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February 26, 2017
TheGuardian: The USPS delivers to 155m homes from coast to coast, six – and now increasingly seven – days a week as deals such as the one with Amazon are signed. Daily, an average of 3,630 new household, business or organisation addresses are added to the postal delivery network. Twenty thousand letter carriers have been added in the past couple of years to handle the growing number of homes and businesses serviced by USPS as well as the spiralling package deliveries (up 16% last year alone). USPS provides Americans and their businesses with the industrial world’s most affordable delivery network, and has been for seven years running the most trusted federal agency. It now delivers 47% of the world’s mail. On 9 February USPS announced a $522m operating profit for fiscal 2017’s first quarter, putting postal operations in the black by $3.7bn since the start of 2014. This is without a dime of taxpayer money; USPS earns its revenue.
February 23, 2017
AirCargoNews: FedEx Express has extended its express air transportation contract with the United States Postal Service (USPS), which dates back to April 2013. The agreement is now extended to September 29, 2024. The modified contract is expected to generate around $1.5bn per year for FedEx Express, which will provide domestic US airport-to-airport transport of USPS Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express.
February 22, 2017
TechCrunch: On a blueberry farm outside of Tampa, Florida, on Monday, UPS tested the use of drones for residential delivery for the first time. The truck for the test was custom-built to be able to launch the HorseFly drone from its roof, then grab it upon its return with robotic arms. The company’s goal is to have drones work off of any type of vehicle, whether gas-powered or electric, to make last-mile deliveries. If the technology shapes up as hoped, one day a UPS driver could push a button on a touchscreen affixed to a truck’s dash to send a drone off to complete some deliveries. This would allow drivers to avoid roads that aren’t wide enough to accommodate their trucks, for example, and to shave miles off their route in rural areas where homes are far and few between. Drivers would not have to pilot drones, but could push a button to launch and recall them as needed.
WSJ: United Parcel Service Inc. said it would start making ground deliveries on Saturdays. UPS currently delivers some express or airborne packages on Saturdays. The Atlanta-based company will roll out Saturday ground delivery starting in April with plans to cover about half the U.S. population by the end of the year. While the U.S. Postal Service and FedEx Corp. both offer Saturday ground delivery, UPS says it will also pick up and sort packages on Saturday too. That means items picked up on Saturday can be delivered on Monday. The change will also free up network capacity in the early part of each week.
eCommerceBytes: eBay is urging users to sign its petition requesting the Postal Regulatory Commission not to raise shipping costs. eBay sent an email this week to members of its Main Street grassroots lobbying program with the title, "eBay Says Keep USPS Prices Low." In the petition, eBay tells the PRC that the USPS is a "key package delivery service" for eBay's top sellers, and says higher postage results in abandoned online shopping carts.
Linns: Two of the largest makers of computer-generated postage have told the United States Postal Service that proposed rules for what images can be allowed on their products are a mistake and could harm their sales. Both Stamps.com and Zazzle Inc. offered their written reservations in response to the USPS’s Jan. 5 notice in the Federal Register calling for additional rules on a product initially approved in 2004. If adopted, Stamps.com said a new provision to separate what the Postal Service calls “customized postage products” from its postage stamps could force it to change the company’s name. Zazzle, based in Redwood City, Calif., said it feared the proposal “will create broad restrictions on content, will be onerous to comply with and could have unintended consequences.” It urged the USPS to put the issue “on hold” until the makers of such postage and the Postal Service can “meet in person” over the issue.
February 21, 2017
FedSmith: Legislation was rcently introduced in the House to extend MSPB appeal rights to certain Postal Service employees. The Postal Employee Appeal Rights Amendments Act (H.R. 942) was introduced by Reps. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) and David McKinley (R-WV). It would extend MSPB appeal rights over adverse personnel actions to any Postal Service employee who is a non-bargaining unit career and non-career employee in a supervisory, professional, technical, clerical, administrative, or managerial position covered by the Executive and Administrative Schedule; and has completed 1 year of current continuous service in the same or similar positions.
