A provision of the postal reform bill passed by Congress overnight Dec. 9 calls for delivery standards and performance measurement to be extended to large mailers. Currently, delivery standards are only published for single-piece letters and packages, and tracking only applies to single pieces as well.
“This will not just set standards for bulk mail delivery, but have the United States Postal Service produce data as to whether they are meeting those standards,” says Bob McLean, executive director of the Arlington, VA-based nonprofit Mailers Council.
“I think this will result in a better delivery service because it will identify where there are delivery problems for bulk mailers,” McLean says. “The USPS may receive anecdotal information about bulk mailings, but there is no comprehension of actual mailing data. For us, this is a no-brainer”
Gene Del Polito, president of Arlington, VA-based Association for Postal Commerce, says the industry has been fighting for delivery standards and performance measurement for the past 20 years.
“It’s always been our position that when service is part of an agency’s name, that agency should be able to go to its customers and explain what it is doing,” Del Polito says. “If you place an ad in a newspaper and say you want it to run Monday, you know it will run Monday. You drop your mail at the post office, and you have no idea when or if it’s going to get there.”
Del Polito says the new standards may discourage the use of seeding services by mailers, since the USPS will be able to track bulk mailings. But Geoff Batrouney, executive vice president of New Rochelle, NY-based list firm Estee Marketing, thinks mailers will still use mail monitoring services such as Hauser List Services and U.S. Monitor.
“I don’t think there are any direct marketers who would drop their decoy service,” Batrouney says. “It all sounds well and good, but I don’t think the USPS will be able to replicate the work of a decoy service.”
The bill H.R. 6407 awaits the signature of President Bush, and would see a transition period ranging anywhere from 12 to 24 months, McLean says.