OUR OPINION: Measuring for quality starts as USPS changes

By NEMS Daily Journal

The U.S. Postal Service closes an era in Tupelo later this week when outbound mail processing – including an automatic Tupelo zip code imprint – ends and processing moves to Memphis in a money-saving scheme.
USPS announced in 2012 it was considering closing 160 of its 461 processing sites by February, which begins Friday. Tupelo has been under consideration for closure or consolidation into some larger processing site from the beginning, but the final decision was a long time coming.
The USPS promises service quality won’t decline, but skeptics abound because the Post Office, as it is called universally, has been declining in mail and package delivery volume since the start of delivery services like FedEx and UPS, and the almost instantaneous use of email and the Internet.
Customers also know that the Postal Regulatory Commission issued an advisory opinion in late September questioning the plan.
In a Reuters News Service article, the PRC said USPS considering slowing delivery times as a response to lower mail volume had caused it to “overlook other cost-cutting options.”
“The commission’s range of potential net savings estimates is lower than that projected by the Postal Service,” according to the non-binding, advisory opinion.
However, no amount of persuasion and pressure by well-connected officials, from the Tupelo mayor’s office to the U.S. Congress, has been able to derail the plans for Tupelo.
Last May, the agency said it would consolidate 140 of its 461 processing sites by February, with more to follow. The plan also involves shrinking where customers can expect mail to be delivered the next day, with the eventual expectation that delivery would slow further.
The PRC also said the Postal Service focuses on moving processing from small plants to large ones, but that it “found that it could save more by looking at productivity rather than size.”
However, the opinions are advisory and not binding.
So, beginning in a few days the Tupelo response and that of many other historic hubs of postal business, should be focused on measuring the commitment to same-level service, or even improvements.
Mail in a timely way in the box or through the door remains vital for millions of citizens.