Most people probably don’t know what a universal service obligation is, much less that the Postal Service is bound by one. But a USO, as it’s commonly called, is essential to ensuring that everyone receives the mail service they need. And the Postal Service’s USO is long overdue for updating and clarification, as you can see in our new white paper, Guiding Principles for a New Universal Service Obligation.

In general, a USO is a collection of requirements that ensure everyone in the country receives a minimum level of mail service at a reasonable price. The Postal Service’s USO includes a requirement to provide mail services to everyone, regardless of where they live, and for at least one mail product, at a uniform price. Other features of the USO are understood to include frequency of delivery, a range of product offerings, access to mail services, and quality of service. For instance, delivering your mail 6 days a week is part of the USO.

But frequency of delivery is the only obligation that is clearly articulated in the Postal Service’s current USO. In fact, the USO is based on a hodgepodge of various legal requirements and regulations that, in most cases, provide only broad guidance. For example, while public access to postal services is another important component of the USO, there’s nothing about how many access points, such as collection boxes or post offices, must exist.

The big question: What exact services do policy makers and the American public (both senders and receivers of the mail) now need the Postal Service to provide? Our paper provides six guidelines the Postal Service and its many stakeholders can use to frame the discussion about the USO and try to answer that basic question. For instance, we say a new USO should be clearly defined while also being flexible enough to adapt to future changes.

Do you agree the USO should be updated to reflect the changing nature of communications? How have your mail needs changed in the last decade? Do we still need 6-day-a-week delivery? How do you think the American public would benefit from a more clearly defined USO that included, for example, a minimum requirement for the number of access points? 

Comments (326)

  • anon

    My mail lady never comes at the same time. She has even skipped a day and come twice in one day. She even came at 7 pm last night. I know this is the Holiday Season but it is getting really ridiculous. I'm in Ga. Who can I talk to about her poor performance?

    Dec 05, 2015
  • anon

    Had a baby wasn't able to pick up my mail from mailbox for 2weeks and ever since then haven't seen any mail for me.

    Dec 05, 2015
  • anon

    I was supposed to receive a package and they claim they left a note . they did not leave a note

    Dec 04, 2015
  • anon

    Ok, Ive had enough of the people you hire over there. The past 2 years, Ive had my packages delivered to my neighbors 6 times, gotten 3 different packages that belonged to neighbors, packages opened and left on my front door and no help when I ask the postmen how they can make these mistakes. Im so done with all the bs. I live in a neighborhood where we have a community mailbox. How hard is it to put mail and packages in the right number box? I know this is not a very difficult job being a postman for USPS. Just paying attention to the mail and making sure it is delivered is not hard. I cant even order stuff online without cringing knowing the shipper is going to use USPS. Please train your employees to pay more attention. I will be going to my post office tomorrow to see who I can talk to about this. Im suppose have a package delivered today but once again it is not in my mailbox but I says "delivered" online. Once maybe twice is ok but everytime Im expecting something I dont get my package is ridiculous. I pray someday USPS will get this right. As of now you guys need a lot of improvement. Stop cutting costs and hire and really pay people that can handle the work. Stop hiring temps to save money. With everyone buying online now, you should keep up with the demand and doing it right. I know Im rambling but you need to get the delivering right. The public pays for your service and should not have all this heartache for your failures.

    Dec 04, 2015
  • anon

    I live in a rural area, home delivery is not an option from my post office. I am forced to pay $68 a year for a tiny post office box that does not fit most packages I order. My post office has went through several changes in hours of operation. Currently it is open from 8;30 AM to 11;30 AM. I have no access to the post office during these hours due to my work schedule. I feel I am NOT being offered anything close to full service mail options. I have to pay for my mail or not get it, drive 14 miles round trip to the box I am forced to pay for and take time off of work to get the mail.

    Dec 04, 2015
  • anon

    Are mailmen alowwed to deliver mail in their cars?

