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Postal Service to stop Saturday letter deliveries

In August, mail carriers like Derek Wilkins of St. Petersburg won’t be making their rounds on Saturdays.

LARA CERRI | Times

In August, mail carriers like Derek Wilkins of St. Petersburg won’t be making their rounds on Saturdays.

Dana Dittmar probably won't even notice when Saturday mail delivery ends.

"Ninety-nine point nine percent of the time, I forget to check my mailbox until Monday," said the executive director of the Sun City Center's Chamber of Commerce.

Not everyone agrees with customers like Dittmar, but what's clear is this:

The Postal Service, which lost $15.9 billion in its last fiscal year, announced Wednesday that as of Aug. 5, it will deliver mail only five days a week.

What are the changes?

The Postal Service will stop delivering mail to homes and businesses on Saturdays but will still distribute packages of all sizes six days a week. Package delivery has increased by 14 percent since 2010, postal officials say. Email has decreased letters, but online purchases have increased package shipping. Also, post offices already open six days a week will continue to be open on Saturdays. Mail would still be delivered to post office boxes on Saturdays.

What is a package?

Specifics are being worked out but the Postal Service said prescription drugs still will be delivered on Saturdays.

What about Netflix?

DVDs that used to arrive on Saturday would come on Monday instead. Those who want to make sure they have a DVD to watch on the weekend might have to mail the discs back to Netflix a day earlier to ensure that they receive another on Friday.

Why now?

The Postal Service said it wanted to give customers plenty of time to adjust.

Does Congress have a say?

Lawmakers still could pass legislation barring the Postal Service from ending Saturday mail. Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said he will continue to talk with members of Congress, and President Barack Obama has supported the move. Congress has voted in the past to bar the idea of eliminating Saturday delivery, and Donahoe's announcement drew protests from some lawmakers. An independent agency, the Postal Service gets no tax dollars for its day-to-day operations but is subject to congressional control.

How much money will this save?

The Postal Service says it will save about $2 billion a year. Much of the service's red ink comes from a 2006 law forcing it to pay about $5.5 billion a year into future retiree health benefits, something no other federal agency does.

How will this affect direct mail?

Two local direct mail companies, Valpak in Largo and Bramlett Direct Mail Services in Tampa, say they expect to be largely unaffected. It will mainly mean more coupons, newsletters and invitations on weekdays.

How will businesses be affected?

For businesses that rely on receiving letters on Saturdays, P.O. boxes still will get mail on Saturdays.

Will my post office be shut down?

Postal officials have not said they will close any more post offices.

How will Postal Service employees be affected?

Officials said the cutback would affect workers, including reassignments, but specific details were not released.

Who objects to the move?

The National Association of Letter Carriers expressed fears that the move will hurt customers and postal employees, though it offered no specifics. Also, the National Farmers Union said "impacts on rural America will be particularly harmful."

Laura C. Morel can be reached at lmorel@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3386. Meredith Rutland can be reached at mrutland@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8804. Information from Associated Press was used in this report.

Postal Service to stop Saturday letter deliveries 02/06/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 6, 2013 10:44pm]

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