USPS Responds to Filing by Large Mailers

The U.S. Postal Service has asked the Postal Rate Commission to dismiss a complaint filed last month by a coalition of large commercial publishers that called for a radical revamping of the rate structure for periodicals.

In the Jan. 12 filing, publishers such as Time Warner, Conde Nast Publications, Reader's Digest Association, Newsweek and TV Guide Magazine Group proposed to study periodicals rates, conduct hearings on the topic and issue a plan for an alternative periodicals rate schedule to the postal service's Board of Governors.

The publishers are seeking approval by the USPS to take over more mail outsourcing work from the postal service in exchange for cheaper mailing rates.

The USPS response, issued Feb. 11, stated that “the concerns raised [in the complaint] do not require any substantive response by the commission at this time.”

The structure that the publishers advocate is often called “bottom-up” pricing, said Neal Denton, executive director of the Alliance of Nonprofit Mailers in Washington.

“Instead of constructing an all-inclusive postal rate and then applying discounts depending upon work-sharing and drop-shipping, etc., some have advocated the creation of a stripped-down basic rate structure that would then allow for the addition of requested services [such as sortation or transportation],” Denton said.

In general, large Periodical mailers support this concept, and smaller ones do not.

The postal service also said that while it “shares many of the concerns of the complainants, it is actively pursuing potential initiatives that would advance the goals of efficiency in Periodicals while attempting to actively address issues important to smaller-volume mailers. In that way, the postal service hopes to achieve the shared goals of more efficient rate design and fairness and equity of Periodical mailers as a whole.”

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