CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Local businesses don't believe the U.S. Postal Service's decision to cut Saturday deliveries will have much effect on their operations.
The Postal Service, which has been hemorrhaging billions of dollars in recent years, announced Wednesday it would end Saturday mail delivery to most customers beginning in August.
The Post Office still will deliver packages and mail to Post Office boxes on Saturdays but will stop weekend mail deliveries to street addresses beginning the week of Aug. 5.
The move is expected to save the Postal Service about $2 billion annually.
While it is a major change for the Post Office, many local businesses that communicate with customers through the mail don't expect much impact.
Charleston Area Medical Center spokesman Dale Witte said the change shouldn't affect any of the hospital group's billing operations.
"We don't anticipate any impact," Witte said. "Our mailroom is five days a week Monday through Friday."
Spokeswomen for utilities Appalachian Power and West Virginia American Water said neither company mails bills to customers on Saturdays, so the change should not have an impact on that end of the business.
Water company spokeswoman Laura Jordan said officials will review the new Post Office procedures to gauge their total effect on customers' receipt of bills and submission of bill payments.
"While we do not mail bills on Saturdays, our company is reviewing the changes, will assess if there will be any impact to customers and, if needed, will make adjustments so that service levels are not affected," Jordan said.
Appalachian Power spokeswoman Jeri Matheney said more West Virginia customers are switching to paperless billing, bypassing the Postal Service completely.
"We are seeing more customers receive their bills electronically, and even more now pay their bills electronically because of the advantages that offers — the ability to see the bill and pay it anytime, and have payments posted to their accounts much faster than a paper check," Matheney said.
While about 90 percent of state residents still receive paper bills in the mail, Matheney said many of them have switched to electronic methods when it comes time to pay those bills.
"A little under 10 percent of our West Virginia customers receive their bill electronically," she said. "About 37 percent of our customers in Appalachian Power pay their bills electronically."
Jordan said 44 percent of customers pay their water bills electronically or at walk-in payment locations. About 56 percent of the water company's customers still pay by mail.
She said the company has promoted electronic payment methods in recent years. Last year, the company rolled out an electronic funds transfer service to automatically collect the bill payment each month.
"With the recent postage increases, we've really tried to promote this with our customers as a way to save them money and offer the convenience of not having to manually make payments every month," Jordan said.