U. S. Postal Service delivery speed unchanged

Most in-state mail delivered in a day
U.S. Postal Service officials say mail is being delivered as quickly as ever, even though some operations have been consolidated to save money. SOURCE FILE
December 4, 2012

A local U.S. Postal Service postmaster says despite consolidation and cutbacks, first-class and priority mail is reaching its destination as quickly as ever.

“It’s moving the same as usual,” said Rick DeWitt, Rehoboth Beach postmaster.

DeWitt said the speed of second-class mail delivery hasn’t changed either. Second-class mail is periodicals and includes items such as newspapers, magazines and catalogs.

“There is a push to improve our periodical processing. We’re concentrating on that,” DeWitt said.

In June, the postal service closed its annex on Savannah Road in Lewes, and consolidated it with mail-handling operations at its Rehoboth Beach annex on Route 1 north of Dewey Beach.

The Lewes annex closure was one of hundreds long-planned by the postal service. By closing facilities nationwide, the postal service is aiming to put a dent in its $20 million and growing, budget deficit.

Since consolidation, Lewes’ post office has been functioning without a postmaster. The facility continues to provide window service and post office boxes.

DeWitt said IBM conducts periodic delivery speed tests for the postal service. “About 96 to 97 percent of first-class mail makes it overnight. That means only three out of 100 don’t make it overnight,” he said.

DeWitt said several things might cause delivery delays:

• Illegible zip codes that sorting machine couldn’t read

• Sorting machine misreads a zip code, for example sees a 19956, Millsboro item, as 19958, Lewes, and misdirects it

• No zip code on an article

He said mail deposited at any local town's main post office before the 5 p.m. final dispatch, goes to the New Castle processing plant where it’s sorted, sent to the zip code it bears, and delivered the following day.

“They process 200,000 to 400,000 pieces a day in New Castle,” DeWitt said. He said the postal service is usually able to determine what caused a delayed delivery.

He said after misdirected items loop through the automated system a couple times, a postal worker uses a china marker to draw a line through the incorrect bar code the postal service has printed on an article. The item is hand-handled to the intended zip code.

They also use a transparent fluorescent marker to highlight the bar code on some items so they can see the lines and determine how the item was misdirected.

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