USPS Board OKs Filing for Parcel Return Rate

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The U.S. Postal Service soon may offer reduced rates for shippers participating in Parcel Return Service, a proposed consumer-to-business service.

The USPS Board of Governors authorized at its monthly meeting in Chicago yesterday a filing with the Postal Rate Commission to seek an experimental classification for Parcel Return Service.

The service would apply to merchandise being returned by a consumer to a merchant. The merchant, or an agent on the merchant's behalf, would pick up returned parcels at a designated bulk mail center or delivery unit and pay the applicable postage, as opposed to having the packages delivered directly to the merchant. Rates for the new service would recognize the savings generated by the merchant's pickup of the package.

The USPS has said that the service aims to complement services provided by package consolidators for their customers.

In other business, the board approved funding for a capital investment initiative to upgrade the mail processing computer networks at 62 postal mail processing facilities. Charles Bravo, senior vice president, intelligent mail and address quality, requested funding for the first phase of a nationwide effort to install fiber-optic wiring to transmit data between automated processing equipment and computer systems. A contract is to be awarded in June, with installation completed by May 2004.

The board also OK'd funding to buy 6,240 vehicles for delivery operations. This acquisition is part of a commitment to the National Rural Letter Carriers Association to provide additional postal vehicles for rural routes. Though rural carriers traditionally have used their own vehicles to deliver the mail, the difficulty of finding right-hand drive vehicles with adequate cargo capacity has been a growing problem.

Postmaster General John E. Potter also welcomed James C. Miller III as the newest governor. Miller is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and served previously as director of the Office of Management and Budget and chairman of the Federal Trade Commission.

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