Post Office Boxes Face Competition
Postal Service Seeks Change in Service Classification
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Postal Service today is filing a request with the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) to change the designation of some Post Office Boxes from monopoly to competitive designation – a move to allow greater flexibility to meet the needs of customers.
The Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006 split Postal Service products and services into two categories, market dominant (monopoly) and competitive. Those products and services for which other providers compete with the Postal Service were categorized as competitive. P.O. Boxes currently are listed as market dominant and are subject to a price cap based on the rate of inflation.
“Success in the marketplace demands speed and flexibility. Moving some P.O. Boxes into the competitive product category will give the Postal Service greater flexibility to meet the emerging needs of customers and to respond more quickly to changing market dynamics,” said Robert F. Bernstock, president, Mailing and Shipping Services.
Earlier this month, Postmaster General John E. Potter outlined an aggressive plan of action that included cost cutting, increased productivity, and an array of legislative and regulatory changes necessary to maintain a viable Postal Service for decades to come. Potter also indicated the Postal Service will avail itself of the opportunities under current law to increase revenue and enhance customer service. Today’s filing with the Postal Regulatory Commission is a part of that strategy.
The filing seeks to move about 32,000 P.O. Boxes in 49 Post Offices from the current market dominant classification into the competitive class of products. This will allow the Postal Service to test consumer interest in enhancements to the current P.O. Box offering and will help shape future Postal Service P.O. Box service and access strategies. Each of the affected sites is within a half mile of a competing box service provider and all provide door delivery to all addresses within their ZIP Code area.
Less than one half of 1 percent of all Post Office Box service would be affected. There are more than 13 million P.O. Boxes in more than 30,000 Post Offices across the country.
There is no time limit for the PRC to review the filing. The PRC can approve or deny the request to change the classification or request that additional research be conducted by the Postal Service.
The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses, and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations.