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US Postal Service Considers Shipping Alcohol

US Postal Service Considers Shipping Alcohol

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Postmaster General says it could make $50 million

Wikimedia/Terry Ross

With fewer people relying on the US Postal Service to mail actual letters in recent years, the USPS is facing a $15 billion in losses this year. But Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe thinks there's still good money to be made, if only the post office were allowed to ship alcohol.

According to ABC News, the USPS is currently not allowed to ship alcohol, though private carriers like UPS have been shipping spirits for decades and enjoying the profits.

“There’s a lot of money to be made in shipping beer, wine and spirits,” Donahoe said. “We’d like to be in that business.”

Donahoe estimates that the USPS would see additional revenues of $50 million if it could only get in on the alcohol-delivery game.

A 1909 law made it illegal for the postal service to deliver alcohol, and that law is still in place. But late Thursday legislation was introduced in the Senate that would help get that old-timey ordinance out of the way.

“If [the USPS] were to shut down, the impact on our economy would be devastating,” said Senator Tom Carper. “With the right tools and quick action from Congress, the Postal Service can reform, right-size and modernize.”

Hard-copy letters and magazines may have been largely replaced by their electronic counterparts, but people still want alcohol, and alcohol has no digital substitute.

  • Use a sturdy double-walled box, or put one box inside another.
  • Use plenty of filler material. Packing peanuts and bubble wrap work best.
  • Make sure no glass is touching.
  • Make sure nothing moves when you shake the box.
  • Use these styrofoam wine shippers or these Bottle Trays from CraftyShipping for the easiest way to pack and ship.
  • Tape, tape, tape!
  • Write fragile on the box (though I’m not convinced this makes any difference whatsoever)
  • Write “liquid yeast samples” on the box (sort of true).
  • Try to package the beer so that the recipient can reuse the packing materials.
  • Line the box with bubble wrap or foam.
  • Ship beer via UPS or FedEx using an online account and print your shipping label at home. Don’t use USPS.
  • Avoid shipping beer during extremely hot weather.

Update: If you’re wondering about beer trades, shipping homebrew, or just how to mail beer to your friends and family – I do both frequently.

While many homebrewers like to make beer for themselves, but many like to share their products with friends and family in other countries. Some may want to expand their business, exporting their products and getting recognition. There are also beer competitions around the world that would get participants from very distant places, even from other continents.

There may be a plethora of diverse reasons over which you may want to send beer outside your country. When you take the time to learn how to brew your own beer at home that tastses better than you thought it would, who wouldn’t want to share it with friends and family?

In this article, you will receive a few useful rules and tips you must know before starting your next step on your homebrewing endeavor.

Is it legal to ship beer in the US?

The short and direct answer would be “No” unless you have the proper license and paperwork to do it. Shipping any alcoholic beverage is against the policies of most shipping companies—all kind of liquid products on glass bottles it is considered dangerous for shipping.

If you decide to start shipping beer anyway, you must remember you are doing it under your own risk. By doing so, procure to secure your package as much as you can, so it can reach safely to its destination.

HOMEBREWERS and BEER SHIPPERS - An easy way to ship your 12oz beer bottles

HASSLE FREE - No more bubble wrap, plastic bags, or packing peanuts

FEDEX TESTED - Passed strenuous Fedex packaging design tests

That been said, depending on the country you live in, you may find some options on how to ship beer to other countries. Look for what laws and restrictions the shipping company may have related to shipping alcohol.

First, as a strong recommendation, do not use USPS to send beer. They have a strict policy on that matter, so it is better not to try to break it. Although some may prefer to use them when shipping internationally, the risks are too high if they discover what you are sending.

FedEx and UPS also have restrictions about mailing beer and other kinds of alcohol. But it is not impossible to do it with them. It is an excellent and recommended idea to have everything correctly packed before taking it to the shipping company. That way, you can avoid some of the annoying questions from the clerk.

A good option is to open an account with the shipping company of your choice. This is especially recommended if you are going to be sending beer frequently. That way, you can automate your payments and save time having already shipping labels for your package.

