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Newspaper Mails 100 Letters, Sees What Happens

The USPS did not get an A+
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 15, 2020 3:28 PM CDT
Updated Sep 19, 2020 7:00 AM CDT
Newspaper Tracks 100 Mailed Letters in a Test
USPS trucks in Omaha, Neb., Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020.   (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

The United States Postal Service says a first-class letter should land in the recipient's mailbox in one to three business days. The Los Angeles Times set out to see if that's really the case these days. In what it calls a "small but revealing" test of the service's current reliability, it tracked 100 letters mailed from 20 Los Angeles County post offices between Aug. 21 and 24 (the period over which Postmaster General Louis DeJoy testified before Congress) to California destinations as well as Austin, Atlanta, and Washington. The upshot: About half ended up being delayed. "Postal performance in the summer of 2020 is spotty at best, dismal at worst," concludes the paper, which lays the blame not in one place but outlines "multiple choke points [that] can slow a letter’s journey."

The USPS endeavors to have letters sent to the aforementioned out-of-state destinations arrive in three business days, says Gaare Davis, the head of the American Postal Workers Union, California. The paper describes one letter reaching Austin in 11 days; another in 8. In the case of three letters sent to Washington, it took them each three days to get from the processing center to the house—just one mile away. Of the letters that were to arrive within two business days, 75% managed to get there in that window. That's a big drop from the 92.4% on-time delivery rate the USPS recorded in Q2, per the paper. Davis called the findings "unacceptable." A rep for the USPS was less ruffled, saying the agency saw improved performance throughout August and that it is still working to "identify and address some ongoing service issues in certain areas." (Read more USPS stories.)

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