February 20, 2017
Engadget: When Walmart ditched its Amazon Prime-style subscriptions and offered free two-day shipping for all orders over $35, it was a shot across the bow -- we might not compete directly, but we can still undercut you. Well, Amazon is responding in kind. Just a year after it hiked its free shipping minimum to $49, the online shopping giant has lowered that threshold back to $35. That won't deliver your goods any sooner (you still need Prime for that), but it could tip the balance if you're more interested in avoiding fees than getting your order in a hurry.
blog.constitutioncenter: On February 20, 1792, President George Washington officially created the modern United States Postal Service by signing a sweeping act that promoted a free press and put privacy safeguards in place. Mail delivery and an earlier version of the Service had been in place since 1775, when Benjamin Franklin was named as the first postmaster and the Continental Congress paid him a salary of $1,000 a year. It was the Postal Act of 1792 that established the foundation of a modern Postal Service. Congress granted the Postmaster General broader powers. And the act addressed issues related to commerce and privacy. The act ensured newspapers could be sent at low mail rates, which facilitated a free press across the new states. The law also protected privacy by making it illegal for postal officials to open mail unless it was undeliverable. Congress also called for more mail routes to service an expanding nation.
February 16, 2017
brandentonherald: U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and other lawmakers Tuesday introduced the newest version of the Synthetics Trafficking & Overdose Prevention, or STOP, Act as part of effort to restrict the flow of powerful synthetic opioids into the country via the U.S. Postal Service. China and India have been been identified as primary sources of the fentanyl and carfentanil being trafficked in the United States, according to news release from Rubio’s office. Companies in China and India take advantage of the U.S. Postal Service, which unlike UPS or FedEx, does not require advance electronic customs data for the vast majority of incoming international mail. If the new legislation is adopted, it would require information such who and where the package is coming from, who it’s going to, where it is going and what’s in it before it could be allowed in the country. With that information, Customs and Border Protection, which cannot normally scan all packages because of the volume, will be able target potential illegal packages.
federaltimes: A new bill intends to expand U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board appeals rights to mid-level U.S. Postal Service management. Reps. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., and David McKinley, R-W.Va., introduced HR 942, which, if signed into law, would confer appeal rights to approximately 7,500 Postal Service employees that currently do not possess the right to appeal adverse personnel actions. Those covered are non-bargaining unit career and non-career employees in a supervisory, professional, technical, clerical, administrative or managerial position covered by the Executive and Administrative Schedule; and that have completed one year of current continuous service in the same or similar positions.
linns: A footnote to its latest financial report could place a cloud over one of the United States Postal Service’s biggest pending projects and the booming growth of its package business. In bold type on page 29 of the first-quarter report comes the caution that while the USPS has scored big gains in package deliveries “this increase is largely due to significant volume growth from three major customers. And it adds that all three “are building the capacity which would enable them to divert volume away from the Postal Service.” What that could threaten is the Postal Service’s long-held plans to replace its entire fleet of delivery vehicles with a new generation of trucks made especially for its use. With the anticipated purchase of 180,000 vehicles, the purchase could be the largest fleet sale in the United States, with a price tag “in excess of $6 billion” according to one estimate. But if those three big shippers vanish as rapidly as first-class letters have, so would the Postal Service’s demand for a large, new fleet.
February 15, 2017CPI: The latest Consumer Price Index news release has been posted on the BLS website at https://www.bls.gov/news.release/cpi.nr0.htm. The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) increased 0.6 percent in January on a seasonally adjusted basis, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Over the last 12 months, the all items index rose 2.5 percent before seasonal adjustment. The January increase was the largest seasonally adjusted all items increase since February 2013. A sharp rise in the gasoline index accounted for nearly half the increase, and advances in the indexes for shelter, apparel, and new vehicles also were major contributors.
ecommercebytes: More than 170,000 attendees from across the globe descended on the CES 2017 trade show in Las Vegas last month. A visually attractive and engaging booth helped the United States Postal Service stand out among the more than 3,800 exhibitors occupying nearly 2.64 million net square feet of exhibit space. While drones, driverless cars and home automation products scored with attendees, a stealth USPS debut product won over its own legion of fans. The new Priority Mail Precious Cargo Boxes pulled in attendees to the USPS booth by the thousands. The box is designed with foam inserts strategically placed to securely hold electronics without adding packing peanuts or air cushioning. This is an exciting innovation for shipping fragile items - particularly laptops, tablets, and smartphones.
