Archive of posts tagged United States Postal Service

USPS Publishes New Prices and Statements for April 2016

The USPS recently published new prices and postage statements for the market dominant product lines, including First-Class Mail®, Standard Mail®, Periodicals, Library Mail, Media Mail, Bound Printed Matter, Other and Extra Services and Qualified Business Reply Mail.

Before you get into a panic about postal prices going up again – relax! – this is actually a price DECREASE!

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Don’t Forget: USPS® Price Changes Take Effect This Weekend!

The Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) approved all of the United States Postal Service® (USPS®) proposed price increases. The implementation date for these approved prices is January 17, 2016.

Again – the final implementation date for these price changes is January 17, 2016. That’s this Sunday! 3 days from today!

Overall Changes
The new prices are available in Excel and .csv format on the Postal Explorer web site. The draft postage statements are also available on the same web site. Please note that this price change does not impact all mailing classes, so for some mailings the new January 2016 postage statements will be required, whereas for other mailings, the current May 2015 postage statements may still be used.

Software Updates
If you have not already done so, mailers will need to update their mailing and shipping software to accommodate these new prices. There is no new Mail.dat® file format specification version associated with this price change. Here is what will be supported as of January 17th:

January 17, 2016

  • USPS will support Mail.dat 14-2 Errata versions and 15-1 Errata
  • USPS will continue to support all Mail.dat 14-2, errata versions including
  • USPS will continue to support all Mail.dat 15-1, errata versions including

As a reminder – there was a mandatory PostalOne! update on January 3, 2016, which means that if you are a mailer who submits eDoc, you should have downloaded and installed the new USPS MD Client software on the 3rd.

IMPORTANT NOTE: PostalOne! will be releasing a patch to the MD Client software on Sunday, January 17, 2016. This patch is to correct issues with Mail Anywhere submissions, so if you submit Mail Anywhere mailings, you will need to download and install this patch. This is not a mandatory update, so non-impacted mailers are not required to download and install this patch, but are encouraged to do so.


USPS® Fascinating Facts

Here are some interesting and little-known information about the United States Postal Service® (USPS®).

Size and Scope

The USPS delivers more mail to more addresses in a larger geographical area than any other post in the world. The USPS handles forty percent (40%) of the world’s mail volume. The USPS is a huge business: if it were a privately held company, it would rank 43rd in the 2014 Fortune 500 list! And to de-bunk a common myth, the USPS receives NO tax dollars for operating its services!

To further testify to the huge scope of the USPS, check out these statistics:

Number of delivery points nationwide: 153.9 million
Annual mailpieces processed and delivered: 155.4 billion
Number of USPS-managed retail post offices: 31,662
2014 FY revenue: $67.8 billion
Number of career employees: 486,822
Number of non-career employees: 130,432
Number of vehicles: 211,264 (one of the largest civilian fleets in the world)

The USPS is the core of the mailing industry, which is a $1.3 trillion industry that employs more than 8 million people. AND, it’s growing: 971,543 new delivery points were added in 2014!

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Don’t Forget! PostalOne!® Mandatory Software Update This Weekend

The USPS is issuing a mandatory software update for the PostalOne!® production system this weekend. This update will be implemented on Sunday, January 3, 2016. The PostalOne! Production (PROD) system will not be available on Sunday morning January 3, 2016, between 12 midnight and 10 a.m. CT. PostalOne! will also be updating the Test Environment for Mailers (TEM); that update will occur on Monday, January 4, 2016. The PostalOne! TEM environment will not be available between 6 a.m. and 4 p.m. CT on January 4. The new Mail.dat® client download for the Production Environment will be version; all previous versions of the Mail.dat client will be expired.

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PRC Approves Promotion Programs for 2016

The Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) has approved the United States Postal Service® (USPS®) proposal for five promotional programs aimed at increasing mail volumes by offering incentives to mailers. These promotions will be available during the calendar year 2016. Way back in 2011, the first Mobile Barcode incentive was introduced by the USPS, and these successful promotions have been offered every year since then. The five promotions proposed for the calendar year 2016 are:

  1. Earned Value Promotion
  2. Personalized Color Transpromo Promotion
  3. Emerging and Advanced Technology/Video In Print Promotion
  4. Tactile, Sensory and Interactive Mailpiece Engagement Promotion
  5. Mobile Shopping Promotion

The Promotions

The Earned Value Promotion: This program will run from April through June 2016. This promotion is available for First-Class Mail® only, and builds on the success of previous years promotions. The promotion is in the form of a credit on qualifying BRM/CRM reply pieces, which can then be applied to postage for future mailings. Details on the eligibility and enrollment for this promotion can be found in the guide posted on the USPS RIBBS web site.

