The United States Postal Service is taking a curious path as it struggles with budget and operational reforms in desperate pursuit of financial stability.

Alienating customers as loyal and old as the postal system itself is an odd business choice, but that is what the USPS ensures with a negotiated service agreement with a primary competitor of newspapers.

The agency hopes to find revenues in a deal with Valassis Direct Mail that offers postage discounts of up to 36 percent on new advertising mail pieces.

Advertising from targeted national retailers is now delivered as newspaper inserts, and to nonsubscribers via the Postal Service.

Newspapers already spend $500 million a year as part of Total Market Coverage programs to get advertising inserts to nonsubscribers.

Why the Postal Service would seek to undercut established business and point newspapers to private delivery services is a mystery.

Why the agency would seek to alienate a longtime supportive customer by drafting a narrow agreement with a specific competitor makes no sense. The Postal Regulatory Commission needs to ask the pointed questions the Postal Service has avoided.