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Advisor

Are you marginal yet?

I posted this earlier on the Women's page, but wanted a more male perspective, too.  The issue I've written about below would be more bothersome, if it meant parts deliveries were late...time being money and all that jazz. 

Still, when you know that it was not so terribly long ago that Rural Free Delivery came to the countryside, you have to wonder how well services of all kinds will continue to reach us in the sticks, with fuel costs getting to be an ever-increasing issue. 

Living where we do, six miles from any store or post office in any direction, I had sort of been accustomed to having to drive a ways to do anything that cannot be done via computer.  That in itself has been a great way to save miles...ordering and having things delivered, especially from amazon. 

 

I've always enjoyed books immensely, which is what got me started e-shopping in the first place.  Nearest bookstore closed shortly after we moved here, and it's at least an hour to a decent one now.  Online prices are cheaper most times, and with a minimum order, shipping has been free...plus, no sales tax for mailorder into NC from out of state.  Saving the sales tax alone is almost 8% off. 

 

A few months ago, I half-jokingly told Mike I was going to look for some grocery items I coudn't find in town on amazon.  Lo and behold, there they were!  No more 60 to 90 minute drives for some of our favorites, just type them in, and wait for them to show up at our door.  I buy whole cases of stuff this way. 

 

I had always noticed that small packages that arrived via free S&H were in the mailbox, whereas larger parcels usually came UPS, and got dropped inside the office door.  Sometime last year, our regular UPS driver disappeared, and we started getting a rotating cast of characters who dropped packages in the driveway, in vehicles, on the back of parked golf carts, etc.  Mike caught one of them one day, and was told that the route was on some sort of a lottery system or something like that...no regular driver anymore.  

 

Now, our packages that are coming from amazon, often with non-perishable food items, or whatever books or music we want that order, are evidently coming most of the way UPS.  Then I get an e-mail that says they 'tried to deliver, but were unable to do so," so the package was dropped with the post office for final delivery. 

 

We know no attempt to deliver had been made, since either Mike or I was here, or both of us were home, and no truck came down the lane.  The mailman will show up with the delivery the next day, and bring it into the office and leave it for us. 

 

We have concluded that the cost of fuel has made our sparsely-populated route marginal for UPS.  FedEx still comes here, but UPS mostly does not appear to consider our location cost-effective to serve anymore.  Heavy packages with higher shipping cost may get delivered, but nothing small or lightweight. 

 

I'm not looking the gift horse of free delivery in the mouth, and none of this stuff is crucial to have today instead of tomorrow, but it does sort of make you think.  If it's UPS that stops serving us today, what will be next? 

 

I have long read that areas with lower population density will lose services first, and remote ones will get served last at that.  We are right on a major state highway that bisects our county, but apparently far enough from enough people that it is not worthwhile to bring us at least some of our packages anymore. 

 

I am quite sure this is driven by fuel prices...that UPS can pay the post office cheaper than it can drive them here itself...can anyone confirm this or set me straight? 

 

Has anyone else noticed this change where you live? Have you become marginal, too? 

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16 Replies
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Senior Advisor

Re: Are you marginal yet?

Yes Kay, we hear those chirping about how much better the privates do than the government. However, if UPS and Fedex decides that rural delivery is a money loser, they will discontinue service. The postal service shws up every day whether we have a parcel or not. That must a right or a privilege where the US Mail continues service whether it pays or not. Think of what a benefit that is to those of us in rural communities.

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Senior Advisor

Re: Are you marginal yet?

After large "assumed volumes" of freight being chased by the big guys and the wall street idea of "selling shares" the end story of fedx and ups will be the reality of "net profit' not growth in volume which wall street always leans toward---which some are already witnessing like Kay expressed --

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Veteran Advisor

Re: Are you marginal yet?

Kay this is a trend that will continue.  It has to!  THe fuel delivery expense is gonna put the crimp into Just In Time delivery.  THe end result is that the network of endusers that are used to having things be relatively easy to ship next day will become very hard pressed to deliver services that are time sensitive without the huge cash outlay for inventory.  THe inventory cost control has allowed us to keep enduser costs lower. 

Food will take the big hit as most at the consumer level is very perishable. In order for the grocer to ensure supplies they will have to pay more which means that the consumer will bear more of the cost. THis time the farmer will not be paying the bigger freight to the enduser.  However cost of initial shipment will be higher.  It costs me close to a dollar ahundred to ship my milk now. I think by this fall it will be over $1.  When I started My shipping costs were under 20 cents! 

As to the belief that Gov. can do it cheaper I think that is very soon to end as well.  Our smal town is prolly gonna lose it's Po when our current postmaster retires.  The other small town next to us has built a new PO in the past decade,  They have a somewhat younger postmaster. They will prolly get our businees for awhile. Sat. service will be done soon.  I think small regional delivery servides will take up some of the slack of the big boys. Most of them drive a cargo van. They also drive lower quality vehicles.  They also do not pay the drivers the same amount.

The times they are a changing!

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Advisor

Re: Are you marginal yet?

Well, I commented about concerns over loss of Rural Free Delivery to our USPS friend on the women's board, and was told that in the present cost-cutting mode,  they've been told that "everything is on the table."  I mentioned this in the post office in the county seat on Friday, and got a similar response. 

