Aug 31, 2020

Early Survey Results: How USPS Policy Changes Affect Utilities

Early results suggest polarized experiences regarding USPS policy changes

A USPS mail carrier truck parked on the side of the road.

Last week, Water & Wastes Digest made a call for its audience to indicate how the recent status of the United States Postal Service has impacted utilities. This article will serve as a platform to share the early results. To make the data better, take the survey here. It takes a respondent an average of 2 minutes to complete.

Why Did WWD Initiate This Survey?

Reports in August indicated that curbside mailboxes were being removed in some communities, which would disrupt the mail in those areas, and other reports indicate mail sorting machines being deactivated. Since that time, however, the USPS has now halted or stalled many of the policy changes. Despite that change in mid to late August, WWD witnessed some reports on social media that the impacts of those policy changes had been felt by some utilities, namely the removal of mail sorting machines. For this reason, WWD initiated the survey.

The four-question survey asked the following in an attempt to better understand the issue at hand:

  1. What is your role for your utility?
  2. On a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being Severe and 1 being Not At All, how have the new policies and cost-cutting measures for USPS impacted your job duties?
  3. Which of the following areas has had the greatest impact as a result of policy and cost cutting changes for USPS?
  4. Describe any other impacts you are facing due to the USPS policy changes.

Who Has Taken The Survey?

Water & Wastes Digest does not feel comfortable making industry-wide assumptions about the impact or lack thereof due to a small samples size of responses. In the one week since sending the survey out, only 21 individuals have responded to the survey. Below is the breakdown based on their role in the organization for which they work:

  • Senior Level Management: 10
  • Middle Management: 7
  • Operations: 3
  • Maintenance: 0
  • Field Technician: 0
  • Laboratory Technician: 1

Despite the small sample size, WWD is sharing these results to showcase some of the anecdotal stories and experiences of those who responded. The survey will remain open to gather more responses and improve the data over time, and WWD encourages you to share your voice. Your anonymity will be preserved and will remain confidential.

Take the Survey

What is the Severity of the Impact of USPS’ Current Status on Water & Wastewater Utilities?

Of the 21 respondents to the survey, 11 of them indicated that there was no impact to their utility at all. On the other side of the spectrum, five respondents indicated that the impact for their utilities was severe.

While a small data set, this suggests the impact of the changes happening to the USPS are highly regional. For example, closing of a distribution center, removal of curbside mailboxes, or decommissioning of mail sorting machines would most affect the community in which it was located and would not be felt by a community several states away. 

While the majority of this small sample indicated there was no effect at all, several responded to the final question, which provided an open text box to share personal experiences. Below are verbatim responses to the survey question “Describe any other impacts you are facing due to the USPS policy changes.”

  • None
  • The Post Office scanning equipment will read the return address on the utility bills instead of customers' mailing addresses. This results in utility bills being delivered to our company instead of being delivered to our customers. This causes delays in getting bills to our customers
  • Two month delays receiving refused or not accepted Certified Mail. We received 81 pieces that were held by the post office for two months. two hundred bills sent to customer with a valid postal permit returned with no explanation. We added postage onto these bills and resent- even thought we know the permit is valid and accurate. the bills were sent back again with no explanation. we send a couple of hundred thousand bills monthly and started receiving bills back saying undelivered. The postal machines seem to start picking up the return address and send them back to us instead of the addressee. Can't get a response from the postal service as to these issues- very frustrating, a waste of our time and incurring extra expense on our part.
  • little or no impacts.
  • No impact
  • No impacts
  • Speed of the mail. This is crazy, the USPS is a Government SERVICE, not for PROFIT. Services always cost, this is what has happened to the country and the words MONEY destroying it all, with EGO and Greed. How Much is enough $$$$ is what we need to be asking each other..
  • We have seen no impacts whatsoever as it relates to USPS policy changes.
  • We have not seen any impacts to our services because of Postal Services.
  • Although this is hard to gauge right now the USPS cost cutting measures may not be what they are right now. There is current legislation to change them
  • Noncompliant with any standard of care. We had smoke testing letters asking clients to repair properties returned after 11 months undelivered.

Not So Conclusive Conclusion

WWD can see from these responses that there is an effect occurring, but the degree to which that effect is wide-spread is not something WWD would be comfortable confirming with such limited data. We encourage any and all reading this piece to take part in this survey to further the results and give us a more clear understanding on this issue.

Take the Survey

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Have a question, comment or concern? Contacted the Water & Wastes Digest Staff at [email protected].