Business

Wednesday, Feb 06 2013 11:27 AM

Local reaction mixed over Saturday mail stoppage

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Downtown Bakersfield postal station manager Teresa Espinoza gets a hug from her six-day-a-week postal customer Gene Cooks as she asks the media interview concerning delivery service to continue outside the building. Cooks checks his mail six days a week at the facility.

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Kenneth Rohr says he was surprised to hear the post office would no longer deliver on Saturday but says it will not impact him very much.

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Jessica Frey does her postal business during the week and will not be impacted by the cessation of Saturday delivery.

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BY JASON KOTOWSKI Californian staff writer jkotowski@bakersfield.com

News of the U.S. Postal Service's announcement to stop delivering mail on Saturdays met with mixed reaction locally.

Jessica Frey said she's not concerned about the Saturday stoppage and generally only goes to the post office on weekdays anyway.

"I love getting mail, but I don't typically receive things on Saturdays," Frey said Wednesday morning at the downtown post office at 18th and F streets.

Steadily increasing postage rates have her a little worried, though. With Wednesday's announcement she's concerned the rates will rise yet again.

Michele Booker said she never checks mail on Saturdays.

"It's my day off," she said with a laugh. "It's not an issue."

Booker has a local fencing business and said not being able to receive mail on Saturdays won't affect her because customers typically contact her by phone.

Wednesday's announcement came as a surprise to Kenneth Rohr, but he said it wouldn't impact him much. He gets mostly bills anyway.

Some customers, however, weren't happy with the news.

"If it was up to me the post office would run seven days a week," said Gene Cooks.

He said he checks his post office box daily, and there are times an important delivery is needed by Saturday. He's concerned that further cutbacks will take place.

Cooks pays all his bills through the mail. He said he wants as little of his personal information as possible on the Internet because thieves have become so technologically savvy.

"I'm still old school," he said.

Cecilia Lopez, standing in line at the downtown post office, said she depends on her mail every day. She's bothered by the Saturday stoppage.

"I don't like it at all because there are things I depend on," Lopez said.

The cutback is slated to begin in August and could save $2 billion annually, according to The Associated Press. Mail would be delivered to homes and businesses only from Monday through Friday under the plan, but would still be delivered to post office boxes on Saturdays.

Post offices that are currently open on Saturdays would remain open that day under the plan, according to The AP. The struggling service has discussed for years shifting to a five-day delivery schedule.

Postmaster General and CEO Patrick R. Donahoe said Postal Service market research and other research has indicated that nearly 7 in 10 Americans support the switch to five-day delivery, The AP reported.

"The Postal Service is advancing an important new approach to delivery that reflects the strong growth of our package business and responds to the financial realities resulting from America's changing mailing habits," he said in a statement prepared for the announcement.

Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Cindy Pollard said it's too early too tell what impact the decision will have on local businesses. She said that even though mail service is being discontinued on Saturdays, it will be important for local businesses that some post office branches will remain open those days.

"I would imagine in the coming weeks we'll find out from our members if they have concerns," she said.

And State Farm spokesman Sevag A. Sarkissian gave the following statement by email: "While the United States Postal Service announced eliminating Saturday delivery beginning in August, we believe the Postal Service should at least continue to postmark and internally process mail on Saturday to ensure our customers are able to send critical mail to us within three days."

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