As Americans come to grips with the notion that Saturday mail deliveries will be discontinued in August, at least one business and rural residents are already feeling the sting of recent U.S. Postal Service consolidations.
In Shelbyville, Gene and Nadine Dodd have been subscribers of the Hannibal Courier-Post for a decade. They may rethink their subscription since the delivery of the paper now lags from four to seven days.
“It’s annoying,” said Nadine Dodd.
In Philadelphia, Mo., Bertie Rose reports a delay of at least two days.
“We were usually getting it the same day, the day it was dated,” she said. “I’m pretty annoyed. I’m feeling like the people in the rural areas are being shut out.”
The delay of information has an impact on the hospital chaplain.
“I look through that information to see some of the people that maybe I’ve worked with in Hannibal. Now I’m getting the information so late it’s really of no value. I would miss any visitations that might be coming up or anything like that at this rate,” said Rose.
The delay in reaching many of the Courier-Post’s 225 mail customers stems from the closing of the Quincy mail distribution site on Feb. 2. Each day’s papers being mailed still go to Quincy, where they sit at the post office on Locust Street from 4 a.m. until 7 p.m. when they are shipped to the distribution center in Springfield, Ill. From Springfield, the papers are transported to St. Louis.
“From St. Louis they come back up this way, so in areas like up in Philadelphia and Shelbyville there’s basically three days travel time before our customers are getting their papers,” said Carolyn Rule, assistant circulation manager at the HCP. “We’ve already had some customers quit because of the delay.”
According to Rule, consideration was given to dropping the papers off at the Hannibal post office. But instead of Springfield, Ill., the papers would have been shipped to St. Louis.
“No matter what we would have had all the layovers,” she said. “There’s nothing we can do. They leave the post office and go to distribution centers, which are now in Springfield, St. Louis, Columbia, and the holdups are in those distribution centers. We’re at the mercy of the Postal Service.”
One of many
Valerie Hughes of the U.S. Postal Service says the local distribution center was one of many sites that were closed.
“Across the nation the Postal Service is consolidating its network from post offices, stations and branches to plants, and Quincy was one of the plants,” she said.
Page 2 of 2 - Hughes suggests the transition is still ongoing.
“Of course there’s always little kinks to work out. I know on the Springfield side of things they had to work out some transportation issues. There are kinks that have to be worked out and they’re working on those as we speak,” she said,
A spokesman for the Missouri Press Association has not heard of similar postal problems as are being experienced in Hannibal.
“We haven’t had very many complaints yet, but it’s early,” said Kent Ford. “I expect most of the newspapers that are having delivery issues are going to wait a couple of weeks to see if things will improve before they start complaining to the Postal Service. I’m sure some papers are getting complaints from their distant readers who aren’t getting their papers for probably two or three more days later than usual.”
Ford speculates the delay in delivery could ultimate cost the Postal Service business.
“What I anticipate is the Postal Service is going to lose some periodical deliveries because newspapers are going to encourage their distant readers to buy online subscriptions and that’s going to take more mail out of the postal system,” he said. “It’s a bad situation for the post office, newspapers and readers.”
Ford does not believe the current situation means the end of newspapers delivered via the Postal Service.
“It seems logical over the years that more people would purchase online subscriptions to avoid the delivery delay. They can get the newspaper virtually instantly as soon as it’s published rather than waiting on the Postal Service. It seems like a logical thing to assume, but I hate to make those assumptions and it could take 10 years for that to occur,” he said.
“If I were a subscriber and it was taking me three or four days to get my daily newspaper I’d probably buy an online subscription,” added Ford. “A lot of people still like that hard copy newspaper, and I do too for the local newspaper. The newspapers that I read that are distant newspapers I read those online.”
Rule says customers disgruntled by slow mail delivery are being encouraged to consider accessing the paper through its Web site - www.hannibalnet .
“It’s an option if you want to look at the news every day without having to wait on the papers because of delays in the Postal Service,” she said. “We have got several online customers now and they are promoting the online (paper).”