Finland's postal service, like most postal services, is losing a lot of money.
But Posti Group, the main state-owned Finnish mail service, has an idea to make some extra cash fast: Starting May 17, they will mow people's lawns once a week for up to 130 euros (about $148) a month. And, it's tax-deductible.
"The idea for the lawn mowing service came from mail delivery employees," Anu Punola, Posti's director, said in a statement. "We believe many customers will be happy to outsource lawn mowing when we make it convenient for them to do so."
With it's already wide reach, Posti hopes this lawn mowing pilot program, running through August, will help transform the postal company into a more service-oriented company. Finns will have the option between two services, either 65 euros (about $75) for 30 minutes every Tuesday or 130 euros (about $149) for 60 minutes every Tuesday.
They picked Tuesday because it is a traditionally light mail delivery day.
With instant communication methods, the fall of traditional mail has taken a huge toll on Finland's postal service. Last year, Posti reported 75 million euros, or about $86 million, in losses, according to the Atlantic.
Similarly, the United States Postal Service has continually reported billion-dollar losses. And while many services around the world are turning to new cost-saving and revenue-producing ideas (Finland has previously piloted drone postal delivery and USPS partnered with Amazon to deliver groceries in 2015), for countries like the US the business model is more nuanced than people just sending less mail.
Postal services are usually government-owned, and some will argue that is their biggest expense
The postal service is — somewhat surprisingly — a very contentious issue in American politics. There is no question USPS is losing billions of dollars every year; in 2011 USPS went $5.1 billion in the red and was unable to pay in 2012. This year, they are expected to lose an additional $2 billion.
Republicans will argue this is enough reason for the postal service to go completely private, and have since pushed further cuts to the service. Democrats and unions will argue the postal service is not actually broke, it's just beholden to unnecessary laws put forward by Republican lawmakers to purposefully run USPS into the ground.
In the United States, the postal service's revenue comes solely from products it sells, not from taxpayer dollars. But because it is government-owned, it is also a lot more restricted in what cost-saving measures it can take.
As of 2006, USPS is also required pour billions into employee pensions to pre-fund retiree benefits, a mandate that the American Postal Workers Union says "is the primary cause of the agency’s financial crisis. No other government agency or private company bears this burden, which costs the USPS approximately $5.5 billion annually." This requirement is about 77 percent of USPS's operating expenses.
One of the postal services biggest advocates is none other than Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, as explained by the Nation:
Sanders, who has taken the lead in challenging cuts to the USPS and who requested the assessment by [Postal Service Inspector General David C.] Williams, says that on the basis of information contained in the assessment, the Postal Service should be released from the "onerous and unprecedented burden" of being forced to put $5.5 billion every year into its future retiree health benefits fund. Sanders's office explains that "even if there are no further contributions from the post office, and if the fund simply collects 3.5 to 4 percent interest every year, that account will be fully funded in twenty-one years." At the same time, the senator suggests, the postal service should be allowed to recover more than $13 billion in overpayments it has made to a federal retirement systems.