The U.S. Postal Service’s 2014 promotions calendar, officially announced recently, reprises popular programs with some new wrinkles aimed at increasing use of First Class, shipping, and digital technology. The biggest rate discount being offered, 15 percent, is for a spring promotion for First Class marketing pieces.
A coalition of postal customers and suppliers filed comments with the Postal Regulatory Commission asking it to reject the U.S. Postal Service’s request for a 4.3 percent exigent rate increase. Their bottom line: U.S. Postal Service’s claim that the rate is needed to offset lingering effects of the Great Recession doesn’t meet the exceptional circumstance criteria established by the 2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act.
Mike Porter writes, “I was working for a service bureau looking to bring in some new inserting equipment. Frankly, we were behind the times – even back then. The newest inserter we owned was a swing arm machine that was about 20 years old. It worked fine for the most part, but it was pretty temperamental and it had its limitations.”
Reductions in First Class mail will continue. The package business is expected to grow significantly. Digitalization will be increasingly phased in, and standard mail will remain a viable and effective way for direct mailers to market. This is the vision Deputy Postmaster General of the United States Ron Stroman has for the U.S. Postal Service three to five years from now.
The importance of compelling direct mail copy as part of the overall package cannot be overstated. It’s the difference between the envelope being opened or tossed – and you only have seconds to make a lasting first impression. So find a creative writer and you have great copy for your direct mail campaign, right? Wrong.
Adam Lewenberg writes, “It can be very complicated to manage your mailing equipment agreements because there are so many different charges and often time avoidable fees can arise. This gets multiplied if you are responsible for multiple locations. I have helped accounts paying tens of thousands of dollars in avoidable fees because they did not understand how they were being billed. In this article we will give you the tools to understand these fees and to make sure you are only paying for the services required.”
Fans of e-commerce apparel company Bonobos, a digital pioneer when it debuted six years ago, might be surprised to open their snail-mailboxes this holiday season and find a paper catalog from the trendy brand inside. The 52-page book, filled with photos of handsome men in cashmere overcoats and wool caps standing in snowy fields, follows a successful test catalog sent out this past spring.
On Nov. 13, 2013 the United States Postal Servicefiled with the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) a proposal to increase prices for what are considered their “competitive products.” This includes their shipping services of Priority Mail Express, Priority Mail, Parcel Select, Parcel Return Service, First-Class Package Service, Standard Post, Domestic Extra Services, and International. The average price increase for these services is 2.4 percent and the implementation date will be Jan. 26, 2014 – the same date that the “market-dominant” prices increase as well as the requirement for Intelligent Mail Full-Service goes into effect.
On November 13, 2013 the United States Postal Service® (USPS®) filed with the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) a proposal to increase prices for what are considered their “competitive products.” This includes their shipping services of Priority Mail Express™, Priority Mail®, Parcel Select, Parcel Return Service, First-Class™ Package Service, Standard Post, Domestic Extra Services, and International. The average price increase for these services is 2.4% and the implementation date will be January 26, 2014 – the same date that the “market-dominant” prices increase as well as the requirement for Intelligent Mail® Full-Service goes into effect.
There are a number of new products and services, and changes to existing services as part of this proposal:
• Priority Mail Express 10:30 a.m. delivery time option for an additional $5.00
• Priority Mail annual volume thresholds for cubic pricing and other Commercial Plus offerings will be lowered to 50,000 pieces
• Premium Forwarding Service pricing options for commercial customers
• Flat Rate Commercial Base and Commercial Plus prices for Priority Mail Express International and Priority Mail International
• A fee of $0.20 will be assessed on any commercial parcel that lacks an Intelligent Mail® Package Barcode (IMpb™)
• Shifting Standard Post Zones 1 – 4 to Priority Mail, unless ground shipping is required
• For both Priority Mail Express™ and Priority Mail, a new Zone 9 is added for mailings to and from the Freely Associated States (Micronesia, Marshall Islands, and Palau).
Priority Express Mail
The price increase proposal would see the overall increase for Priority Express Mail at 3.0%. Retail prices increase by 3.1%, while Commercial Base prices increase by 2.9%. Commercial Plus prices increase by only .06%.
Retail Flat Rate Box prices will be:
• Small, $5.80;
• Medium, $12.35;
• Large, $17.45; and
• Large APO/FPO/DPO, $15.45
The regular Flat Rate Envelope will be priced at $5.60, with the Legal Size and Padded Flat Rate Envelopes priced at $5.75 and $5.95, respectively.