The Personalized Color Transpromo Promotion: This promotion will run from July through December 2016. Similar to the program in 2015, this promotion is only available for First-Class Mail. Added this year is the requirement that the color message must either address the recipient by name or contain information relevant and specific to the recipient. The USPS posted a guide on the RIBBS web site with further details on the eligibility and enrollment for this promotion.

The Emerging and Advanced Technology/Video in Print Promotion: Set to run from March through August 2016, this promotion is available for both First-Class Mail and Standard Mail®. Added this year is an A/B testing option, which allows mailers to test customer response rates to mailpieces featuring the qualifying technology compared to customer response rates to mailpieces without the qualifying technology. For more detailed information on the eligibility and enrollment requirements, mailers can visit the USPS RIBBS web site.

The Tactile, Sensory and Interactive Mailpiece Engagement Promotion: This program will run from March through August 2016. The USPS recognizes that advanced print innovations are distinct from the more digitally focused technologies addressed by the Emerging and Advanced Technology/Video in Print Promotion, so this is offered as its own promotion for 2016 and is available only for Standard Mail. As with the other promotions, a detailed guide is posted on the USPS RIBBS web site.

The Mobile Shopping Promotion: This promotion will run from July through December 2016. As in prior years, this promotion encourages mailers to integrate mobile technology into their direct mail during the 2016 holiday season. This promotion is available only for Standard Mail. Visit the RIBBS web site for a detailed guide on this promotion.

The incentives
The Earned Value Promotion incentive is in the form of volume-based credits: $0.02 per BRM or CRM pieces for first-time participants or those who did not exceed their threshold; $0.03 per BRM or CRM pieces if the total number of BRM and CRM pieces exceed the total number of the mailer’s BRM and CRM pieces counted as part of the 2015 Earned Value Promotion. These credits may then be applied to future mailings of First-Class Mail presort and automation cards, letters and flats and Standard mail letters and flats.

The other promotions each have an incentive of a 2% postage discount, taken at the time of mailing. The only exception is for the A/B testing option: the 2% postage discount will be taken at the time of mailing only for the pieces that meet the eligibility criteria. Up to 10% of the pieces may have non-eligible characteristics for the A/B testing purposes; the discount for these pieces will be applied as a credit to be used for future mailings.

There is a RIBBS web page dedicated to USPS mailing promotions; this has been updated with additional details on the 2016 promotions, including the calendar shown above and guides for each individual program. This page also has a more generic guide for enrollment in promotion programs, for both mail owners and mail preparers.

Your Solution
Window Book’s software allows you to easily edit your Mail.dat® files for the applicable promotion code (2-digit Characteristic Type in the CCR file of the Mail.dat file) so that you can accurately submit eDoc for these promotional mailings to take advantage of all the benefits being offered by them.

Window Book can help you manage the promotion codes for these incentives in your mailing operation and automate your processes using our software and service solutions.

Window Book offers a free Mailing Optimization Analysis.
Call us at 1-800-524-0380 for more details or to sign up for your FREE Mailing Optimization Analysis!

USPS to Implement Postage Assessments

At November’s Mailers Technical Advisory Committee (MTAC) meeting, the United States Postal Service® (USPS®) announced plans to implement assessments for non-compliance with the requirements for Intelligent Mail® Full-Service, effective July 2016. To prepare for this implementation the USPS is working on improvements in the accuracy and ease of access to performance measurements available on the Mailer Scorecard area of PostalOne!® In addition, the USPS plans an extensive industry outreach program in the coming months to educate mailers on this requirement, how to access and interpret the performance data, and how to improve mailers scores.


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Labeling List Changes effective June 25, 2015

The United States Postal Service® (USPS®) announced changes to the Labeling List data, effective June 25, 2015, with an expiration date of August 31, 2015. The Labeling Lists affected are L001, L002, L005, L006, L007, L009, L010, L012, L201, and L606. The Labeling Lists are located on the Postal Explorer web site under the Additional Links tab. This will direct you to the Facility Access and Shipment Tracking System (FAST) web site; from there you can choose Resources, then Label Lists File Download, then Label List Files.

