FOX47 NEWS - USPS Changes for 2009

Jeff Angileri
Jan 5, 2009, 10:46 PM

The economic recession is now hitting the U.S. Postal Service. In November, they announced they were almost $3 billion in the red.

Starting Monday, in a cost cutting move, window hours will be shorter at four area post offices. Those locations are Hilldale, Middleton, University, and Westside -- all opening an hour later.

But even with reduced hours, early birds still have another option.

Six automated postal centers can now be found in post offices across Madison. Customers can buy stamps, send packages up to 70 pounds, even purchase special services like insurance, and certified mail.

All you need is a credit or debit card. Post office staff say the machines are very user friendly.

If you can use an ATM, you can use an APC, said Karen Cronin, customer relations coordinator for USPS. They're very easy to use -- screen by screen tells you exactly what to do. You always have the option to go back, make corrections, change your mind.

But the machines can't do everything. No international shipping, no military shipping, you can't use cash, and you have to spend at least a dollar when you make a transaction. Plus, no on-site help is available when the counter is closed. Still, the post office says the machines are saving consumer dollars, and more convenient.

It just makes it far more flexible for our customers because these machines can be available so many more hours in a day, said Cronin.

Also, the price of shipping packages at the post office will go up on January 18th -- if you're shipping a package, expect a 4 to 8 percent increase. Stamps are going up as well, but that won't happen until May -- the post office has not said yet how much stamps will increase from the current 42 cents.

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