    Dec 03, 2015
  • anon

    I apparently live to close to the post office to ha e a mail box, it causes many issues when something being shipped says it can't go to a po box when we have no actual mailing address that showes up at our house so we can't have packages delivered to our house, our post office offers a service where you can use the post offices address and your name for those things, but you have to be paying for a po box, but our box is free since we are forced to have one and they are holding a package of ours and are saying they will be returning it because we don't pay for our box, this is completely ridiculous

    Dec 03, 2015
  • anon

    We live 17 miles from the post office and want all packages not delivered to our address because they don't fit in our mail box returned to sender, not left at the post office. We request any other carrier than the USPS but often they have contracts with USPS to deliver the "last mile", which in are case is 17 miles

    Dec 03, 2015
  • anon

    I am expecting a package, on usps site says out for delivery, it was on Dec, 1 2015. Today, well Dec, 3 2015 and ot is still says oit for delivery WTF? PLS, EXPLAIN

    Dec 02, 2015
  • anon

    This has been happening to me too... I am told by postal workers that the tracking is being manipulated and that mail is being held to fill trucks to save on fuel. I have been shipping and receiving packages all over the world for over ten years, this is the worst...

    Dec 05, 2015
  • anon

    I have had several packages marked 'delivered' when they weren't. I can only assume its because they were in a hurry and since I paid for 2 day service they just decided to fabricate a delivery because I usually get them the next day. I even called and spoke to the supervisor. She flat out called me a liar and when I told her to track it she admitted I was right but didn't even apologize.Anywhere else and she would have been disciplined or fired.Shouldn't this be mail fraud? Our postal service is the worst, its no surprise they are bankrupt. The customer service is nonexistent, I would pay extra to have my mail or packages delivered by anyone but them.

    Dec 12, 2015
  • anon

    I need to know where my mailman is at

    Dec 02, 2015
  • anon

    What I would like to know is, why when I lived in a house I could leave mail that needs to be sent out in my mailbox and the mail man would take it. Since I moved, I was able to catch the mailman twice and he took both outgoing letters how ever, I hadn't seen him in a while so I left a letter I needed sent out in my apartment's mailbox with a little note asking the mailman to please deliver that letter and instead I come back the next day to find all of my delivered mail placed behind the letter I asked him to mail still with the note. Why wouldn't he take the letter?

    Nov 30, 2015
  • anon

    I item says it was delivered on yesterday at 3:51pm, yet it is no where to be found. This order was a gift for loved ones. This is my tracking number 9374889878084100694757. I still can't find my product.

    Nov 29, 2015
  • anon

    There was no post delivered yesterday or today at my apartment complex at all. No truck, nothing. And the postal devilery person put my incoming mail in the outgoing box the day before thanksgiving. What is going on? Did they decide to take a personal extended holiday? I thought that was breaking federal law?

    Nov 28, 2015
  • anon

    My mail person will sometimes leave my package in cars on my property and leave no notice the car is there when no one home because it's not used so package sits there for days. What can I do I've complained.

    Nov 28, 2015
  • anon

    Hi, I have a house on Palm Island in Florida that is serviced daily by a ferry. Postal code 33946. Mail is not being delivered, on this island, but other services are available, like garbage, police, fire department, all are taken care of. Why is not mail delivery part of these services? The 150-200 houses are not serviced by mail delivery, we have to go to the post office, get a mailbox, prove every year that we own the property, and get the smallest box available, that we have to buy keys for...This is substandard for a civilized country, and in some places usps delivers mail by donkey but on Palm Island Florida, cannot even get a yearly pass to cross with the ferry to deliver mail, or install boxes that would be really easy for residents to access, or bring it by boat, just an idea... A sad story that a place that is not serviced by mail exists in USA 2015. Thank you for looking into my complaint! GM

    Nov 27, 2015
  • anon

    Can i return unwanted mail to the mailman

    Nov 27, 2015
  • anon

    I paid for usps express delivery of $172 on 11/7 and should have been to its destination by 11/9, it is now 11/25 and the contents in my package is ruined says that package is still in transit and the post office has been giving me the run around for 2 weeks. This is bad service and I feel like it is discrimination because of the area I live in. For me not being a wealthy person I utilize my time and choose to work rather than spend my time trying to get my money back. Waiting for hours and driving back and forth to different post offices is ridiculous. On top of that I still have not received my refund which is also guaranteed at time of transaction.

    Nov 25, 2015
  • anon

    Really? discriminated? cause your package didn't arrive on time! how long are you people going to ride that train.

    Nov 28, 2015
  • anon

    What do you mean "..you people"?

