Blue Monday

The Postal Service is ready again to deliver the holiday items that customers will purchase on Cyber Monday, one of the year’s biggest shopping days.

Online purchases on the first Monday after Thanksgiving are expected to hit $9.4 billion in 2019, an 18.9 percent increase from last year, according to market researcher Adobe Digital Insights.

The Postal Service is reminding customers that products and services like Click-N-Ship, Package Pickup and free Priority Mail boxes, available on usps.com, allow them to take care of their mailing and shipping needs at home.

Additionally, USPS is encouraging customers to watch several shipping tips videos on YouTube and the USPS Holiday Newsroom site. The organization also wants consumers to sign up for Informed Delivery to help them manage their holiday package deliveries.

The Postal Service expects to deliver more than 800 million packages this holiday season, averaging 20.5 million packages per day. To serve customers, the organization is expanding its Sunday delivery operations and delivering packages on Christmas Day in select locations.

Adobe predicts that online holiday sales in the United States will total $143.7 billion this year, up 14.1 percent from 2018. There are six fewer days of peak holiday shopping days than 2018, translating into almost $1 billion of potential revenue lost due to the abridged time period.

“The compressed shopping cycle will see retailers launching offers far earlier than ever before,” said John Copeland, head of Adobe’s marketing and customer insights division.

Honest work

Another Postal Service employee has received praise after reuniting a customer with a large amount of cash that should never have been mailed.

Betzaida Ingram was using a delivery barcode sorter at the Baltimore Processing and Distribution Center when $900 spilled out of a damaged envelope.

“As soon as I realized what was inside of the envelope, I knew I had to do something,” Ingram said. “That’s a lot of money for someone to lose.”

The mail processing clerk alerted a manager, who then contacted a Postal Police officer. The Postal Police then tracked down the customer: a U.S. Navy member who had rushed to make a bill payment before being deployed.

The money was returned to the customer, who converted the cash into a money order and mailed it to the company.

“When I found out it was from someone who was leaving to serve our country, it made me feel good that the outcome was a positive one,” Ingram said.

Later, during a ceremony at the plant, Ingram was recognized by the Postal Inspection Service and Postal Police for her dedication to customer service.

Earlier this year, a Melville, NY, mail processing clerk found $5,000 in an envelope in a USPS recycling bin and helped reunite the missing cash with the customer who accidentally mailed it.

Health care ABCs

Do you know the difference between a deductible and a copayment?

If you don’t know, you’re not alone. Many people are confused by health insurance terminology.

To help you navigate your way through this year’s open season benefits enrollment period, here are some important definitions:

• Deductible: This is the amount you pay for covered health care services before your health plan starts to pay. You can find the amount, and how much you’ve paid toward it, through your health insurance plan’s web portal.

• High-deductible health plan: This is a plan with a higher deductible than a traditional insurance plan, but usually with lower monthly premiums and a health savings account.

• Copayment: This is a fixed amount paid for certain covered health care services.

• Coinsurance: This is similar to a copayment but refers to a percentage paid for some covered health care services rather than a fixed amount paid.

• Flexible spending account: This is an account set up to pay for out-of-pocket medical or dependent care expenses on a pretax basis.

• Preventive services: This describes routine health care that includes screenings, patient counseling and vaccinations, such as flu shots. Preventive services are covered at 100 percent under your health plan if you go to an in-network provider.

The Open Season LiteBlue page has additional information to help you better understand your plan options, including a link to a comparison tool from Checkbook’s Guide to Health Plans.

Open season runs through Monday, Dec. 9.

Time for Healing

Healing PTSD, a semipostal stamp to raise funds for those diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, will be released Monday, Dec. 2.

PTSD develops in some children and adults who have survived a traumatic event. The condition can be triggered by experiences such as a natural disaster, car accident, physical or sexual assault, abuse and combat, among others.

Tens of millions of Americans will experience PTSD in their lifetimes.

Although researchers have tracked post-trauma disorders for hundreds of years, PTSD was not officially added to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, a widely used reference guide published by the American Psychiatric Association, until the late 20th century.

The stamp features a photographic illustration of a green plant sprouting from ground that is covered in fallen leaves. The image is intended to symbolize the PTSD healing process.

Photographer Mark Laita took the image, while Greg Breeding served as art director for the stamp.

The Semipostal Authorization Act grants USPS the authority to issue and sell semipostal stamps to advance causes deemed in the national public interest.

The Healing PTSD stamp will be sold for 65 cents at Post Offices and usps.com. The price includes the First-Class Mail single-piece postage rate in effect at the time of purchase plus an amount to fund PTSD research.

Under the law, revenue from sales of the stamp — minus the postage paid and the reimbursement of reasonable costs incurred by the Postal Service — will be distributed to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

The Postal Service also offers a Breast Cancer Research semipostal stamp.

News Briefs

Holiday postmarks

Merry mail. To help celebrate the holiday season, all First-Class Mail postage stamps will be canceled using the national holiday postmark from Dec. 2-31. This year’s postmark features a festive wreath — a nod to the new Holiday Wreaths stamps.

Another holiday postmark is available through the Greetings from the North Pole Post Office program, which allows children to mail a letter to Santa Claus and receive a personalized reply in an envelope with a special North Pole postmark.

Letters must be received by Dec. 13 to receive the North Pole postmark.

REAL deal. Starting Oct. 1, 2020, all travelers will need a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license in order to clear airport security checkpoints to fly within the United States.

Valid passports or military IDs or another forms of REAL ID-compliant identification will also be accepted.

Many states issue REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses and identification cards, distinguished by a star at the top of the card.

For more information, contact your state’s department of motor vehicles or refer to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Transportation Security Administration websites.

Northeast news. USPS recently mailed Northeast Area Update’s latest issue to employees in the area.

The newsletter, which is also available on Blue and LiteBlue, features articles about employee engagement, including stories about each of the 12 principles that drive the Postal Service’s efforts.

Got news? Email your submissions to uspslink@usps.gov.