Engadget: Amazon's much-anticipated (and long time coming) drone deliveries might technically finally be happening, but a new patent spotted by CNN suggests your next book or box-set might actually arrive via parachute. There are many practical, legal and technical challenges that drone deliveries present -- and getting the parcel on the ground is just one of them. So far, deliveries have been carried out in relatively controlled locations where a drone can land to release its cargo. A safe landing isn't possible everywhere, not to mention other environmental hazards such as humans, pets and other obstacles. According to CNN, the patent proposes that Amazon's drones could complete deliveries by releasing the package from the air. The drone would watch from above, and attempt to adjust the package's descent with either a parachute, a burst of compressed air and other such mechanisms.
WashingtonPost: A federal judge on Monday rejected cyclist Lance Armstrong’s attempt to knock out a U.S. government lawsuit to collect $100 million it says he owes taxpayers for lost promotional value after he admitted doping while sponsored by the U.S. Postal Service. The decision clears the case to go to trial. The ruling marked a major victory for the government since it joined a 2010 whistleblower lawsuit brought by Armstrong’s former teammate Floyd Landis. While generally accepting Armstrong’s argument that the Postal Service reaped “substantial” benefits during most of his seven Tour de France wins, U.S. District Judge Christopher R. “Casey” Cooper of Washington wrote that the actual “determination of damages must . . . be left to a jury.” The benefit “USPS received is not sufficiently quantifiable to keep any reasonable juror from finding that the agency suffered a net loss,” given the negative publicity over Armstrong’s doping and doping confession, Cooper wrote in a 37-page opinion.
February 14, 2017
WashingtonPost: Fundamentally, the USPS is in a historic squeeze between technological change that has permanently decreased demand for its bread-and-butter product, first-class mail, and a regulatory structure that denies management the flexibility to adjust its operations to the new reality. To cite just one example: Products that account for 74 percent of USPS revenue are covered by a statutory price cap. And interest groups ranging from postal unions to greeting-card makers exert self-interested pressure on the USPS’s ultimate overseer — Congress — insisting that whatever else happens to the Postal Service, aspects of the status quo they depend on get protected. This is why repeated attempts at reform legislation have failed in recent years, leaving the Postal Service unable to pay its bills except by deferring vital modernization; the average postal delivery vehicle went into operation around President Bill Clinton’s first year in office.
pr.com: Anytime Mailbox, the groundbreaking pioneer of virtual mailbox solutions, is pleased to announce that it has entered a Licensing Agreement with Personal Mail International, Inc. to provide their leading-edge virtual mailbox solutions for expatriates, frequent travelers, corporate enterprises, overseas retirees, snowbirds, and multiple homeowners. Anytime Mailbox’s revolutionary technology enables both businesses and consumers to view and manage their postal mail via their mobile device or desktop. Businesses and consumers not only avoid wasting valuable time physically checking their mailboxes, but they now have the competitive advantage of responding to hardcopy mail instantly and efficiently. Thanks to the new partnership with Anytime Mailbox, Personal Mail International clients can now view and manage their mail by simply clicking on the available actions for each piece of mail including shred, recycle, forward or open and scan.
February 9, 2017
nrtw: In the culmination of a two year long fight, US Postal Service workers receiving free legal aid from the National Right to Work Foundation have won their battle with the American Postal Workers Union (APWU), forcing the union officials to disgorge over one million dollars taken by the union from money intended for the workers. In December 2014, over seven thousand USPS workers were awarded a lump payment of back wages as part of an arbitration award. To the workers this was a windfall victory, but to the officials at the APWU, this was an opportunity to pad union coffers. An APWU national director involved with the arbitration, colluded with the Postal service to divert over one million dollars from the total award of 8.64 million dollars into the coffers of the APWU.
manufacturing.net: UPS this week announced plans to implement solar energy systems in at least eight additional U.S. facilities by the end of the year. The $18 million initiative will expand the company's solar capacity by nearly 10 megawatts, a five-fold increase from its current capacity. The expansion will include the purchase of more than 26,000 solar panels. Once completed, those facilities will produce half of their daily energy use via solar power. The overall project is expected to curb about 8,200 metric tons of carbon emissions annually, as well as provide additional flexibility to UPS, which will own a significant portion of its long-term power supply.
