Why Does First Class Cost the Least to Process?

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While I applaud the U.S. Postal Service for rethinking its gouging of the direct marketing industry, I am confused by a statement in the article.

The article states: "First Class costs the least of any mail category to process because it is the most automated, and therefore the PRC may say First-Class rates cannot increase as much as other classes." Call me a typical, nonobjective creative, but this confused the heck out of me.

I have the impression that First-Class mail -- like letters from me to my auntie in Pennsylvania --cost more than the standard rate because I hand-address the envelope, and as a result this stuff cannot be automated, at least not until they ink-jet a barcode internally (if they do) at a postal center. No barcode, no automation, right? It requires more handling.

So how is it that this costs the least?

Carol Worthington Levy, Creative director, San Jose, CA,


Unfortunately, no, according to the postal service. First Class is the most automated category of mail, thanks to significant investments in automation equipment. Postal rate increases are tied to how much each class of mail costs to deliver, and that's why First-Class mail has gone up so little in recent years.


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