Claire Lyon and Nicole Mistretta
@clairelyon_ and @MistrettaNicole
Feature photo: Mailboxes outside of The United States Postal Service on Bertrand. Photo by Claire Lyon.
Local business owners in Lafayette face potential drawbacks due to inconsistencies within The United States Postal Service (USPS).
The federal agency’s mission statement, according to the U.S. Postal Service Five-Year Strategic Plan, states “The Postal Service remains committed to our fundamental mission to provide timely, reliable, secure, and affordable mail and package delivery to all businesses and households throughout the nation.”
However, local business owners and employees using USPS services said they felt frustrated by recent USPS operations, such as the pacing of sending or receiving mail. According to Dwayne Caillier, a small-business owner and general manager through Amazon, his issues at the post office caused customers to write bad reviews.
“Normally, [it’s] supposed to take three days. It’s taken sometimes two to three weeks and because of that I have to start shipping elsewhere,” said Caillier.
While local businesses struggle with the effects of slower USPS operations, corporations employing local workers report similar issues.
The process to create, send and receive documents and payments have taken longer than usual and, in some cases, never arrive, according to insurance defense attorney Leah Guillbeau.
“We can’t move the cases as we normally do. It slows down the process of handling our cases. It’s frustrating and it takes more work,” said Guillbeau.
According to Guillbeau, normally anything mailed within a week was received. Recently, Guillbeau said several documents and payments have yet to arrive after 30 days causing the process for signing legal documents to restart, a process that often takes weeks to re-do. Lost mail on either side of a transfer creates a pileup at the office, according to Guilbeau.
“It slows down the process of what you already have, and new stuff continues to come in. It adds to the [work] load,” said Guillbeau.
Diana Thibodeaux, a human resource worker, said she had a similar problem.
“It’s kinda slow, you know? We’ve got to wait for invoices to come in, for payments to come in. We never get our mail. They need to step up to the plate, do their job and get it done,” said Thibodeaux.
Aside from locals using the U.S. Postal Service for business, people who visited the office for personal use said they had little or no trouble sending or receiving mail.
According to the 49-year-old federal agency, the Fiscal Year 2020 Five-Year Strategic Plan, otherwise referred to as the “Future-Ready” plan, is set to establish or revise the overall goals of the USPS.
Projected to take place by 2024, the plan states that the USPS envisions “a financially sustainable U.S. Postal Service that enables all Americans to connect, businesses to grow, and communities to thrive in an increasingly digitally-connected world.”
The Future-Ready Plan also refers to digital integration methods including email, online bill payments, and other forms of digital communication as competition. However, Guillbeau said while some documents and information can be exchanged digitally, some things like requests from a medical provider are not accepted by email or fax.
Moving forward, the USPS plans to explore modern methods such as QR codes and trackable packages. The plan is heavily based on funding, according to the Future-Ready plan. Without additional funding and local delivery services thriving, the U.S. Postal Service may be unable to fulfill their goals.
According to the Future-Ready plan, the federal agency has suffered $77.8 billion in losses since 2007.
In 2019, the U.S. Postal Service lost about 6.4 cents for every piece delivered, according to the agency’s plan. Although the number of packages mailed and small cost increases for sending mail partially offset the losses, the U.S. Postal Service remains unable to fill the gap alone.
Between competition from local and chain delivery services and lack of federal funding, the USPS potentially faces the challenge of how to build and retain their existing customer base.
“If they want my business back, they gotta start doing better and start making on time deliveries,” said Caillier.