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How to Make a Plan, USPS Style

There was a commercial for Toyota that aired several years ago that had the tagline “You asked for it, you got it.”  What “it” was hasn’t been remembered as well as the tag line, but the utility of the line persists.

In this case, given that the Postal Service finally issued its 10-year plan last week, the agency can say “you asked for a plan, you got a plan.”  Congress and the mailing community have been waiting for years for The Plan that the agency’s been promising, and now we can all see whether the result has been worth the wait.

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The Right Audiences Need to Get the Message

Over the past few months, and especially over the recent holiday season, there were many occasions on which a postal customer – a representative of a commercial mailer, a mailer’s client, or just a retail customer – delivered a message of dissatisfaction about service (to put it nicely) to a frontline postal employee.

Whether a retail window clerk, a city or rural carrier, an employee at the local BMEU or DMU, a customer service rep, or a call-taker at the Business Service Network, that person neither had anything to do with the reasons for the customer’s dissatisfaction and likely had little to go on to offer an explanation or information about the reported service problem.

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PMG’s Comments to MTAC Raise Concerns Over Price Increase

On January 26, speaking to the virtual meeting of the Mailers Technical Advisory Committee, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy gave a broad overview of his developing plans to get the Postal Service back on track after months of worsening service that culminated in a historically bad holiday season.  As transcribed from his recorded remarks:

“... Calendar Year 2020 has been a tough year for the nation and a tough year for the United States Postal Service.  The causal circumstances continue to plague us in early 2021.  As a result, the consequences to many Postal Service customers have been significant, and we acknowledge the impacts our service decline has had on your businesses and our responsibility to restore.

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Will Postage Rates Jump in 2021?

In the wake of the Postal Regulatory Commission’s issuance of a final rule amending the rate-setting process, rumors began to circulate that the Postal Service would seek higher rates by mid-2021 and that the increases would be over 7%.

These stories may have some relationship to facts but are not entirely factual or accurate. Just the same, given that rumors travel faster than facts, it’s important that commercial mail producers have the necessary information to convey to their clients – who may already have heard the rumors.

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Questions Mailers May Ask

Commercial mail producers and others whose businesses have regular contact with postal services may be aware of a price increase but not really understand why it happens or what it means.  As we did last year, in an attempt to offer answers, below are some of the questions that commercial mail producers and their clients may have.

Price changes generally

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Answering An Uncomfortable Question

In comments filed February 3 with the Postal Regulatory Commission in response to the PRC’s proposed rule (System for Regulating Market Dominant Rates and Classifications, published in the December 11, 2019, Federal Register), Mailers Hub offered a view about “non-compensatory products,” (market-dominant products whose rates do not cover costs). The passage discussing such “underwater” rates was also excerpted in the February 3, 2020, issue of Mailers Hub News:

“Most non-compensatory classes and products did not become ‘underwater’ in a year or two or even ten; Periodicals, as a class, for example, hasn’t covered its costs since the PAEA was passed.

“… Aside from the resistance of ratepayers in those classes or for those products to accelerated rate increases to bring them to full cost coverage, the PAEA itself thwarted such efforts; the CPI cap is a two-edged sword that keeps rate increases to no more than CPI but also prevents larger rate increases to correct ‘underwater’ classes and products. …

That cost coverage for non-compensatory classes and products needs to be brought to 100% is not debatable, but neither is the need for caution in how that’s to be done. … Though the price sensitivity of most non-compensatory mail will be challenged by an additional 2% per year rate increase above the CPI cap, requiring that seems the least than can be done.



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A Costly Constant: The Persistence of Postal Labor Costs

A report released early last month by the Postal Service’s Office of Inspector General (A Closer Look at Postal Labor Costs) illustrated the persistence of labor as representing the lion’s share of the agency’s total costs. In turn, it offered ratepayers a glimpse of both the magnitude of the expense and how the elements of the sum have changed over the previous decade.

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Other Peoples' Money - Part II

The following is the second in a two-part commentary, excerpted from the Dec. 9 edition of Mailers Hub News

Changes step 3

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PRC Approves Proposed First-Class Rates – with Details to Follow

The following article is an excerpt from the Dec. 9 edition of Mailers Hub News

In an order issued on December 6, the Postal Regulatory Commission approved the First-Class Mail rates proposed on October 9 by the Postal Service, as those were later corrected on October 10 and amended on November 20.

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Price Changes. It's Not That Simple

People often ask about price changes – why they’re when and what they are, and why the USPS can’t simply reduce its costs. It’s really not that simple.

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USPS Files Proposed 2020 Rates

The Postal Service has filed new prices for market-dominant mail that, if approved by the Postal Regulatory Commission, will take effect on January 26, 2020.  The average increase for the market-dominant classes of mail is 1.9%, in line with the CPI-based cap; First-Class Mail will increase, on average, by 1.919%, and Marketing Mail prices will rise by an average of 1.891%.  Barring problems during the PRC’s review of the filing, a decision should be expected by mid-November.

New prices for competitive products, set by the Governor of the Postal Service, also were announced.  They will be reviewed for statutory compliance by the PRC and, barring problems, also will be effective January 26.

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Still Time to Make The Mailers Conference on September 20, 2019

There is still time to make the 2019 Mailers Conference.

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The Article Waiting to be Written

Commentary, by Leo Raymond

Any publication on any topic occasionally finds itself in the situation of knowing newsworthy events lie ahead but about which an article cannot be yet written; they just have to wait. Such is the situation in which we – and colleagues with their own newsletters – find ourselves.

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Postal Gadfly Sues USPS over Stamp Price Increase

Excerpted from the February 4, 2019 edition of Mailers Hub News 

The price of a stamp went from $0.50 to $0.55 last month but a challenge to that increase continues.

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Response to PRC Inquiry Reveals New Cost Coverage Proposal for Flats

As previously reported, the Postal Service submitted its Annual Compliance Review for fiscal 2018 to the Postal Regulatory Commission at the end of December. Given the span and scope of such a document, it’s normal for the PRC staff to pore over it carefully and ask about data or statements that they believe need further clarification. These questions, officially know as “Chairman’s Information Requests,” or CHIRs, generate a response by the USPS.

The occasional nugget

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Competitive Products - A Final Rule is Only Half the Story

Competitive Products: A Final Rule is Only Half the Story

Commentary excerpted from the Jan. 7, 2019 issue of Mailers Hub News


In an order issued January 3, the Postal Regulatory Commission published its final rule regarding the institutional cost requirement for Postal Service competitive products. The 197-page order concludes a rulemaking that had begun in November 2016.

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PRC Approves USPS Market Dominant and Competitive Product Price Changes

In separate orders issued November 13, the Postal Regulatory Commission approved without changes the Postal Service’s proposed prices for both market dominant and competitive products. Also approved as filed were the promotions the USPS proposed as part of its market dominant filing. As a result, both sets of rates will be implemented as planned at 12:01am ET on January 27, 2019.

Market dominant  products

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