Charging More and Delivering Less

The U.S. Postal Service struggles to move its mountain of mail

Any enterprise that regularly raises its prices while letting its service slip is almost sure to drive away customers. Unless, of course, that enterprise happens to be a monopoly like the U.S. Postal Service, which is still the only organization legally allowed to deliver first- and third-class mail. The Postal Service is cutting back on operations and capital spending even as its volume of mail -- 500 million letters, publications and packages every day -- grows by about 6% a year. Many customers are frustrated: complaints about delayed mail rose by 18% in 1987.

Yet the Postal Service is preparing to...

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