WashingtonPost: The U.S. Postal Service says it lost $200 million during the year-end holiday season, despite a strong quarter of package shipping and expanded use of vote-by-mail in the November presidential election. The results also reflect continued erosion in the delivery of first-class mail as well as expensive mandates for funding of its retiree health care obligations.The post office’s Thursday report shows earnings of more than $1.4 billion between October and December 2016. But when effects of a $1.7 billion change in workers’ compensation liability due to fluctuating interest rates are excluded, the service says it lost money overall. Operating income came to $522 million, down from $1.3 billion in the previous year.
February 8, 2017
nasdaq: It appears the United States Postal Service is determined not to be the courier of choice for drug dealers any longer. Judging by a recent job listing sent to the information security community, the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) - the law enforcement arm of the U.S. Postal Service wants to sniff out users of darknet markets that send their packages by mail. Applicants for the job, listed as "Investigative (Internet) Analyst", are expected to know their way around bitcoin - the currency of choice on the darkweb - a as well as other tools typically used by darknets.
WashingtonPost: Members on each side of the dais went out of their way to praise representatives from both parties for work on legislation designed to save the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) from financial ruin.Now, with bipartisan legislation being considered in the infamously partisan House, hopeless no longer describes the USPS’s future. It’s not fixed yet, but the Postal Service Reform Act of 2017 provides a degree of optimism that for many years was absent.
pymnts: Small and medium-sized businesses will be able to fulfill orders and track inventory with greater ease with the launch of FedEx Fulfillment, an eCommerce solution that enables merchants to complete orders from multiple channels, as well as manage inventory for their stores. participating businesses will store their products at FedEx warehouses in the United States and Canada. Once a sale is made, FedEx will then package and ship the products in custom boxes with a brand’s logo (rather than with FedEx’s own logo). This puts FedEx in direct competition with Amazon, who has allowed third-party sellers to keep merchandise in its warehouses and then ships them for the seller once they’re purchased since 2000.
timesonline: Known for his role in developing a system of national security, former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge is now looking at different threat to Americans: illegal drug trafficking through the postal service. With record numbers of overdose deaths plaguing the nation, stopping the flow of illegal drugs into the United States has become the topic de jure for politicians and law enforcement officials alike. Through this has developed a newly formed bipartisan coalition, Americans for Securing All Packages. The group is working to close what they call a loophole in the postal service that allows illicit goods -- including prescription medications, opioids, fentanyl and heroin -- to illegally enter the U.S. as a result of a lack of screening. Ridge, the former Secretary of Homeland Security and once governor, acts as a senior advisor to the organization.
fedscoop: A bipartisan bill proposed to help the U.S. Postal Service back on track financially would add a new leader charged with finding “innovative” products that will help the agency generate revenue. The innovation officer would “manage the Postal Service’s development and implementation of innovative postal and nonpostal products and services,” according to the bill. The bill calls for the chief innovation officer to specifically develop postal products and services that “utilize emerging information technologies, to maximize revenue to the Postal Service.”
readingeagle: For almost more years than can be remembered, the U.S. Postal Service has pleaded with Congress for help with its seemingly futile financial situation. Politicians from both parties, along with postal unions and other interested folks, agreed that the USPS financial picture was bleak, but consensus on getting out of the hole seemed beyond reach. Now, with bipartisan legislation being considered in the infamously partisan House, hopeless no longer describes the Postal Service's future. It's not fixed yet, but the Postal Service Reform Act of 2017 provides a degree of optimism that for many years was absent. In her statement to the committee, Megan J. Brennan, the postmaster general and chief executive, agreed, saying the legislation "would provide the Postal Service with the financial stability to invest in our future and continue to be an engine of growth, to be a strong business partner, to compete for customers with compelling new services and offerings, and to meet the expectations of the American public." "Overall," she added, "our financial situation is very serious but solvable."
govexec: The four major unions representing U.S. Postal Service employees have all thrown their support behind a renewed effort to overhaul the agency, providing what supporters are calling a “watershed event” in the drawn-out battle for reform. Unlike previous attempts at postal reform, the National Association of Letter Carriers, the American Postal Workers Union, the National Rural Letter Carriers Association and the National Postal Mail Handlers Union all threw their support behind the bill. Art Sackler, head of the Coalition for a 21st Century Postal Service -- a group representing dozens of private sector businesses in mailing and other industries -- also announced his association’s full backing. Postmaster General Megan Brennan said her agency supported the bill as well.