There may be other local shipping companies with less strict policies in your location, so make sure to investigate before deciding which one to use.

Details of Packing Beer

You have made your mind and decided to try shipping your beer anyway. Now it’s time to look at how to make your package safe for travel all the way. You must be especially careful with the packing part because, again, you are doing it without a license. In case of an accident, you may lose all your products, even if only one bottle is broken.

Depending on the shipping company you are using, your package may be thrown away if they find out is beer or alcohol, and you may get a notification from them. Or, in the case of USPS, you will get the visit of a government agent for breaking the law.

Labelling your package as fragile won’t guarantee that it will go all the way safely, but it helps. It is even harder to secure the box when you ship it to other countries. Selecting FedEx and UPS as your shipping companies can give you more security than trying a less-known one.

Before you go through which materials are the best for your package, choose if you are sending your beer in glass bottles, plastic bottles, or cans. You must be especially careful with glass, as it is easier to break. On the other hand, glass bottles preserve the beer much better than plastic bottles, and they are less expensive than cans.

You can find wine shipping kits and shipping boxes on Amazon and other big retailer stores. You could also talk with a local wine merchant and buy shipping materials from him. It is better than buying the shipping materials from the shipping companies because they sell it at a higher cost.

If you don’t want to spend money on kits, make sure that the materials you are using have the following characteristics:

  • The cardboard boxes must be sturdy, and you have to make sure that they are in the best conditions.
  • They must not have holes or gasps they could rip and reveal the content of the box, and you would get in trouble.
  • Use at least three cardboard boxes for each package.

Wrap your bottles with bubble wrap, and if you want extra safety for each bottle, put the wrapped bottles inside small Ziploc bags. If you don’t have bubble wrap, you can use other filling materials like old newspapers or pieces of clothing.

Rubber bands are also a useful choice for securing the wrapping around the beer bottles. That way, it will be easier to unwrap once the package reaches its destination. Be sure that the rubber bands are in excellent condition, too. Cheap rubber bands can break if you push their elasticity too much.

You can then put your cardboard box inside a plastic garbage bag, o a gallon size Ziploc bag. You will avoid or minimize any leak. Remember that shipping companies will discard any package that is leaking.

As an option, you can use electrical tape around the cap of the bottles to prevent them from popping for the sudden movement during shipping. Some home brewing equipment already comes with a wax seal for your bottles, which is even better.

Also invest in a big roll of shipping tape to make sure everything is tapped correctly. You will need it to secure all the sides of the boxes and patch possible weak points you may find.

As a small note: if your product is on a can or a plastic bottle, try to avoid bubble wrap or too much wrapping. You should also instruct the person receiving the package to be careful when opening it. Some people may not be patient enough to unwrap each bottle. If they use a sharp instrument to cut through the wrap, they could puncture the plastic bottle or can and spill the beer.

It may look like a lot of material for only a few bottles, but you will find that it can be essential for having successful shipping. If the package leaks, it can damage other packages, so the companies will throw it out. It is better to have only one broken bottle in a very tightly wrapped box than losing the whole thing.

Tips and Helpful Hints

Here you can find a few tips and recommendations when shipping beer and other alcoholic beverages. These tips are also useful if you are travelling with these kinds of bottles from one state or country to another. Follow them to reduce accidents through the shipping process, and reduce the risks you are taking for shipping without a license.

– Fragile Content.

Make sure to label as “fragile” every side of the package. You can use a marker or buy stickers to place them all over it. It won’t guarantee that your package will arrive safe, but it makes a big difference.

-Triple Safety.

Put your box inside of a slightly bigger box. Then put that box inside a third box. That way, you can triple the strength of the package. Be sure that there are no spaces in-between the boxes, and it must fit as tight as possible. You can fill small spaces with more padding.

– Prevent Leaking.

The best way to pack your beer, especially if it is in glass bottles, is to wrap it up with bubble wrap or other padding materials. But it may not be enough to prevent an accident. Put each bottle inside an individual Ziploc bag. Also, you can cover the inside of the box with a garbage bag. Make sure it doesn’t have air pockets between the bag and the cardboard.

