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Source:  http://postcom.org/

                                                                      
Association for Postal Commerce

"Representing those who use or support the use of mail for Business Communication and Commerce"


1901 N. Fort Myer Dr., Ste 401 * Arlington, VA 22209-1609 * Ph.: +1 703 524 0096 * Fax: +1 703 524 1871

March 26, 2009


Some questions and thoughts from the editor:

  • In America today, mail is predominantly a commercial medium. It's chief role in society today is to serve commerce.
  • Advertising and marketing are key commercial activities that have a long relationship with the mail.
  • Where is advertising and marketing going today? How is advertising and marketing evolving in today's economic environment?
  • What is the role of mail in the development of commercial markets?
  • What must be done to enhance the value and utility of mail as a medium for commercial development?
  • Are the programs and activities undertaken today by the Postal Service designed to facilitate or frustrate economic development and commerce?
  • What does the Postal Service need to do in terms of products and services to ensure that mail fulfills its role as an engine of commerce?

[Editor's Note: On March 24, we published an article by Lowrance and Del Polito regarding the projections of postal volume and revenue, and the USPS' ability to withstand losses. Quite obviously, that article was based on Postal Service mail volumes and revenues as they either were known or were projected to be at the time of writing. Given the Postal Service's revised mail volume estimate of an FY 2009 anticipated mail volume loss of 30 billion pieces, the conclusions expressed by the authors must change. In a way...all bets are off. Now it's up to Congress. If Congress fails to act on the Postal Service's retiree health benefit funding request, the USPS will go the way of the gooney bird.]

The Washington Times has reported that "Postmaster General John E. Potter on Wednesday defended his receipt of $135,000 in bonuses while asking a House subcommittee for approval to refinance employee health care benefits to prevent having to cut mail services. The chairwoman of the board of governors defended the compensation package as fair, particularly compared with private-sector competitors.:

The Financial Times has told its readers to "Look at UPS and FedEx. History has dealt America’s two main delivery companies very different levels of unionisation among staff. UPS, with an origin in logistics, is the largest single employer of Teamsters, the union with which it collectively bargains every six years. FedEx, on the other hand, started life as an airline and so is covered by rules designed to limit railroad strikes. The bulk of its delivery van drivers are contractors, not full-time employees."

From PR Newswire: "Letter Carriers union President William H. Young told a House hearing today that the survival of the U.S. Postal Service, endangered by the greed and recklessness of financial firms and Wall Street, could depend on whether Congress enacts bipartisan legislation that would save the Postal Service billions of dollars in how it funds health benefits for retirees. "We are not here today to ask for a taxpayer bailout, but we are here to ask the Congress for help," Young said in testimony to the House Subcommittee on Federal Workforce, Postal Service and the District of Columbia. "At this moment, the survival of the Postal Service -- a venerable institution that is literally older than our country -- hangs in the balance," Young said. "The Great Recession we face today threatens to destroy the most trusted and universal connection most Americans have with their national government."

As the Washington Post put it, "If the U.S. Postal Service delivered mail by boat, it would be a sinking ship. A large hole in the hull, punched by a huge iceberg named Recession, is draining mail volume while it allows financial losses to flow in and drown the service in a financial swamp. The Postal Service is in dreadful shape and needs quick help from Congress to continue delivering the mail."

According to GovExec.com, "The roster of new federal pay and benefits decision-makers is lining up in the executive and legislative branches. The current leaders in the administration and Congress who will craft policies affecting the federal workforce are strong defenders of traditional employee benefits, as might be expected from a Democratic-controlled government. They have fought to preserve cost-of-living pay increases, opposed what they deemed to be unfair pay-for-performance systems, and worked to keep federal workers' health care costs low. Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., , the federal workforce subcommittee's new chairman, also has touted his federal pay and benefit credentials since assuming a leadership role. He also has long personal experience with federal employee policies -- 17 members of his family work for the government, mostly for the U.S. Postal Service."

According to the Globe and Mail, "When it comes to their importance, there's so much more to small cultural magazines than their circulation. The value of cultural magazines shouldn't be calculated solely on the basis of circulation, nor should their funding. These magazines provide an essential service to the nation as incubators of creative innovation."

The Memphis Business Journal has reported that "The International Brotherhood of Teamsters said late Wednesday FedEx Corp. intends to “blackmail Congress” by threatening to cancel a multi-billion dollar airplane contract order if its FedEx Express workers are allowed an easier path to unionization."

