It is taking 10-14 days for my Lindale News & Times newspaper to make it just 40 miles down the road. It is mailed in Smith County on Wednesdays and is supposed to be delivered to adjacent Upshur County on Thursday – the next-day Thursday, not Thursday a week or two from now.
I am sure this is nothing new to many of you, if not all of you.
I am losing subscribers and advertisers because of the lack of timely delivery. And when we ask the post office why the service is so slow we get no answers.
I’ve actually had subscribers tell me the post office told them “the newspaper didn’t mail the papers this week.” Yep, pretty unbelievable. It’s kind of like they are telling the teacher their dog ate their homework, or in this case the local hometown newspaper.
And our out-of-state subscribers receive a month’s worth of issues all at one time, bundled together. It confuses our subscribers, as it does us. And again, when we ask why we get no answers.
This happens every week. It is not a weather issue.
Like all of you, we mail our three newspapers on the same day every week and have for decades. We deliver the newspapers to the post office labeled, routed, bagged and tagged. The only thing we don’t do is load the mail truck and drive the mail routes.
Maybe we should. That way we could make sure the papers get to our customers on time.
But there may be hope on the horizon. At least that’s the impression U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy gave me at a recent Zoom meeting sponsored by the National Newspaper Association.
During a Q&A session, I was able to share my 10-14 day mailing dilemma, and his answer was quite surprising.
“That doesn’t sound good,” he said, adding that kind of poor service was not acceptable. He said he would have Steven W. Monteith, chief customer and marketing officer (CCMO) and executive vice president, look into it and get with me. What was more surprising was the fact that he said my mailing problem wasn’t unusual.
I, along with Laurie Brown of The Canadian Record and Randy Keck of The Community News in Aledo, joined publishers from around the country on the 45-minute NNA Zoom call with DeJoy.
The Postmaster General spent about 25 minutes explaining to us how the USPS had to be self-sustaining “by law” and he planned to accomplish that goal. When asked how the USPS can consider charging higher rates for slower service and hope to survive, he had no answer. He also was rather vague as to what “self-sustaining” meant to the future of our periodical mailings, but I think we can all read between the lines and adjust our mailing budgets accordingly.
He explained how the USPS had purchased larger vehicles so they could deliver larger packages, a direction they seem to be moving toward. Really? I just hope my mail bags find their way onto those new larger USPS vehicles. That would be a pleasant change.
He explained delivery issues can also be attributed to the USPS experiencing heavy turnover – up to 40-percent – so they have been forced to train new employees, and that most likely has caused some delays. That was news to me. In my area once someone gets a job at the post office they are there for life.
Do you see heavy turnover at your post office?
DeJoy told us he planned to roll out his new 10-year plan to reshape the nation’s mail service soon, but he declined to share any details with the dozens of publishers (regular customers) on the Zoom call. The newspaper association has lobbied strongly for the past decade to maintain universal service and six-day delivery.
“Delivery, delivery, delivery — that’s very important to me,” DeJoy said. “We want to look at our routes and get them optimized. We have an amazing network that we plan to use to capitalize on our growth.”
DeJoy reminded us the postal service has come a long way since Benjamin Franklin. I just wonder how long it would take the Pony Express to go from Lindale to Gilmer.
The good news is DeJoy said someone will be looking into my newspaper delivery problem. That is good news – let’s hope it’s not fake news.
STOP THE PRESSES – The USPS supervisor out of Shreveport just called me and said he will track down the problem and get it fixed. Mr. Carver assured me he was dedicated to service and will put his 43 years of postal experience to work to solve the issues.
He also said he will work with Dallas-area postal workers to help fix my mailing problem there. Lindale goes to Dallas, while Gladewater and White Oak have to make a loop around Shreveport.
I’ll admit it, I didn’t really have much faith that the Postmaster General would really have someone look into my situation. But at least some wheels are getting some grease and we’ll see what the outcome is. I’ll keep you in the loop and hope this is the start of improved service not just for me, but for all of us.
In the meantime, I’ll just sit back and read the Wood County Monitor dated Feb. 25, which I got on March 22, and The Community News dated Feb. 19-26, which I also got on March 22.