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Local impact of postal cuts seen as minimal


April 22. 2013 2:19PM
MATT HUGHES

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Local businesses said Wednesday they are trying to anticipate the impact of the U.S. Postal Service’s decision to discontinue home delivery of paper mail on Saturdays.
Bill Moore, CEO of the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Business and Industry, said it was hard to gauge the ripple effect of the move locally, but noted that “different organizations do rely on the mail for day-to-day information and timely delivery of information like payments.
“It probably won’t be that significant of an impact, but it will be a lifestyle change for a lot of people,” Moore said.
Moore said the move would likely have the most significant impact on companies issuing paper bills or receiving monthly payments on a set date, such as banks and other lenders, utilities and other service providers.
Joseph Swope, spokesman for UGI Utilities, said the company expects the impact of the USPS decision to be minimal, but said “it may result in longer delivery times in both customers receiving their bills and UGI receiving mailed payments.”
Patricia Amendola, spokeswoman for Frontier Communications, said the elimination of Saturday home delivery will not impact its receipt of bills because those are sent to post office boxes, which will continue to receive Saturday deliveries.
“Our only impact that we can see is that there may be a one-day delay in home delivery if they are on a billing cycle that is on a Saturday,” Amendola said.
She said the time a customer has to pay is dictated by regulatory guidelines, but all bills issued by Frontier give customers between 18 and 24 days notice before the due date.
Swope and Amendola both urged customers concerned about those delays to enroll in online billing, which will allow them to receive bills more quickly, pay instantly and conserve paper resources.
Package deliveries
Though USPS had previously advocated shifting to a five-day delivery schedule for both mail and packages, the current plan will impact only paper mail. Saturday home package delivery will continue.
Direct-mail distributor and e-retailer Bob Scocozzo, owner of Mia Bella candles maker Scent-Sations Inc. in Wilkes-Barre, said he was relieved package delivery will not be affected.
“We’re excited we still get our Saturday deliveries,” Scocozzo said. “Saturday delivery is a particularly important thing for people that buy a lot of their goods online.”
Scocozzo said he uses a service called FedEx Smartpost that relies on the USPS to ship about three-quarters of the products he sells. Under the service, deliveries are picked up at his office by FedEx and shipped to the USPS hub nearest to the customer’s address. The last leg of the delivery is made by the USPS.
He said the service saves him several dollars on each delivery, which is important for his bottom line because he charges customers a flat $5.95 shipping rate for all deliveries, regardless of weight.
“As far as the packages, I think (cutting Saturday delivery) would really hurt them, because everybody’s doing everything online anymore,” Scocozzo said.
As for the USPS itself, regional spokesman Ray Daiutolo said Wednesday afternoon the agency still is determining how slashing Saturday mail deliveries will affect staffing, including staffing at the Scranton mail processing center and at local post offices.
Processing center’s fate
The processing center on Stafford Avenue in Scranton is on a list of facilities the Post Office intends to close, but no date has been set for its closure.
“We are currently working to define the employee impact and will be meeting with our unions and management associations to discuss the employee impact in accordance with our collective bargaining agreements and other obligations,” Daiutolo said.
“We will accomplish the reduction in complement through attrition, reassignment and other tools available to us,” he added, noting that the USPS has reduced staff by more than 193,000 positions since 2006 without major layoffs.



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