Postal Service considers 'Critical Mail' product

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The US Postal Service is considering a letter and flat-sized product that would offer customers sending time-sensitive documents the speed and consistency of Priority Mail with delivery confirmation, but at a lower price than the flagship product.

Tentatively called “Critical Mail,” the product would offer delivery in one to three days, and give consumers the ability to track the piece in progress. It would likely have two price points, one for a letter and a higher price for a flat mail piece.

An internal USPS presentation, posted by the Association for Postal Commerce, indicated the letter would cost $3.50 and a Critical Mail flat $4.25. Delivery confirmation would be included in the price.

Dave Lewin, Postal Service PR representative, confirmed Critical Mail is a product in development, but said details are under review.

“We are optimistic we will have an offering in the near future,” he said. “We think it will be a popular offering that fills a niche, and we've gotten positive feedback from the organizations we have shared the idea with.”

Priority Mail, with about 800 million pieces sent a year, is primarily a package service, but it does include the Flat Rate Envelope offering for $4.90.

In his speech at this week's National Postal Customer Council Day in Portland, OR, Postmaster General John Potter promised new flat-rate products and a Priority Mail “Regional Rate Box” will be available in January 2011.

He added that other successful mail innovations will return as well, including the “Summer Sale” discounted prices for catalogs and direct mail, an expansion of the Saturation Mail Sale and Reply Rides Free. The latter is an incentive program included in the exigent price filing that encourages mailers to use bill and statement mailings for advertising messages.

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