–Be green, reuse.

If you have unused cardboard boxes in your house, you can try to use those instead of buying shipping materials. Reuse the boxes you receive as much as you can, as long as they are in the right conditions. Try to avoid using too much tape, especially with the bubble wrap. That way, you may reuse the bubble wrap for future shipping.

– Don’t say it is beer.

If asked what you are shipping, avoid mentioning alcohol. Identify them as oil bottles, collective glassware, and such. Some identify them as yeast samples, which is not entirely untrue. The chances are that you won’t get too much questioning, so don’t act suspiciously as if you were doing something wrong.

– Mail your package through ground transport.

If possible, try to make “ground” shipping. This mean, don’t fly your package. Sudden changes in pressure and temperatures are not suitable for carbonated bottles, and they may not arrive at their destination. If your product has to go overseas, try to do it by boat instead of a plane.

– Early Shipper.

Try to ship your products at the beginning of the week. That way helps you reduce the time that the package may stay on a warehouse. Some companies do not deliver on weekends. When shipping beer, it should arrive soon to the person that is receiving it so that it can be stored in optimal conditions.

– Less space is better.

When placing the bottles inside the box, make sure that there is not enough room for movement between them. If the bottles can’t move around, there will be fewer possibilities for them to shake and break. Separate each bottle from the other with more cardboard pieces and as much padding as you can.

– Make it harder to crush.

Remember to put more padding materials on every side of the box. You can’t be sure if your package will be on the top of the others, or if during the shipping they will place other boxes over it. The safety of your packages relies on you.

– Expensive Gifts.

Think carefully about how much you want to send. The cost of the shipping will increase depending on the size and weight of your package. If you are sending beer to some friends or family as a present, you should consider if it is really worth it to carry more than half a dozen.

US Postal Service Considers Shipping Alcohol - Recipes

The holiday season is upon us, which means many of us may be considering mailing gifts, foods or potentially fragile items to friends and loved ones across the country. What are the recommended ways to do this? The following are all ways approved by the Postal Service™ to get your package to its destination without fear of damage or altering of contents.

  1. SELECT THE RIGHT SIZE BOX OR SHIPPING CONTAINER: It should be slightly larger than the contents you’re putting in it – if it’s too small, it can be overstuffed, causing the box to bend, tear or break open if it’s too big, the contents can shake and shift during transport, possibly causing damage. Stress from outside the box could cause it to crush or collapse.
  2. REINFORCEMENT: It’s important to reinforce the box from within, as you don’t want the contents to bear the brunt of the load. That’s why packing materials provide the perfect protection, whether it’s one or multiple items you’re packing. Use cushioning material (crumpled paper or soft absorbent material) along the bottom, side and top of the box.
  3. INDIVIDUAL ATTENTION ON THE INSIDE: Fragile items need to be individually wrapped or stuffed heavier, sturdier items need to go on the bottom corners and sides of the box needs to be well braced but not overstuffed. Ultimately, the shipping contents and the packing materials should fill up the entire box, and compensate for empty space with more packing materials. This is especially important when shipping books.
  4. SELECTING THE RIGHT BAKED GOODS TO SEND: Rule of thumb: any treat that crumbles or doesn’t hold up in your hand won’t hold up in the mail either, so DON’T MAIL. Same goes for items with perishable ingredients that require refrigeration, like cream cheese or buttercream frosting, or chocolate chips in the summer months.
  5. SHIPPING BAKED GOODS: Sturdy items that mail well any time of year include:
    1. Cookies or bars –- if mailing soft cookies, add a slice of white bread into container before sealing. Cookies will absorb moisture from the bread, keeping them fresher longer.
    2. Quick breads –- should be wrapped twice in plastic wrap and sealed inside a gallon-size plastic bag, or wrapped again in foil.
    3. Granola –- can be sealed inside a sturdy plastic bag.

    Additional information can be found in the video series for Shipping Tips here.

    Post Office eyes alcohol deliveries to raise revenue

    Special delivery from the post office—beer, wine and spirits, if Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe has his way.

