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Association for Postal Commerce
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Here is some of what's new in the Postal World:

 

November 29, 2007

In a letter to the editor of the New York Times, Universal Postal Union director general Edouard Dayan wrote:

As a United Nations specialized agency for postal services, the Universal Postal Union recognizes the social and economic impact of migration on development. It’s true that private operators offer useful services for migrant workers, and several postal operators have partnered with them. But if developing countries are to fully benefit from remittances, more choices must be given to migrant workers to send money home more easily and at affordable prices, even from and to isolated areas.

With more than 660,000 post offices worldwide, the postal sector has a role to play here. Postal services in many countries are moving to electronic money transfer services, which are more secure, faster and reliable than paper money orders created in the 1870s. More than 60 countries are today connected to the U.P.U.’s international financial network, creating corridors among the world’s postal services and giving consumers in countries where large migrant populations exist more options to send their hard-earned money home.

As our member countries get ready to adopt a multilateral framework for electronic money transfers, the U.P.U. will continue to work with them to modernize money transfer services to help individuals and countries benefit from economic and social prosperity.

Precision Marketing has reported that "Royal Mail has mounted an aggressive defence of its proposed zonal pricing scheme, claiming Postcomm’s rejection of its original plan was ‘fundamentally flawed’. The 44-page response comes five months after Postcomm threw out the first proposal (precisionmarketing.co.uk) but includes only a few minor amendments. Royal Mail is sticking to its guns – the main tenet of its argument is that increased competition in the postal market is allowing private operators to cherry-pick areas where it is cheaper, and therefore more profitable, to deliver mail."

A News Leader writer has claimed that "Around this time of the year I feel that I should apologize to the mailman. I pity the poor guy who has to deliver the ghosts of forests past in the name of retail sales. He is measuring out his life in bulk-rate mail. And he's such a nice sort. Helpful. Friendly. On time. He even gives my dog treats. The least I can do is make his job as easy as possible, but unfortunately I can't. Like seasonal dandruff, I'm being showered with unsolicited holiday catalogs. Catalogs are the U.S. Postal Service's equivalent of e-mail spam on the Internet. Their effect is just the opposite of what retailers had hoped. Like those endlessly repeated Christmas songs that stores start pumping in even before Halloween, holiday catalogs are taking all the fun out of the holidays." [You know...there are Sundays when I've felt the same pity for the newspaper delivery guy....All those unsolicited ads....No way to stop them. PostCom to the News Leader: "Gimme a break. Where do you think newspaper profits come from? From ADVERTISING!!]

CNET News has noted that "Yahoo and Adobe are bringing pay-per-click ads to Adobe's Portable Document Format so that publishers can serve up ads inside PDFs distributed on Web sites and over e-mail that are contextually relevant to the content." [Refer to the above: "Oh no!....You mean there are unsolicited ads on the internet too?...Yes, and in the mail, in newspapers, in magazines, on television, on the radio, telephones, facsimile machines, Metro busses, outdoor billboards, posters on walls....Quick! Call Oprah! Call Matt Damon! Call Greendimes!!!]

As the News & Observer has noted, "Being square this holiday season will cost more than just your hipster reputation. After years of looking the other way, the U.S. Postal Service is charging more this year for square envelopes of any size. How much more depends on how big. A rectangular envelope, 5 1/2 by 8 1/2, gets the usual 41-cent first-class stamp. But one of those trendy square 6 1/2-inch greeting cards will cost you 58 cents. If your list is long, it adds up."

The News-Press has reported that "Bigger shipping bills loom next week. Carriers once again are responding to higher oil and gasoline prices by passing along the costs. Rather than raise base rates, they impose fuel surcharges. DHL raises its fuel surcharges Sunday; FedEx and UPS Monday. In catalogs and on Web sites, most of the tables on shipping costs don't include a fuel surcharge. And if they do, many won't be changed to reflect the higher surcharge until scores of orders have been placed. Merchants will have to absorb those costs, unless they were smart enough to build in some cushion to their shipping rates."

The Associated Press has reported that "Cast in the good-guy role of stopping Internet cigarette sales to children, Maine's deputy attorney general got roughed up Wednesday by several Supreme Court justices who suggested the law is not on his side. Congress has encouraged the states "to deal with the significant public health problem of youth access to tobacco," Stern told the court, arguing for Maine's right to regulate shipment of cigarettes bought online. Shipping industry associations that are challenging the law object to delivery requirements that they say only the federal government can impose. The differences in the state laws are a burden to business, several justices suggested."

AK&M has noted that "Mail of Russia" has begun reception of payments which are carried out by physical persons by means of the postal order "CyberMoney", to the address of the Joint-Stock Company "Sequoia Credit Consolidation". It is spoken about in the joint report of the companies. The given service is accessible in all post offices of Russia. "Sequoia Credit Consolidation" will inform the borrowers who will have an opportunity to pay off the duty through "Mail of Russia", additionally. "Mail of Russia" is the network of federal mail service including 84 branches, 42 thousand departments of mail service. The company renders services in all territory of Russia, including cities and rural settlements. Incomes in January-June, 2007 in comparison with the parameter of the similar period of the last year have increased up 26% and have exceeded 30mlrd rbl. The pure loss of "Mail of Russia" in 2007, on preliminary data, will make 5.7mlrd rbl.