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USPS® Postpones Facility Closures AGAIN

The United States Postal Service® (USPS®) is once again postponing their planned network consolidation and corresponding adjustment of delivery service standards. The network consolidation plan was postponed once before, in 2014, and then restarted in January 2015. The USPS originally laid out their Network Rationalization plan in 2011 with a phased approach to closing and consolidating various postal facilities and making the necessary service standard adjustments to correspond with the new service network. The USPS goal in closing a large number of processing facilities is to cut costs and optimize their processing network to more closely align with the decreased volumes of mail. The USPS indicated that the decision to defer the next phase of the initiative was based upon operational considerations, and was made to ensure that the Postal Service will continue to provide prompt, reliable and predictable service consistent with the published service standards. The USPS plans to resume the consolidation plans in 2016.

Network facility changes
The first phase of the network optimization plan began in July 2012 and by the end of 2013 a total of 96 facilities were either closed or consolidated into others. The Phase 2 plan, which began in January of this year, had consolidations scheduled for up to 82 facilities. According to numbers produced and reported by the USPS, the network consolidation has realized an annual cost savings to the USPS of $865 million with no employee layoffs. This next phase was expected to realize an additional $750 million in annual savings, but it is unclear at this point how much of this savings has been realized in the abbreviated Phase 2 implementation.

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Multiple USPS Price Changes in 2015?

A while back, we sent you an eTip telling you about the rate proposal that was submitted by the United States Postal Service® (USPS®) to the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC). At that time, the planned implementation date for the proposed price changes was slated for April 26, 2015. Well, a lot has happened since that eTip, which has left mailers scratching their heads wondering what the heck is going on.

Price Proposals Approved and Remanded
When the PRC receives a rate case from the USPS, they have a number of options regarding their response. They can approve the proposal, in which case the proposed price changes become official and are implemented on the designated date. The PRC can also make their own proposed price changes, or make changes to the USPS proposed rates and return the case back to the USPS. The last alternative is for the PRC to return the rate case (also known as a “remand”) to the USPS for further review. In this current rate case, the PRC has made an unprecedented move by approving SOME of the proposed price changes and remanding the rest. In fact, the PRC has remanded most of the proposed price changes not just once, but twice! So, what does all this mean for mailers?

When Will the Prices Change?
That is the million dollar question! Let’s begin with a quick review of what’s happened up to this point.

On January 15, 2015 the USPS submitted two rate change proposals for consideration: one for Market Dominant/Mailing Services products and another for Competitive/Shipping Services products. “Market Dominant” products are those services over which the Postal Service has a legal monopoly, including First-Class Mail®, Standard Mail®, Periodicals, Package Services, and Special Services. “Competitive” products include Shipping Services such as Priority Mail, Priority Mail Express, Parcel Select, and First-Class Package Service.

The PRC originally approved the First-Class changes, but remanded the rest of the market-dominant filing. The USPS then made changes and re-filed only to have the PRC remand them again. As time was ticking down on the 30-day window prior to April 26, 2015, the USPS announced last week that they would hold off implementing any new rates until ALL of the market-dominant changes are approved by the PRC. Whew! Breathing room. BUT – don’t get complacent. Though it is too early to know a new date right now, it is still conceivable that a May 31, 2015 date could be met. Stay tuned here for additional details as they become available!

A Price Roll-back?
Say what??? You read that correctly – there is a possibility that in addition to the price changes happening this Spring, there could be an actual price reduction sometime this Fall. You may recall in the postal rate case that took effect in January 2014, there was an element of that case that was termed an “exigency” increase. Under the postal reform act, the USPS is permitted to increase postal prices by no more than the amount of the Consumer Price Index (CPI). The only exception to this is in exigent situations where the USPS costs or revenues, due to circumstances beyond their control, would require increases higher than the CPI. In the 2014 price increase, there was both the CPI component of the increase plus the exigent portion of the increase. The USPS claimed in that case that the downturn in the US economy was an exigent situation that caused their volumes and revenues to drop. Although the PRC approved the rate case, the legality of the exigency claim was questioned by many in the mailing industry and there is a case currently underway in federal court to come to a decision about the legality of the exigent portion of the increase.

