USPS Is Getting Rid of This Service, Starting July 10
The agency is discontinuing one of its shipping options for customers.
From the mail you go to retrieve from your mailbox every day to the free COVID tests you got from the federal government, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has continued to service customers across the country in a number of ways. But as is the case with every other sector, the postal agency has been hit with a number of challenges over the past few years—including staffing shortages and budget cuts—that were further exacerbated by the COVID pandemic. That has meant regular adaptation, from price hikes to policy changes, designed to keep things moving. Now, the Postal Service has announced plans to end another one of its services this summer. Read on to find out what the USPS is getting rid of in July.
The Postal Service has slowed delivery times and increased costs this year.
The Postal Service has made a number of changes to its service in just the past year alone. In Oct. 2021, the agency implemented new service standards for some mail, significantly slowing the amount of time it takes some things to be delivered. Then earlier this month, the USPS implemented two new shipping fees, raising the prices for customers to send specific packages. The updates haven't stopped there, though: The Postal Service has already announced further changes to slow delivery times down further and increase costs even more this summer.
The agency is now ending one of its shipping services.
You might become more uncertain about shipping fragile packages with USPS soon, Linn's Stamp News reported on April 27. According to the magazine, an April 20 notice from the Federal Register confirmed that the postal agency is planning to getting rid of its Special Handling-Fragile service this summer. The Postal Service is set to make this change on July 10.
"For those who want USPS to be all things to all people, this is probably an unwelcome development," Michael Plunkett, president of the Association of Postal Commerce, told Linn's Stamp News. "But strategy involves choices, and the ability to face up to shortcomings is indicative of maturity and sound reasoning."
This shipping option has received mixed reviews from customers.
The Postal Service's Special Handling-Fragile service was implemented with the purposes of providing "additional care" for certain packages like those including "plants, animals, and sensitive items and merchandise," per the agency. Customers can currently purchase the shipping option at a post office location for an extra fee of $12.15, and their package is marked with a "Special Handling-Fragile" label from the USPS.
But the implementation of the Postal Service's fragile handling service has received its fair share of mixed reviews from customers over the years. In 2015, sellers in an Etsy forum noted that they were able to just write "fragile" on their packages or use non-USPS purchased stickers, and they were not charged extra for a careful handling service even though they believed they were receiving it. Others claimed that no matter what labels were used on a box, there didn't appear to be any special handling care given. Even the Postal Service notes on its website that the service "does not insure articles against loss or damage."
The Postal Service confirmed that the service has been inconsistent.
According to the Federal Register notice, the Postal Service's decision to end its Special Handling-Fragile shipping option comes after an investigation revealed that "operational procedures do not support the preferential handling" of items shipped with this service.
"The Postal Service continues to strive to build and maintain a loyal relationship with its customers and provide products and services with integrity," the notice reads. "However, with the execution gaps that currently exist with Special Handling-Fragile, the Postal Service believes it is in the best interest to discontinue the Special Handling-Fragile extra service."
The only exception to the end of this service is for live animals, however. According to the Federal Register notice, the ban on fragile items will not affect these shipments under its provisions for hazardous, restricted and perishable mail. "I would rather not think about why it will still be safe to send live animals through a network wherein porcelain is at risk, and instead celebrate the Postal Service making an affirmative decision to stop offering a service it cannot satisfactorily provide," Plunkett told Linn's Stamp News.