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U.S. Postal Service eyes alcohol deliveries

  • Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe gestures during an interview with the Associated Press at his office at U.S. Postal Service Headquarters in Washington, Thursday, Aug. 1, 2013. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

WASHINGTON — Special delivery from the post office — beer, wine and spirits, if Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe has his way.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Donahoe said Thursday delivery of alcoholic beverages is on his wish list as the agency considers ways to raise revenue and save money after losing $16 billion last year. He also said he endorses ending most door-to-door and Saturday mail deliveries as a way to help stabilize the service's finances.

Donahoe said delivering alcohol has the potential to raise as much as $50 million a year. He mentioned how customers might want to, for example, mail bottles of wine home when they tour vineyards. Donahoe said his agency has looked at the possibility of using special boxes that would hold two, four or six bottles and ship for a flat-rate anywhere in the country.

"There's a lot of money to be made in shipping beer, wine and spirits," Donahoe said. "We'd like to be in that business."

The Postal Service says mailing alcoholic beverages is currently restricted by law. Customers are even told to cover any logos or labels if they use alcoholic beverage boxes for shipments.

The agency is also urging changes in how it delivers the mail. A House committee has passed legislation to stabilize the Postal Service's ailing finances that would cut letter deliveries to five days and phase out door-to-door deliveries over 10 years. The bill does not include a provision to allow the agency to deliver alcohol.

The Senate passed a postal reform bill last year that included a provision allowing the agency to deliver alcohol. The bill would require that such shipments would have to comply with any state laws where the shipment originated and was delivered. The measure also said the recipient would have to be at least 21 years old and would need to provide valid, government-issued photo identification upon delivery.

The agency faces $15 billion in losses this year and is working toward restructuring its retail, delivery and mail processing operations.

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