According to the Toledo Blade, "A jump in postal rates is causing banks to think outside the box. Venders contracted by at least two financial institutions are no longer sending personal and business checks in boxes. Instead, the banks are shipping the items as flat mail that require customers to assemble the containers themselves."

“Dec. 1, 2007, will be a historic day for postal labor,” APWU President William Burrus declared this week. “It marks the elimination of part-time flexible employment for the Clerk Craft in large offices. “As the result of contract negotiations, Clerk Craft PTFs will disappear as a job category in every postal installation of 200 work-years or more,” Burrus noted. “This has been a long-standing objective of postal employees, and it has finally been achieved.”

Reuters has reported that "The British government may help its post offices with 634 million pounds ($1.3 billion) of funding starting on April 1 without violating EU state aid rules, the European Commission said on Thursday. The European Union's top competition watchdog said the British government may also continue providing loan facilities for cash services at post office counters. State aid is generally illegal but an exemption exists for public services."

The Times of India has reported that "The world's largest express carrier, United Parcel Service (UPS), is all set to cement its position in the country by getting into a relationship with AFL, the second largest Indian company in the segment. Promoted by Cyrus Gazdar, AFL shares it distribution infrastructure with the German major DHL. But with DHL and AFL set to snap ties, UPS has gotten the toe hold it was looking for. Sources close to the development said, UPS may also look at buying into AFL."

According to the Stamford Advocate, "Postal service officials say they're banning the collections for the Toys for Tots program, because it violates a U.S. Postal Service police on solicitation. Postal service spokeswoman Maureen Marion says eliminating the program is not a reflection of the programs. She says officials were forced to make a tough decision based on the interpretation of postal service regulations by its legal department."

Transport Intelligence has reported that "Migration of manufacturing from Western Europe to Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) has been considered by many to be an irreversible trend. However, a recent survey has found that many companies are pulling back from the region, troubled by rising costs, lack of quality and production issues. This could have major implications for express and logistics companies which have invested in the region."

The Washington Times has reported that "Rentals of DVDs from companies such as Netflix cost U.S. taxpayers tens of millions of dollars each year because U.S. Postal Service sorting machines can't process millions of return envelopes, government inspectors say. The government incurs more than $20 million per year in labor costs to hand-sort DVDs. And costs are expected to total as much as $30 million per year by 2009. "Because these mail pieces are not machinable, the Postal Service pays significant additional labor costs to manually process them," auditors wrote in a recent report issued by Tammy L. Whitcomb, the deputy assistant inspector general for revenue and systems. The Postal Service declined to discuss the report yesterday."

Here's one from CNET.com. "Labels That Talk, from Kailua Hawaii, has come up with software that lets consumers print high-density bar codes on strips of paper that store recorded voice messages. Scan the paper with a cheap handheld scanner--or a cell phone with a built-in scanner--and it plays back a message. The strip of paper you see in the picture can hold about eight kilobits, enough for a ten-second voice message, said Ken Berkun, president and founder."

November 28, 2007

AllAfrica.com has reported that "The Post Master General of Liberia, Minister Jackson E. Doe has disclosed that the establishment and officials opening of post offices in rural Liberia has been whole heartedly welcomed by rural dwellers in those regions where postal activities have been resumed. Mr. Doe said since the 15-years armed conflict that led to the closure of rural mailing offices communication broke down between people in rural parts and the cities."
 

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Traffic World has reported that "It's back to the North American operations drawing board for DHL and its parent company, Deutsche Post World Net. DPWN is looking to "restart the whole thing" in January, CEO Klaus Zumwinkel told analysts Nov. 15 after issuing a financial report that included a setback in profits in express operations in the Americas."
 
[PostCom logo  

PostCom welcomes its newest member: Limited Brands Direct Media Production 1114 Avenue of the Americas, 25th Floor New York, NY 10036-7703 represented by Jeanette Iglesias, Director, Publishing Operations

Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) Chairman Dan G. Blair has announced that Commissioner Mark Acton has been named Vice-Chairman of the Commission, succeeding Vice-Chairman Dawn Tisdale, whose term of office ended this month. PRC regulations provide that the Commission elect a member to serve as Vice-Chairman for a term of one year.

Reuters has reported that "Italy's postal service Poste Italiane has been valued by investment banks at between 14 billion to 15 billion euros ($20.62-$22.09 billion) and is ready for a public offering as soon as the government decides to launch it."

As the International Herald Tribune has noted, "German Gref, the liberal-minded former economics minister who was ousted in a government shake-up, was elected Wednesday to head Russia's largest bank, OAO Sberbank. Gref was the only candidate to replace Andrei Kazmin, who resigned to head the country's postal system."

