USPS Spells Out Nonmachineable Surcharge Rules

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The U.S. Postal Service spelled out two new rules as part of the rate case approved by its Board of Governors this week that will affect direct marketers.

One says that a surcharge of 4 cents for regular presorted Standard Mail and 2 cents for presorted Nonprofit Standard mail will be added if it is "nonmachineable," or cannot be run through postal service machines. The rule takes effect June 30.

A letter-size piece is nonmachineable if it has one or more of these characteristics, among others:

• Has an aspect ratio (length divided by height) of less than 1:3 or more than 2:5.

• Is polybagged, polywrapped or enclosed in any plastic material.

• Contains pens, pencils, loose keys and other items that cause the thickness of the mail piece to be uneven.

• Does not bend easily.

• Has a delivery address parallel to the shorter dimension of the piece.

The other ruling, which also takes effect June 30, says mailers of enhanced carrier route letter-size pieces at high-density and saturation piece letter rates must meet physical standards for automation-compatible mail and have delivery point barcodes on them. Pieces that do not meet the standards or that do not contain a delivery point barcode will be subject to rates 0.5 cents to 0.8 cents higher.

The change will apply to both ECR and Nonprofit ECR.

Mailers will have until Jan. 1, however, to comply with tray labeling changes involved with the new rules.

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