    Dec 14, 2015
  • anon

    Is the mail carrier allowed to go inside of some ones garage to drop a box?

    Nov 25, 2015
  • anon

    Is the mail carrier allowed to go inside of some ones garage to drop a box?

    Nov 25, 2015
  • anon

    Several times we have received wrong mail and write on it wrong mail- please redeliver. Wonder how much of our own mail is mis-delivered. This mail man is always talking on the phone to whoever. We watch him um the road or drive by him and he's yakking away...multitasking while trying to deliver the correct mail. If you have a package he jams it in the mailbox or if too big brings it to the front porch and drops it there while you still have to walk to the mailbox to pick up your regular mail. I know other neighbors have complained about him, not just for mis delivering mail but that it's delivered after 5:00 - 5:30 p.m. everyday. One week a few months ago every dvd from Netflix that we received was broken. He must've retaliated thinking it was me who complained about him, but not so, not until now. Now I'm to find rebates that I submitted through the residential mailbox never reached their destination. What's up with this clown? If he hates his job I know others who would grab it in a second.

    Nov 24, 2015
  • anon

    We live at an RV park. They have installed postal boxes in a room and provided us with a key for our unit. However, the postman brings the mail and drops it off at the office and the park manager is the one who fills the post boxes. I don't much like that, but what makes it worse is that if she goes on vacation (as she plans on at 1pm 11/25 - 11/30) We will not receive any mail until 12/1 (6 full days). Is this legal? We are in zip 92530

    Nov 24, 2015
  • anon

    I had my pain medication that was sent out in the mail on the 15th november. from the VA in Muskogee Oklahoma it arrived in Tulsa at 1 a.m. in the morning and from there somehow the shipping label with my address come up missing so they do not know where my package is which has to go through Tulsa to arrive at my location which is Chelsea Oklahoma. When contacted the post office they had no information other than there was no label on it I think that the post office should have at least tried to put a little more effort in trying to figure out what happened to it it had to have signature confirmation so there was a tracking number so that they send it back to to the VA in Muskogee

    Nov 23, 2015
  • anon

    Contact your Congressional staff.

    Nov 25, 2015
  • anon

    I have been trying to work with our local Post Office concerning the inability of our carrier to deliver packages from Amazon, or any other shipper for that matter. I understand policies, procedures, union issues, carrier safety, time constraints, etc. The USPS should not take contracts that they cannot fulfill. Under at least 7 components of USPS policies absolutely prevent home delivery, to us, of packages from Amazon or any other shipper. 1, a carrier cannot open gate - understandable. 2, a secure place for delivery must be provided - ok. Well, I can't put a secure lockable box (we would buy for$350 plus installation) out for that because 3, the carrier cannot make left turns into our driveway, 4, can't get out of her vehicle to place things in the box if placed by the mailbox, and 5, can't back her vehicle out of the the driveway - at all - we would have excavate, work with the county to address putting in a much longer culvert in the ditch on either side, and make huge changes to the end of our driveway to provide a turnaround. We have NONE of these issues with UPS or Fed Ex, and it just recently started happening with USPS. It actually looks like carrier revenge to us- because of a package was stated as delivered but trace on it showed it hadn't been delivered. That's when the fight seems to have started. As a matter of fact, the carrier was then filling out "unable to deliver" slips because of a "closed gate" down the driveway, (which she claims is 1/2 mile - oh, and 6-, another policy - no driving more that 1/2 mile from the road-, and we know it's less that 1/4 mile, and you can't see that gate from the mailbox on the road, it's a - (policy number , no left turns) LEFT turn into our driveway anyway), and not even putting the package in her vehicle to attempt delivery. We are working with Amazon to see what can be done, but now our only choice is to go to the Post Office to pick up our packages. Which they lose ( couple of weeks ago) and then miraculously find it when we go to pick up another package, which they had trouble finding as well. I am willing to work with USPS and their home delivery service on this, but isn't possible at this point because of all of the policy restraints in place. I hear the whines that Postal Carriers work long hours, are underpaid, not safe, under insured, etc., etc. but that person made the decision to apply for and accept that job. They should try teaching in a public school. Being a Postal Worker would look pretty good to them after that experience!

