Rules Tightened on Low-Cost Marketing Parcels

Charging that many mailers were using Standard Mail Marketing Parcels for fulfillment instead of samples, the U.S. Postal Service tightened up the wording of the eligibility requirements of the service. Going forward, Marketing Parcels must bear an alternate addressing format and cannot be used to send something ordered by a customer.

Alternate addressing minimizes the Postal Service’s handling costs by allowing parcels to be delivered to current residents of an address if the original addressee had moved.

USPS published the redefined rule in today’s Federal Register, holding that the purpose of the Marketing Parcels was to create a low-cost prospecting vehicle for mailers to send non-requested items and samples to potential customers. “It came to the attention of the Postal Service,” continued the notice, “that this product was being improperly used for fulfillment.”

The new rule will be flexible on one point. It will allow mailers to send samples in connection with a purchase if the customer elects to receive them. These may be sent separately as long as the transactions are linked.

Some mailers who filed comments on this rule after it was proposed in January asked for grace periods in the enforcement of the rule to “give them time to adjust their business models.” USPS intends to review such requests on a case-by-case basis.

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