FedEx Express, a subsidiary of FedEx Corp.has announced the expansion of its FedEx World Service Centers® (WSCs) with the opening of four new centers in Mexico City. The new FedEx WSCs , located at Insurgentes Sur Avenue, Polanco, Vallejo Road and Patriotismo Avenue, respond to the demands of FedEx Express Nacional, the Company’s new domestic express service that serves all 32 Mexican states.

On the Postal Regulatory Commission website:

  • Rule: ACR2008 Order No. 196 - Order Concerning Motion to Make Core Cost, Volume, and Revenue Materials Public Link: http://www.prc.gov/docs/62/62766/Order196.pdf 
  • Postal Regulatory Commission Chairman Dan G. Blair underscored the need for further cost reduction measures by the Postal Service at yesterday's today before the House subcommittee which oversees the Postal Service. Blair told Subcommittee Chairman Stephen F. Lynch and subcommittee members, “Today, the Postal Service is facing dire financial difficulties that are likely to worsen before they improve. The current economic crisis has substantially impacted Postal Service volumes and revenues.”

The Associated Press has published a report on yesterday's postal oversight hearing. See also GovExec.com.

The Mailers Technical Advisory Committee has formed a work group designed to "Facilitate mail volume growth by identifying regulations or requirements that add no postal and/or customer value hence hindering mail growth and proposing modifications or elimination of those barriers as practical." It hopes for outcomes such as: 1.      Allow for greater flexibility in such things as mailpiece shape, graphics, postage payment and permit formats. 2. Allow marketers more creative options for producing direct mail pieces that stand out in the mailbox, increase response rates and can be processed efficiently. 3. Reduce the barriers to entry and costs of preparing mailings by simplifying or eliminating obsolete or restrictive make up and entry rules that add no postal or customer value. 4. Consider new rate categories for mailers who may value creative flexibility and ease of preparation over the lowest postage rates. 5. Remove barriers that may discourage the use of mail as an advertising channel for new business." Anyone interested in participating should contact: Wande Senne, Workgroup Leader.

March 25, 2009

On the Postal Regulatory Commission web site:

Rule: Daily listing
MC2005-2 Docket No. MC2005-2, Data Collection Report for HSBC NSA, Jan. 2008 - Dec. 2008
Link: http://www.prc.gov/docs/62/62763/HSBC.EOY.Report.08.Complete.pdf
http://www.prc.gov/docs/62/62763/HSBC.EOY.08.Appendix.xls

Testimony of Chairman Dan G. Blair on "Restoring the Financial Stability of the U.S. Postal Service: What Needs to be Done?" before the House Subcommittee on the Federal Workforce, Postal Service, and the District of Columbia
Link: http://www.prc.gov/docs/62/62764/House%20Hearing%20March%202009%20th.pdf

From today's postal oversight hearing in the House: Documents and Links

The PMG got the expected questions regarding his compensation and his Countrywide home loan, but the real meat of the congressional questions had to do with the Postal Service's financial plight and its operational realities. The PMG told Congress that the key is mail volume. The USPS needs to grow mail volume, but there needs to be an understanding that not all the mail will come back. The most critical thing the USPS faces is that it will run out of money. The question then becomes who doesn't get paid. The structural aspects of the business need to be explored and rectified. He said he believed the USPS could be a self-sustaining enterprise for years to come, but not under the present business model. See also the USPS Press Release  on today's hearing and an accompanying "Fact Sheet."

Hellmail has reported that:

  • The UK postal regulator, Postcomm, today announced that it has begun an investigation into the way Royal Mail prices access and retail packets services for business users. The Mail Competition Forum and TNT Post Group complained to Postcomm, in January and May 2008 that Royal Mail was creating a margin squeeze for some 2nd class packets services. Postcomm is to examine the margin allowed between the retail and access prices between 0-2kgs, whether it is sufficient for other operators to be able to access Royal Mail’s wholesale network profitably, and whether they are able to compete in the retail market. It will also look at the allegedly unfair differential pricing structures which exist between some Royal Mail retail and wholesale packets services.
  • Belgian postal operator La Poste says it is committed to limiting to the maximum the impact of its activities on the environment. The company has announced its objectives aimed at reducing its emissions of CO2 by 35% before 2012. Already on track to improve its carbon footprint it anticipates a decrease in consumption of energy over the 2005-2012 period of at least 7.5%. In addition, La Poste has decided to only use recycled paper or paper from managed forests.
  • Turnover at Swiss Post International was slightly lower in 2008 compared with 2007 as a result of exchange rates. Overall, turnover came to EUR 652 m, which was EUR 45 m less than in 2007. By contrast, profit at Swiss Post International went up by EUR 2 m to EUR 23 m (2007: EUR 21 m). 

