USPS Rate Case: Time for Last-Ditch Appeals

As you no doubt know from MULTICHANNEL MERCHANT’s ongoing coverage and Webinars, the pending postal rate case is expected to be approved within a matter of weeks and implemented on May 6. Although the “average” rate increase is in the single digits, some catalog mailers could see their postage increase by as much as triple digits.

Passage of the rate changes by the Postal Service Board of Governors isn’t quite a done deal yet, however. To that end, Gene Del Polito, president of the Association for Postal Commerce (PostCom), recently sent the following communication to his group’s members:

By now, you’ve had time to analyze how your company will be affected by the Postal Regulatory Commission’s recommended decision. Our inquiries to a cross-section of our members has revealed the following:

* Those who mail letter-size pieces did fairly well–better than the USPS had proposed.

* Those who send heavyweight parcels fared better than they would have under the USPS’s proposal.

* Those who mail flats, particularly flats that qualify for the minimum per-piece rate, have taken it on the chin.

* Those who mail what are now going to be called Not Flat-Machinables are getting killed.

Those who fared well in this case, don’t want to protest the PRC’s decision. Any reconsideration by the Commission actually could produce a worse outcome.

Those who fared poorly in this case are mad as hell.

There’s another wrinkle here too. The Postmaster General has been on a rant about not wanting to hear from anyone about this EXCEPT from postal RATEPAYERS. In other words, I don’t want to hear from your printers, your paper suppliers, your ink suppliers. If YOU pay postage, I only want to hear from you.

Look, I’ll be honest with you. For the past decade, MOST catalogers have dealt with postal issues as if they were contaminated by communicable leprosy. They’ve abrogated any responsibility to speak for themselves and have tossed it all on their printers. The Postal Service has been yammering for years about not hearing anything from postage ratepayers but only hearing from “self-serving” printers, despite the fact that many catalogers have relied on printers to carry their postal water.

Every action has an equal and opposite reaction, or so said Isaac Newton. The abrogation of postal responsbilities to someone else was the action. The Postal Service’s response is the reaction.

Now, I’m writing to PostCom members. Obviously the above comments do not pertain to you. You ARE members of the only association whose sole purpose is to pursue your postal interests. The trouble is, you’re a very small minority of the catalogers who make up this industry.

I can go on about the phase-in of the letters-flats differential, how it was 17 years in the making, and how the Commission believes this may be its last chance to complete that phase-in. None of this, however, can lessen the weight of the burden you’ve been asked to carry. So here’s the best way to change these lemons into lemonade.

If the Postal Service wants to hear directly from postage ratepayers, then let’s have them hear from postage ratepayers. Anyone who has gotten burned by this decision should immediately fire off a letter to the Governors of the Postal Service to tell them what the impact of this decision is likely to be on their business.

Whatever you do, DON’T tell the Governors that you’re just upset about being asked to pay more postage. Make the impact on your business clear. Be sure to explain that since the recommended increases are substantially higher than even the Postal Service proposed, you are going to take steps to reduce your use of the mail. You don’t want to talk about percentage rate increases. You want to talk about dollar increases in cost per thousand. You don’t need to give them details–just that “on average my cost per thousand will increase by X dollars” and that you’re going to curtail volume, not selectively–i.e. at the ADC or Mixed ADC level–but across the board.

Your letter has to be filed with the Secretary of the Board of Governors no later than Monday, March 12. Your letter should be addressed to:

The Honorable James C. Miller III
Chairman, Board of Governors
U.S. Postal Service
475 L’Enfant Plaza, SW, Rm 10300
Washington, DC 20260-1000

Now, here’s the bit of irony. DON’T mail your letter. USPS mail still gets irradiated, and there is a delay in when this mail gets delivered. FAX your letter into the USPS at 202-268-5472.

Please be sure to FAX a copy of your letter to the Governors to the Postal Regulatory Commission at (202) 789-6886. From talking with many of our most adversely affected members, it’s clear that the Commission hasn’t a clue as to how its decision will affect many business mailers.

Del Polito participated in two Webinars produced by MULTICHANNEL MERCHANT that look at the effects of the pending postal changes on mailers. You can access those Webinars for free, on demand, at multichannelmerchant.com/events/webinars/rate_update/
and multichannelmerchant.com/events/webinars/rate_case_2006/.

Related articles:

PRC Issues Recommendations on the Postal Rate Case

Comments on USPS Rate Case Due Jan. 31

A New Dimension in Packaging

List Hygiene: Cleaning Up

Cuddling Up to Comailing

USPS Releases Details of Rate Case

Preparing for the Postal Rate Hike

Making Sense of the Postal Rate Case


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