Archive for February 5th, 2014

USPS FAQs for Service Standard Changes due to Load Leveling

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Proposed Service Standard Rule Change for Destination Sectional Center Facility Change  (aka – Load Leveling)

Access the official USPS FAQs here:    LoadLevelingFAQs.pdf.

Opinionated Commentary on specific items in the FAQs

When you can’t meet the service standards, change the rules.  Great plan.  Guaranteed success.

Q:  What is the impact of five day delivery?
USPS Answer: The Load Leveling initiative is separate from the five-day initiative. Hypothetically, if the Postal Service were to go to a five-day mail, six-day parcel environment, and volume of mail delivered today on a Saturday simply shifted to Monday, the imbalance across the days of the week would be exacerbated in that environment without Load Leveling.

If I had a dollar for every USPS 5 Day Delivery presentation I sat through where the USPS told the audience about excess capacity, and how 5 day delivery would not cause an imbalance, I could hypothetically retire.

Q  What is the network-wide, estimated annual savings in labor cost anticipated from full implementation of the plan? If this estimate is not yet available, when will it be?
USPS Answer: We anticipate savings. We have not calculated any national cost savings. The South Jersey test demonstrated a reduction in city carrier overtime, but South Jersey is not necessarily a representative site of every delivery area in the country

Seriously?  This one is harder to swallow more than the rest of the hard to swallow information.  We may save a buck but we don’t rightly know?  We think we should.  Maybe.  The test was presented as being hugely successful, and is what USPS is basing plans on.  However, for this particular question it was not really a good representative test and they don’t know if they are actually going to save anything.

Whaaaaaaat???? 

And the second question goes unanswered.  I’ll hazard a guess:
Q:  When will the savings estimate be shared?  A:  Never.

WG 157 had been promised additional testing, testing that never happened, or at least was never reported back to the workgroup.  Not that it matters, because the workgroup never really had much say in anything.  They were used for a different purpose, pushing Load Leveling through, regardless.

And a reduction in overtime?  I’ve also sat through many a presentation on how the new flexible workforce was going to cut overtime.  I guess that plan isn’t working out as anticipated either. 

Q  Has the USPS explored other options and, if so, how do those compare to the load leveling initiative in terms of overtime reduction?
USPS Answer: No other options related to this have been field tested. In the Mailer Technical Advisory Committee (MTAC) Workgroup 157, we discussed changing the CET times but came to the conclusion that having different CETs on Friday and Saturday would be difficult to implement and goes against standardization.

In my opinion, no other options were actually even considered by the Postal Service.  The USPS wanted load leveling from the get-go — regardless of the recommendations and concerns of WG 157, regardless that the “test” was not really a test, regardless of customer needs, and regardless if there is really any net savings to be achieved.

Q.  How will this affect mail delivery after a Monday holiday?
USPS Answer: The volume of mail delivered on a Tuesday after a Monday holiday will be the same as it is today. Load leveling will have no effect.

Not possible.  How can the change have no effect whatsoever?  Since the test was/wasn’t (depending on what point is trying to be made) representative, a more accurate answer would have been WE DON’T KNOW.

Q  Will mail be stored in trailers as in the South Jersey test?
USPS Answer: It is not anticipated that mail will be stored in trailers.

The test had mail stored in trailers, as reported to WG 157, but the USPS doesn’t think mail will be stored in trailers in practice.  Maybe, maybe not, but the USPS doesn’t anticipate so, though.

My question – Then what the heck was the test testing, exactly?  Or was the “test” actually a carefully controlled exercise with a forgone conclusion crafted before the “test” was even executed?

The USPS talks to industry about “lowest combined cost”.  In the case of Load Leveling, retail mail and time sensitive Standard mail  will incur additional costs to maintain the same schedule they have now.  Higher postage rates, less service.  Additional transportation costs.  They will run the risk of mail getting in early, mail getting in late, disrupting their sales.  And they will work to migrate away from mail, because mail will no longer be affordable and predictable – as far as they are concerned.  The USPS can then tell them they are wrong.  However, that mail volume will still be gone, and it isn’t a sustainable business plan to be raising rates, cutting service, and telling your customers they don’t really need what they think they do.

Written by Lisa.Bowes

February 5th, 2014 at 10:10 pm

Posted in USPS