    In an interview with The Associated Press, Donahoe said Thursday delivery of alcoholic beverages is on his wish list as the agency considers ways to raise revenue and save money after losing $16 billion last year. He also said he endorses ending most door-to-door and Saturday mail deliveries as a way to help stabilize the service's finances.

    Donahoe said delivering alcohol has the potential to raise as much as $50 million a year. He mentioned how customers might want to, for example, mail bottles of wine home when they tour vineyards. Donahoe said his agency has looked at the possibility of using special boxes that would hold two, four or six bottles and ship for a flat-rate anywhere in the country.

    "There's a lot of money to be made in beer, wine and spirits," Donahoe said. "We'd like to be in that business."

    The Postal Service says mailing alcoholic beverages is currently restricted by law. Customers are even told to cover any logos or labels if they use alcoholic beverage boxes for shipments.

    The agency is also urging changes in how it delivers the mail. A House committee has passed legislation to stabilize the Postal Service's ailing finances that would cut letter deliveries to five days and phase out door-to-door deliveries over 10 years. The bill does not include a provision to allow the agency to deliver alcohol.

    The Senate passed a postal reform bill last year that included a provision allowing the agency to deliver alcohol. The bill would require that such shipments would have to comply with any state laws where the shipment originated and was delivered. The measure also said the recipient would have to be at least 21 years old and would need to provide valid, government-issued photo identification upon delivery.

    The agency faces $15 billion in losses this year and is working toward restructuring its retail, delivery and mail processing operations.

    "We don't want to take any more debt on," Donahoe said. "We want to be able to get profitable, pay it down, just like any other business would, so that you stay strong for the future."

    The service's losses are largely due to a decline in mail volume and a congressional requirement that it make advance payments to cover expected health care costs for future retirees. About $11.1 billion of last year's losses were due to the health care payments.

    Donahoe said over the last decade, the mail volume at his agency's trademark blue boxes has dropped 60 percent.

    "That's our most profitable mail," he said. "That will continue to drop off because people pay bills online. And we understand that, it's easy, it's free, and so we have to continue to make changes."

    On a bright note, Donahoe said the volume of packages the service handles has grown considerably in recent years, a trend he expects to continue.

    The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee recently approved a plan for the service to gradually shift from door delivery to cluster box and curbside delivery, which includes mailboxes at the end of driveways. The agency has been moving toward curbside and cluster box delivery in new residential developments since the 1970s.

    About 1 in 3 mail customers has door-to-door delivery. Some lawmakers have complained that ending home delivery in many densely developed urban areas would be difficult and pose hardships for many people, including the elderly and places where the weather can be harsh.

    "We'd work with the communities," Donahoe said, adding there would be special hardship exemptions for those physically unable to get their mail at centralized locations. "We want to figure out how to do it so people don't get mad."

    Donahoe said there are ways to install centralized mail boxes that fit in well with the neighborhood and also don't cause a lot of hardship for customers.

    Some 30 million residential addresses receive delivery to boxes at the door or a mail slot. Another 87 million residential addresses receive curbside or cluster box delivery.

    Door-to-door delivery costs the agency about $350 per year, on average. Curbside delivery costs average $224 per year for each address, while cluster box delivery averages $160.

    The service earlier this year backpedaled on its plan to end Saturday mail delivery after running into opposition in Congress. It has tried repeatedly and unsuccessfully over the past several years to persuade Congress to approve ending Saturday mail delivery.

    The National Association of Letter Carriers has said ending Saturday delivery would in particular hurt rural residents and the elderly who depend more heavily on the mail for prescription drugs and other goods. Donahoe said there would be a six-month implementation period to help smooth out any problems and that medicines would still be delivered on Saturdays.

    The Senate last year passed a bill that would have stopped the Postal Service from eliminating Saturday service for at least two years and required it to try two years of cost-cutting instead. The House didn't pass a bill.

    Shipping Information

    To ensure chocolate arrives in perfect condition when facing warm conditions, our team of shipping experts evaluate the weather, route, and transit times for each destination. After the appropriate shipping factors are calculated, orders are hand-packed with FREE reusable ice packs to ensure arrival in top condition.

