Amazon Snuffs Out USPS Service in Rural Communities

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When rural towns like Bemidji, Minnesota learned of services like Amazon Prime, they were a wonder for these small places. Located just 100 miles south of the Canadian border, they have an extensive Ojibwa population and don’t have much in the way of industry in the town. So rural that when they didn’t get mail for a day or two, many just assumed their letter carrier was out hunting.

Instead, a USPS contract with Amazon to provide time-sensitive deliveries to Prime recipients was suddenly flooding their routes. Given no choice in the matter, they would crisscross the town to get the packages delivered in time. While initially grateful for the service and the increase in funding, the residents are now finding themselves not getting regular packages, credit card statements, or other mail.

Traditionally eight or nine-hour routes are now taking 10-12 hours on a good day. Scheduled sick days for the rest of the year are canceled, and they have burned through five different carriers inside the year. One anonymous carrier said “If we keep getting this volume, plus Christmas coming, we won’t survive. We aren’t equipped for this.”

Sentiments like this have been heard from coast to coast. Maine to Washington, Alaska, and Hawaii, too- nobody is exempt. These rural towns just don’t have the infrastructure to handle this volume, and Amazon refuses to invest in creating their own.

Veteran mail carrier Dennis Nelson told the Washington Post, he was tired of seeing his fellow carriers “break down and crying.” Staging a symbolic walk-out protest, he has had it after working for the Bemidji post office. “I have to do something…It feels like we should be wearing shirts that say ‘USPS: Brought to you by”

At this point, maybe that’s exactly what the rural towns need, more Amazon hubs. Employ a small number of in-town employees to deliver these rural routes. Allowing the USPS to deliver a much smaller and less guaranteed delivery load would free up regular USPS resources. It would provide a whole new source of employment in rural America, and expand the reach of Amazon. A win-win-win situation.