FIRST-CLASS SERVICE GOES FROM MEDIOCRE TO BAD
Last February, First-Class flats, and First-Class Mail in general were, well, just bad. No need to sugar-coat it. They managed to improve by late spring, so maybe it had been Omicron. Apparently not, because service is once again awful for First-Class Mail. First-Class letters were on time just over 85% of the time. FC flats were on time just 70% of the time. 4th worst week of the last twelve months.
Oh, it will get better – it always does, but that is nothing you can count on. Many senders needing a reliable delivery service may well be looking at other alternatives. The Postal Service, in their service reporting, tends to ignore the bad weeks – they just don’t talk about them, much less try to explain them. It’s disheartening.
USPS did recently strain their brachialis patting themselves on the back for their excellent Marketing Mail service in the First Quarter (the fourth quarter here on Earth.) The reason Marketing Mail looks relatively good is that the largest volumes of Marketing Mail are drop-shipped to the 3-digit level. In other words, smart large-volume mailers skip most of the Postal system – they pretty much start at the finish-line. So, USPS does OK with the last mile. This is one of the great challenges we face, trying to provide a real view of how long Marketing Mail takes from point to point. For example, a Marketing mail letter from Hartford, CT to Minnesota will typically take 8.66 days, if entered at origin and not drop shipped. So, don’t pay too much heed to the days-in-transit we show for Marketing Mail in our traffic report. On-time performance is hard to measure when the service standard is “whenever.”
It would certainly be helpful if the Postal Service provided consistent, transparent reporting on their service.