Greek Post Hikes DM Rates 70 Percent

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Greece has jacked up postal rates for most direct marketing material, including magazines, by an average of 70 percent, giving mailers less than a week to adjust to the new prices.

"Anything which was not the normal A-5 letter size got hit by the increase," said Alastair Tempest, director general of the Federation of European Direct Marketing. "This is a smack across the face for Greece's growing direct marketing industry."

Implications of the increase, he noted, could spread beyond Greece.

Italy, for example, has improved its woefully inadequate postal service substantially in recent years and could see a mammoth price hike burnish its balance sheet over the next couple of years.

Other smaller posts could follow, although Europe's postal liberalizers -- the Scandinavians, the Dutch, the Germans and the British -- would not.

The European Commission might look into the increase, Tempest said, arguing that the Greek post office was not short of money and did not face the risk of bankruptcy. But the EC is unlikely to make the hike a big issue.

"The Greeks may argue that they have to make a profit because they have agreed to sell off the post office and the more profitable they become, the more money they would get in an IPO on the Athens stock market," Tempest said.

Meanwhile, Greek companies just beginning to examine direct marketing in their media mix are likely to become gun shy.

"They will not be amused when fulfillment houses come back and tell them, 'We have to charge more,' " he said.

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