Oct 19, 2021 11:42 AM

Postal Service cost-cutting measures worry Nebraska business owners

Posted Oct 19, 2021 11:42 AM

Nebraska News Connection

By Eric Galatas

COLUMBUS, Neb. -- Small-business owners in Nebraska are concerned about losing customers during the upcoming holiday season as the U.S. Postal Service makes additional changes aimed at reducing costs.

David Bell, owner of Bell Putters, an online golf equipment business in Columbus, has been struggling with slow delivery since the onset of COVID. Bell worries additional slowdowns will make it much harder to keep his doors open.

"We rely on the Postal Service to ship products all over the country, and in some cases outside the country," Bell explained. "Obviously, any slowdown in service is a negative and hurts your business."

The Postal Service has projected mail traveling less than 1,000 miles will now take at least three days to arrive, and mail traveling more than 1,900 miles will take five days or more. The latest changes, which also will reduce post office hours, are part of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy's 10-year plan, called "Delivering for America."

Christopher Shaw, an author and historian of the U.S. Postal Service, noted the Postal Regulatory Commission has suggested cost savings in Dejoy's plan are likely exaggerated. He added slower service and reduced postal hours could cause more people to take their business elsewhere.

"When you reduce service, you're likely to also drive away patrons," Shaw pointed out. "So the revenue effects of this are very much up in the air, and could actually end up being potentially even the opposite of what Dejoy expects them to be."

Bell said he is concerned about the long-term viability of the nation's mail system responsible for delivering Social Security and veterans benefit checks, prescription medicines and more to all Americans regardless of where they live.

"The loss of the post office would be a great loss to small communities like ours," Bell contended. "We rely on the post office. I think it's very important that the postal service should be maintained and protected."