The Future of Freedom Foundation wants to know: "The U.S. Postal Service has announced that another in its endless series of rate increases will take effect in May. The announcement raises a question that unfortunately too few Americans ever ask themselves: Why not simply abolish the Postal Service or at least repeal its monopoly on first-class mail delivery? The Postal Service says that its monopoly is necessary because without it, it claims, people in the mountains would be unable to get their mail. The rationale is spurious, however. After all, people in the mountains get their milk, bread, and other essential items without monopoly privileges being granted in those enterprises. Similarly, people in the mountains would figure out how to get their mail delivered as well. The U.S. Postal Service’s monopoly is an anachronism, one that not only provides a shoddy, expensive product but also one that violates America’s heritage of economic liberty. America’s postal monopoly deserves immediate repeal."

According to The Nation, "Communities across America are suffering through a crisis that could leave a dramatically diminished version of democracy in its wake. It is not the economic meltdown, although the crisis is related to the broader day of reckoning that appears to have arrived. The crisis of which we speak involves more than mere economics. Journalism is collapsing, and with it comes the most serious threat in our lifetimes to self-government and the rule of law as it has been understood here in the United States. After years of neglecting signs of trouble, elite opinion-makers have begun in recent months to recognize that things have gone horribly awry. Journals ranging from Time, The New Yorker, The Atlantic and The New Republic to the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times concur on the diagnosis: newspapers, as we have known them, are disintegrating and are possibly on the verge of extinction. In a nutshell, media corporations, after running journalism into the ground, have determined that news gathering and reporting are not profit-making propositions. So they're jumping ship."

PostCom has learned that postal staff at headquarters have been told it would be a good idea if they "spiffed up" their resumes. An ax could fall on more than a few heads.

"The United States Postal Service is planning to cut thousands of management jobs in the face of a $6 billion budget deficit. The agency will also offer early retirement to 150,000 workers and close six district offices. William Young, president of The National Association of Letter Carriers, tells FederalNewsRadio that USPS employees are just the latest victims of the economic crisis. "Nothing we did, nothing the postal service did and nothing the postal industry did caused this crisis," he says. "We're a victim just like everybody else in the country right now, and we're just doing the best we can to see this thing through."

