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Originally published Friday, November 15, 2013 at 4:36 PM

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Editorial: Deliver scrutiny of U.S. Postal Service’s Amazon deal

The U.S. Postal Service wants out of Saturday mail delivery, but signs up to haul packages exclusively for Amazon on Sundays. Are pizzas next?


Seattle Times Editorial

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WATCHING the United States Postal Service grope for financial stability is getting a bit creepy. The Postal Service is going all entrepreneurial, but is apparently not eager to talk about the details.

The latest deal is for Sunday delivery of products sold by online retailer Amazon.com. Customers in the Los Angeles and New York metropolitan areas will see packages arrive this Sunday.

As Seattle Times business reporter Jay Greene noted, the details of the agreement have been sealed with the Postal Regulatory Commission, an independent agency with regulatory oversight over the Postal Service.

Who knows what opportunities UPS or FedEx missed out on with the Postal Service cutting another sweetheart deal with a select retailer.

The Postal Service is still trying to defend its arrangements with Michigan junk mailer Valassis Communications Inc. USPS signed a negotiated service agreement with a primary competitor of newspapers.

That deal offers Valassis direct mail postage discounts up to 36 percent on new advertising mail pieces. That advertising from targeted national retailers previously has been delivered by the private sector as newspaper inserts and to nonsubscribers via the Postal Service.

As an attorney for the National Newspaper Association told a U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in September, the Valassis deal was only analyzed through “armchair speculation” by the Postal Regulatory Commission.

The Appeals Court on Friday essentially agreed there had been scant review, but opted not to disrupt the commission’s decision.

Once again, the Postal Service is out trolling for business with little consideration of impacts on private-sector interests in the marketplace. And, as with Valassis, no case is made for a net financial benefit or an explanation of efforts made to preclude harmful local impacts.

There is no evidence of enhancement from the Postal Service’s business activities, and certainly no accountability.




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