Jan. 15 for Postal Rate Hike?

The U.S. Postal Service is still mum. But Joe Schick, director of postal affairs for Sussex,WI-based printer Quad/Graphics, expects the USPS to announce its 5.4% rate increase by the second week of November and implement the rates by Jan. 15, 2006. That’s according to who spoke at the Lenser Consulting Client Conference last week in San Rafael, CA.

And don’t hold out hope that a last-minute passage of a postal reform bill will change that. “It’s a safe bet that a postal rate increase is inevitable,” Schick said. “Even if both postal bills [HR 22 and S 622] were passed and postal reform were enacted, there was never any guarantee that the rate increase would have been withdrawn.”

Schick also said that another rate increase will likely be implemented in 2007. He expects the USPS to file for a 2007 rate increase in March April of 2006, as it usually takes between 12 and 14 months for a decision to be reached. What’s more, Schick predicts that the average rate increase will be 8%-12%, with some mailers seeing hikes of as much as 22%.

“The rate cases for both 2002 and 2005 were ‘settlement’ cases,” Schick said. “With the next case being filed so soon after this one, things will probably be a lot more contentious.”