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

Johnny Thijs, CEO of Belgium’s La Poste, presented some good business results for his company at a press conference last Thursday. 2008 saw a 2.2% increase in turnover (2.26bn euros) as well as a net profit growth of 53% to 179m euros for La Poste. "We were able to reestablish the financial equilibrium again after heavy losses in 2002 and 2003. Although this situation remains fragile, the positive profitability trend enhances the position and prospect of La Poste", Mr Thijs optimistically declared.
The Russian post intends to increase its turnover by almost 5% this year and - more importantly - remain in the black. In an interview with Russian businessoriented newspaper »Kommersant« (19.03) the post’s new general director Alexander Kiselyov stated this aim as well as the ambition to "turn the post into one of Russia’s most profitable state-owned companies". When it comes to modernising the post, emphasis must be on developing the postal infrastructure, setting up an aircraft fleet, developing express services and using "aggressive marketing", said Mr Kiselyov.
The U.S. Postal Service has announced another round of cost cutting measures in a bid to get out of the red.
France’s La Poste confirmed the takeover of the Romanian Hit Mail this Monday. The purchase was made through the subsidiary company MediaPost. Hit Mail consists of 5 companies with 550 employees, and generated a turnover of 7.8m euros last year. The company specialises in advertising mail in Romania.
Posten på Åland enjoyed a successful financial year in 2008.
Still in dire financial straits, Latvijas Pasts now demands that business customers make a monthly advance payment for mail deliveries.
Last year Liechtensteinische Post AG crossed the 50m CHF - 32.7m euros - turnover threshold for the first time.
Australia Post wants to make its international "Click and send" mail service popular among smaller enterprises. The service allows customers to prepare the documentation required for their international consignments online and then click to choose the dispatch mode (collection by the post or drop-off at the post office) and payment method.
Representatives of the Finnish and Norwegian post companies have voiced criticism over the planned merger between Post Danmark and Sweden’s Posten AB.
Posten Norge could be ordered to pay a fine of several million euros as well as making compensation payments for breaching competition laws.
The global economic situation has affected FedEx much more deeply than expected.
UPS is currently negotiating with Slovenian Intereuropa regarding the purchase of the logistics operator’s international parcel division.
GeoPost, the parcel express subsidiary company of the French La Poste, managed to increase its turnover - primarily through acquisitions - by 7.1 per cent to almost 3.3bn euros in 2008.
ABX Air and DHL have reached a settlement in their dispute concerning an alleged breach of contract.
As part of a global campaign by governments against price fixing in the air cargo industry, Japanese carriers have now been asked to pay up. Japan’s competition authority has found 12 leading carriers guilty of forming a cartel with the aim of raising air cargo prices.
TNT has announced an intensive cooperation with the Mexican CEP service Redpack.
Online shopping is popular in Finland, too.
DHL Supply Chain in Spain is offering buildings worth 15m euros for sale in order to absorb the decline in logistics activities.
The Eerste Kamer of the Dutch Parliament approved the new Postal Act this Tuesday. This means that the postal market in the Netherlands can be opened up completely on 1 April 2009.
Poste Italiane turned over more and earned more money in 2008.
Despite a decline in business triggered by the financial crisis, the South African post will still show a profit for last year.
The Greek post ELTA has put the third of its new, more modern mail centres into operation in Patras.
During the presentation of the annual results, Johnny Thijs, CEO of the Belgian La Poste, confirmed his interest in a stake in Tachimetafores ELTA, the express subsidiary company of the Greek post ELTA.
The introduction of a new air connection by China Post has accelerated postal communication.
Lufthansa Cargo is expecting business to weaken considerably during 2009 due to the economic crisis.
TNT Post is set to open at least 150 post shops in the Albert Heijn chain of supermarkets in the Netherlands in the next few years.
In Sverdlovsk an investigation is underway into an incident involving the Russian post and the WEFK-Ural bank. At the beginning of the year, the sum of 1bn RUB (21m euros) vanished from an account at the post’s Sverdlovsk branch. The money had been earmarked for pensions. Investigating a case of serious fraud, the public prosecution stated that the pension fund had sent the amount via the WEFK-Ural bank to the Russian post, where it vanished without a trace. The prosecutors further stated that the bank had experienced financial difficulties for some time and had filed for bankruptcy in February this year.

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.)

Welcome to PostCom Radio
PostCom Postal Podcast

Join PostCom President Gene Del Polito, PostCom Vice President Jessica Lowrance, and USPS Senior Vice President of Operations William Galligan in a discussion of  the Postal Service's plans to reorganize its mail processing and distribution network.

Politics.co.uk has reported that "in a question to Pat McFadden, Minister of State for Employment Relations and Postal Affairs, James expressed concern about Clause 20 of the Postal Services Bill, which would allow the Government to take both Royal Mail’s assets and deficits onto the same balance sheet.The most recent estimates put the Royal Mail pension deficit at £5.9 billion. By assuming liability for the pension scheme the Government is pledging to remove the deficit, through an injection of public money. The scheme also has £23.5 billion in assets, James is therefore concerned, that should these two funds be merged and spent in the same year, the public will have to bail out the full pension scheme of nearly £30 billion.

From USPS LiteBlue: "The Postal Service recently received approval from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to offer voluntary early retirement to eligible employees nationwide. Automation and technological advances coupled with mail volume reductions has the Postal Service continuing to look for ways to voluntarily reduce its workforce while maintaining excellent customer service. This offer is open to employees in those positions who meet the OPM conditions, and who are at least 50 years of age with 20 years of creditable federal service or any age with 25 years of creditable federal service."

The Tallahassee Democrat has reported that "A caldron of frustration is brewing in the Oak Ridge community. After nearly six months' worth of phone calls and complaints to the U.S. Postal Service, residents are still having trouble securing their mail. "It's ridiculous," Sheila Clayton said. "Mail is misdirected regularly, and it's getting out of hand." Clayton, 54, is one of several residents in the area who say that their mail has not been delivered or has gone missing."

Tax-exempt status for newspapers? Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, the provision that confers tax-exempt status to educational and religious groups, would be expanded to newspapers under legislation introduced by Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin to stem the newspaper publishing industry's march to financial failure. [EdNote: Great....Now let's see what Congress will do for its postal system.]

The March 25, 2009 issue of the National Association of Postal Supervisors (NAPS) Legislative & Regulatory Update has been posted on this site. Topics: (1) USPS to Face Tough Questions from Congress; (2) NAPS Leaders Prepare to Take the Hill.  

