We still remember being reproached by a postal carrier some 30 years ago when we mentioned “junk mail” in his presence.
“There’s no such thing as junk mail," he replied, and for good reason. The unsolicited fliers and catalogs that many postal customers found annoying served another function for the Postal Service, increasing its mail volume and helping its bottom line.
Much has changed in three decades, as we were reminded by a recent story about the Postal Service in The New York Times.
Facing sharp declines in mail volumes because of the Internet and the rise of email, the Postal Service has launched a new effort to increase the amount of standard mail — what others call “junk mail.” By cutting deals with businesses and direct mail marketers to encourage more junk mail traffic, the Postal Service hopes to reverse the big slump in postal mail traffic.
But as the Times reported, some cities are already worried about the cost of disposing of discarded junk mail. These municipalities have partnered with a software developer to allow residents to opt out of receiving mail they don’t want.
We’re not big fans of direct mail advertising, which competes with the advertising that supports this newspaper.
We do hope, though, that the Postal Service can find the right mix of revenue and economizing to restore its sagging fortunes.
Even in the 21st century, America still needs a strong postal system.