    Guide to Warm Weather Shipping
    &bull If temperatures are 75-95°F en route, we ship chocolate Mon-Wed via 2-Day Delivery.
    &bull If temperatures are 96-100°F en route, we ship chocolate Mon-Thurs via Overnight Delivery.
    &bull If temperatures exceed 100°F en route, we hold the order until temperatures drop.

    Look for the following icon to know when warm weather shipping is needed for a particular item:

    We are happy to provide shipping advice! Give us a call at 800-624-9544 or email us at [email protected] with a list of items you would like to ship and your destination zip code. We’ll gladly review your shipping options with you.

    What does FREE SHIPPING mean?

    Free Standard Ground Shipping within the contiguous US on gifts marked FREE SHIPPING.
    Excludes AK & HI. Additional charges apply to expedite delivery.

    How much will shipping cost per recipient address?

    Physical Addresses
    Shipped via UPS within the Contiguous US

    3-5 Business Days
    2 Business Days
    1 Business Day
    .00 - $74.99 $9.95 $22.00 $30.00
    $75.00 - $249.99 $9.95 $28.00 $45.00
    $250.00 & above $9.95 $34.00 $60.00
    &bull Due to COVID-19 all carriers (including FedEx & UPS) no longer guarantee transit times. We are aware of the difficulties this can cause, so we promise to ship all orders as soon as possible. However, we have no control over transit times once packages leave our manufacturing headquarters.
    &bull Saturday Delivery: Available to limited areas for an additional cost. Please call our Customer Service Team at 800-624-9544 for details.
    &bull Overnight orders shipped on Friday will arrive on Monday.

    PO Boxes, AK, HI & APO Addresses
    Shipped via US Postal Service

    5-7 Business Days
    2-3 Business Days
    2 Business Days
    .00 - $74.99 $9.95 $22.00 $60.00
    $75.00 - $249.99 $9.95 $28.00 $75.00
    $250.00 & above $9.95 $34.00 $90.00
    &bull For delivery to APO addresses, orders must ship via Priority Mail. Please note, transit times to APO addresses will vary depending on the unit of the addressee.
    &bull To ensure orders arrive in first-rate condition, orders shipping to AK and HI must ship via Priority Mail or Express Mail.

    How long will it take for my order to arrive?

    *Due to COVID-19 all carriers (including FedEx & UPS) no longer guarantee transit times. We are aware of the difficulties this can cause, so we promise to ship all orders as soon as possible. However, we have no control over transit times once packages leave our manufacturing headquarters.

    For Wedding & Event Favors, please allow 1 week.
    Depending on your destination, delivery takes approximately:
    &bull Standard: 3-5 business days
    &bull 2-Day: 2 business days
    &bull Overnight: 1 business day

    Transit times are estimated based on delivery location and ship method. Please call our Customer Service Team at 800-624-9544 for more information. Delivery times include transit time only. We will make every effort to ship orders received before 9:00am PT on the day they are ordered.

    Where can I send a wine gift?

    Gifts with wine can be shipped to AK, AZ, CA, CO, DC, FL, GA, ID, IL, MD, MI, MN, MO, MT, NY, OR, PA, TN, TX, VA, WA

    By law, you must be 21 or older to receive any package containing alcohol. An adult signature is required upon delivery.

    Items prohibited to ship via the US Postal Service

    The United States Postal Service is usually very permissive with the objects you can send through it. In any case, there are certain limitations that you must take into account. Therefore, we discuss the objects strictly prohibited by the USPS.

    • Marijuana: While certain parts of the United States are permissive with regard to marijuana, marijuana cannot be shipped in any of its forms through the USPS (including medical marijuana).
    • Gasoline: Gasoline or any other volatile fuel cannot be shipped. Take into account that this involves other flammable objects, in fact, there are certain limitations with glues, perfumes, paints, enamels.
    • Explosives: clearly in correlation with the above, it is strictly prohibited to ship explosives with USPS.
    • Airbags: the US Postal Service prohibits sending airbags. This refers specifically to vehicle air bags.

