DM News webcast addresses postal rate increase

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Converting flat mail to letter size is just one way for mailers to reduce the burden of the new postal rates, said Elizabeth Lombard, USPS rate specialist at Pitney Bowes.

Ms. Lombard was speaking as a panelist on DM News' Pitney-Bowes-sponsored webcast called "Navigating the Postal Increase" on Tuesday in New York.

"Consolidate mailings," Ms. Lombard said. "For example, mail fewer but heavier pieces. This is ideal for households and consumers."

One could mail a statement and offer in the same envelope rather than mail them separately.

Ms. Lombard also suggested that mailers consider First-Class Mail postcards as an alternative to letters.

She said that it is not only cheaper but also a guarantee that the consumer will at least see a message since it is out in the open. Envelopes are not always opened.

"Eliminate non-machinable characteristics to avoid the 17-cent surcharge for First-Class letters," Ms. Lombard said. "Also avoid parcel rates by designing flats to meet new regulations."

She said mail pieces should be uniformly thick so that any bumps, protrusions or other irregularities do not cause more than a quarter-inch variance in thickness.

Exclude the outside edges of a mail piece when determining variance in thickness.

Mail pieces should be flexible, too. If it can bend at least one inch vertically without being damaged and does not contain a rigid inset, no further testing is necessary.

"Automating First-Class Mail and Standard Mail ensures faster delivery which means faster responses," Ms. Lombard said. "Also reduce undeliverable as addressed mail."

"Consider using Standard Mail and Package Services for qualifying nonpersonal mailings," she said. "Select the right packaging for Priority Mail and Express Mail. Lastly, use the right USPS Extra Service."

The rate increase for periodicals will go into effect July 15, 2007.

"Bundle rates will be based on sort level and container level," said Mike Plunkett,

acting vice president, pricing and classification at the United States Postal Service. "Container rates will be based on container type, level and entry."

He also said that the rates hike for periodicals was put on hold by USPS Governors to allow time for software development.

When talking about the rate hike that is already in effect, Mr. Plunkett said the increase reflects changes in operations and the marketplace, offers more choices, includes incentives, reduces undeliverable-as-addressed mail and better reflects shape effects.

"Shape matters," Mr. Plunkett said. "In the case of a two ounce mailing, going from a flat shape to a letter shape will save mailers 39 cents."

These changes are happening fast, and Mr. Plunkett said that if mailers are confused or have questions they should visit and for pricing changes; for the Postal Explorer; for MailPro; and for the DMM Advisory.

Please click on the link below to access the archived webcast;

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