Googled the RFD subject, and it turned up facts that it began in 1891.  We all maintained fairly consistent Rural Route addresses until 9-1-1- systems for emergency services required street and house number addressing to help locate us better.  I certainly have addressed tons of mail to RR addresses, and they are a thing of the past. 

I think w will continue to get service, but the actual post offices that serve us will be fewer and further between.  Our most convenient post office is not the one that serves our home and farm.  The postmaster there tells me that several of the smaller offices will not ever justify themselves, paying $50K a year to sell less than a dollar a day in stamps.  I've noticed that even at the ones that are in busier villages, the lunch break is now a closed hour, instead of staffed and open. 

In my Google swing this morning, I learned that Saturday delivery is pretty much deemed to be a goner.   There may be pickup for businesses and some Express boxes, perhaps some special delivery for medications, but that is about it.  Sounds acceptable for a projected savings of three billion. 

You have to wonder when and what the next round of cuts will manifest.  We sitll have a rural letter carrier on our route, but he's gray, and will probably be replaced by a contract carrier down the line...that is all I see the PO advertising for out here now. 

Contractors don't require benefits,FICA and Medicare withholdings.  I imagine they have to eat a lot of costs before they get a rate raise, too.  I see what appear to be private haulers pulling US MAIL trailers in I-95 now, too.  That all harks to a partial privatization of the Postal Service.  It and the military are more private than we'd like to think, I believe. 

I saw a sign on the PO Friday:  Have your mail securely delivered to a post office box: $21.00 for 6 months.  First time I'd seen that.  Maybe mail theft for identity theft is worse than I had realized.  Hardly anyone receives predictable checks in the mail anymore, I thought, so they must be looking for something else. 

An interesting topic.  One way we've always tried to cut expenses is by ordering delivered items, rather than driving to pick things up ourselves.  I remember how relieved I was the first time UPS rolled up with a part I would have had to drive three to four hours round trip to pick up, dragging three children under five the whole way. 

I guess we go-fers will miss delivery services first and most!  The older I get, the stiffer I get from driving,  That, and the more expensive gasoline gets, the more I have been relying upon the carriers to take up the slack. 

It's just a day's delay in shipment right now, when UPS shoves the last five miles over onto the USPS.  As long as Tommy the Mailman continues to bring the boxes up the driveway, we are okay...but, I for one will really miss him when he's gone!

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Veteran Advisor

Re: Are you marginal yet?

Kay one other of the disturbing trends is that now we are having much more estimating done of meter readers. I have one farm with a well and an electric fencer. All winter they have not visually checked the meter. My bill has been huge on that farm I called to complain and they said between a rate increase and the use of the tables to estimate that is the reason for the increase in y bill. Last year it was 33 dollars for the winter months. This year over 100 a month.

ALso if you look at the different pay scales of gov. employees you will find that Postmasters with high serviceable years of service they get paid quite well. And with the power of federal labor.  My local postman told me he is making 100,000 a year with his benefit package! 

The party is over!

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Senior Advisor

Re: Are you marginal yet?

How much do you think he should be paid? It always amazes me how farmers are certain that other people are over paid. The same old blame labor all the time.

 

If you think about it the US mail picks up your letter for 42 cents and delivers it to anywhere in the united states. Plus they stop back 6 times a week to see if you have another one. That sir is a bargain no matter how you see it.

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Veteran Advisor

Re: Are you marginal yet?

Kraft it isn't that I think theyt make to much The fella I am refering to even thinks it is crazy.  The point is that why are we having so much redunentcy?  Why can't in Iowa especially we have more county wide postal service? Instead we have every small town with a zip code and PO?  The future just can't look the same as it does now that is all I am saying. Most folks my generation are willing to see this happen. THe older generations are still stuck in the this is the way we have always doneit mode.

WHy couldn't we go to every other day mail delivery?  Have an employee do two routes one one day the other the next?  WHy can't he get the mail in Humboldt and drive to Renwick with the mail delivery? instead we waste our money on a fond memory of old timers while we go bankrupt!  The insanity has to stop!

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Senior Advisor

Re: Are you marginal yet?

The postal department is not bankrupting you or anybody else. You don't like working folks and if he was earning $50 K a year including benefits, You would still thinik it too much. I know, I know! If you are working for someone else, you are a peasant and you ought to know your proper station in life. AND that ain't making a hundred K.

 

If you can't afford first class stamps, Maybe we could hold a benefit for you.

 

 

 

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Senior Advisor

Re: Are you marginal yet?

Out sourcing works on the ledger side for the bean counters for @ 6-18 months---then the "cost estimates" come in for the real eye opener of what it really costs to do business and the word "cheaper" disappears-- with the realization of the fixed and or unseen costs appear on the balance sheet and the out source disappears with liquidation or the "secret business plan" called bankruptcy ----kinda like $8 hogs bringing in $80 ------look at dairy or cow calf --tell me how cheap someone can do it vs. Sustainability---in the end is it really done any "cheaper"--- now I hear "walsmart" is building new "smaller stores" -wow how incredible ! 

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