The Trend Capital News Agency has reported that "Azerbaijan will take part at the international workshop on postal security for specialists of Communication Administrations. The Azerbaijani Communication and IT Ministry reported that Novruz Galayev, the chief of the Department on Control over State Enterprises, would take part at the workshop. The representatives of the World Postal Union, United States, Germany, Poland and Denmark will take part at the workshop. The workshop is held in Moscow on 28 and 29 November."

On the Postal Regulatory Commission website, you can find a paper by PRC special assistant Michael Ravnitzky at a recent Rutgers University Center for Research in Regulated Industries Workshop on "Network Benefits From Increased Network Size: How postal network characteristics frame the Universal Service Obligation."

From the Office of the Postmaster General: "I am pleased to announce today the establishment of a transitional organization for management of competitive products with the formation of an Express Mail group which is tasked with new ways to invigorate our premier product. Gary Reblin will lead the group as Acting Vice President, Express Mail. He and a small team of key staff will report directly to me. I have asked the team to look for creative and dynamic approaches to generate Express Mail profits, focusing on growth and efficiency."

CEP News (Courier-Express-Postal), published by the MRU Consultancy, has reported that:

The combination of slowly increasing turnovers and rapidly increasing costs has led to a profit collapse for Post Danmark in the first three quarters of the current year.
Japan Post Service Co., the CEP company of the newly founded Japan Post Group, has raised the profit expectation for the second half of the year.
The European Court of Justice’s decision to allows EU member states to reserve cross-border mail services for universal service providers is opening up new possibilities for private operators.
Germany’s social democratic party (SPD) plans to stick to the introduction of a minimum wage in the postal industry.
1,700 sick notes - every day; the number of staff away sick at Post Danmark has reached a new high.
Sepomex and the Mexican postal workers’ union have agreed on a new labour contract.
The Indonesian logistics company Pandu Siwi Group plans to sell 40 per cent of its shares to Emirates Post.
Slovenia plans to prevent a stealthy sell-off of the domestic industry by creating a logistics holding company.
Kiala plans to realise its market entry in Spain and Russia with investments of about 26m euros. For the company which, according to its own information, is the leading independent service provider for takeout store networks in Europe, the two markets bear astonishing resemblances. In both countries, consignments are delivered exclusively by the national postal service.
The joint venture logistics company between the Italian state railway Ferrovie dello Stato and Poste Italiane can begin. Last week, the executive boards of the post and the railway gave the green light for the 50 % shareholding in the company, Italian media reported.
The Hungarian antitrust authority GVH has imposed a fine equivalent to 1.8m euros on Magyar Posta and the newspaper distributor Lapker Ft.
Sinotrans Air Transportation Development Co. Ltd., a subsidiary of Sinotrans Limited, has announced that it will sell its 50 % shareholding in Exel-Sinotrans Freight Forwarding Co Ltd to DHL.
The Portuguese CTT Correios has announced that it is going into the telecom business. According to the company itself, it has obtained a license for a virtual mobile phone network and plans to launch a service offer as soon as December. The business will be offered through post office branches as well as franchise businesses.
The Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) has spoken very condescendingly condescendingly about the "logistics specialist" Österreichische Post’s lack of flexibility.

The MRU, founded in 1992, is the only consultancy in Europe, which has specialised in the market of courier-, express- and parcel services. For large-scale shippers and CEP-services in particular, the MRU provides interdisciplinary advice for all major questions of the market, as there are for example market entry, product design, organisation, and EDP.To learn more about the stories reported above, contact CEP News. (We appreciate the courtesy extended by CEP News to help whet your appetite for more of what CEP offers.)

UPU Director General Edouard DAYAN and Deputy Director General Guozhong HUANG, from France and China respectively, announced they would run for a second mandate from 2009–2012. Both made the announcement during the 2007 Council of Administration session, which ended at UPU headquarters in Berne. No other candidates have so far come forward to vie for the top UPU management positions. The Director General and Deputy Director General positions are elected by member countries at the UPU Congress. The next UPU Congress will take place from 13 August to 3 September in Nairobi (Kenya). Great Britain also announced it would run for the chairmanship of the Postal Operations Council (POC) from 2009–2012. The POC is the 40-member UPU body that deals with operational and technical issues regarding the postal sector.

The Worcester News has reported that "we exposed Royal Mail for leaving bags of mail unattended in gardens, wheelie bins and unlocked foyers in what postal workers call 'unsecured bag drops'. Readers who called us or commented on our website said the practice has been going on for some time."

According to China Daily, "China Post Group, operator of the country's postal system, will auction off 60 hotels, an asset exchange said, as the government urges state companies to shed non-core businesses. The China Beijing Equity Exchange, a site for trade in unlisted assets, said on its Web site that China Post would sell the hotels through an auction at the exchange."

A1Plus has noted that "Ms Siranush has been working as a postwoman for 27 years. She finds it her mission to deliver pension and letters to citizens. Nowadays postmen are “replaced” by new technologies- Internet, fax and mobile phones. Today one can come across rusty and old postboxes everywhere. Unfortunately, few people use them nowadays as postmen deliver letters directly to addressees. Besides, postal service is mainly available for servicemen who send letters gratis and for people ignorant of the Internet."