    Nov 23, 2015
  • anon

    The post office in Spring Valley, CA has a thief.. I had something that was delivered there 2 weeks ago; the last notation on the package on the package is that it was "re-routed to the correct address". I know it was addressed correctly, so apparently somebody took it upon themselves to slap a new label over it and get it delivered to themself or a cohort. I have filed a complaint with USPS but don't expect any resolution. Hope the low-lifes enjoy my cleaning supplies from Walmart that maybe they thought was an iPad.

    Nov 23, 2015
  • anon

    I recently moved to a new city and I went to usps.com and filled out my address change. I also completed a temporary change of address to a new address that I was going to be staying at for 3 months. I completed it - put the start date and stop date and paid my $1.00 for this. I ended up having to come back early and even went back on usps.com to change the return date to make sure everything was done properly. Well, I noticed I was not getting mail (very few pieces came through) at the temporary location and I found out that the post office in the city I moved to did not "find" my request to send my mail to the temporary location and it was building up for 2 months. The postal worker decided to just take it all and RETURN IT ALL TO SENDER! I have no idea what was sent to me and I am furious this post office would take such a drastic action and not double check why I was not picking up my mail. What are my options at this point? This is a serious matter and I want to make sure that all the mail that was returned is not something that could cost me late fees, etc.

    Nov 22, 2015
  • anon

    The postman is very discriminating to disabled people due to his own cowardness of dogs. Apparently he was bit by a dog at another residence, and since he has recently taken over route of our house he refuses to come to our door because we have a dog. An extremely passive Maltese WTH! He claims to knock on our wall to deliver packages, but all we ever get is a card. One time we made a complaint to his superior and the next day and he banged on our window to ensure we got the package. Who does this.? All deliver(s) prior to him (5 years at residence) always came to door and played with our dog. His boss was no help and played biased to his employee because he too had a dog incident. I think it is extremely unfair to treat an elderly, disabled person this way. Why do I have to be unfairly treated this way at my residence because he was bit by someone elses dog? y son is not here to always go for me. The postman's boss should step up as a superior and do research on our residence and see we have had no issues with our dog and past employees. He should played the same card and agree to refuse service to our door because of a phobia derived from another home. We should not have to deal with this or get a new deliver, not just be told it is what it is, and if you fight it, or with him "we will not deliver to your home anymore". It is just wrong. 14041 N 48th ave, Glendale, AZ. 85306

    Nov 22, 2015
  • anon

    Okey iam soooo mad....the post office @ Majuro Marshall Islands don't do good services at all. I sent one big box to Majuro Marshall islands inside was one laptop, brand new cell phone from Walmart,1 plastic fill with lotion&perfume, clothes, foods& a air bed....all inside the big box...I send the box on 11/06/15 to Majuro Marshall Islands and wait until the box reach there....2 week later the box reach Majuro post office and my second older brother when to post office to pick the box up....when over and with surprise he found out the box was open and usually they stick the paper on the box with all the stuff inside the box ....well anyway, the box was opened and he found no paper on the box....he check the box and found out that the laptop,foods,cellphone&all the lotion wasn't inside except the the clothes and air bed was inside..... Someone working at the post office at Majuro Marshall Islands stole my laptop,cell&foods... I send these to my sick mom, but instead this low life working at post office at Majuro don't fellow the policy and steal people stuff!!!!!!! RJ

    Nov 22, 2015
  • anon

    I have needles for shots that are delivered from the VA the Salem IN post office will leave them on my door step instead of the large lock box we all have a key box for our mail. Bad news is that I found the neighborhood kids playing with them when I came home

