USPS Is Making These Changes to Your Mail, Starting Sunday
There are several updates coming that will affect your shipping choices, costs, and stamps.
The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) seems to be constantly changing, but there's a reason the past few years have been especially busy. In 2021, the Delivering for America (DFA) plan was introduced as a 10-year initiative to help pull the USPS out of financial and operational ruin. Since then, customers have seen a number of shifts, from slower delivery standards to higher mail prices. And now, the agency is set to adjust its services once again in the coming days. Read on to discover all of the USPS changes happening this summer.
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The USPS is taking away your ability to get refunds on certain shipments.
You're not allowed to mail just anything through the postal system. The USPS considers certain items, like lithium batteries, to be hazardous materials (HAZMAT). As a result, the agency may either restrict or prohibit their shipment.
"Hazardous materials are substances that could injure people or cause damage if not handled properly, like chemicals or flammable items," the agency explains on its website.
If you want to mail restricted items, such as aerosols, dry ice, firearms, hand sanitizers, matches, nail polish, or paint, you have to follow specific rules set by the Postal Service. But this month, the agency is introducing a new change to its HAZMAT guidelines.
In its June 29 postal bulletin, the USPS announced that it would be adjusting "refund eligibility for Priority Mail Express products containing hazardous materials."
Typically, the Postal Service offers a refund for Priority Mail Express packages that were not delivered by the guaranteed delivery date. But starting July 9, this will no longer be applicable to HAZMAT-based Priority Mail Express products.
"Postage will not be refunded if guaranteed service was not provided because a shipment containing live animals or hazardous materials was delivered, or delivery was attempted within three days of the date of mailing," the agency explained.
The agency is also adding a new shipping option.
There are more shipping changes happening this weekend. In the latest postal bulletin, the agency also confirmed that it would be launching USPS Ground Advantage on July 9. This new shipping option is set to be an "enhanced ground solution" that will combine and replace three other services: USPS Retail Ground, First-Class Package Service, and Parcel Select Ground services.
"USPS Ground Advantage is a perfect solution for shippers that need affordable domestic ground shipping to all 50 states and U.S. territories in two to five days," the agency said. "This option will benefit consumers as well as commercial customers as USPS Ground Advantage will be widely adopted across various postage channels."
Ground Advantage will also mean lower shipping rates for customers, reaffirming "the Postal Service's commitment to support businesses of all sizes and across all industries with affordable, reliable, and simple mail and package delivery with the right service at the right price."
Compared to current USPS ground shipping, the price for USPS Ground Advantage will be lower by an average of 1.4 percent.
But other mail prices will increase this weekend.
It's never all good news when it comes to prices. After already raising mail costs for customers in January, the USPS confirmed in its June 15 postal bulletin that it had gotten the green light from the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) to hike prices again this summer.
These new rates will also go into effect on July 9, and increase First-Class Mail prices by approximately 5.4 percent. This includes a three-cent increase in the price of the Forever stamp, from 63 cents of 66 cents.
"As operating expenses fueled by inflation continue to rise and the effects of a previously defective pricing model are still being felt, these price adjustments are needed to provide the Postal Service with much needed revenue to achieve the financial stability sought by its Delivering for America 10-year plan," the agency says on its website. "The prices of the U.S. Postal Service remain among the most affordable in the world."
The Postal Service just announced a new stamp for August.
If you're willing to pay more for your stamps, you might want to wait until next month. In the June 29 postal bulletin, the USPS announced that it would be releasing a science-based series this summer called "Life Magnified." This collection will go on sale nationwide starting Aug. 10, and will come as a collective pane of 20 stamps.
"The 'Life Magnified' stamps explore life on Earth, as few have ever seen it," the agency said, adding that they were designed by art director Derry Noyes. "Twenty stamps feature different images taken with microscopes and highly specialized photographic techniques that capture details of life undetectable by the human eye. Each stamp includes the name of the specimen that is showcased."
- Source: https://www.usps.com/ship/shipping-restrictions.htm
- Source: https://about.usps.com/postal-bulletin/2023/pb22627/pb22627.pdf
- Source: https://www.usps.com/ship/ground-advantage.htm
- Source: https://about.usps.com/postal-bulletin/2023/pb22626/pb22626.pdf
- Source: https://faq.usps.com/s/article/2023-Postage-Price-Changes