on Jun 11th, 2012 in Products & Services | 14 comments
 
A 100-year old temperance-era law prohibits the Postal Service from shipping alcohol and benefiting from the growth in online purchases of wine, beer, and other spirits. As states have loosened their restrictions on inter-state alcohol shipments, FedEx and UPS have seized this burgeoning opportunity. The Postal Service needs to secure new sources of revenue in an era of declining mail volume. Shipping of alcohol could create an additional revenue stream, while capitalizing on the Postal Service’s strength in last-mile delivery. Shipping of alcohol would require the Postal Service to establish a strict set of rules. First, it would have to be sure no one under age 21 receives alcoholic shipments. Second, it would have to comply with varying state laws, some of which prohibit the shipment of out-of-state alcohol directly to consumers. Other states allow direct shipments to consumers but restrict those shipments to producers, such as wineries. The Postal Service has indicated it would put proper restrictions in place, such as requiring an adult signature for shipments of alcohol. It even appears to have ideas around flat rate boxes that could hold two, four, or six bottles of wine. With the right restrictions in place, should the Postal Service be allowed to ship alcohol and tap into this growing market? Or should an organization that is part of the federal government stay out of the business of shipping alcohol given the negative images sometimes associated with alcohol consumption? What do you think? Share your comments below. This blog is hosted by the OIG's Office of Audit.

14 Comments

I don't want it to be my job to card people for their parcels.

I totally agree with you, Pat. Our business is to deliver, not to card our customers. That should be done at purchase time and not on our shoulders.

Why not? Anything that can be mailed safely and generate revenue is a great asset to the P.O. We should look into all suggestions and ideas with open eyes and try to save what congress is hellbent on destroying!!!

As far as handling alcohol, I think it would be a good revenue generator if the parcels containing the alcohol could be handled carefully to minimize damage and/or breakage. Would the entire parcel sorting procedure have to be revamped? Would the profits outweigh the costs to change the parcel sorting procedure? There are already way too many little committees in place that cost the postal service much more than the work/product they output.

I think we should look at all revenue possibilities, even if that requires a signature. We don't need to give profits to UPS & FedX and end up without a job. I see it as a great revenue for the post office.

I THINK WE SHOULD OFFER SHIPPING OF ALCOHOL. I HAVE TO TURN REVENUE AWAY FROM THE RETAIL WINDOW AT LEAST 3 TIMES A MONTH. I KNOW THAT PEOPLE LIE ABOUT WHAT IS IN THEIR BOXES, SO IF WE MAKE IT LEGAL TO SHIP WE CAN MAKE SURE THE PACKAGE IS MARKED PROPERLY. IF WE MADE SPECIAL PACKAGEING JUST FOR ALCOHOL THEN WE WILL ENSURE IT GETS FROM POINT A TO POINT B IN ONE PEICE. I HAVE TO TELL PEOPLE TO CHECK WITH THE AIRLINES THEY ARE FLYING WITH, SOME OF THEM WILL LET THEM TAKE IT IF IT IS PROPERLY PACKAGED.

This would seem to be a No Brainer. Is the Flat Earth Society running the show?
Please, start modernizing by removing this restriction. As far as carding deliveries, somehow UPS and FEDup are doing it so it would seem possible somehow.

Get cracking!
Mark

I already see bottles of alcohol breaking open when we dump the container of parcels onto the feed belt on the APBS.
There aren't many since they aren't supposed to be there anyway. I can imagine there will be many more breaking open if we're starting to deliver them.
There needs to be some sort of rule that these parcels will be handled by hand only, or there will be lots of problems.
The Postal Service should explore the possibility of shipping ammunition also. UPS and FEDEX ship these now and we're losing out on a lot of money. Ammo is safe to ship. None of our parcels are exposed to anything that would make it unsafe.

I think the Postal Service should look more at periodical and standard discounted mail. Why give publishers discounts to walk sequence their mail and the P.O. turns around and runs it through our machines to comingle with other discounted mail

By all means, alcohol should be allowed to be sent through the mail. Does an adult need to sign for it? Does an adult need to sign for perscriptions? The answer is no. The Postal Service needs to seek out any means of new buisness. The biggest problem and enemies of the Postal Service is the House of Representatives. If they didn't hate the Post Office and the unions so bad all the problems could be fixed.

I am all for shipping any safe liquids including alcohol. When doing USPS water samples for field offices, I have to use FEDEX to ship the samples to the labs. This is revenue that USPS is putting in the hands of their competitors. As far as checking IDs for proof of age, that is the responsibility of the seller, not the shipper.
I do have speciality wines shipped in from my wine club (CA & WA) to my home in MD and the packaging is very sound... never had a broken or leaking bottle. If Postal follows the same procedures that FEDEX and UPS utilizes, we should not have a problem.

As the person who delivers the mail for me often leaves my mail on the floor, not even bothering to put it in the mailbox, I think the answer to that question is no. If the mail is junk mail, I am not upset, but this has been happening with parcels as well. I will not' trust the USPS with good drink if they cannot deliver other nonpotable items. If they would take the extra step to perform efficient service then my opinion might be different.

I would not know, however my son is in the wine business.
I asked him what he thought. He said "I wish they knew how to ship my
wine, but when I shipped my XMAS presents to my customers, 30-40% didn't get the gift

What is it that makes alcohol ok and tobacco not ok? As the article states, there has been a 100 year ban on mailing alcohol but USPS recently banned tobacco shipments. Why one and not the other?

Also, has anyone looked to see whether these other carriers are checking ID's? I don't think USPS should have requirements FEDex and Brown do not have.

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