When Trump’s top donor Louis DeJoy was appointed Postmaster General in 2020, many were alarmed. After all, the United States Postal Service (USPS) has always been a reliable way for people to receive their prescription drugs, send gifts to loved ones, and make sure their bill payments were delivered on time. For the first time in more than 20 years, a person with no postal experience has taken the reins, directly impacting the lives of millions of people.
DeJoy’s latest move? Slow down the time it takes for mail to reach its destination. DeJoy calls the plan “Deliver for America”. According to DeJoy, the USPS will now be run more like a business and – although it’s unclear how – will become more competitive.
So when you mail that card for a friend’s birthday or mail in your mortgage payment, it’s more likely to not arrive on time. Thanks to Delivering for America, about 30% of all first class mail will simply take longer. While mail sent to a local area will still be delivered in about two days, you can rely on mail sent from further afield to take longer.
According to La Poste, you have to count on deliveries that can take up to five days instead of two or three. That’s because the USPS decided it could save money by packing the mail into trucks for delivery across the country rather than using air travel.
Unless you plan ahead, shipping to America could get expensive.
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What this means for mailed checks
It is estimated that 7% of workers do not have their paychecks directly deposited into their bank accounts. This number isn’t exceptionally high, but if you like to feel a real check in your hands and prefer to send checks to your bank for deposit, you might want to change the way you do business.
Let’s say you get paid on Friday of each week and mail the check to your financial institution on Saturday morning. Until now, you could reasonably expect a deposit to your bank account in two or three business days, or on Tuesday or Wednesday. Now, depending on how far you live from your bank, it may take up to Thursday or Friday for the check to arrive.
The simple solution is to sign up for direct deposit if your employer offers the service. Otherwise, pay your bills as if the deposit wouldn’t be made until late the following week. This way, there will be less chance of using an account with insufficient funds. Since a recent Forbes investigation found that the average overdraft fee for a check is $ 24.38, according to the post office, getting your check to the bank on time could be a costly miscalculation. Imagine writing five checks to creditors each payday. If all five checks were bounced, you would face an overdraft fee of approximately $ 120.
If you decide not to sign up for direct deposit, consider using your smartphone to make home deposits. It’s as easy as downloading the banking app from your financial institution and following a few simple steps.
What this means for the mail that arrives to you
Just as some of your mail will take longer than usual to reach its destination, it will also reach you. This means you can wait longer than usual for the bills to arrive. But even if an invoice takes longer to arrive in your mailbox, your creditors won’t extend the due date. Let’s say you usually get a utility bill on the 15th and it’s due by the 24th. If that same bill arrives on the 17th, it will still be due on the 24th.
If you don’t have a monthly budget in place yet, consider setting one up. A budget helps keep you on track financially, helps you make sure you have enough money to cover your expenses, and reminds you when every bill is due to avoid late payments.
Either way, if you still receive invoices through the USPS, now is the time to sign up for electronic invoice delivery. As long as you have access to the Internet, you can still open your invoices to review charges. You also have the option to automatically pay most monthly bills by having payments withdrawn from your bank account on the day they are due. This ensures that you do not face late fees.
Parcel delivery is likely to slow down considerably
In the first quarter of 2021, about 20% of all first-class mail arrived late, according to Postal Service Technology Director Scott Bombaugh. And for the 160 million homes and businesses that depend on the USPS, things will slow down even more. There will be no more running to the post office to post a gift midweek and expect it to arrive by Saturday.
If you are one of the 15 million Americans who own a small business and depend on the Postal Service to deliver mail to your customers, the way you do business will have to change.
For starters, you can no longer promise a customer that they will receive their package in a few days. And because customer service is essential to growing your business, you may need to discover new ways to build goodwill. For example, you can include a small gift in each package, such as a calendar, bookmark, or other add-on. Or you can include a personalized note to let the buyer know you value their business. Mega-companies like Amazon and Walmart are unlikely to suffer as they can pay for alternative delivery methods. What you lack in speed, you will have to compensate for it with personalized service.
In short, take into account longer delivery times when making promises to customers. This could very well involve finding ways to make buyers happy to have found you, even if it took longer for their package to arrive.
In addition, Delivering for America will also reduce post office hours, increase the price of postage, and introduce even larger postage increases during the holidays. So do what you can now to prepare your schedule – and your wallet – for these changes.