The U.S. greeting card industry, one of the financially sinking U.S. Postal Service's (USPS) largest remaining revenue generators, is not at all happy with Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe's unilateral and risky decision to end Saturday mail delivery.
In a press release, the Greeting Card Association (GCA) stated it was "disappointed" by Donahoe's Feb. 6, announcement that the Postal Service intended to "bypass Congress" and end Saturday mail delivery effective Aug. 1, 2013.
Noting that more than 60% of the approximately 6.5 billion greeting cards purchased annually are delivered by U.S. mail, the GCA called eliminating Saturday mail "short-sighted and self-defeating" on the part of the Postal Service, which suffered another $1.3 billion loss in the first quarter of FY2013.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Americans paid the Postal Service about $792 million for stamps to mail each other more than 1.8 billion Christmas cards alone in 2009.
"A financially stable postal service, providing universal service at affordable rates, is vital to the nation -- to each of us as citizens, to the eight million workers employed by the mailing industry ... as well as other industries that rely on timely mail service to every address in the country six days a week," stated the GCA.
The real key to saving the Postal Service, stated the GCA, is the enactment of comprehensive postal reform legislation that would restructure the Postal Service's retiree health program to bring them in line with the private sector and to refund years of overpayments by the Postal Service to retirement health and pension programs.
In April 2011, the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) issued an opinion stating that the Postal Service had overstated the savings it would realize from ending Saturday mail delivery. In addition, the PRC found that the Postal Service had failed to properly evaluate the impact of a 5-day delivery schedule on rural Americans.
"These are clear indications the Postal Service's unilateral action today is inconsistent with the will of Congress and sets a troubling precedent not only for this issue, but also for the responsibilities of other federal agencies," stated the GCA.
The GCA also suggested that the Postal Service's decision to continue its marginally profitable Saturday parcel delivery service discriminated against people sending regular mail. "Citizen mailers paying the First Class mail rate should not receive lesser service than any other mail customer," the Association said.
As greeting card publisher Hallmark pointed out in its own press release, continuing Saturday package delivery will only serve to reduce any cost savings the Postal Service might realize from ending Saturday delivery of First Class mail.
"Hallmark continues to believe a reduction in service will not induce customer loyalty and will negatively impact small towns and small businesses that depend on timely, affordable, reliable mail delivery," stated the greeting card giant. "This move should only be considered once all other cost-saving options are fully explored and acted upon."
Hallmark also added its voice to those questioning the Postal Services' authority to end Saturday mail delivery without the approval of Congress. "Just last year 222 Members of the House of Representatives signed on to a resolution supporting continued six-day mail service. We will have to wait and see how Congress responds to the USPS announcement."