    Keep in mind that private companies also have their own regulations. Therefore, if you plan to use FedEx, you must know what the rules for sending packages are, and the same principle is true for other companies.

    Because of its alcohol content, perfume is considered a hazardous material for shipping purposes. That’s why USPS has modified the Retail Customer Experience HAZMAT question to help employees understand whether a customer’s package contains perfume.

    Retail associates must not accept packages containing perfume to be mailed internationally or to an APO/FPO or DPO location, regardless of its quantity or mail class.

    When sent domestically, perfume also cannot be mailed using Express Mail, Priority Mail or First-Class Mail. But a package may be sent if it meets the following conditions:

    • The package is sent using Parcel Post (to be renamed Standard Post effective Jan. 27, 2013).
    • The perfume container doesn’t exceed 16 fluid ounces.
    • The customer confirms the perfume is sufficiently cushioned to prevent damage.
    • The container is strong enough to prevent damage during normal handling.
    • The package is marked “Surface Only” or “Surface Mail Only.”

    Customers can ship only one bottle of perfume in a single mailpiece. Gift sets containing more than one bottle of perfume, regardless of ounces per bottle, are non-mailable. The perfume bottles must be separated and mailed as individual mailpieces.

    For more information, please refer to the Domestic Mail Manual or Publication 52, Hazardous, Restricted and Perishable Mail,or speak to a Business Mail Entry Unit manager.
    via USPS News Link Story – Mailing perfume.

    Postal Service Considers Cutting Into Alcohol Shipping Business

    As the U.S. Postal Service faces $15 billion in losses this year as fewer people send mail, one of the ways it hopes to raise money is by shipping alcohol.

    Private carriers have been shipping alcohol for decades, but the postal service is prevented by law from engaging in the same business.

    This week, Postmaster General Patrick Donahue said he hopes the agency can deliver alcoholic beverages and thereby raise $50 million a year.

    "There's a lot of money to be made in shipping beer, wine and spirits," Donahoe told the Associated Press on Thursday. "We'd like to be in that business."

    Private shipping company UPS offers wine shipping services for customers who are licensed to ship wine. Smaller shipping firms, like Premier Wine Shipping, which services much of California wine country, would face stiff competition from the postal service's typically lower rates.

    The company ships over 600 cases of wine each week from its three locations in St. Helena, Sonoma and Healdsburg, Calif.

    Tony Aguilera, general manager for Premier Wine Shipping, said, "A small business like us - with the post office being four or five buildings down - it is going to take a lot of our customers, depending on their prices and their reliability."

    Aguilera has initial concerns about the U.S. Postal Service's ability to ship wine safely.

    "There have been plenty of times when they've lost packages of mine and there's really no way track something in the same way as UPS and FedEx," he said.

    Premier Wine Shipping picks up wine from more than 80 different locations in Napa and Sonoma counties, then outsources shipping to FedEx. Premier Wine Shipping also offers pick-up and delivery to customers' homes.

    Last year the Senate passed a postal reform bill that included a provision allowing the delivery of alcohol. The bill requires compliance with any laws in the state of origin and the destination. The measure specifies the recipient would have to be at least 21 years old and would need to provide valid, government-issued photo identification upon delivery, the AP reports.

    To save money, the postal service will also slowly shift from door delivery to cluster box and curbside delivery, which it began to do in the 1970s, AP reports.

    A spokeswoman for the postal service said most people know the agency doesn't accept alcohol for mailing. The post office's standard operating procedure even states packages "bearing" alcoholic beverage markings and/or labels must be returned to the mailer and not be forwarded to the addressee.

    Postmaster general presses Congress for desperate action to save USPS finances

    US Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said Thursday his agency is in "the midst of a financial disaster" and may need an emergency increase in postage rates to keep operating.

    "The Postal Service as it exists today is financially unsustainable," he told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. It's a message that the postmaster general has been delivering to Congress with regularity over the past several months.

    Donahoe pressed lawmakers Thursday for swift action to fix his agency's finances. Without help from Congress, the agency expects its multibillion-dollar annual losses to worsen. He warned that the agency's cash liquidity remains dangerously low.