According to Hellmail:

  • The Poste Italiane Group, led by Massimo Sarmi, announced a positive operating performance for the seventh consecutive FY, recording Net Profit of € 882.6 million, up 4.6% (€ 843.6 million in 2007), and Operating Profit of € 1.5 billion (1.78 in 2007). Total Revenue of € 17.9 billion, up 3.9%: in particular, results for the FY showed financial and insurance services holding up well (+ 2% and +7.7% respectively), with a small drop of 0.8% in correspondence.
  • Swiss Post will be lowering some of its letter prices and simplifying its range as of 1 July 2009. This was the agreement reached between Swiss Post and the price supervisor. The agreement includes price advantages of around 200 million Swiss francs per year. Consumers and the economy will benefit as a result. The main measures involve making all letters subject to VAT and thus introducing a comprehensive price reduction for most business customers.

From PR Newswire: "Thanks to ChildFund Sweden (Barnfonden) and Posten (the Swedish postal service) children are able to connect with one another through the program, Post Pals. Post Pals is a classroom-based pen pal program that matches classrooms in Sweden with children in Christian Children's Fund-supported classes in The Gambia, Ethiopia, India, Philippines, Uganda and Zambia. But going beyond mere letter writing, the program also encourages the cultural exchange and enhancement of classrooms for children ages 8-12 through curriculum-based assignments. From an academic program perspective, Post Pals improves reading, writing, analytical and self-expression skills. Because it's integrated into the classroom, it infuses excitement and creativity with learning. But for these children, Post Pals allows the chance for expression; the chance to share their own voice and perspective in exciting new ways. The joy they find in art, writing, photography and song now holds even more meaning. Not only are they learning, they are becoming increasingly confident." [EdNote: OMG U hv 2 rt? BumR]

According to the PostalNews Blog, "Figures released by the US Postal Service show that the organization spent $78.4 million on relocating employees in the fiscal year that ended September 30, 2008. Of that, almost half, or $37.9 million went to “Residence Purchase and/or Sale/Lease”. The USPS home purchase program for relocated employees has been a subject of controversy since it was revealed that the USPS had spent $1.2 million to purchase the home of a South Carolina postmaster who had taken a voluntary lateral transfer to a position in Texas. Just under $15 million of the home purchase funds money went to Headquarters and Area staff, which account for less than four thousand of the postal service’s 632,000 career employees. A similar amount went to postmasters and supervisors, who make up a much larger share, about 54,000 employees, of the workforce. Employees of the Inspection Service and the Office of the Inspector General, about 3,900 total staff. got $3.4 million in home purchase benefits, down from almost $7 million the prior year. Home purchase benefits for clerks, carriers and mail handlers came to just over three hundred thousand dollars."

U.S. Senator Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, today sent a letter to John E. Potter, the Postmaster General of the United States, urging him to consider the impact on small businesses of reducing the United States Postal Service’s (USPS) delivery week from six days to five. Snowe cited the potential negative consequences such an action could have on America’s roughly 27.2 million small businesses.

Federal News Radio has posted on its site an interview with USPS Deputy Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe.

The Daily Mail has reported that "The Government will not support any further post office closures programme, Business Secretary Lord Mandelson said today. He told peers: 'The closures of the past year were difficult but they were necessary. 'And I can say this afternoon to noble Lords that the Government have no intention of supporting any further programme of post office closures.'"

The Journal of Commerce has reported that "FedEx is holding billions of dollars worth of business – and jobs – over the heads of Congress and the Obama administration by conditioning future aircraft purchases on keeping its parcel drivers away from the National Labor Relations Act. The express carrier notes in its March 22 quarterly earnings report filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission that an option exercised in January to purchase 30 Boeing 777 aircraft is contingent on “there being no event that causes FedEx Express or its employees not to be covered by the Railway Labor Act.” FedEx also holds an option to purchase another fifteen 777s from Boeing. The condition puts pressure on lawmakers to withdraw language currently in the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill requiring FedEx Express workers to be covered under the more union-friendly National Labor Relations Act."

March 24, 2009

On the Postal Regulatory Commission web site:

DMM Advisory:  May 11 Pricing Change — New Postage Statements. The USPS has posted new postage statements on its forms page on the USPS web site (usps.com/forms) to support the May 11 pricing change.

Deutsche Post DHL has said that it "welcomes the announcement by the Dutch government to fully open up the Dutch mail market on 1 April 2009. Deutsche Post DHL has been operating in the Dutch mail market for a number of years through its subsidiaries DHL Global Mail and Selekt Mail and is one of the leading mail service providers operating there today."

