiate a new inquiry on its regulations. Its determination will set USPS’s legal authority to increase rates for at least five years.

NNA Chair John Galer, publisher of the Journal-News, Hillsboro, IL, asked NNA members and newspapers in state newspaper organizations to send him their thoughts on the impact of the past few years of postage increases.

Responses registered a state of alarm on the future of the industry, specific complaints about delivery failures, losses of subscribers and unresponsive local postal authorities when delivery was not properly executed. Galer included the letters in NNA’s comments to the commission. NNA is also working with mailing industry partners on more detailed comments on the mechanisms involved in the rate regulation, including one provision that allows USPS to increase rates more when mail volume declines, which many in the industry consider a reward for poor performance.

“NNA has met with the commission recently to explain our situation,” Galer said. “We needed the commissioners to understand that this situation cannot continue. The PRC is inclined to blame the Postmaster General for using every inch of rate authority that the commission extended. But it was the commission that laid the table for this disaster. With proper rate regulation, we would not be in the situation we now find ourselves in. Now, we have to be concerned not only for the future of our own newspapers but for the plummeting of mail volumes that threatens the very basis of universal mail service. It was not unusual this year to see complaints not only about late newspaper delivery but also about checks in the mail arriving slowly or not at all. Even first-class mail has become unreliable in many areas.”

Public comments are being accepted by the PRC until July 9.

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