DMA Escalates War of Words with UPS

As the postal reform issue comes down to its waning days in the 109th Congress, the war of words between the Direct Marketing Association and the United Parcel Service grew more heated on Sept. 29, with DMA president/CEO John Greco Jr. issuing a pointed statement: “The question every marketer should be asking today is not what can brown do for you'”–referring to UPS’s nickname “brown”–“rather what is brown doing to you.'”

Jerry Cerasale, the senior vice president of government affairs for the DMA, says the barb resulted from that UPS’s continuing to block a final agreement among members of Congress to the pending postal reform legislation by holding out for a provision that could result in an increase of up to 40% in single-piece Parcel Post rates. The DMA supports a “hard cap” that it says would keep postal rate increases at or below the rate of inflation.

In its Friday afternoon release, the DMA also went so far as to urge members to fax or call UPS management, including chairman/CEO Michael L. Eskew and Arnold F. Wellman, senior vice president, domestic/international government affairs, to voice their displeasure.

Apparently, a six-hour meeting on Sept. 28 unraveled when Sen. Susan Collins’s office rejected a proposal between the U.S. Postal Service and UPS where an agreement in principle was reached on the Parcel Post issue.

UPS spokesperson David Bolger, meanwhile, calls the DMA’s characterization of the situation “unfair. What marketers should be focusing on is how is this legislative process being conducted,” he says. “We at UPS have acted in good faith. We’ve been supportive of the process.”

Bolger’s reaction stems a directive from Sen. Collins’s office to “work it out” on the single-piece Parcel Post issue. “We took that direction and met with the USPS for six hours,” Bolger says. “We had an agreement per the request of Sen. Collins’s staff, and not only was the agreement not accepted but it was not even considered.”

Since then, he says, “the UPS is being portrayed as the entity that killed postal reform. That is not true. We have made it very clear on where we stand on that issue. We’ve always dealt in good faith. All along we were supportive with the caveat of the single-piece Parcel Post issue.”