    Nov 21, 2015
  • anon

    I believe that USO should be updated to reflect what’s going on in communications today. Yes, I think that six days a week still is necessary if you want to still stay in business. The other delivery companies are delivering 6 days or more. The biggest problem with United States Postal Service is that it has horrible customer service and reliability. When a customer pays for a service it aspects to receive it. United States Postal Service has been delivering mail for 240 years; you should be the best in the world. Instead its getting worst, packages are either lost or stolen do to employee ambivalence and non-accountability. When I order a steak at a restaurant and its not brought to my table I don’t pay for it. So, when I pay for a mail to be delivered and it’s not received I shouldn’t pay for that either. That is basic agreement for any other business on the planet. Why do they feel it does not apply to them? The average mail person makes over $20 dollars an hour and has prefunded employee retirement health benefits that no other organization has. Your average mail person makes more than an elementary school teacher, police officer or a sergeant in the army. I don’t understand why they have so many incompetent employees when they have higher salaries and benefits then their rival companies. The bottom line is the United States Postal Service is losing money because the services they are selling are not worth it. People don’t trust them with their mail any more. There are more packages being sent then ever in history do the Internet. If someone sends a package thru USPS, you pay twice for the service. First the fee for sending it, then more money to put insurance on package in the hopes that it reaches its destination. Do to the problem that no one is responsible for package if it’s not insured. Mail persons leave packages in front of your door as if nobody steals. Then when you package is missing the United States Postal Service says “Its not my problem you should have insured it.” It does not matter that you paid for a service that you did not receive. When they could have just left a slip and you could pick it up yourself. Since the mail person is not held responsible they don’t care. The only mail the United States Postal Service always delivers is bills.

    Nov 21, 2015
  • anon

    Hi there, we have a rural Carrier who does not want to leave her vehicle and place a package on our lowest step,a few paces. We have spoken to her supervisor, Travis, who told us that the matter is in the hands of the personnel department in Denver. In the meantime, we don't want her on the property as we are concerned that she may try and sue as we feel she wants to be on disability! By her actions. We don't want to pay for a box as they are expensive and we are elderly retired on fixed income. We have lived in this house for 15 years and never had issues before with the carrier. With Christmas coming up we want this resolved as we do not know what is happening with our packages. Notifications from the post office are often inaccurate. We pay for Amazon prime and are prevented from receiving good service by this Carrier. Just to let you know private companies such as UPS and FedEx have no problems delivering to us but they frequently now transfer packages to USPS which has caused us much frustration.Thank you for looking into this Mark and Heather Leaper, 18350 Highland estates drive, Colorado springs, co 80908.

    Nov 21, 2015
  • anon

    All of a sudden, my mail carrier is not attempting to delivery packages to my house, she has started placing them in clear large plastic bags, and tying them to my mailbox. This happened on Friday Nov 20 2015. If not for the very nice Fed Ex man who saw it, he drove down my driveway, which is approximately 1/4 mile from my mail box to my door, and informed me there was packages tied to my mailbox and he didn't want them stolen. I went up there and sure enough there they were, so I took pictures. So now I guess these explains why I've had to file claims with companies I've ordered things from because of non receipt of things, that were probably treated like this and then someone stole the items. I understand there may be a length that is allowed to deliver to the home, no one at the post office could tell me what that was, where do I find what the rules are and what that length is.

    Nov 21, 2015
  • anon

    We haven't received any mail in the last four days. My mother-in-law is my neighbor...it's the same for her. This happened a couple of weeks ago too. I paid express shipping for something to be delivered quickly and they the mail people didn't even bring it. They could at least say..we're not bringing your mail can you come get it? 36740

    Nov 21, 2015
  • anon

    Our postal service was great for a small town (Sonora, TX) until the new postmaster started. He has a very limited vocabulary: "no, we don't do that, you'll have to (fill in the blank)." He refuses to let the clerks help folks out with problems, answer questions, etc. He's a little tyrant that should be run off. I received two yellow slips in my box on Saturday (although they deliver mail in town on Saturday, they don't give packages to box holders on Saturday, and they never bother to put the packages in the mostly empty lockers). When I drove back to town (25 mile round trip) on Monday and asked why I had only one yellow slip when I had two on Saturday, the clerk (I think she's related to the postmaster) said, "I get confused." Does not give me confidence!

    Nov 21, 2015
  • anon

    I see one of your delivery trucks (always the same one) consistently parked in the bicycle Lane on Skillman Ave while picking up mail or delivering. It's against the law in NYC and is not a good example for the rest of the citizenry I told the mailman driving it and 'he didn't care.'