February 7, 2017
WashingtonPost: For almost more years than can be remembered, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has pleaded with Congress for help with its seemingly futile financial situation. Politicians from both parties, along with postal unions and other interested folks, agreed that the USPS financial picture was bleak, but consensus on getting out of the hole seemed beyond reach. It’s not fixed yet, but the Postal Service Reform Act of 2017 provides a degree of optimism that for many years was absent. Much of what the bill would do is in the weeds of postal finances, dealing with the nitty-gritty of health benefits for employees and retirees, pensions, governance and contracting.There is no mention of ending Saturday mail delivery, once strongly advocated by postal officials as a major component of their cost-saving strategy.
February 6, 2017
WashingtonExaminer: Overall, the Postal Service delivers to 155 million residences and businesses six and increasingly seven days a week, providing them with the industrial world's most affordable delivery network. Consistently rated the public's most trusted federal agency, the USPS is particularly critical to small towns and rural areas as well as to small businesses. It is also the nation's largest civilian employer of military veterans. USPS revenue exceeded operating expenses by $610 million in Fiscal Year 2016, bringing its total operating profit the past three years to $3.2 billion. Bear in mind that this is earned revenue; by law USPS gets no tax dollars. It earns its money by selling stamps and other products and services. Two structural factors account for this impressive performance: As the economy gradually improves from the worst recession in 80 years, letter revenue is stabilizing. And as the Internet drives online shopping, package revenue is rising sharply (up 16 percent in 2016), auguring well for the future. Record worker productivity also contributes.
PostalNews: The House Oversight Committee will hold a hearing on Tuesday, February 7 at 10AM ET to consider the latest postal “reform” bill. From the Committee announcement, the purpose of the meeting is to: to examine the need for timely and comprehensive postal reform legislation and to discuss provisions that stakeholders believe are necessary in a comprehensive reform bill.
OpenPR: The global postal packaging industry is transforming itself in an era of globalization, technological transformation, and innovation. The structural drop in physical letter mail volumes across the globe makes significant challenges for the postal packaging industry. It is expected that the sales in key markets such as the US, China, Japan and France are expected to rise steadily over 2016-2024. Most of the postal packaging operators are participating in environmental sustainability by making environment-friendly mailer packaging products.
Abcnews.go.com: Monday announcement of a new air cargo hub in Kentucky is merely Amazon's latest foray into building out its own shipping and logistics unit. If successful, the move could ultimately mean lower costs for Amazon — and possibly faster delivery and low prices for consumers. But it could also pit Amazon against package deliverers like FedEx and UPS. Amazon has long plowed its profits back into its business investments. In order to speed up its delivery, it has invested in opening new distribution centers and leasing fleets of trucks. In May, Amazon leased 40 Boeing jets from Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings and Air Transport Services Group Inc., a fleet it dubbed "Prime Air." The moves comes as e-commerce continues to outpace retail sales.
iechpost.com: FedEx is reportedly investing in self-driving technology, robotics artificial intelligence to better its delivery services. FedEx is looking at the possibility of having driverless delivery trucks take care of business within small neighborhoods. FedEx has also developed an app that integrates Alexa, the popular artificial intelligence from Amazon. The AI-enabled app will allow users to initiate shipments from FedEx by simply talking to a smart device using commands such as "Alexa, prepare a shipment." Instead of drones, FedEx prefers the more energy-efficient robot couriers. Rolling robots can lift heavy loads, travel farther and come to homes and businesses to get packages.
February 3, 2017
PostalNews: The Coalition for a 21st Century Postal Service (C21) expressed its support for HR 756, the Postal Reform Act of 2017. What is at stake is whether the Postal Service can continue to be wholly funded by user fees: postage. It receives no taxpayer funds. Absent this bill, the result could be major, unaffordable rate increases that would drive large volumes of mail out of the system, damaging businesses and costing jobs around the country. Ultimately, taxpayer funds would be necessary to prop up a failing, but still essential postal system. According to Art Sackler, Manager of C21, "C21 mailers and suppliers, and the industry as a whole, have long supported a universal, self-sustaining postal system, and this bill would keep it that way."
February 2, 2017
PRnewswire: The American Catalog Mailers Association wholeheartedly endorses the just-released Postal Service Reform Act of 2017, a critical milestone toward resolving the health of our nation's Postal Service, which drives some 7.5 million jobs and $1.4 trillion in commerce. The ACMA believes that by gaining bipartisan support from Congress, as well as Postal Service management, its labor unions and the mailing community, this bill can truly make a difference to jobs in America while protecting critical infrastructure that all Americans rely on.