News.bg has reported that "Austrian postal operator ‘Oesterreichische Post' wants to get into Romanian, Bulgarian and Bosnian market in the coming 15 months, Reuters informed, cited by money.bg. We want to set up a network in the fragmented South-Eastern European market, company's Chief Financial Officer Rudolf Jettmar said on Tuesday. We want to fill in our blank spots in Bosnia, Bulgaria and Romania, Jettmar added. He also specified that the postal operator is aiming to take over private operators working in parcel delivery or distribution of advertising. ‘Oesterreichische Post' has spent 210 million EUR on takeovers in the first 3 quarters of 2007. The Austrian Post is already present in Slovakia, Croatia, Hungary and Serbia."

The Evening Standard has reported that "Postal watchdogs have quietly given the go-ahead to Royal Mail's plans to scrap traditional morning postal deliveries. Despite fierce opposition to the changes, industry regulator Postcomm failed to make a public statement about its decision to approve the scheme. The only notification of its stance is a document buried on the watchdog's website."

Air Cargo World has reported that "Matching competitors FedEx and UPS, DHL Express today announced a 4.9 percent increase in the net average shipping rate for DHL Domestic Air Express and International Express, as well as an average increase of 4.9 percent for DHL Ground Shipments and DHL@Home. The air and international hikes include a 6.9 percent average increase in base rates, offset by a 2 percent reduction in the Air fuel surcharge. The new rates become effective Jan. 6, 2008."

The Associated Press has reported that "Plagued by turmoil at the top, the American Red Cross ousted its president, Mark Everson, on Tuesday for engaging in a "personal relationship" with one of his subordinates. The Red Cross board appointed Mary S. Elcano, its general counsel for the past five years, as interim president and CEO. Elcano's past experience includes a stint as executive vice president of human resources with the U.S. Postal Service."

From Federal Business Opportunities: "The United States Postal Service (USPS) wishes to pre-qualify suppliers who can develop, implement, manage, and analyze information for a national Employee Engagement survey. The purpose of this system is to provide an independent, periodic measure of the satisfaction levels of Postal Service employees. Such a process should also help the USPS to identify which employee engagement drivers need attention to increase employee engagement. The USPS is seeking suppliers who apply current industry best practices and demonstrate innovative approaches to providing actionable insights into employees’ perceptions. Suppliers pre-qualified as part of this process may be invited to participate in response to a solicitation(s) issued by the USPS. It is the intent of the USPS to issue a solicitation for the measurement of employee engagement and analysis using pre-qualified suppliers."

The Hindu has reported that "India’s vast postal network can be utilised for providing various facilities including microfinance, banking and information-based services to the masses. The Department of Posts also needs to gear itself to strengthen its global network to meet challenges posed by its competitors, said Communications and Information Technology Minister A. Raja here on Tuesday."

APWU President William Burrus has slammed the Office of the Inspector General, charging that in a September audit report on employee benefit programs the office had inserted itself into the collective bargaining arena.

November 27, 2007

NOW OPEN...Attendee registration for the spring National Postal Forum happening May 18-21, 2008 in Anaheim, CA!

The Guardian has reported that "Postal workers have overwhelmingly backed a deal on pay and conditions finally ending their long-running dispute. The Communication Workers Union (CWU) said its members voted by 64% in favour of an agreement and will now receive a pay rise of 6.9% over two years." See also the BBC.

Traffic World has reported that "Economists in a new survey predict that the global economy will lose momentum in the last quarter of the year in every major region. Their predictions for the coming six months have been significantly revised downwards, according to the latest ICC/ Ifo World Economic Survey."

Postcomm, the independent regulator for UK postal services, has, following a consultation, decided to confirm its proposals made in August 2007 that Royal Mail should be given extra flexibility to increase some retail prices and that access margins should be left unchanged. These decisions are in response to the requests by Royal Mail, TNT Post and UK Mail for a review of some aspects of the 2006-10 Price Control1. As set out in Postcomm’s proposals document published in August, this decision would allow Royal Mail to raise the price of a second class stamp to 29p by 2010, subject to inflation (the original price cap was 26p). The price cap on a first class stamp will not be affected by this decision2. In addition, Postcomm has decided to reject the requests from Royal Mail, TNT Post and UK Mail to change the margin between Royal Mail’s prices for bulk mail products and the amount Royal Mail charges other mail operators for access to its network and delivery of bulk mail over the ‘final mile’. Royal Mail had wanted to reduce the margin and the two Access operators argued that it should be increased.