As Hellmail has noted, "With the government about to take on the Royal Mail pension deficit as part of its Postal Reforms bill, the reality that public sector pension schemes are becoming too costly, is starting to hit home. Just how long can the country cover the cost of public-sector pension schemes?"

Yahoo! has noted that "On March 19, 2009, United Parcel Service, Inc. entered into an agreement with Citigroup Global Markets, Inc. and J.P. Morgan Securities Inc. to sell and the Underwriters agreed to purchase from UPS, subject to and upon the terms and conditions set forth in the Underwriting Agreement, $1,000,000,000 aggregate principal amount of 3.875% Senior Notes due April 1, 2014, and $1,000,000,000 aggregate principal amount of 5.125% Senior Notes due April 1, 2019 (the "Transaction"). The Company is filing this Current Report on Form 8-K so as to file with the Securities and Exchange Commission certain items related to the Transaction."

According to Dow Jones, "Banque Postale said Tuesday its net profit for the full year of 2008 dropped 44% to EUR302.6 million from EUR539.6 million a year earlier." [EdNote: So much for banking being the savior of posts and universal service.]

The Financial has reported that "The Siemens Mobility Division is to supply as many as 97 OMS-type flats sorting machines to Deutsche Post AG (DPAG). What makes this Open Mail System (OMS) machine unique throughout the world is its extreme speed.   The new generation of sorting machines is the first that is capable of handling up to 50,000 flats per hour. The order calls for delivery to begin in 2010 and to end by 2012."

Hellmail has reported that "In more recent years, the gradual decline in mail volume in the UK has seen Royal Mail postal delivery walks extended as others are absorbed. With that has come a wave of post office closures making mail storage for these walks often difficult. Lockable mail containers generally require planning permission and as a consequence, both press and TV have picked up on what seems to be a rise in unsecure mail sacks left behind bushes or bins. To combat the problem and also enable postal workers to stay out longer on deliveries, the Royal Mail is rolling out a scheme whereby two postal workers share a vam. It means that the mail is far more secure and presumably gets delivery workers to their walks quicker."

The latest blog entry has been posted on the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General’s Internet site “Pushing the Envelope.” The public, mailers, postal employees, and other stakeholders are invited to weigh in on the online discussions taking place.  To view the site, visit http://blog.uspsoig.gov/.    City Delivery Route Consolidation.  Due to mail volume drops, the Postal Service plans to consolidate more than 87,000 city delivery routes — which could affect as many as 50 million addresses nationwide.  Consolidating routes means some customers will receive their mail at different times — earlier or later in the day.  It also means customers could have a different letter carrier who will have to become familiar with a new delivery route.  Do you think consolidating city delivery routes will have a positive effect on the Postal Service’s bottom line?  Why or why not?  Will it be difficult for carriers — particularly those who walk their routes — to spend more time on the street?   You can visit Office of Inspector General’s public website at:  www.uspsoig.gov.  If you have additional questions, please contact Communication and Work Life Director Agapi Doulaveris at 703.248.2322.

In a postal perspective prepared for the PostCom Bulletin, PostCom Vice President Jessica Lowrance and PostCom President Gene Del Polito note that "The Postal Service is not without hope, and there are some initiatives underway that would make Congress' forebearance a reasonable policy and investment risk. Granting the Postal Service--and it's customers--the breathing room that's needed to actualize these key changes is essential. In fact, it not only would make good policy, it would make good business."

[Ed Note: The Postal Service does not like the CPI cap on its annual price changes. For December 2008, the CPI figured out to be 3.8%. For February, it figured out to be 3.2%. It should be grateful for small favors. Of course, a 0.5% difference to postage-paying mailers is anything but small.]

From the Postal Regulatory Commission:

  • Docket No. RM2009–3: Notice of proposed rulemaking. SUMMARY: The Commission announces a new proceeding to address workshare discount methodologies in First-Class Mail and Standard Mail. The proceeding will allow certain issues raised in Docket No. R2009–2 to be fully addressed. DATES: Comments due May 26, 2009. ADDRESSES: Submit comments electronically via the Commission’s Filing Online system at http://www.prc.gov.
  • Docket Nos. MC2009–21 and CP2009–26: The Commission is noticing a recently-filed Postal Service request to add Priority Mail Contract Mail 5 to the Competitive Product List. The Postal Service has also filed a related contract. This notice addresses procedural steps associated with these filings. DATES: Comments are due March 25, 2009. ADDRESSES: Submit comments electronically via the Commission’s Filing Online system at http://www.prc.gov.

