Postal Updates

USPS drops surcharges for 2023 holiday mail season

Oct 2, 2023, 8 AM

By Allen Abel

In a Sept. 19 online call with journalists, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy announced that the United States Postal Service will move packages and greeting cards to their destinations during the 2023 holiday mail season “in a superior and routine manner” without any peak-season, weekend or fuel surcharges.

DeJoy said that an increase in mail volume and revenue over December 2022 would be “a prediction that I do not want to make but I pray for it.”

The U.S. Postal Service processed more than 11.7 billion mailpieces and packages during the 2022 holiday season.

On the conference call, DeJoy and other USPS executives heralded the upgrading of tens of thousands of part-time employees to full-time work; cited the Postal Service’s capacity to sort 70 million parcels daily, compared to only 60 million last year; and praised their own decision to redirect billions of mailpieces from the fickle and expensive airways to the nation’s roads. Fewer than 5 percent of first-class packages now travel by air, the USPS noted in a Sept. 19 press release.

“We are poised to compete for the title of best delivery service in the nation,” Joshua Colin, chief retail and delivery officer for the USPS, said.

“For the past two and a half years, we have continued to move away from costly third-party air transportation,” Colin said, predicting that the shift to the Postal Service‘s own trucks means that the Postal Service will be “less impacted by snowstorms.”

In 2020, as pandemic-era online shopping surged, the USPS imposed a peak-season surcharge on certain packages and Priority Mail products that ranged from 24¢ to $1.50 depending on weight, service mode and distance. By 2022, those fees had increased to a maximum of $6.50.

“We did not want to detract from the inertia were building,” DeJoy said, explaining his decision to abandon the peak-season surcharges for 2023.

Asked if he might expunge holiday surcharges in perpetuity, DeJoy replied that “it doesn’t mean it’s going to happen next year, but it is happening this year.”

The Postal Service reported that 98 percent of Americans currently receive their mail and packages in fewer than three days from original acceptance. About 40 percent of first-class mail and packages are delivered one day in advance of that time frame, according to the USPS.

Asked by a Linn’s correspondent about the recent surge in the use of counterfeit stamps and computer-vended postage labels — including a case in which a Chinese national in California has been charged with using fake and expired barcodes on more than 9 million parcels with a total value of more than $60 million that the USPS nevertheless accepted, transported and delivered — the postmaster general said that the Postal Service’s move to implement more sophisticated technologies has had an immediate effect.

“One of the first things we did several months ago was to start putting in different types of detection methodologies to identify packages and pull them off the line and not deliver them,” DeJoy replied.

DeJoy reported that he already has seen a 50 percent reduction in fraudulent postage labels, but he observed that “thieves get smarter as you begun to deploy different tactics.”

“I really would like to see not one package coming though the network that’s not paid for,” DeJoy said.

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