Saturday, August 28, 2010

Mail speed and sorting changes

I learned, through casual conversation with the top-notch UPS store employees where I rent my mailbox, that the main mail sorting area near me (which happens to be Providence, RI) has changed its sorting schedule. This is third-hand information, but I believe that mail used to be sorted there three times a day, and now it is only twice a day. In any case, the lovely Katie knew this because other customers had also complained that mail seems slower, and she discussed it with the regular postal carrier who delivers to my UPS store (yes, my 270 Bellevue Ave address is a UPS store, so don't be thinking I actually live there among those famous Newport Bellevue Avenue mansions).

We subscribe to The New Yorker magazine. It used to come on Tuesdays, every Tuesday, like clockwork. Now we don't know when it will arrive... once it came as late as Saturday, and now we've missed a week entirely. This week's issue arrived, but last week's is AWOL. Hmmm. So it was in discussing this that Katie gave me the news about sorting.

I've also noticed that I tend to get all my postcards on one day - Tuesday or Wednesday (notably, NOT Monday) is like the Postcrossing flurry. And this week, Friday was all business mail. I tend to get personal letters now on Monday, Thursday and Saturday. It is interesting food for thought. I'm also tracking postmark dates vs. received dates, and things do seem to be moving more slowly, especially postcards. Now, I'm fine with that - I don't do this snail mail thing for speed - but it is interesting to note the changes. Domestic postcards, except those very nearby on the east coast, are taking a week or more to arrive. (I can now officially get a postcard from Europe faster than from California.) Maybe it just has to do with current mail volume, but I think the decreased sorting has something to do with it.

I know there aren't all that many mail geeks out there who actually track the correlation between postmark and delivery date, the way that I do, but I'm betting a fairly high proportion of my blog readers may be among them. So I'm curious: has anyone else noticed these changes, or learned about them from local postal workers?

I have long said that we have a real deal in our U.S. Postal Service, and I do not like to complain about it. I recall that, given the exchange rate and quality of service, our international letter rate in particular is the best value in the world. I'm not complaining here, just noting with interest the changes. I still say that I would be happy to pay more for a first-class stamp, even a special "personal correspondence" rate (which I know would never fly, because there just aren't enough of us to make that fiscally feasible), rather than give up Saturday delivery.

It's Saturday... and I'm glad I've got mail coming today. (At least, I hope I do!)