The Press & Journal has reported that "Solidarity leader Tommy Sheridan stopped just short of calling for a general strike yesterday in a rallying call for action to fend off the privatisation of Royal Mail. Speaking on a walkabout in Inverness, the politician called for a “summit of action” to unite all public service unions in support of the Communication Workers Union (CWU)."

According to one SFWeekly Blog, "San Francisco's City Operations & Neighborhood Services Committee yesterday approved of a proposed "Do Not Mail" registry. Jim Wigdell is the regional spokesman for the United States Postal Service. Naturally, they oppose this measure -- but, Wigdell claims, not just because it would cause the USPS to shift from losing money profusely to whatever is more than profusely. It's about all the folks who depend on this industry. The full Board of Supes will vote on this possible measure on March 31."

The Washington Post has noted that "The news is that the U.S. Postal Service wants to cut its huge losses by letting 150,000 employees -- that's more than the population of Hampton, Va. -- take early retirement. The sideshow is the the postmaster general's compensation package. Both will be on the agenda tomorrow as Congress looks at the declining fortunes of the post office and the increasing compensation of its boss. The Postal Service says it is trying to save $100 million annually through a series of measures that include closing offices and eliminating positions. The cuts are needed because the nation's financial health is in the dumps and mail volume has sunk along with it. A big factor is the money the Postal Service must pay for future retiree health benefits. Without that, the service would have had a net income of $1.6 billion in fiscal 2007 instead of a $5.1 billion loss "

Hellmail has reported that "Slovenian Post has launched a new service called "your email", which allows subscribers to choose those areas which interest them most in terms of services and offers and, as far as we can ascertain, aims to streamline direct marketing so that both providers and customers are more evenly matched. The new service can deliver material to subscribers in the format they choose including email, SMS and MMS but it hopes that more concise data will ensure more targetted distribution for marketeers and more useful and relevant services for customers."

From the Federal Register:
 
Postal Regulatory Commission
 
PROPOSED RULES
Postal Rates ,
12295–12296 [E9–6197] [TEXT]  [PDF]
NOTICES
New Competitive Postal Product ,
12406–12407 [E9–6419] [TEXT]  [PDF]

March 23, 2009

Logistics Management has reported that "Kewill, a provider of logistics and global trade software, and returns management services and technology provider Newgistics, recently announced they have formed a partnership that will allow Newgistics’ customers to leverage Kewill’s technology to drive down costs and augment shipping processes."

RTE Business has reported that "A new report shows that 79% of post was delivered within one working day throughout the state in 2008. The Commission for Communications Regulation's sixth annual report on the quality of service performance of An Post says this is a modest 2% improvement on the service quality performance the previous year. However, ComReg adds that it still remains significantly below the 94% target set for An Post."

Forbes has reported that "Riot police have forced dozens of postal workers out of the French Finance Ministry where they were demanding more pay and no job cuts."

On Wednesday, March 25, 2009, at 10:00 a.m. in room 2154 of the Rayburn House Office Building, the Subcommittee on Federal Workforce, Postal Service and the District of Columbia will hold a hearing entitled, “Restoring the Financial Stability of the U.S. Postal Service: What Needs to be Done?” The Subcommittee will examine how the nationwide economic downturn, coupled with technological trends, has produced declining volumes and revenues for the United States Postal Service.  The Postal Service’s recent decision to close six of its 80 district offices, eliminate positions across the country and offer another early retirement opportunity makes the Subcommittee’s hearing very timely. The hearing aims to generate effective short and long term strategies to reduce costs and improve efficiency at the Postal Service. In addition, the Subcommittee will question the Board of Governors on Postal executives’ compensation packages. Witnesses’ testimonies, the Chairman’s opening statement and a 10 a.m. live broadcast of the hearing can be found on the Subcommittee’s website, federalworkforce.oversight.house.gov

The Journal of Commerce has reported that "The economies of thirty nations are expected to shrink in 2009, according the head of an international group focused on sustainable economic growth. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development expects growth in the 30-nation OECD area to be 'very negative' in 2009, its secretary-general, Angel Gurria, said March 20."

As Time has reported, "A recent Pew study found that fewer than half of Americans say that losing their local paper would hurt their civic life "a lot" and even fewer say they would miss reading it, partly, it seems, because they get their local news from other media, mostly TV. But since papers are the primary source for most other news outlets, a major link will be missing from the news ecosystem. If a paper does not cover a story, it is unlikely to be covered in the broadcast media, whose reporting staffs tend to be even smaller." [EdNote: Incidentally, that applies equally to the news reported on this site.]

