The postal service is slowing down the mail to save money. Critics say it’s a death spiral: NPR

  The postal service is slowing down the mail to save money.  Critics say it's a death spiral: NPR

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Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Portland Press Herald via Getty

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  • Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Portland Press Herald via Getty

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Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Portland Press Herald via Getty

A man pulls up to drop off mail at the mailboxes at the Portland Post Office in Portland, Maine, on Dec. 4, 2020.

Maybe you’ve noticed the birthday card that arrived belatedly or the check in the mail that didn’t pay your credit card quite on time. It’s not your imagination. The mail has definitely gotten less speedy.

The U.S. Postal Service began slowing deliveries of first-class mail nationwide on Oct. 1.

The price of a stamp went up in August — from 55 cents to 58 cents — and additional, temporary holiday price increases for packages and other mail are now in effect. It all spells trouble for the agency, says Porter McConnell, co-founder of the Save the Post Office Coalition, an organization of progressive political and consumer groups.

People will use the Postal Service less, revenue will decline and then they’ll need to make more cuts. So essentially, you’re sending the post office into a death spiral. Porter McConnell of the Save the Post Office Coalition

“Every postal expert in the country and across the globe really knows that you don’t slow down service and raise prices at the same time and expect customers to stick around,” McConnell tells NPR. “People will use the Postal Service less, revenue will decline and then they’ll need to make more cuts. So essentially, you’re sending the post office into a death spiral.” It’s already called ‘snail mail’

“We rely on the mail for a lot of things. I rely on it in my billing from my farm cooperative. They allow discounts if you pay within five days from receipt of the bill. And, you know, if they keep slowing the mail down then I don’t get it in time to get a discount,” Giessel says. The Postal Service says that 61% of first-class mail will not be affected by the slowdown, which is caused in part by the agency’s decision to rely less on moving mail by air, and more by ground transportation.

Tom Giessel, a wheat farmer in Larned, Kan., and a member of the Kansas Farmers Union, says everything from bees to baby chicks are shipped through the mail. The service cutbacks are especially concerning for rural America.