According to CNN Money, "Atlanta-based UPS is experiencing a blast from the past. It again has some electric vehicles carrying packages in various U.S. cities. Diesel-electric hybrids, natural-gas-powered trucks and a slew of other experimental vehicles also cruise city streets and highways. The company's morphing into a leader in using truck fleets powered by alternative fuels. And what it's learning offers pointers for other firms trying to lower costs and environmental impacts by using new vehicle tech. UPS has over 1,600 of its trucks using either hybrid or alternative-fueled drive systems around the world. The company says it's invested $15 million over the years in alternative vehicles. At the same time, UPS has a ways to go. So-called green vehicles amount to less than 2% of its total global fleet. That gas and diesel engines remain the norm at UPS underscores the hurdles in turning big brown trucks into green ones."

From PRWeb: "The Industry Measure has released "Publishing Forecast 2008," its annual look at the trends and forces that will impact book, magazine, and catalog publishers in the next 12 months and beyond. "Publishing Forecast 2008" looks at how publishers fared in the past 12 months, how they expect to fare in the next 12 months, and what the most important issues and trends affecting their businesses are, both today and tomorrow."

According to the Baltimore Sun, "The dead may read no mail, but tons of letters are still mailed to deceased people every day."

CaymanNet News has reported that "Two members of the Cayman Islands Postal Service “Gold Level” rated Express Mail Service (EMS) team recently facilitated a three-day training seminar for 30 staff members of the Jamaica postal service."

According to The Mirror, "A new row is on the cards as the Royal Mail struggles to plug a £5billion black hole in its pension fund. On the eve of a possible settlement to their current pay dispute, posties are furious at plans to make them work up to five years longer. The move is at the heart of radical proposals sent to 165,000 staff last week which could leave them thousands of pounds out of pocket. Other ideas include shutting their final-salary scheme to new recruits."

Forbes has reported that "Poste Italiane SpA, the company that runs Italy's post offices, aims to have 2 mln clients and 500 mln eur in revenues within three years through its PosteMobile virtual mobile operator, daily La Stampa cited CEO Massimo Sarmi as saying. PosteMobile, which will rent the telecommunications network from Vodafone, offers its clients a series of services including using their mobile phones to transfer money, check the balance on their checking account or pay bills."

The Alaska Journal of Commerce has reported that "The U.S. Postal Service is proposing changes to the bypass mail system that will cut $7 million a year from the cost of the program. The USPS issued a proposal to relocate the bypass mail hubs from larger rural communities like Bethel, to much smaller villages such as Anaktuvuk Pass. The problem is many of the small villages on the Postal Service list don't have the infrastructure to accommodate the aircraft used to move the mail."

November 26, 2007

The following reports posted recently on the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General website (http://www.uspsoig.gov/). If you have additional questions concerning a report, please contact Agapi Doulaveris at 703.248.2286.

According to Advertising Age, "Magazine publishers are already facing way too many rising costs: technology investments, postage, editors both diva and deserving. But the seemingly mundane budget line for glossy paper is suddenly the one everyone is worried about. Paper seems to be emerging from a competitive era of cyclically rising and falling prices. This year already has seen increases implemented and announced. Now structural changes, including mergers and a growing role for aggressive private equity, look likely to drive prices up next year by another 20% to 25%."

The Portsmith Herald News has reported that "Spending by state legislators on mail to constituents has risen sharply over the past two sessions, prompting critics to question whether incumbents are using tax dollars to boost their chances for re-election. Spending by House members jumped from $35,933 during the 2003-2004 legislative session to $95,378 in 2005-2006, according to records provided by the House clerk's office to the Maine Sunday Telegram. That's an increase of 265 percent, which far outstrips the rate of inflation and the rise in postal costs. The increase in mailings has drawn criticism from those who suggest it may be intended to raise visibility and attract votes at election time."

According to WYMT News, "You may call all those credit card applications and ads you get in the mail junk, but the United States Post Office says that isn't the case. Postal workers say during the Christmas season the United States Post Office will make about 58-million dollars, and nearly half of that revenue will come from bulk business mail. But if you just can't stand all the mailbox clutter they say you can just send it back. “They tear the item off and say ‘please do not send that to me’ and the stick it in the return business reply envelope and the customer pays 78 cents to get it back,” says Post Master Ray Lackey."

According to Kyodo, A government panel debating ways to stimulate competition in postal services has drawn up an interim report urging the government to drastically ease requirements for new comers to enter the postal business."

Bloomberg has reported that "DHL Express, the largest courier in China, plans to build a $175 million hub in Shanghai because of the country's growing shipments of documents, auto parts and mobile phones."

The Press Information Bureau of India has reported that the "following steps have been taken by the Department of Posts to enhance the revenue earning ability of the organization: Business Development and Marketing Directorate has been set up in the Department of Posts. It aims at developing new products and services and aims to make Department of Posts a customer oriented organization with business approach; A number of business products like Speed Post, Express Parcel Post and Business Post have been introduced; Value additions like collection from customer premises, credit facility, volume based discounts, door to door delivery, online track and trace system, pre-mailing services etc. have been introduced; Retail network of the Department of Post has been leveraged for providing new services and generating additional revenue and The department has taken initiatives to work out various business alliances and partnership with public and private corporations for leveraging the postal network in rural as well as urban areas."