PostalNews: National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association (NARFE) urged members of Congress to oppose the Postal Service Reform Act of 2017, H.R. 756. NARFE President Richard G. Thissen issued the following statement: “There are simple solutions to the financial problems facing the U.S. Postal Service, such as eliminating the prefunding requirement outright, but this bill takes a more complicated route – forcing current postal retirees and survivors who are satisfied with their current health insurance coverage to pay an additional $134 per month, or more, through Medicare to keep it...NARFE has offered an alternative that is simple, fair and reasonable: maintain automatic enrollment of current postal retirees into Medicare Part B, but provide them with a short opt-out window of 60 or 90 days. Without this option, the bill breaks a promise regarding postal retiree health benefits and replaces the individual postal retiree’s choice of health insurance with a paternalistic requirement, at significant cost to the Medicare program."
wfmynews2: Did you know -- every card, letter or parcel you put in the mail will be scanned? It's not so you can track your mail if it gets lost, but rather so authorities can track you if you're suspected in a crime. Turns out, the US Postal Service scans every piece of mail. Law enforcement agencies can request those scans for persons of interest in felony or fugitive cases. The process is an investigative tool called "mail cover." A 2014 audit report that showed USPS processed about 49,000 mail cover requests the previous year.
finance.yahoo: UPS announced today the addition of origin labeling capability for UPS Trade Direct Air and Ocean services. UPS Trade Direct solution allows importers and manufacturers to bypass distribution centers by adding the final destination label to individual packages for immediate last mile delivery. UPS Trade Direct tools provide consolidation of international freight, air, ocean and ground transportation, customs clearance and direct delivery to multiple addresses within the destination country, all through a single source. This service is initially available on select Asia to US trade lanes. Further capability expansion will be rolled out in the near future according to market demand.
February 1, 2017
GovExec: A bipartisan group of House leaders with oversight of the U.S. Postal Service introduced legislation on Tuesday to overhaul the mailing agency, pushing a bill nearly identical to one from last year. The House bill would require postal retirees electing to receive federal health insurance to enroll in Medicare parts A and B as their primary care provider. The bill would phase out the Postal Service’s share of retirees’ Medicare premiums over four years. The Medicare integration would largely solve the issue of prefunding future retirees’ health care, as required by a 2006 law. Another long-popular provision would create postal-specific assumptions about the demographics of the USPS workforce to prevent possible overpayment into the agency’s Federal Employees Retirement System account. If any surplus were detected after the new formula was made, it would be gradually refunded to the agency. As the last iteration did, the House bill avoided a previously contentious issue of reducing mail delivery to five days each week.
GovExec: A slew of positions are now exempt from President Trump’s governmentwide hiring freeze, according to new guidance from the Office of Management and Budget and the Office of Personnel Management. Some agencies have been exempted altogether: positions at the U.S. Postal Service, CIA and Office of the Director of National Intelligence are all exempt. USPS had said it was exempt in previous hiring freezes but was seeking further clarification from the White House.
dcVelocity: A larger proportion of e-commerce traffic pushed more holiday packages from UPS' traditional ground network into its lower-priced service known as "SmartPost," where UPS funnels shipments into the U.S. Postal Service's (USPS') last-mile infrastructure for deliveries from post offices to residences. B2B traffic is more profitable than B2C because of better package density per stop. UPS drivers normally pick up multiple packages per stop. By contrast, B2C deliveries can consist of one package delivered to one residence, which is less cost effective. UPS and FedEx have a virtual duopoly on the U.S. B2B market. In the B2C arena, they compete with USPS and, increasingly, Seattle-based Amazon.com Inc., which has assembled an air and ground fleet to move packages for consumers and merchants relying on its web site and services. Amazon still relies on UPS to move its goods, but the relationship has eroded as UPS grows less tolerant of Amazon's demands to reduce shipping rates. UPS is being pressured by FedEx, which claims its ground delivery times are faster than its rival's, to speed up its own ground transit times. This has meant an increase in UPS' infrastructure and technology investments and a downshift from premium-priced next-day or second-day air services to cheaper ground deliveries.