For Parcel Select Mail, the price increase proposal would see the overall increase at 5.9%. For destination entered parcels, the average increase for Destination Delivery Unit (DDDU) entered pieces is 8.0%, the increase for Destination Sectional Center Facility (DSCF) entered pieces at 5.6%, and the increase for Destination Network Distribution Center (DNDC) pieces at 5.1%. For non-destination entered parcels, the increase is 5.9%. For Lightweight Parcel Select, the increase is 10.1%.
Parcel Return Service
The overall price increase Parcel Return Service (PRS) is 3.0%. Prices for piece retrieved at a Return Network Distribution Center (RNDC) or a Return Sectional Center Facility (RSCF) will see a 0.0% increase, while pieces retrieved at a Return Delivery Unit (RDU) will see increases of 5.7%. Prices remain unchanged for full network Postal PRS.
First-Class Package Service
The overall price increase is 5.0%.
The overall price increase for Standard Post is 5.2%. Prices in Zones 1-4 will align with the Retail Priority Mail prices for those zones. This means that shippers utilizing these price cells will receive Priority Mail service except for shipments that contain hazardous materials or otherwise cannot ship via air.
Domestic Extra Services
Prices for Adult Signature service will increase to $5.20 for the basic service and $5.45 for the person-specific service. Address Enhancement Service prices will be increasing between 3.6 and 7.7 percent depending on the particular rate element, to ensure adequate cost coverage.
International Expedited Services
International Expedited Services include Global Express Guaranteed (GXG) and Priority Mail Express International (PMEI). Overall, GXG prices will rise by 3.0 percent, and PMEI will be subject to an overall 1.3 percent increase. The existing structure of GXG Retail, Commercial Base, and Commercial Plus price categories will be maintained, with the exception of a minor revision concerning payment methods for which GXG Commercial Base is available. The existing structure of PMEI Flat Rate, Retail, Commercial Base and Commercial Plus price categories will also be maintained, except for the establishment of PMEI Flat Rate Commercial Base and PMEI Flat Rate Commercial Plus rates, a minor revision concerning payment methods for which PMEI Commercial Base is available, and an increase to 70 lbs. for the maximum weight for PMEI for Country Price Group 2 (Mexico).
Priority Mail International
The overall increase for Priority Mail International (PMI) will be 1.1 percent. The existing structure of PMI Flat Rate, Retail, Commercial Base, and Commercial Plus price categories will be maintained, except for the establishment of PMI Flat Rate Commercial Base and PMI Flat Rate Commercial Plus rates, with accompanying changes concerning the availability of Electronic USPS Delivery Confirmation International. Additional classification changes include a minor revision concerning payment methods for which PMI Commercial Base is available, an increase to 70 lbs. for the maximum weight for PMI for Rate Group 2 (Mexico), as well as minor revisions concerning PMI contents restrictions and size limitations for PMI items.
International Priority Airmail and International Surface Airlift (ISAL)
Published prices for International Priority Airmail (IPA) will decrease by 2.5 percent and for International Surface Air Lift (ISAL) prices will decrease by 2.9 percent. Classification changes include revising the structure of IPA and ISAL price categories so that there are 19 rate groups for which rates are established by mail shape (letters and postcards, large envelopes (flats), and packages (small packets and rolls). In addition, the minimum weight of Direct Country containers will be reduced to 2 lbs., the maximum weight for IPA and ISAL large envelopes (flats) will be reduced to 17.6 ounces and the maximum weight for IPA and ISAL packages (small packets and rolls) will be increased to 4.4 pounds.
Prices for Airmail M-bags will increase by 2.9%.
First-Class International Package Service
The overall increase for First-Class Package International Service (FCPIS) Retail prices will be 0.8 percent; FCPIS Commercial Base and FCPIS Commercial Plus prices will remain unchanged. The existing structure of FCPIS Retail, Commercial Base, and Commercial Plus price categories will be maintained, except for a minor revision concerning payment methods for which PMI Commercial Base is available. In addition, Pickup on will be made available for FCPIS.
International Ancillary Services and Special Services
Prices for several international ancillary services will be increased. Certificates of Mailing will increase 9.7 percent. Registered Mail will increase 5.4 percent. International Return Receipt will increase 7.1 percent the Customs Clearance and Delivery Fee will increase 9.1 percent. The maximum amount for Vendor Assisted Electronic Money Transfer will decrease to $1500.00.
We will be issuing future e-Tips containing more details about the new pricing and product proposals, as well as providing updates once these proposals are finalized. You can also check out the filing document on the Postal Regulatory Commission web site. The USPS Postal Explorer web site also has the proposed prices in Excel format.
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Well there you have it. See you next week for another informative Postal e-Tip!
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Customers may purchase the 46¢ stamps in sheets of 20 at usps.com/stamps, at 800-STAMP24 (800-782-6724) at Post Offices nationwide and on eBay at ebay.com/stamps.