November 25, 2007

The Daily Mirror has noted that "The postal services in Sri Lanka will come to a standstill when 19,000 postal workers launch an indefinite strike from 12 midnight today to press three demands, the General Secretary of Lanka Postal Workers Association, Rohana Fernando said. The strike would cripple the functioning of the Central Mail Exchange, Foreign Parcel and Mail Service, all Post Offices and Administrative Offices islandwide."

The Evening Standard has noted that "Chancellor Alistair Darling faced fresh criticism last night over his handling of the child-benefit data crisis - from the company he blamed for losing the two computer discs. Courier firm TNT, which Mr Darling named in his emergency statement to MPs last week, said that there was "no evidence" that it was responsible. And it has become clear that Royal Mail and private courier DX also operate postal services at HM Revenue & Customs, the Government department that lost the data."

Postal and logistical industry observer Alan Robinson has noted that "Economists are increasingly acknowledging that the economy has slowed considerably. The number that now forecast a recession in the near term has doubled. He noted some of the challenges to managing in this environment."

As the Canton Repository has noted, "For the 88 people who sort your mail, a proposal to send some of that work out of town, out of their hands, was a slap in the face. The U.S. Postal Service realizes that. “It’s emotional, a Canton pride thing,” said Bill Cullison, plant manager of the Canton district’s processing center on Cleveland Avenue NW, who supports the plan. “It’s not the workers. We have very good workers here.” So how do you rationalize a plan to move the sorting and canceling of the area’s first-class mail to Akron?"

November 24, 2007

According to Sustainable Industries, "Most carbon offsets allow individuals to buy credits toward counteracting the carbon emitted by their own direct actions. ShipGreen, an Arvada-based start-up, is tackling a new segment of the offset market: shipping. U.S. companies and organizations use nearly 7 million trucks and 20,000 Class 1 locomotives to transport over 9 billion tons of goods each year, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Ground freight accounts for 20 percent of all energy consumed in the transportation sector. Trucks carry about 66 percent of all freight shipped in the country, while rail carries about 16 percent. (Water, pipeline, and air transport account for the rest.) Together, truck and rail transport consume 35 billion gallons of diesel fuel each year, the EPA reports."

According to the Wall Street Journal, "Retailers are expected to have a mediocre shopping season, amid higher prices for food and gas, economic worries and toy recalls."

icPerthshire has reported that "a Royal Mail spokeswoman has commented on allegations that a Crieff postie had dumped up to 10,000 letters in one month. In an email to the Herald the spokeswoman stated: "I can confirm that a postman working at Crieff Delivery office has been suspended as part of an ongoing investigation into intentional delay of mail."

The Wall Street Journal has reported that "Commerzbank AG Chief Executive Klaus-Peter Müller said Friday the German bank is interested in Deutsche Postbank AG."

A rural carrier web site has an interesting feature on flat sequence sorting.

Today's TMJ4 has reported that "Claudia Marinkovich got a certified letter this week that shocked her. Her employer, The U.S. Postal Service, told her not to report to work on November 24th. Claudia is one of at least 20 workers in the Milwaukee Post Office who got the letters. All of them had requested light duty because of various disabilities. The letters say there is "no productive work available within your restrictions."

The Charleston Daily Mail has noted that "in May, the Postal Service launched its “shape-based” initiative, adding a surcharge for oddly shaped envelopes like squares. It will take Americans a while to get used to it. If mailed in a standard-sized, oblong envelope, a one-ounce letter costs just 41 cents. But mailing a non-standard envelope now costs $58. But contrary to what critics suggest, this shapism is not crazy. Standard envelopes can be sorted by machines. Non-standard envelopes require human intervention — a lot of it, and people are expensive....Bravo to the post office for cutting costs."

November 23, 2007

The Washington Post has reported that "despite the fabulous harvest and the boom in ethanol made from corn, corn farmers often sound beleaguered and aggrieved. Corn, they say, has been getting a bad rap. "You have to wear a flak jacket," said Bill Couser, who farms 5,000 acres here in central Iowa. "When we planted this crop, people said we were the villains of the world." The gist of the criticism: So much corn, doing so many things, serving as both food and fuel, and backed by billions of dollars in government subsidies, has been bad for America and the rest of the world. Environmentalists decry the impact on soil, waterways and wildlife of so much acreage planted in vast tracts of a thirsty, fertilizer-hungry plant. Corn, in the form of high-fructose corn syrup, is even accused of causing the national obesity epidemic. Recently Jean Ziegler, the United Nations expert on the "right to food," called the diversion of food crops to biofuels a "crime against humanity."  [Who'da thunk? Corn has become agriculture's "junk mail."]

The Daily Sentinel has claimed that "Postal, shipping services getting ready for onslaught." [Editor's Note: Given the economy, they'd better pray the "onslaught" comes.]

According to KGW-TV, "A federal jury has awarded a former postal worker $258,000 for emotional damage she said she suffered during years of verbal abuse by the Medford postmaster."