If the court rules in favor of the USPS, pretty much nothing will change as far as mailers are concerned. However, if the court rules against the USPS, that means that the exigency portion of that rate change would need to be removed, which would essentially mean a roll-back on postal prices. A ruling is expected to be reached later this year, in time for this potential price roll-back to be implemented sometime in September.

Managing Price Changes
Mailers should be in close contact with their postal software providers to keep abreast of any updates on all of these possible pricing changes so that your software can be properly updated on a timely basis. The uncertainty of all of these changes makes it very challenging for software to be coded with the price changes and postage statement form changes in time for the implementation dates. Add to that the Mail.dat specification version change to 15-1, and it becomes even more complicated. Mailers need to be prepared to deal with last-minute software updates, as well as multiple mandatory software updates within a short period of time. Of course, all this uncertainty also wreaks havoc with postage budgets!

Window Book has many utilities available to assist mailers with these postal price changes. All postage calculations in all of our software applications are based on mailing date, which means users can be assured that their mailings will be calculated with the correct postal prices in place at the time the mailing is processed.

 Window Book’s newest smart postal solution, PostalWeb™, completes the PostalOne! automation circle by providing easy downloading of finalized PostalOne! postage statements directly to your servers, and includes options for email notifications and even emailing of these finalized postage statements! (Coming soon: automatically download your confirmation pages!)

Labeling List Changes Effective March 1, 2015

The United States Postal Service® (USPS®) announced changes to the Labeling List data, effective March 1, 2015, with an expiration date of April 30, 2015. The Labeling Lists affected are L001, L006, L007, L012, and L606. The Labeling Lists are located on the Postal Explorer web site under the Additional Links tab.

Use of Labeling List Data
The Labeling List data is used to define the specific destination information to be printed on sack labels, tray labels, and pallet labels. This destination information is used to route the mail inside the sacks, trays and pallets to the correct postal facility for processing. The destination information is based primarily on 3-digit ZIP Code prefix, and varies based on the class of mail, processing category, and other criteria. Virtually all container labels are generated using computer software, which accesses this Labeling List data in a file format, operating much like a look-up table.

Why the changes?
There are many reasons why the USPS makes changes to the Labeling List data. Recently, many of the changes are being made as a result of their efforts to consolidate processing facilities to improve efficiencies and reduce costs. Changes also take place when the USPS makes alterations to the service areas for certain processing facilities, which can be the result of shifts in population, mail volumes, staffing and many other reasons. Keep in mind that approximately 12% of the US population moves each year and there are about 1,800 new delivery addresses added each day. So, there are lots of ZIP Code changes happening all the time!

Time for change
The USPS modified the frequency of these updates last fall from quarterly to monthly. What this means for mailers is that Labeling Lists are now effective for a period of only two months. While these updates have always been important to insure proper direction of the mail, keeping up to date is now more critical than ever. Gone are the days when mailers could perform their postal presort process months in advance. Due to this change, the maximum advance time for the presort process is 60 days, and in reality probably less than that to accommodate production schedule fluctuations.

The scheduled and actual induction dates (mailing dates) also become much more critical as a result of this change. These dates are what is used by the USPS to determine if valid Labeling Lists have been used to process the mailing.

Handling Change
When these types of changes are announced, it is important for mailers to work with their software vendors and mail service providers to make sure that the changes are implemented on a timely basis. This is critical so that the correct destination information is populated into the Mail.dat® files, or any other files or printed documents that are used to process or submit postage statements (and other postal documentation) and to create sack, tray, and pallet labels. Keep in mind that the Labeling List changes involve not just the facility names, but the ZIP codes associated with those facilities. This affects the destination line on the tags and the mailpieces that are placed into the sacks, trays, and pallets. As such, these changes MUST be incorporated into the presort software first; if the data is incorrect during this process (and thus incorrect in the Mail.dat files), it cannot be corrected in Post-Presort software, such as DAT-MAIL™.

Automatic Postal Data Updates System
Window Book makes these updates easy for our clients by providing an automated method to update the Labeling List information into your Post-presort software. Once you have this FREE add-on tool installed with your DAT-MAIL software, you no longer have to remember to check for Labeling List updates, nor do you have to perform manual downloads because it will automatically be taken care of for you! You can just set it and forget it!

And if you think that’s cool – ask us about how we can automate the process of downloading and installing new MDR Client software from PostalOne!®