PRC: Make Parcel Return Service Permanent

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The Postal Rate Commission gave the U.S. Postal Service the go-ahead to make its Parcel Return Service permanent. The USPS Board of Governors will review the PRC decision and likely will approve it.


The USPS has offered Parcel Return Service on an experimental basis since Oct. 19, 2003. The service provides a low-cost, user-friendly method for mail-order customers or online merchants to return purchased items. The PRC issued its opinion and recommended decision March 3.


The service lets mailers provide customers with a prepaid return label that can be included in shipments, mailed to them or made available for download via the Internet. The merchant's customer fills out the mailing form and deposits the item with the USPS, either by handing it to a delivery carrier, placing it in a collection box or submitting it to a window clerk at a post office.


Merchants, or their parcel consolidators that have been approved as participants in the pilot, can pick up returned merchandise at a post office delivery unit or bulk mail center. Currently the two approved companies are Newgistics, Austin, TX, and APX Logistics, Santa Fe Springs, CA.


The USPS also proposed that the two permanent rate categories for Parcel Return Service be identical to those implemented Jan. 8. The PRC recommended this as well. The two categories are:


· Parcel Select Return Delivery Unit: Returned parcels are picked up at a local post office. Because no transportation and little processing are required by the USPS, it charges a flat rate for regular-sized parcels of $2.11 and a flat rate of $7.92 for oversized parcels.


· Parcel Select Return Bulk Mail Center: Returned parcels are picked up at the local BMC at a discounted rate based on weight and zone. A surcharge of $1.42 would be applied for nonmachinable parcels. Special rates would be charged for oversized parcels.


For both RDU and RBMC, postage is deducted from the merchant's or the logistics provider's prepaid account.


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