Consumer Complaint Sparks PRC Case

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The Postal Rate Commission has instituted a classification case to clarify the term Express Mail Second Day service in response to a complaint from a consumer and by the U.S. Postal Service's answer to his complaint.

The case will study USPS adherence to the terms of the service under the agency's Domestic Mail Classification Schedule, the framework for classifying domestic mail categories and postal services and for setting postal rates and fees.

Douglas F. Carlson said in his Feb. 18, 2005, complaint that the agency curtailed its Sunday and holiday delivery for Express Mail Second Day and no longer provides adequate postal services on those days.

He also claimed that the USPS: inappropriately reduced the delivery area for Saturday and eve of holiday acceptance of mail pieces; established a new type of Express Mail Second Day service without seeking a PRC advisory opinion; and provides misleading or inaccurate information.

The USPS responded May 5, 2005, saying the complaint should be dismissed and that its actions involving Express Mail have been consistent with its statutory obligations and with the DMCS. Information provided to customers about Express Mail service is not misleading or inadequate overall, the USPS said.

"[S]uch occasional inadvertent errors should not become the subject of commission scrutiny as a result of the complaint," the USPS said.

The PRC said its proceeding would focus on "how best to clearly state in the DMCS the scope of Second Day Express Mail service that the postal service intends to provide its customers." Several DMCS provisions call for second day delivery, yet in limited circumstances the USPS admits that it does not expect to provide delivery until the third or fourth day, the PRC said.

The PRC said that "delivery on the third or fourth day is nonetheless second day delivery -- mail that would have been delivered on the second calendar day except that Sunday or holiday delivery is not available at that particular destination. This proceeding is an attempt to promptly remedy that inconsistency and harmonize the 'refund' section of the Express Mail DMCS language regarding Second Day service with the 'availability' section."

Participants may submit comment on the filing by May 3.

Melissa Campanelli covers postal news, CRM and database marketing for DM News and To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting

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