Postal service does away with parcel post

by Angela Denning-Barnes on January 31, 2014

Rural Alaskans are generally skilled at finding ways to ship in goods, sometimes cheaper than they can find them at local stores. Bethel resident, Bob Carlson, has been mailing 70-pound packages from Anchorage for over 20 years. When he’s in the city, he packs up groceries and goods and makes sure that the scale reads exactly 70 pounds. That way he’ll get the largest savings at the post office.

When he first started out, those boxes cost him less than $6. As of last week, it was $24. Now it’s $41, an increase of 70%.

“So we are now suffering another pretty substantial blow to living out here,” Carlson says.

Carlson says he just found out about the increase days before it took effect. He plans to voice his concerns through a letter to the Alaska Congressional Delegation.

“I don’t know if anything can be done to reverse this or not. I think it’s pretty under handed,” Carlson says.

The increase comes from the postal service doing away with parcel post rates for zones one through four, which covers nearly all of Alaska. It’s all priority mail now.

Allen Murphy is the long-time Bethel Post Master.

“Now it means there will be no more parcel post most places except Ketchikan in Alaska,” Murphy says. “It will come out priority, if you go to mail something, it’s being charged the priority rate.”

The rate hikes are higher for packages 20 pounds and heavier. For packages less than 15 pounds, the rates actually go down slightly.

This does mean that packages will ship faster…if they are marked correctly. Murphy says residents should be careful because post offices all over the country will still be dealing with both parcel post and priority packages.

“When they’re mailing their boxes or they’re taking them to the counter, they need to make sure that they get their priority stickers on them,” Murphy says.

Stamps went up to 49 cents this week but other postal increases could hit rural Alaskans even harder.

The cost to ship flat rate boxes stayed the same except for the large size. That went up 60 cents. Certified mail and C.O.D. packages also saw increases.

According to the Postal Service’s website, the changes are being implemented now to address current financial challenges.

The postal service loses billions of dollars every year.

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