Live from the Lenser Summit: Del Polito on Postal — Worry, Be Happy

San Raphael, CA—First, the bad news: You can expect a postal rate hike by next summer, according to Gene Del Polito, president of the Association for Postal Commerce. The good news? It’s likely that the rate-making process will follow the Postal Reform Bill’s new rules, meaning the increase will be subject to inflationary levels.

In his session at the Lenser Client Summit, held here Oct. 3-5, Del Polito pointed out that the U.S. Postal Service wants to raise rates again, and that no one could be sure how it will seek an increase. The agency may try to go for one last big hike under the old rules, or it may be ready to adhere to the provisions of the Postal Reform and Accountability Act passed late last year. Right now, he said, it’s looking like the USPS is actually making progress to have the new rate-making rules in place in time so that the increase will be based on the CPI.

That means catalogers could see a 2% rate increase in May or June, Del Polito said, which is a lot more palatable than the 40% hike many mailers had to swallow this past May. The long-awaited postal reform means “smaller, more digestible rate increases,” which will enable more marketers to survive. Reform should also mean improved deliverability, he said, since “for the first time, the USPS will be required to establish standards for service.”

Then again, Del Polito said, mailers must expect changes to postal prep procedures and addressing rules. “All processing is going to be done by a machine—not by a [letter] carrier.” Mail addressing must be precise, he said, comparing postal mail addresses to telephone numbers and e-mail addresses. If you don’t have all of the telephone number digits right, the call won’t go through; if you don’t have the exact e-mail address, the e-mail won’t be delivered. Postal mail addresses will soon be held to the same precision, he noted.

Where catalogers make or lose money “will depend on your ability to change and adjust to the new postal changes and rules,” Del Polito said. You have to stay on top of the latest requirements and developments. “Don’t be the Alfred E. Neuman of the postal industry,” he added, referring to Mad magazine’s “What me worry?” mascot. “You bet your #%& you better worry.”