As U.S. Postal Service Sinks Into Irrelevance, It Seeks Hope In the Bottom Of A Bottle

Like too many once-great leaders who have been knocked from their pedestals by the disruptive forces of time and progress, the U.S. Postal Service is turning to wine and spirits while trying to hold on to the belief that it still has a future in the world that has outgrown it.

For more than 100 years, shipping wine via the USPS has been a no-no, with that work left to private freight handlers and couriers. But now, staring in the mirror while wondering how it sank this far so quickly, the Postal Service is reportedly looking to get back into the booze biz.

Writing for, wine critic Edward Deitch says the USPS is looking at all the money FedEx and UPS have made shipping the wine it could not and hoping that lawmakers in DC will pass the Postal Reform Act of 2013, which would once again give the USPS the ability to deliver beer, wine, and liquor in areas where state and local laws also allow for it.

USPS hopes these clinking bottles can add up to $50 million a year for it, but that would only cover about 1/100th of the $5 billion deficit the Service ran up in the last fiscal year.

Even Sen. Tom Carper from Delaware, who introduced the Act admits that opening the USPS mail bags to booze “is not a silver bullet, but what I like to call a silver BB… And what the Postal Service needs is a lot of these.”

Wine companies would be able to cash in on presumably lower shipping rates from USPS, but they would also be giving up a lot of the accountability and customer-facing service provided by better-funded shippers like FedEx and UPS.

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  1. PhillyDom says:

    I can’t believe The Consumerist has bought into the spin from reactionary Republicans and the private shippers that the Postal Service is “irrelevant.” The USPS would be doing a lot better financially if it weren’t forced by Congress to prefund a 75-year (over-estimated) projection of its pension obligations over a 10-year period. No other business, and no other federal agency, does this.

    The Postal Service is paying for the future retiree benefits of employees who haven’t even been born yet!

    • indianajoel says:

      A small fact few people know…

    • furiousd says:

      Something i didn’t realize as well. I wish the Postal Service was allowed to run itself as a business, rather than the current business-on-Congress’-leash model that makes them jump through these hoops.

    • RupturedDuck says:

      The Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006 was passed in the late hours of the night at the end of the Congressional legislative session on a voice vote. That way there is no record of how much support the legislation actually had, and most Members were not in attendance to vote on the bill.

      It only has three cosponsors and took less than 14 days to make it through Congress. There was no debate in the House and it took only 23 minutes for it to sail through the House. The Senate passed it by unanimous consent in about the same amount of time.

      What we have is a law that really is designed to destroy the US Postal Service and replace it with private, for profit companies. No more and no less. Do you really think *any* company ever operates on behalf of the American People, ahead of its own interests, ahead of its own stockholders and ahead of its own executives??

  2. Edmunddantes says:

    LoL… a lot of people are going to find out real quick how relevant the postal service is if it goes away.

    There’s a dirty little secret as to why it’s still relatively cheap to ship something via FedEx and UPS outside of densely popluated city centers and suburbs. It’s called the USPS. If the USPS wasn’t offering FedEx and UPS cheap last stage of delivery to a lot of rural locations, a lot of people would be out of luck.

    Also too, the Pension thing. It really is quite amazing how screwed up that requirement actually is upon closer review.

  3. CommonC3nts says:

    Why is your article so wrongly negative about the USPS???
    The USPS is very relevant. They are the best for package delivery as usually a USPS post office is much much closer than a fedex or ups terminal.

    Also the USPS is very profitable. Congress is forcing them to prefund their retirement which just makes their finances look good on paper.
    The USPS will be around for a long, long time as 3rd parties just cannot compete on the level of service you get with the USPS or their pricing.
    Even Fedex outsources deliveries to the USPS with Fedex smart post.

    They definately should allow the USPS to ship alcohol.
    No one likes to drive 2 hours just to sign for a package that UPS and Fedex only want to deliver while you are working. At least with the USPS there normally is a post office in town/minutes away.

  4. Thorzdad2 says:

    Who’s writing for Consumerist now? Rand Paul?
    This is pretty shoddy stuff. I’ve come to expect better from Consumerist. The biggest reason the USPS is always in such financial problems is that Congress refuses to let them charge a reasonable rate. Do you really think 46¢ covers that first class letter’s trip across the country?

  5. MichaelA says:

    What a foolish statement to make, “…trying to hold on to the belief that it still has a future in the world that has outgrown it.”

    This country very much needs the USPS! Until the day that I put something on my replicator pad, press the button, and have that something dematerialize and then rematerialize on your replicator pad… we need a good delivery service!