Live From NEMOA: ACMA’s Postal Battle Not Just About Rates

Ledyard, CT — Catalogers are desperate to hold rates for Standard Mail flats to a minimum, and the American Catalog Mailers Association is working to help the industry on that front.

But the ACMA’s battles in Washington are not just about the price of mailing catalogs, according to the group’s executive director Hamilton Davison. The U.S. Postal Service “wants to make other changes that will affect our business.”

Speaking last Friday at the NEMOA fall conference in Ledyard, CT, Davison noted that USPS wanted to change where catalogers put the customer address label. Instead of on the back cover, “they want us to put it one the front cover,” right where most mailers include their branding statements, he said.

The Postal Service is also making changes to its deflection or “droop” standards to reduce overly floppy catalogs, Davison said. (The USPS just extended the deadline for its deflection standard implementation from Sept. 8 to Jan. 4.) This can affect a cataloger’s paper choice and page counts.

Part of the ACMA’s struggle is trying to work the USPS early in the process, to educate the agency on how changes will affect catalogers even before any proposed revisions make it into the Federal Register. Communication is one area where the USPS needs to change, Davison noted.

Yes, the USPS’s mail volume declines and financial losses have been well documented, he said. “But when you’re in trouble, you go to your best customers and work with them,” rather than make changes that will make it harder for your customers to do business.

They get this at the top level of the Postal Service, Davison said, “but there’s a whole level of middle management that does not get it.” And that makes it harder to get things done.

Another key challenge for ACMA? Getting more catalogers involved.

It’s not easy for the ACMA to get the USPS to take the catalog industry’s woes seriously when only a fraction of U.S. mailers are publicly behind the group, according to Davison.

Stan Krangel, president of multititle gifts cataloger Miles Kimball Co. and ACMA chairman, echoed this in his NEMOA keynote session on Sept. 18. “Why don’t more people understand the urgency of getting involved?” he asked.

The ACMA’s National Catalog Advocacy & Strategy Forum in Washington this past May had about 75 mailers in attendance to meet with top postal officials, Krangel noted: “We should have had 1,000.”

To learn more about what the ACMA is doing and how you can get involved, visit www.catalogmailers.org.

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