USPS Suggests Easing of Revenue-Deficiency Stance

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An old saying suggests that if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. Let's hope that isn't the case with a letter sent earlier this month to Joe Schick, chairman of the Mailers' Technical Advisory Committee, from U.S. Postal Service CFO Richard Porras suggesting that USPS officials will take a new approach to assessing revenue deficiencies.

The letter states: "As part of our work on these issues, we are committed to communicating with mailers at the earliest possible phase of these processes so that problems can be identified and remedied to our mutual benefit. To further this work, our Bulk Mail Acceptance and Rates and Classification Service Center personnel will work with our customers when and where mailing problems are identified. We will provide mailers with notice of problems and recommend remedies. Deficiencies will not be assessed as part of this notice process. However, if after notice is given and identified problems continue to occur, deficiencies will be assessed."

Translation? Porras seems to suggest that the USPS will grant one "Get Out of Jail Free" card for mail acceptance purposes. For the hundreds of mailers, most notably nonprofits, wrestling with revenue deficiency notices over one-time violations of minor rules in the Domestic Mail Manual, this would be most welcome.

But is the new position retroactive to cover deficiencies that are already in the pipeline? Let's read on in Porras' letter:

"We are shifting our attention to prevention by proactively resolving problems in conjunction with our mailing partners. In the spirit of this cooperative effort, our staff will review outstanding assessed deficiencies and make a final determination based on the items mentioned above."

Translation? The new approach appears to be retroactive.

For scores of nonprofit companies who have been writing, calling and visiting Capitol Hill to seek relief for enormous and unreasonable revenue deficiencies and penalties, this is an interesting development. Will the USPS act quickly to post "revenue assurance forgiven" letters and implement the new approach to working with customers before congressional hearings convene?

It's too early to tell if the Porras approach is a genuine decision by USPS management to improve relations with their mailing partners - or a hasty response to the threat of nasty hearings on Capitol Hill led by angry, bewildered and betrayed mailing partners.

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