The Best of Both
by Timothy Rollins
In a joint press conference yesterday afternoon at the National Press Club, the United States Postal Service (USPS) and Federal Express (FedEx) announced that they had struck a seven-year $6.3 billion deal that will provide increased convenience for the American people to handle their mail and overnight shipments. While Emery Air Freight, who had a similar contract with the Postal Service is opposed to the deal, it is expected to sail through with little if any resistance at all.
What the plan involves is the carrying of select U.S. Mail on FedEx planes, primarily Express, Priority and First Class Mail. This is in addition to the commercial aircraft that already carry millions of pieces of mail each day. This move will not only save the Postal Service money (expected to exceed $1 billion), thus slowing down the frequency of rate increases, it will benefit the taxpayers of America by providing a two for one deal in the sense that FedEx drop boxes will now be available at many post offices nationwide. The FedEx drop boxes could make them an extra $900 million in revenue per year, so clearly we have a win-win situation here.
When you think about the deal, it was a masterstroke of brilliance on both the part of Postmaster General William Henderson and FedEx Chairman and CEO Frederick Smith. It allows for the hiring of more pilots and ground personnel for FedEx primarily at their Memphis hub as well as for the opportunity for the Postal Service to have an additional outlet for mail to get to its destination faster.
Let me explain my envy of the situation on this matter. For those of you who have not read my columns very often, I am an American living outside of Toronto, Canada in a land of NO Saturday mail delivery and in a land where mail can take as long as 12 days to travel a distance I can cover in 10 hours in my car while driving the legal speed limit. For some reason I have not been able to explain in the almost eight years I have been up here in the frozen North, the mail that comes from the United States can get here in as little as three days from Denver or four days from Salt Lake City, yet it seems to have the speed of a snail in a wheelchair up on blocks when the mail is going in the opposite direction. Once it gets past the U.S. border (usually Buffalo or Detroit from here), the mail is home free to its destination in usually no more than two or three days. Its usually the first 100-200 miles that take the longest to travel.
Even though the Postal Service and FedEx have teamed up on this venture, you will not be able to have the FedEx pick up your mail, nor will your mail carrier pick up FedEx packages.
In a day and time where so many companies are busy trying to find ways to slit their competitors throats much like Netscape and Microsoft, its refreshing to see two companies that do some of the same things teaming up in a manner that is mutually beneficial for consumers and for the corporate bottom line.
Now only if our elected officials could do the same. ***
© 2001 Timothy Rollins
With files from The Washington Post (http://www.washingtonpost.com)