The Republic of Botswana has noted that "The Minister of Communications, Science and Technology Mrs Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi is expected to officially open a two-day National Postal Policy stakeholders consultative seminar in Gaborone. The purpose of the seminar is to solicit public views on the policy. The ministry says in a press release that the development of the event follows public concerns that the lack of a policy hampers service delivery and infrastructure development. Consequently, the draft policy will interrogate the need to define a structure for governments vision in terms of service provision in the postal sector. The seminar will be held under the theme: Postal Policy-Responding to challenges of postal services in the digital age."

As the Naperville Sun has noted, "By today's standards, it's decidedly low-tech. You can't download it onto your iPod or MP3 player. It doesn't have a plasma screen, nor is there anything high-definition about it. People don't trample each other the day after Thanksgiving to find one. But still, the simple pieces of folded paper known as holiday greeting cards fly off the shelves, especially this time of year. The U.S. Postal Service says 20 billion cards, letters and packages will be delivered between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Close to 2 billion holiday cards will go from one thoughtful person's mailbox to another, according to the Greeting Card Association. And even with the advent of free e-greetings, paper cards aren't going away anytime soon, the trade group says." See also Topix.

And then there's this from the 24-7 news release service: "A staggering 744 million Christmas cards were delivered by the Royal Mail in 2005. An estimated 1 billion Christmas cards (that's 17 per man, woman and child), weighing 20,000 tonnes will end up in the bin this Christmas. 200,000 trees will be cut down to make the Christmas cards and envelopes that we send each Christmas in the UK. Many of the Christmas cards could still be with us in 30 years time, there is evidence that landfill sites actually preserve paper instead of letting it naturally degrade, this is due to the lack of Oxygen underground which in turn stops the bacteria being able grow and feed off the waste. To help reduce this waste HOH Ltd is using the power of the internet to persuade companies to send an eCard this Christmas. An eCard is a Christmas card sent via email and has many advantages over a traditional paper card."

According to The Motley Fool, "Both FedEx and UPS have strong growth prospects, and an investment in either company's stock is likely to reward long-term investors. In the near term, however, UPS seems better-equipped to weather a sluggish economy, and less volatile in its share price than FedEx."

The Postalnews Blog has reported that an "Arbitrator has denied a rural ‘fletters’ grievance."

As The Statesman has noted, "Costa Rica doesn't have a standardized system of addresses — at least not ones that can be typed into MapQuest. Many streets aren't named, and virtually none has a sign. Many houses don't have numbers. Only a few pockets of the country use anything close to the "123 Main St." format that Americans would recognize. Instead, most Costa Rican addresses are expressed in relation to the closest community landmark. In colonial times, that was the church or town hall. Today, it could be a fast-food joint or car dealership." [Editor's Note: Sort of "Don't deliver to you. Don't deliver to me. Deliver to the man behind the tree." Try putting THAT in an intelligent bar code.]

The Norman Transcript has reported that "The U.S. Postal Service formally opened its third training center on the campus of the National Center for Employee Development on State Highway 9 in east Norman this past week. NCED Manager Scott P. Morgan led dignitaries in cutting the ribbon on the 128,000-square-foot Northeast Learning Center. It will accommodate massive flat-mail processing equipment that is too large for NCED’s existing training buildings. There are dozens of the machines placed around the country in mail processing centers and employees will come to Norman to train on operation and maintenance."

The San Francisco Chronicle has reported that "A check by the Washington Post of 60 people whose names were attached to identical, anti-merger e-mails instigated by the National Association of Broadcasters, a major opponent of the merger, produced mostly unanswered phone calls and recordings saying the phones were disconnected. Of the 10 people reached, nine said they never sent anything to the FCC. The responses raise questions debated a lot in Congress and at federal agencies lately: Are the hundreds of millions of narrow-interest e-mails that deluge official Washington each year a useful measure of public sentiment? Are they even being sent by real people? Congress is also wary of the trend. A poll of 350 congressional staffers conducted by the Congressional Management Institute in 2005 indicated that half of them did not believe that form-letter messages were sent with the knowledge or approval of constituents. Yet the volume of e-mail has skyrocketed. House and Senate offices received 318 million electronic messages last year, up from 200 million e-mails and postal letters in 2004."

ITWire claims that "A new message has arrived saying “it’s time” to consider electoral voting via SMS, thanks to mobile phones, SMS text messaging and voting by SMS for TV show contestants an everyday reality for years now."

The Philippine Information Agency has noted that "In its efforts to give more satisfactory and improved quality of postal services to its constituents, the Philippine Postal Corporation (PhilPost), Region 8 through the leadership of Regional Director Fabiolita P. Ferraris recently introduced the premium services of Priority and Express (PREX) mails which has been proven to be faster, safer and more reliable mail service delivery."

The Toronto Sun has reported that "Posties in several parts of Canada are increasingly being told where to stuff junk mail they are now forced to deliver -- even knowing a person no longer lives at an address. And a consumer group says Canada Post's motive for not letting carriers divert wrongly addressed admail to a shredder, mark it "return to sender" or deliver to a new address is keeping businesses happy. Canada Post vows to stop delivery of unaddressed admail sent to "occupant" or left blank, if a note is put on a mailbox and the occupant signs a subsequent release form delivered by a carrier."

