USPS may 'franchise' your mailbox, selling access to private companies

The financially ailing U.S. Postal Service may look for a new way to rake in a profit: selling private companies access to your mailbox.

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The administration explained in a recent report of suggested reforms that USPS has a “mailbox monopoly,” granting it “exclusive access to mailboxes.” In fact, it is illegal for anyone besides a USPS worker to deliver items into a mailbox – that’s why companies like UPS leave packages at your doorstep.

In order to monetize that monopoly, the report suggests “franchising the mailbox” to private shipping couriers, meaning companies like FedEx and UPS could place items in private mailboxes.

“By franchising the mailbox, the USPS could expand its revenue and income opportunities without necessitating any change to its current mail products,” the report read. “This could be done by retaining the mailbox monopoly and allowing regulated access, for a fee, to certified private companies. These ‘franchisees’ would be granted access to the mailbox for the delivery of mail and small parcels.”

The strategy could be particularly valuable for package delivery, since the agency already delivers small packages to mailboxes.

Among its other key recommendations, the Trump administration’s report calls for the development of a new pricing model, which eliminates across-the-board price caps and suggests charging “market-based prices” for both mail and package items that are not considered essential postal services. That could result in higher delivery costs.

President Trump has sharply criticized the Postal Service for undercharging companies for package delivery – specifically e-commerce giant Amazon.

“Although the USPS does have pricing flexibility within its package delivery segment, packages have not been priced with profitability in mind,” the report read.

The White House said the Postal Service lost $69 billion between fiscal 2007 and fiscal 2018, with “tens of billions of dollars” in losses expected over the next decade. During the 2018 fiscal year, the Postal Service recorded a net loss of $3.9 billion, which is an increase of more than $1 billion over the losses it suffered in 2017.

The last time the agency recorded a profit was more than a decade ago.

The administration also recommended strengthening governance, pursuing cost-cutting strategies and restructuring mounting retiree health benefit liabilities.