Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Why the Post Office Can't Deliver the Mail On Time

By James Bovard

The Justice Department on Tuesday joined a lawsuit accusing Lance Armstrong of defrauding the U.S. government. The U.S. Postal Service spent $40 million sponsoring Mr. Armstrong’s bicycling team from 1996 through 2004, including the years when he won six Tour de France titles. Mr. Armstrong is being sued under the False Claims Act, which could provide the feds with triple damages if they win — more than $100 million.

The cycling champion recently publicly confessed to using prohibited substances while racing, violating the agreement his team had with the feds. He and others engaged in a long series of denials and charades to cover up their cheating. The Justice Department’s court filings charge that Mr. Armstrong and co-defendants “knowingly conspired to present or cause the presentation of false or fraudulent claims, or to make, use, or cause to be made or used, false records or statements material to false or fraudulent claims.”

As someone who has written about the Postal Service off and on for 35 years, that conspiracy charge sounded to me like a good summary of the Postal Service’s own public relations strategy. The Postal Service has been caught time and again lying about its delivery speed.

The Postal Inspection Service concluded that Postal Service advertisements for Priority Mail falsely implied that two-day national delivery was guaranteed — even though postal officials knew that delivery routinely takes three or more days. However, as Postal Regulatory Commission Chairman Ruth Goldway observed, because the Postal Service is a federal agency, it “does not have to … comply with the Federal Trade Commission’s truth-in-advertising rules.”


  1. Despite its faults -- and there are many -- the Postal Service has never "guaranteed" the delivery commitments of Priority Mail.

    Express Mail, on the other hand, is guaranteed. You gets your money back if it doesn't get there when we say it will.

    1. Interesting that you would use 'we' to describe the delivery of Express Mail by the USPS...over 90% of it flies or trucks UPS, with only USPS making the final leg. In fact, UPSs largest domestic client is the USPS.

      I love the arguments about how private courier services could not do what the USPS does. We have been, in 220 countries for over 100 years. At a profit.