- The Washington Times - Friday, September 14, 2001

Several companies say they won't penalize customers who pay bills late because of delays in mail service this week.
The U.S. Postal Service was forced to use extra trucks and trains to move mail throughout the country after the terrorist attacks in Washington and New York forced officials to suspend the use of airplanes for shipping and travel.
"The mail is still moving around the country, but obviously some of it is not moving as fast as it would be under normal circumstances," said Postal Service spokeswoman Deborah Yackley.
The Postal Service delivers about 650 million pieces of mail a day. Between 20 and 25 percent of it is moved by air, according to spokesman Gerald Kreienkamp.
The service also uses 210,000 trucks to deliver mail. It has hired between 6,000 and 7,000 private trucks this week, and has also tapped Amtrak to help move mail by train, Mr. Kreienkamp said.
MBNA Corp., among the nation's largest issuers of credit cards, said payments were arriving between two and four days later than usual this week. The Wilmington, Del., bank has about 40 million open accounts.
"We recognize the dimension of this national tragedy. We are working hard to ensure customers are not penalized for events that are beyond their control," said Jim Donahue, the bank's spokesman.
FleetBoston Financial Corp., another major issuer of credit cards in the United States, said it also expects to suspend late fees this month. Executives at the Boston banking giant met yesterday afternoon to iron out the details, according to spokeswoman Deborah J. Pulver.
Chicago-based Bank One Corp., which has issued 52 million credit cards through its First USA Bank subsidiary, is "not seeing a huge impact on mail delivery," spokesman Stan Lata said.
Bank One receives bill payments at processing centers in Delaware, Illinois and Nevada. Some payments are rolling in about two days later than usual, Mr. Lata said.
"If it is a day or two late, we're considering it normal time," he said.
Some cable television customers are also getting a break.
A spokeswoman for AT&T; Broadband, the nation's largest operator of cable television systems, said it won't charge its customers late penalties. Time Warner Cable said penalties will be lifted for its customers in New York, and possibly in other cities.
Comcast Cable Communications Inc., the largest cable operator in the Washington area, did not return a reporter's telephone calls before deadline.


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