Steve Barr of the Washington Post has noted that "Anthony J. Vegliante, chief human resources officer and executive vice president of the U.S. Postal Service, will be the guest on IBM's "Business of Government Hour" at 9 a.m. Saturday on WJFK radio (106.7 FM)."

November 22, 2007

As courier-transport-postal industry expert Alan Robinson has noted, "The funding of pensions is an important issue for both United Parcel Service and DHL in the United States market. Both carriers participate in Teamster multiemployer plans. While UPS will be withdrawing from Central States plan before the end of the year, it still a contributor to twenty other multiemployer plans and offers a single employer pension plan to its part-time employees and some non-union employees. Now that the true risk associated with these investments are becoming known, questions are being raised about whether any of the parties that were involved in decisions to invest in structured debt failed in their responsibilities and should be held financially accountable for losses that pension funds have incurred."

According to PC Magazine's John Dvorak, "One thing is certain: Web users don't want to pay for anything, ever. Sadly, the only way that equation works is with advertising. I have nothing against advertising, except when you cannot turn around without being confronted by it. We are inundated. An hour-long television show is 20 minutes of advertising and 40 minutes of content. In other words, 1 minute of advertising for every 2 minutes of content. This excess is obvious when you flip through the networks looking for something to watch and get 15 minutes of nothing but advertising. Here's a humorous idea: Why not have 2 minutes of content followed by a 1-minute ad break, then 2 minutes of content, then an ad . . . on and on all night? This is similar to the way radio stations break for ads constantly. The public does not like all these TV ads and will watch PBS to avoid them."

The Newark Star Ledger has reported that "Changes in the U.S. Postal Service's long-running Operation Santa charity, in which the mail workers and volunteers bought gifts to answer needy children's letters to Santa, have led to anger and disappointment among volunteers. In the past, the Newark Post Office did everything it could to make it easy for private volunteers to contribute. People could come to the post office and pick up a letter from a child or call and a letter would be sent to them. This year, however, donors must come in person to the Newark Post Office. They must sign an Operation Santa Letter Adoption contract holding the U.S. Postal Service blameless "against any and all causes of action, claims, liens, rights or interests of any kind or type whatsoever ..." and show photo ID. No longer will the post office wrap and deliver the gifts for free. The decision to end free delivery was made locally based on input from the law department in Washington, said USPS spokesman George Flood, adding there is no chance the agency will change its policy."

Reuters has reported that ""While UPS and FedEx are not immune to an economic slowdown, they should continue to perform well thanks in part to online sales."

According to Canadian Postal Workers Union president Deborah Bourque, "Large international corporations have been salivating at the thought of carving up the public postal pie for years. An obscure bill called C-14 may give them their first slice. If passed, this bill will hand international mailers a carving knife called deregulation."

According to the News & Observer, "FedEx, UPS and the Postal Service have all increased prices to help counter the higher fuel costs they are paying. For years, UPS and FedEx have added a surcharge based on the price of diesel and jet fuel which can make shipping costs fluctuate. With crude oil prices hitting record highs, the recent movement in shipping prices has been up -- way up."

Caboodle.hu has reported that "The Competition Office (GVH) has penalised the state-owned postal service Magyar Posta and regional periodical distributor Lapker Ft 468 million apiece, after it proved that the two companies had agreed not to enter each other's markets."

As the Prague Post has noted, "Traditional postal service providers are experiencing challenging times. The golden age of mail is gone, killed by the advent of electronic communications, while postal operators in the Czech Republic and abroad are pushing to discover new rationales for their existence."

AMEInfo has reported that "Emirates Post showcased its advanced POS system and other IT solutions at Post Tech, a major international event on postal technology, held in Jeddah recently."

Trading Markets has reported that "SingPost said last month it will continue to grow its core businesses of mail and logistics locally, and extend its regional reach."

The Times-News has reported that "To glimpse how migration is changing the world, consider Western Union, a fixture of American lore that went bankrupt selling telegrams at the dawn of the Internet age but now earns nearly $1 billion a year helping poor migrants across the globe send money home."

Transport Intelligence has reported that "Global express and mail operator TNT has become embroiled in a political storm in the UK following the loss of two computer disks containing the contact and bank details of 25 million taxpayers in that country."

According to Precision Marketing, "The Communications Workers Union has refused to get involved in the so-called ‘data-gate’, claiming that, as the union has members in all the postal operating companies, it cannot comment."

Reuters has noted that "Prime Minister Gordon Brown apologised on Wednesday for the tax authority losing the personal details of nearly half the population in an error which has dealt a new blow to his government. The government says there is no evidence the discs, which disappeared after being sent via Dutch postal and parcel company TNT NV, have fallen into criminal hands."

MarketingWeek has reported that "Fedex Express has launched a global advertising campaign to highlight how the delivery company helps customers to access market opportunities. It breaks today (November 21) across the UK, France, Germany and India."

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