Entries in Snail Mail (3)


Outbox: New Service Turns Snail Mail into Email

Outbox(NEW YORK) -- Do you still rely on snail mail? Outbox is a new startup that wants to help you “manage your postal mail like email.”

The service will send what it calls “unpostmen” to your home mailbox to collect your mail for you. Outbox will then scan each letter, postcard, bill, check or piece of junk mail as an image file that gets uploaded to your personal online Outbox account. Outbox currently offers access to its online mail application by computer or iPad, but says Android and iPhone support should be available sometime in the first quarter of this year.

With Outbox’s online mail application, the users “control [their mail] in any way they see fit,” Will Davis, co-founder of Outbox, told ABC News. “They can store it digitally, share it, or even request the physical item for delivery. If they elect to shred the paper, or do not request it after 30 days, we shred and recycle the item on their behalf.”

The service even offers to help fight snail mail spam. With the “Unsubscribe to Sender” option, Outbox will send a digital copy of any junk mail back to the senders and ask them to remove your address from their lists.

Things like packages and magazines will be left at your doorstep, the same way Outbox handles bundles or “requested” pieces of mail.

For now, Outbox only provides service to residential mailboxes. Though the company hopes soon to include P.O. boxes, there are no plans to add service to business addresses.

So what about locked mailboxes or gated residencies? Outbox says, “We can replicate just about every key… So if there’s any locks standing in between us and your mail, simply send us a picture [of the key] upon registration, and we’ll do our best to service you.”

That may sounds a little crafty for some people’s tastes, but Davis asks us to think simply about it. “Once a user elects us as their mail agent, they empower us to take over the collection and management of their postal mail. Not unlike having a friend or relative pick up your mail on your behalf, you elect Outbox to do this for you.”

The full service will cost users $4.99 a month. For that price, an “unpostman” in a Toyota Prius will come to your house for collection and delivery “every other day.” Mail is uploaded to the user’s account on the same day it’s collected.

Outbox was hatched in 2011. Davis traces the company’s origin back to a thought of, “Wouldn’t it be cool to have a Dropbox for my snail mail?” He, co-founder Evan Baehr and others began conducting a closed, invitation-only beta test in Austin, Texas last year.

The company says it hopes to be in every major American city in coming years.  So far it has just over 20 employees.

This new way of handling mail comes as the U.S. Postal Service struggles with losses and cutbacks in delivery schedules.

“There is a future for mail that is compelling, we think,” said Davis. “The future of mail is about the experience and what you can do with the mail — stay on top of important things, stay connected to loved ones, email it to others, share it online, take immediate action online, etc. We want people to be excited about mail again — not dread it.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Snail Mail May Get Slower: Postal Service Looks to Cut $2 Billion

PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Postal Service announced Monday that it is moving forward on a plan to cut over $2 billion that will come at the cost of making First Class mail delivery slower.
The proposed slowing of First Class mail service comes at a time when the postal service is losing business to faster digital communication options, like e-mail on online bill payment. The proposed change risks the possibility of further encouraging costumers to transfer their communications to digital mediums, but Vice President of Network Operations Dave Williams says the decision is a necessary to put the Postal Service “on sound financial ground.”
“We have to do this, we have to make this change in order for the postal service to become financially viable,” Williams told reporters Monday. Williams went on to say that the service expects to lose $14 billion this year if it doesn’t get congressional relief.
Under the plan, which the Postal Service is now sending to the Postal Regulatory Commission for review, First Class mail would no longer have an overnight processing standard. The standard delivery window for First Class mail would increase from its current 1-3 day delivery standard to 2-3 days.
In addition to the proposed increase in the standard delivery time for First Class mail, the plan takes into consideration closing 252 of the nation's 461 mail processing centers.
Post Master General Patrick Donahue says that with the proposed consolidation of processing centers, about 35,000 employee’s jobs will be affected. These job losses would add to the 250,000 jobs that the postal service has already lost over the last decade.
While the 252 processing centers under review will not be affected until the Postal Regulatory Commission’s review is complete in approximately three months, the postal service has already begun a process of cutting back its processing centers. Since September, the Postal Service has closed 26 processing facilities, according to Williams.
The postal service is also looking to cut back delivery service from six days a week to five days a week, which Donahoe says would save $3 billion, as well as cutting back on retiree health care costs. These two cost-saving measures, however, need congressional approval before they can be implemented.
“Congress needs to act now,” Donahue said. “We’ve got two bills, one in the House, one in the Senate, the administration is waiting …We need to act right now.”
The postal service projects that it needs to decrease its total operating costs by $20 billion by 2015 in order to keep up with the continued decrease in the demand for the service.
“What we have to do is look at what we can take out of this organization from a cost standpoint because we have lost volume and we have lost revenue and you can’t just sit back and wait, you’ve got to act on these things,” Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe told reporters Monday. “We’ve got a goal of $20 billion dollars and we’re going to do that in order to keep ourselves financially helpful.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Slower ‘Snail Mail’ Possible as USPS Looks to Eliminate 252 Processing Centers

PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In its latest attempt to shore up a more-than-$8-billion budget shortfall, the U.S. Postal Service announced Thursday that it is looking to close 252 mail processing centers, about half of all such facilities, in the next two years.

Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said the “very ambitious operational plan” would eliminate 35,000 jobs, saving the Postal Service an estimated $3 billion annually. It would also result in slower “snail mail,” increasing standard delivery for first-class mail to two days from one.

“These are significant changes that will lay the foundation for the way the Postal Service processes mail for decades to come,” said Megan Brennan, USPS chief operating officer. “It will put us ahead of the cost curve for the remainder of the decade.”

By ending overnight delivery time for most first-class mail such as letters, magazines and postcards, the government-owned corporation will be able to run its processing plants 20 hours per day instead of just six hours overnight.

“Our entire network was designed based on the requirement that we maintain the capability to deliver first-class mail the next business day and this requirement limits our ability to sort mail until all the mail to be sequenced for the local letter carrier has arrived at the facility,” Brennan said. “It’s why we currently maintain so many mail processing facilities.”

But some argue the cutbacks are the wrong approach to solving the Postal Service’s financial problems.

“The mail-processing network is a major asset. Destroying it is misguided and counterproductive,” Cliff Guffey, president of the American Postal Workers Union, said in a statement. “The Postal Service should be urging Congress to address the cause of its problems -- not slashing service and demolishing its network.”

Brennan said the closures will not result in any layoffs. Instead, America’s largest employer will eliminate the 35,000 positions through forced retirements because 150,000 of USPS’s 559,000 employees -- about one-quarter -- are already eligible for retirement.

But as more people turn to email and online bill pay, the Postal Service revenues have plummeted in the past five years. Since 2006, Americans have sent 43 billion fewer pieces of mail. This 17-percent decline in mail volume has stripped $16 billion from postal service revenues, according to a March 2010 USPS report.

The report predicted mail volume would plunge another 37 percent in the next decade.

Postal Service spokesman Dave Partenheimer told ABC News last week that the USPS will have reached its $15 billion borrowing limit by Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year and will be unable to make its congressionally mandated $5.5 billion yearly contribution to its employee retirement health care fund.

“We do have cash flow issues. We can’t make this $5.5 billion payment. I won’t make that,” Postmaster General Donahoe said Thursday. “It’s physically impossible.”

Donahoe said the processing plant closures are just one step to fixing USPS’s budget crisis. He has also asked Congress to approve ending Saturday delivery, which he said would save an additional $3 billion. The service is also looking at cutting 3,700 post offices before 2015.

“The Postal Service is still a critical part of the American economy. We are not going out of business,” Donahoe said. “What we are trying to do is get our finances in order so we can stay out there in business and provide excellent service for a long, long time to come.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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