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New Competitive Postal Rates to Take Effect May 31

The U.S. Postal Service served notice to the Postal Regulatory Commission that the new implementation date for price and classification changes for competitive products will take effect on May 31. USPS had postponed the originally planned implementation date of April 26 after the PRC twice remanded its proposed changes for market dominant products, explaining that less confusion would result if all prices had the same effective date.

Postal Service senior management apparently is confident that the response it filed last week answering shortcomings in its market dominant filings will be met with approval from the regulatory body. The response noted that the Postal Board of Governors had cleared market dominant rate changes for May 31, as well.

USPS’s document, filed on April 16, included revised prices addressing the PRC’s concerns of inequities in discounts between commercial and nonprofit customers in High Density Letters and Flats. The Postal Service also stated it had identified 12 cases of exigent surcharges that were calculated using incorrect volume data or mistake surcharge percentages. It set new surcharges using the calculations provided by the PRC in its remand document.

“It appears that the Postal Service has addressed the stated concerns of the regulator, so we would expect it will be approved,” said Hamilton Davison, president and executive director of the American Catalog Mailers Association.

But it’s not a given that the case on rates will be closed come Memorial Day. Loose ends continue to dangle at the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, where USPS petitioned for permanent status for the 4.3% exigent rate. “Until the court rules—and this case has been open for an unusually long time—it is difficult to speculate what could ensue,” Davison said. “The USPS has said it does not have the resources to do two rate adjustments in a year, but unless the court says otherwise, the exigent surcharge is due to roll off later this year. That would become a second rate change in 2015. We are in uncharted territory right now.”

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