Butler Mailing Service President Todd Butler wants to know: "Mail Piece Redesign: Is the goal to reduce processing costs or mandate the use of envelopes?"

Sindh Today has reported that "A postal service cargo, worth tens of thousands of rupees was hijacked by suspected militants of the Revolutionary People’s Front (RPF) recently. The RPF is believed to be an armed wing of the proscribed Peoples’ Liberation Army (PLA)."

First Post has a briefing on what's going on with Royal Mail.

Fuel Cell Today has reported that "Royal Mail, the postal operating authority for the United Kingdom is working with CENEX, PostEurop, the association of European public postal operators, and FuelCellEurope, the European association of fuel cell developers to develop a universal design specification for hydrogen fuel cell postal vans."

The Financial Times has reported that "Pressure is mounting on Brussels to open a full probe into a proposed €3bn merger of the Swedish and Danish postal services in the next few days because of implications for postal market liberalisation across the 27-country European Union bloc. The deal is the first big postal merger to be announced since EU lawmakers passed legislation requiring countries to open their postal markets, and get rid of remaining state monopolies, by 2011."

According to Wales Online, "the postbus is about to reach the end of the road in the county where it was pioneered. For more than 40 years, postbuses, which carry passengers alongside mail, have provided a travel lifeline for remote British communities. But many routes have been abandoned in Royal Mail efficiency drives, and Wales’ last three postbuses are due to end over the next few weeks."

Postalnews Blog has reported that "Figures released by the US Postal Service show that the organization spent $78.4 million on relocating employees in the fiscal year that ended September 30, 2008. Of that, almost half, or $37.9 million went to “Residence Purchase and/or Sale/Lease”. The USPS home purchase program for relocated employees has been a subject of controversy since it was revealed that the USPS had spent $1.2 million to purchase the home of a South Carolina postmaster who had taken a voluntary lateral transfer to a position in Texas. Just under $15 million of the home purchase funds money went to Headquarters and Area staff, which account for less than four thousand of the postal service’s 632,000 career employees. A similar amount went to postmasters and supervisors, who make up a much larger share, about 54,000 employees, of the workforce. Employees of the Inspection Service and the Office of the Inspector General, about 3,900 total staff. got $3.4 million in home purchase benefits, down from almost $7 million the prior year. Home purchase benefits for clerks, carriers and mail handlers came to just over three hundred thousand dollars."

Hellmail has reported that "Johnny Thijs, CEO of the Belgian Post office said that modernization of its structure and working methods was essential if it was to be prepared for future competition when full liberalization of market begins in 2011. His comments followed protests by Belgian postal workers earlier this month, unhappy about post office closures and what they say has been a systematic downgrading of jobs and large profits made by stakeholders in the service."

The New York Times has reported that "Responding to the financial crisis, American companies sharply reduced their spending on direct-mail marketing last year, according to the Winterberry Group, a marketing consultancy. Winterberry said this was the first such decline in more than 60 years of record-keeping. The company arrived at the figures by surveying 305 companies in the direct-mail industry. The cuts represented at least nine billion pieces of mail, according to Winterberry’s analysis of Postal Service reports. Not surprisingly, credit card and mortgage service solicitations dropped the most sharply, falling 21.8 percent and 38.8 percent in volume respectively, according to Mintel Comperemedia, a direct-mail tracking firm. Winterberry said the cuts were caused primarily by the financial crisis, but also by rising postal, paper and labor costs, which have pushed marketers toward online solicitations. Winterberry said 45 percent of the marketers in its survey were switching to cheaper paper and raw materials to cut costs."

Radio New Zealand has reported that "Snail mail is set to become even slower with New Zealand Post deciding it will no longer collect mail from street boxes on a weekend. The company will cut its collection days from six days a week to five days a week from mid April. New Zealand Post says there has been a significant drop in the amount of mail posted in street boxes on a weekend, and 95% of mail is sent on weekdays."

Wanna know who's making what over at the Postal Service? All you need to do is enter the pertinent information at the following URL: http://php.courierpostonline.com/data_public/datauniverse/usps/

   


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HAVE YOU HAD IT WITH
"DO NOT MAIL" MANIA?
Then be sure to read:

* The Environmental Impacts of the Mail: Initial Life Cycle Inventory Model and Analysis (USPS study)
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