Around the Hub

USPS Ends Area Mail Processing Studies

On August 15, the Postal Service announced that it will end the 57 area mail processing studies that remain incomplete; a list of the facilities involved was not published.  Like all the others going back to 2011 (or earlier), the AMP studies were started to assess which facilities could be consolidated and/or closed to align the processing network to current volume and service commitments.

Given that a major component of the Postmaster General’s 10-year Plan is to fully rework the agency’s processing, transportation, and delivery infrastructure, the unfinished studies were overtaken by the larger effort.

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APWU Election Could Lead to Troubles for DeJoy

As was reported in the previous issue of Mailers Hub News, a comment by the Postmaster General about reducing the postal workforce brought a quick and confrontational response from Mark Dimondstein, president of the ever-adversarial American Postal Workers Union.  However, comments emanating from the union’s recent convention suggest that a challenger to Dimondstein’s re-election may think he’s not been aggressive enough in dealing with the PMG.

Dissatisfaction

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Details Emerging About Delivery Unit Consolidations

Documents provided by the Postal Service to its labor groups detail the initial moves to implement the network redesign contained in the Postmaster General’s 10-year Plan. Generally, the redesign would impact the mail processing, transportation, and delivery infrastructure; similarly, sweeping changes are not anticipated for retail facilities.

SDCs

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Time to Change the Message

Persons who’ve heard Postmaster General Louis DeJoy speak more than once note that he tends to use the same format every time:

  • First, trash your predecessors, dismiss critics, and blame them all for the “mess” you found when you arrived.
  • Next, explain how easily you determined the solution and developed your 10-year Plan.
  • Finally, declare victory by saying that your executives and entire workforce are ”energized” by your initiatives and that turning around the USPS is within reach.

Along the way, keep referring to (1) anyone who isn’t dogmatically committed to the Plan as “resistance” and “noise,” (2) the PAEA’s ratesetting system as “defective,” and (3) the Postal Service’s trucks as always carrying a lot of air.

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Myths & Realities: Sales Tax and State Income Taxes for Direct Mail Producers

This article was produced exclusively for Mailers Hub by Martin I. Eisenstein and Jamie Szal of Brann & Isaacson.

Brann & Isaacson is a boutique law firm that represents large and small online and multichannel companies, printers, commercial mail producers, and IT service providers located across the country.  The firm advises companies of all sizes, including many in the Internet Retailer’s Top 500 Guide.

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July MTAC Focused on Network, Price Issues

It was announced at MTAC that, in response to concerns over the original date for implementation of the January 2023 rate change, “pre-release” of information needed for software changes would be on January 8, with
new prices taking effect on January 22.


 

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In His Own Words

It’s hardly news that hard-copy mail volume is shrinking – it has been for fifteen years as the uptake of electronic messaging has accelerated.  However, the diversion to electronic media that may work in some applications – personal emails and texts in place of written letters and cards – doesn’t mean all messages translate well.  Many individuals still prefer paper bills and statements (though they make payments electronically) and marketers understand that hard copy messages have a better success rate that an electronic message that ends up in the spam folder.

For its part, the Postal Service, and its predecessor, the Post Office Department, have been in the business of moving hard copy mail for 230 years and have experienced the changes in how Americans live and communicate.  Traditionally, the post has been viewed as a government service, not a business operation that’s supposed to make money.

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Action Needed: Deadline Approaching for Ratepayer Input

Last May, the Postal Regulatory Commission issued a press release about a task it was assigned by Congress.

“As adopted by the Joint Explanatory Statement accompanying the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2022, the House of Representatives Report 117-79 states:

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Excluded Mail Continues to Reduce Volume “In Measurement”

Despite its generalized service performance claims, the volume of market-dominant mail that is excluded from the Postal Service’s measurement process continues to justify questions about whether those claims are representative.

Because the USPS measurement process relies on pieces bearing an intelligent mail barcode, documentation from mail preparers, and processing over automated equipment, any mail not meeting one of those basic requirements reduces the volume of mail potentially eligible for measurement, even before other reasons for exclusion apply.

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Seeking Equilibrium

The concept of balance is present in many philosophies, operations, and financial considerations, and requires that competing factors and forces be in equilibrium for balance to be achieved.

The analogy can be applied to the Postal Service which, financially, has been off balance for many years. The agency was debt-free at the end of fiscal 2005, i.e. until the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act took effect in 2006.

