USPS Assures Mailers It Will Fix Priority Mail

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Major corporate users of Priority Mail, all of whom are members of the Association of Priority Mail Users Inc., met with postal officials yesterday to press for improvements to Priority Mail.

Direct marketers have said that Priority Mail service has deteriorated over time, especially since last Sept. 11. In addition, the category frequently gets the highest rate increases in rate cases. In the most recent rate increase implemented June 30, Priority Mail rose 13.5 percent while the average increase was 7.7 percent.

At the meeting, APMU presented the U.S. Postal Service with a report detailing the harm by rate increases to the volume of Priority Mail and submitted recommendations for improvements.

According to the association, postal officials made these assurances at the meeting:

· A commitment to higher levels of consistent on-time delivery of Priority Mail, possibly by designating USPS officials whose priority will be to track and ensure on-time delivery of Priority Mail.

· Examination of Priority Mail costs to ensure the capture of reduced costs from recent cost-cutting measures in the rate-setting process.

· A pledge to reassess the high mark-ups over cost used in Priority Mail rate setting.

· A decision to investigate ways to speed and improve mailers' access to Delivery Confirmation Service data.

Attending the meeting were representatives from Distribution Fulfillment Services Inc./Spiegel, Brylane LP, District Photo Inc., Drop Ship Express, Newgisitics, SmartMail Inc., R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and Newport News Inc. Postal officials included Pat Donahoe, chief operating officer; Anita Bizzotto, chief marketing officer; and James Cocharane, manager, package services product development.

"APMU and the postal service have begun charting the route to making Priority Mail truly competitive again," said Johnathan E. Wittnebel, executive director of APMU and a postal consultant. "The postal service showed its willingness to listen and act decisively to improve this critical product."

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