    The post office expects to lose $6bn this year. Last year it lost $16bn.

    "The Postal Service is quickly moving down a path that leads to becoming a massive, long-term burden to the American taxpayer," he said.

    Donahoe said the rate hike may be needed because his agency's finances are so precarious and the prospects of quick congressional action are so uncertain.

    The Postal Service's board of governors could decide as early as next week whether to request a special rate increase.

    Under federal law, the post office cannot raise its prices more than the rate of inflation unless it gets approval from the independent Postal Regulatory Commission. The service must cite exceptional circumstances in seeking an "exigent" or emergency rate hike.

    Media and marketing firms that depend on postal services have said that a big rate hike could hurt their business.

    They say the impact of any rate hike would be compounded if it comes along with the regular annual rate increase expected to be announced later this year.

    The agency last raised postage rates on 27 January. At the time, the cost of a first-class stamp went up by a penny, to 46 cents.

    Lawmakers are considering cost-cutting moves that include ending Saturday mail delivery and door-to-door delivery. But many lawmakers, along with postal worker unions, have resisted such changes, saying they would inconvenience customers.

    The Postal Service says it would like to end Saturday mail delivery. It also is seeking to reduce its $5.6bn annual payment for future retiree health benefits. It missed two of those $5.6bn payments last year, one deferred from the previous year, and is expected to miss another at the end of this month when its fiscal year ends.

    The senate committee is considering a bipartisan proposal to stabilize the agency's finances, including changing the method by which retiree health care costs are calculated.

    Saturday mail delivery would be ended in a year and the Postal Service could start shipping alcoholic beverages, to compete with private shippers, such as FedEx, under a bipartisan proposal by the committee's chairman, Tom Carper of Delaware, and the panel's ranking Republican, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma.

    The agency says ending Saturday mail delivery would save $2bn each year.

    "Whether it happens today, next month or next year, it's likely that postal customers will need to sacrifice at least some of the conveniences they enjoy today," Carper said.

    Under the bill, door-to-door service for new residential and business addresses would cease, in a move that would help the agency shift to less costly curbside and cluster box delivery. The measure would require the agency to try to convert residential addresses on a voluntary basis from door-to-door service to curbside and cluster box delivery.

    The plan includes changes in how pensions and retiree health care costs are calculated, as part of the attempt to stabilize finances.

    It also would impose a two-year moratorium on closing mail processing plants.

    The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee earlier this year approved a bill by its chairman, Representative Darrell Issa of California, for the service to gradually shift from door delivery to cluster box and curbside delivery. No Democrats on the panel voted for the measure.

    Issa's bill also would end Saturday delivery, and would change how pension and retiree health costs are calculated to bolster the agency's budget.

    The Postal Service is an independent agency that receives no tax dollars for its day-to-day operations but is subject to congressional control.

    Schumer Wants To End Ban On Shipping Alcohol Via Postal Service

    ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Sen. Charles Schumer wants to scrap a century-old measure so that people can mail wine, beer and liquor to friends and relatives.

    A law created in 1909 prohibits the United States Postal Service from delivering alcohol to consumers and Schumer said he will move to end those restrictions in an upcoming bill regarding the future of the struggling agency.

    The measure would benefit both the U.S. Postal Service and wine and beer producing states, like New York.

    &ldquoAllowing the U.S. Postal Service to ship beer, wine and liquor from upstate New York breweries and wineries, like other delivery firms already do, is a win-win: it will provide new business opportunity to this growing industry, all while helping to keep the U.S. Postal Service a viable agency, without cutting services,&rdquo Schumer stated.

    “Allowing the United States Postal Service to join FedEx, UPS, and other common carriers would create healthy alternatives and price competition, give wineries another option, provide consumers with more choices, and generate new revenues for the USPS,” stated President of the New York Wine & Grape Foundation Jim Trezise.

    Consumers would see a break in the cost because the Postal Service has flat rates for packages while other carriers often charge by weight and distance, Schumer said.

    Schumer estimates the measure could bring the Postal Service another $225 million a year and he wants to “push the envelope.”

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