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USPS Files for Second Market-Dominant Price Increase in a Year

In the latest example of how Postmaster General Louis DeJoy defines “prudent and judicious,” he won Board of Governors support to seek the second price increase on market-dominant products in less than a year.  As in the prior rate hike, effective last August 29, DeJoy opted to use nearly all available rate authority.  If approved by the Postal Regulatory Commission, the new prices would mean ratepayers would have experienced price hikes of over 13% in less than a year.

In its April 6 filing, the Postal Service detailed the factors contributing to the proposed increase:

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USPS Orders New Delivery Vehicles, Including Electric Version

In a March 24 press release, the Postal Service announced that it had placed an order for 50,000 Next Generation Delivery Vehicles with Oshkosh Defense, the contractor it had selected last year. The total cost of the order was stated to be $2.98 billion, or about $60,000 per vehicle, although that average may include costs other than the “sticker price” of each truck. 

Image courtesy of CarandDriver.com, "The New USPS Trucks: So Much for Looking Cool While You Deliver the Mail"

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Mailers Hub Joins in Comments Regarding Competitive Product Contribution

In a February 25 filing with the Postal Regulatory Commission, Mailers Hub joined with nine other industry groups (American Catalog Mailers Association, Association For Mail Electronic Enhancement, ANA—Association Of National Advertisers, Continuity Shippers Association, Envelope Manufacturers Association, International Mailers Advisory Group, Major Mailers Association, National Association Of Presort Mailers, and Printing United Alliance) to support a Package Shippers Association recommendation to eliminate the statutory “appropriate share” provision.

Appropriate share

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Who Needs Mail When They Have Informed Delivery?

Our guest editorial is by Dave Lewis, president of SnailWorks, a Frederick (MD)-based provider of mail tracking services. Dave is a veteran of the mail production industry and an MTAC representative for Mailers Hub.


 

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Frustrations in International Mail

This article was produced by Merry Law, Mailers Hub’s expert consultant on international mail. Merry may be reached at [email protected].


I recently wrote two articles for this newsletter on what’s happening in the international mail arena at the Universal Postal Union and at the USPS. While I try to present facts and developments in a neutral way, those reading between the lines might conclude correctly I am not optimistic about the immediate future for the international mail environment.

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Caveat Emptor: Buyer Beware – Commentary

Attention members of the commercial mail production community: You’re being pitched. After nineteen months in office, and ten months after issuing his 10-year Plan, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy is getting out of his office at USPS HQ and taking his sales pitch to the people.

Actually, his Selling the Plan tour began last year; he appeared at selected USPS facilities, at carefully arranged Postal Customer Council meetings, and in a protracted infomercial during the virtual National Postal Forum. His most recent venue to win friends and influence customers was last week’s Mailers Technical Advisory Committee meeting.

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State Taxes: The Other Shoe to Drop

The following article has been produced exclusively for Mailers Hub by Martin Eisenstein and Jamie Szal of Brann & Isaacson.

   

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USPS Service Claims Require Readers’ Scrutiny

For the last seven months of 2021, the Postal Service’s public relations office has issued weekly releases touting service performance improvements.  However, a closer look at those releases suggests that, while the authors’ purpose seems to be to create a perception of improvement, that scenario isn’t supported by their own data, and shows a trend that actually isn’t as impressive as they want readers to believe.

Contexts

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OIG Assesses USPS Peak Season Readiness

The Postal Service’s recent claims of readiness for the demands of the 2021 holiday shipping season may be more good PR than accurate, based on what the Postal Service’s Office of Inspector General recently reported.  In that audit report, Fiscal Year 2022 Peak Mailing Season Preparedness, issued November 19, the OIG documented both the measures the Postal Service has taken and where those may be falling short.

Getting ready

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PRC Exploring New Rules About Private Express Statutes

The Private Express Statutes can be traced back to 1792 when Congress, empowered under the Constitution to “establish post offices and post roads,” granted the federal government sole authority over the carriage and delivery of letter mail.  That authority, now codified in 18 USC 1693-1696 and 39 USC 601-606, originally enabled the Postal Service to suspend the statutes if that would be in the public interest.

The USPS implemented an exception in 1979, for example, to allow private companies, notably Federal Express and United Parcel Service, to carry “extremely urgent” letters outside the mail subject to conditions including payment of postage.  (The PES apply only to “letters,” so the private carriage of other matter – like newspapers and packages – is open to non-USPS providers.)  That authority ended in 2006.

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