Rate-Hike Opponents File Notices of Intervention With PRC

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Catalogers and Standard-A mailers are filing notices of intervention with the Postal Rate Commission to block the U.S. Postal Service from increasing rates an average of 7.7 percent next year.

As of yesterday, more than 20 organizations and companies had registered to intervene, including the Direct Marketing Association, Carol Wright Promotions, Advo, the Association of Presort Mailers, Val-Pak Direct Marketing Systems, the Alliance of Nonprofit Mailers, United Parcel Service and Time Warner. Organizations have until Feb. 14 to file notices of intervention.

In April, the PRC will begin hearing testimony both for and against the proposed rate increase, which the USPS filed on Jan. 12. After the hearings, expected to end in August, the PRC will formulate a recommended decision to be filed with the USPS' board of governors on or before Oct. 11.

Postal governors, by law, have the option of accepting or rejecting all or parts of the PRC's recommendations. They also can send parts of the recommendations back to the PRC for reconsideration or, by unanimous agreement, ignore the PRC's recommendations and authorize a rate increase that's either more or less than what the PRC recommended or the postal service asked for.

While the PRC would not comment on the rate recommendations, PRC commissioner Ruth Y. Goldway wrote an op-ed piece this week in the Washington Post saying the postal service should be sold, in part because "postage rates will have to rise dramatically within a few years to make up for lost revenue" as a result of developments such as online banking.

Unless the agency can change its product mix and adapt to the rapidly changing world of e-commence, she wrote, consumers will pay more for First-Class stamps. She also said the USPS should become privatized because, under current law, "any postal service idea for new, improved service takes up to 10 months to get approved [by the commission], and in all rate proceedings, the postal service's costs and competitive strategies are laid bare for its competitors to see."

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