Long lines at Utah County post offices and late carrier deliveries were expected to continue Tuesday as workers regroup after a postage-rate increase.
The increase was effective Sunday, raising the cost of mailing a first-class letter from 22 cents to 25 cents. Second-class rates increased 13.6 percent, while third-class bulk mail rates went up 25 percent. Express Mail rates for letters up to a half-pound dropped from $10.75 to $8.75.The rate changes will cost the average person about $6 more a year, said Phil Morgan, manager of customer services at the Provo Post Office.
Lines at the Provo office's service windows have been as busy during the past few days as they usually are at Christmas time, as people tried to get things mailed before the rates changed, Morgan said. There has also been a great demand for 3-cent stamps.
"We have been just bombed (with customers). We really got nailed," he said. "We started to feel the impact Wednesday, and I don't think it will let up until Tuesday."
High demand for 3-cent stamps and the new "E" stamp, which will serve as a 25-cent stamp until the new stamps are printed, will keep lines long.
Delivery service on Provo's 51 routes has been delayed about one hour every day for the past week or so, because the volume of mail has increased about 50 percent, Morgan said. It takes carriers longer to collect their loads in the morning, so they can't complete their routes on time.
That should continue for a few more days until the crunch of letters and packages mailed just before the deadline reach their destinations, he said.
The delays frustrate postal workers, because residents don't like to pay more for poorer service.
"The first thing they say is, `Rates go up and the service gets worse,' " Morgan said. "Anytime you raise anything, you catch all heck for it. But we still have the best postal service in the world, and we're still the cheapest in the world."
Steve Oblad, assistant postmaster at the American Fork Post Office, said his customers are also frustrated by long lines and delays, but postal workers are being forced to serve half again as many people without adding extra help.
"I still have to stay within my employee budget," Oblad said. "I think if the rate increase were in it's proper perspective, people wouldn't be so upset."
The increase is the first in about three years. It was approved to keep the self-supporting postal service out of the red.