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Office Depot to sell Postal Service products

By Ed O'Keefe

Despite widespread opposition to closing post offices, the U.S. Postal Service is moving ahead with plans to move its retail footprint beyond the post office, announcing a deal Monday with Office Depot.

The nation's second-largest office supply retailer has started selling postal products and services at 97 percent of its stores, offering Priority Mail and Express Mail services, Priority Mail Flat Rate boxes and postage stamps at almost 1,100 of its stores. The deal, in the works for more than a year, is the Postal Service's first attempt to sell more than postage stamps under someone else's roof.

Susan Plonkey, a USPS senior vice president, said the deal will allow customers to do side-by-side price comparisons between USPS, FedEx and UPS at locations beyond a post office.

“We’re excited to extend some of the best shipping values in the country to Office Depot customers, at a time and place that’s convenient to them,” she said.

The Postal Service provided Office Depot stores with training materials for Depot employees. The deal is open ended and no money changed hands, according to USPS.

The Postal Service operates the nation's largest retail network, with about 36,000 post offices and stations. But USPS is expected to post about $7 billion in losses for the fiscal year that ends in September. It wants permission from Congress to close thousands of locations and reopen smaller retail outlets within supermarkets, pharmacies and retailers including Wal-Mart, potentially saving the mail agency billions of dollars in savings.

But 64 percent of Americans oppose closing post offices, according to a Washington Post conducted in March. Closing post offices is part of a broad postal reform plan presented earlier this year to lawmakers. The plan has stalled thus far, but lawmakers are expected to consider elements of the proposals when they return from summer recess, according to aides.

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below

By Ed O'Keefe  | August 16, 2010; 11:35 AM ET
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Comments

i wonder if free market demint and his senate subsidizers will force office depot to underwrite his pet junk mailers like they do usps and we first call mail patrons.

Posted by: george32 | August 16, 2010 3:19 PM | Report abuse

george32 - That was a really dumb statement regarding the USPS. "Junk mailers", despite lower rates, actually subsidize first class delivery (or as you say "first call" patrons). USPS problems are from bloated management, bloated salaries, bloated benefits, you get the point. Will Office Depot employees be able to accept overseas mail? And if so, will they be any better trained to require the proper documents (customs, etc.) than the USPS employees. I hope so.
Shipping letters and small packages, whether domestic or international, is still a bargain at USPS, even if it is slower.
The USPS still needs to provide home delivery, even to outlying areas, PO Boxes where home delivery is not possible, and other services. If you think UPS and FedEx can do this, ask them. The answer is NO, especially is lesser populated areas.
By the way, the "Shift" key will allow you to use capital letters like they taught you in grade school.

Posted by: pjohn2 | August 16, 2010 3:59 PM | Report abuse

george32, Office Depot is not a Business Mail Center. They won't accept business or standard rate mail.
pjjohn, each mail class must pay for itself. The USPS submits a tractor trailer load of evidence to the Postal Rate Board each time rates are changed. If you have any evidence to refute the rate classes, please share it.
Universal delivery, to outlying areas and rural areas is costly, and that's why UPS and FedEx don't do it. If you want to continue to operate tiny Post Offices that serve only a few dozen people, someone is going to have to pay for that. When the USPS wants to close money losing offices, it is met with congressional action, that UPS and FedEx don't have to deal with.
With the monetary losses, the USPS has got to make some dramatic changes. I'd rather see offices consolidated, and blue collar jobs saved. The USPS has increased manning at it's Headquarters in WDC by some 34% in the last year or so. These are people who never touch the mail, and contribute very little to productivity. I suspect the increase is due to bosses giving other bosses jobs at HQ's when their positions were eliminated.

Posted by: sargee7 | August 16, 2010 9:30 PM | Report abuse

This is just another way for the p.o. to take jobs away from postal employees. We all have families to feed and mortgages pay. While we are hard at work every day there are supervisors sitting on the computer surfing the internet and playing cards. There's just not enough work to keep supervisors busy. I've seen it with my own eyes. The p.o. is now in the process of implementing "The National Reassessment Process." Which is just another way of saying they are discriminating against disabled workers. They have sent 33,000 disabled (most injured on the job) home without pay. Many have lost their cars their homes their lives, because the p.o. no longer wants them around. They no longer serve a purpose. So getting rid of post offices is only the beginning. What's next? I guess President Barack Obama"s Executive Order dated July 26, 2010 meant nothing when he said that the federal government will do everything in it's power to hire and retain disabled people, including people injured on the job. There's a lot of questionable decisions happening at the p.o. right now. I hope someone starts asking questions, but better yet, I hope they find out some answers.

Posted by: fedup100 | August 20, 2010 10:21 PM | Report abuse

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