    Nov 21, 2015
  • anon

    I tracked my mail through the USPS, and USPS stated that the expected delivery date is Thursday the 19th. I didn't receive it on the expected delivery date.. Today is Friday the 20th.i still haven't received my mail... I have the tracking number, and everything to show that it was in fact mailed priority mail.. Priority mail only takes 3 days.. I have yet to receive my mail... I'm not sure if it's the postal service or the other tenants that live here also, being as only one person has the key to the mailbox.. I would like to resolve this issue..... Respectfully Stacy Marie Grissom

    Nov 20, 2015
  • anon

    Their not leaving a notice or trying to drop off the package cause I was outside at the time they said they attempted so they're not even coming to my address

    Nov 20, 2015
  • anon

    The post man is so lazy. he drop all the boxes to the manager office. I don't know why he don't do his job right and don't bring my package to me not to the landlord.

    Nov 19, 2015
  • anon

    My mail gets delivered so late. Usually Inbetween 5-7pm. It's so inconvienant. Especially when you've been waiting for a check or something to arrive and by the time you finally get it- the banks are closed. Very irritating. Zip 27834

    Nov 19, 2015
  • anon

    It is all the junk mail,magazines and packages. Letter Carriers have so much work to do and are under so much pressure. They are also getting so little pay for all the work they do. The city carrier assistant sometimes work a month straight for half of the pay that the regular letter carriers get who are not really permitted to get much overtime. People get hired and quit soon after. How about this holiday season you go out to the person delivering your mail and probably packages, tip them and tell them "Thank You for your hard work" Be Happy you get your mail at all. It is a very challenging job especially during the last couple of months of the year. You have a beautiful holiday season!

    Nov 22, 2015
  • anon

    I was just notified, by mail, that mail delivery is being withdrawn to an entire an area where I live due to an altercation described as the "mail carrier for your area was threatened and unlawfully detained. While this act did not involve any known residents of this area, the Postal Service must act accordingly when our employees are subjected to hazardous conditions.....". The letter continues to inform me that my mailbox will be relocated more than 3 miles away from my residence. I understand the safety of the carrier and the need to work with local law enforcement but relocating more than 20 residences' mailboxes seems like a knee jerk reaction with serious consequences for many people. Some of the people in this area are elderly and many on fixed incomes. I believe the postal service really should reconsider this decision.

    Nov 19, 2015
  • anon

    Additional information: Although the Postmaster that has made this decision cannot divulge "any information about the incident since there is an on going investigation", I contacted the local Sheriff, which of course was more than willing to provide public record information. Apparently the carrier hit a hunting dog and a confrontation with the hunters took place. Uniquely the carrier specifically stated that no officer needed to respond he just wanted it documented that it happened. According to local law enforcement there is no active investigation underway. So now a three plus mile stretch of homes won't receive home mail service due to a hunting season that lasts less the 60 days. I can understand the fear of being confronted with angry armed people. But no official police report or investigation and no charges brought against anyone doesn't seem to really bolster that the route is a safety issue for every mail carrier. However from a service standpoint, why not place a different carrier on the route until the end of hunting season? The Postmaster involved has even made this a 'personnel issue' thereby shielding the entire incident from scrutiny. No consideration was given to alternatives other than permanently terminating home delivery service for many residents.

    Nov 20, 2015
  • anon

    My mail carrier left my mail on a car that was parked in front of my mail box. I thought if the mail box was blocked they just wouldn't deliever my mail. Isn't that illegal? How does the mail person know if the car is even mine? I also get the wrong mail often, and I've noticed several open envelopes but they may not have been closed well.

    Nov 19, 2015
  • anon

    The post office wants me to move my mailbox from where it's been for over 10 years from a private road to a public road. It stated that my private road was not maintained and dogs bothered them. We have fixed those two problems can they still make me move my box? I am disabled and this would be hard on me

    Nov 19, 2015
  • anon

    Our town doesn't deliver mail, I have a POB. Is that still even allowed? And is there any way to change that?

    Nov 18, 2015
  • anon

    My mother is no longer physically able to walk to her mailbox. Is it possible for delivery to be made to the house directly if a new mailbox was placed on the house?

    Nov 18, 2015

Pages

Recent Comments

  • 1 day 13 hours ago
    YES All Postal Carriers should wear an approved Uniform, that will identify them. But, only window clerks, city carriers and maintenance employees are getting an allotment to buy uniforms. Rural...
  • 1 day 14 hours ago
    nope, no one cares until something happens .. post office does nothing until fatality strikes. and they only do something then to cover their butts.

Share this post


Monthly Archive