Mailer at DMA06 concerned over proposed USPS rule

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SAN FRANCISCO - A mailer of advertising specialty items told this publication he is concerned over a U.S. Postal Service ruling proposing a new mailing category that will force him to either change his mailings dramatically or pay more for them.

The new category, dubbed Not Flat-Machinable mail, could be instituted when the rate case goes into effect next spring. The new category is for Standard Mail pieces with parcel-like characteristics, including rigid pieces that are not flexible and not of even thickness.

"The new category is going to have a big impact on my company," said Dan Collins, manager of advertising production at Myron, a personalized business gifts company based in Maywood, NJ. "We are a global mailing company with 500 employees and it could have a big impact on our local economy if we can't mail these mail pieces."

Today Standard Mail pieces with parcel-like characteristics qualify as automation flats under USPS guidelines and are handled as parcels, especially at delivery. Under the new standards, these pieces will be presorted, entered and processed as parcels.

Mr. Collins said his company currently pays a Standard non-automation rate of 36.3 cents per mail piece, which includes small specialty items with logos on them, such as pens and small appointment books, to promote its products. If the rule is passed, the rate will rise to 96.3 cents - a 160 percent increase - when the items are mailed in the same packaging.

However, if the package is adjusted to meet the Not Flat-Machinable standard, the cost would be 43.1 cents, not including changing the packaging, Mr. Collins said.

"Eighty percent of the postal service expense is labor, and they are looking at how mail is processed and hoping to see if they can cut labor costs," Mr. Collins said. "So, if the mail is able to be processed on the postal service's automated systems, it is not going to get a super bad hit, but if it has to be manually-processed, it is getting a much higher rate increase.

"We are trying to work to make these changes not take effect, because we are concerned about having to change the look and branding of the envelope, and the cost involved," he said.

For example, the company is working with the Direct Marketing Association to learn about what can be done, and is sending letters to the Postal Rate Commission and the USPS Board of Governors to try to get the rule changed.

The company also sent letters to a local Congressman who discussed the issue. And it is responding to a Federal Register notice about the issue, with the filing due Nov. 13.

While at DMA06, Myron's executives are also meeting with other mailers of advertising specialties, the DMA staff and postal representatives about the issue.

Mr. Collins said if the ruling passes and it becomes too expensive for his company to mail its mail pieces "we may reduce our U.S. circulation and increase our international circulation. We mail in Europe and Australia, and if the U.S. market is too expensive we will redirect our mailings there."

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