Association for Postal Commerce

"Representing those who use or support the use of mail for Business Communication and Commerce"
"You will be able to enjoy only those postal rights you are willing to defend."


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Postal News and Information from Around the World
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The Postal Service would like you to believe its postal monopolies don't exist.
Think again....Or....Enjoy the trip.

Check here for important information about
S. 1486 and the monopoly-protected U.S. Postal Service

January 10, 2014 

Startups.co.uk: In the first of our interviews with bosses of small business suppliers, DHL Express’ boss talks exports and the importance of being online

American Postal Workers Union:The APWU’s New York Metro Area Local sent delegations to three Staples stores on Jan. 8 and 9 to deliver letters protesting the establishment of postal retail units staffed by low-wage, non-union, non-postal workers.

Hamilton Spectator: Cutting back service dramatically and the elimination of home mail delivery, at the same time as a huge increase in postage rates, is not the way to go to improve the postal service in Canada. [EdNote: Well, it also doesn't work particularly well in the United States.]

Office of the Inspector General: Fiscal Year 2013 Financial Testing Compliance Oversight Reviews  Full Report | Highlights

NHK: Japan's communications minister has pledged more support to help Myanmar adopt Japanese-style postal services. Yoshitaka Shindo met Myanmar President Thein Sein in the country's capital Naypyidaw on Thursday. Thein Sein asked Japan for financial and technical assistance to enhance Myanmar's mail system. He said his country needs to improve its postal functions. Shindo said Myanmar will be the first nation to import his country's postal system as a package. He noted improving the postal services will help develop Myanmar as a whole.

 
The latest issue of the
PostCom Bulletin is available online.
 In this issue:

  • House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) announced the introduction of legislation to allow the U.S. Postal Service to implement a modified six-day delivery schedule and repeal reductions in military pensions made by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013.
  • Commissioner Acton named PRC Vice Chairman. Vice Chairman Acton is presiding officer over load leveling docket. Flexible workforce lowers USPS wages – and hurts productivity. USPS isn’t protecting its intellectual property, IG says. Dates set for 2014 price change. How much longer will Netflix’s DVD cash cow last? Reform needed, not higher rates. Advertising Age to reduce its print frequency. APC Postal Logistics expands operations to US west coast. ‘Mobile advertising to triple’ in next four years says Juniper Research. Software & Information Industry Association blasts PRC approval of USPS rate increase. Correction on IMpb implementation.
  • An update from changes to the Domestic Mail Manual.
  • Announcement of postal related Federal Register Notices.
  • An update from the USPS Office of Inspector General.
  • Postal news from around the world.
  • Postal previews.
Hey! You've not been getting the weekly PostCom Bulletin--the best postal newsletter anywhere...bar none?  Send us by email your name, company, company title, postal and email address. Get a chance to see what you've been missing.

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Post & Parcel: Fifteen years of European countries opening up their postal markets to full competition has an “overwhelmingly negative” result, according to a new report produced for trade union groups. The report, The Liberalization of European Postal Markets and the Impact on Employment and Working Conditions, claims that liberalisation has not brought the results the EU promised, that postal services for citizens have declined while expansion has been limited to privatised business services. Produced for trade union groups UNI Europa Post and Logistics Trade Union, the report suggests that competition has failed to materialize properly in liberalised markets, and the limited competition that has appeared has fostered a climate of job losses and worsening working conditions for postal staff.

ITV: Labour has accused the Government of a "botched privatisation" over its sale of Royal Mail, claiming taxpayers have been short-changed by hundreds of millions of pounds. When the sell off took place in October, Business Secretary Vince Cable said the move should not be judged until at least three months' time. Tomorrow marks three months to the day that Royal Mail shares went on sale - and they will open 70% higher than their original £3.30 price.

Direct Marketing News: Joe Schick wasn't surprised by the lumps of coal left in mailers' stockings by the Postal Regulatory Commission on Christmas Eve. Like other stakeholders who'd been following the exigency drama, he'd hoped a reduced number might be put into play by the PRC, but he didn't blink when he learned that the PRC went for the full 4.3% increase. Instead, Quad/Graphics' long-time director of postal affairs had the resigned attitude of a man whose wife had run off with his best friend and stole his car to do it. “I'm never surprised at what comes out of the Postal Service or the Commission,” Schick says, though it's clear that the timing and the aggressiveness of the Christmas assault on mailers had cut to the bone.

January 9, 2014 

  At the Postal Regulatory Commission:  

  • Annual Report to the President and Congress FY 2013
    http://www.prc.gov/docs/88/88871/AR2013 FINAL PDF (2)_3455.pdf
  • Docket No. N2014-1 - DSCF STANDARD MAIL LOAD LEVELING. The Postal Service has filed another request for a Commission advisory opinion regarding potential changes in the way the Service processes and dispatches Standard Mail that qualifies for a Destination Sectional Center Facility (DSCF) discounted rate. The Postal Service refers to their proposal as the “Load Leveling Plan”. The Commission plans to expedite the advisory opinion proceeding.
    http://www.prc.gov/Docs/88/88763/Request.FINAL.pdf

The Island: Plans are underway to further develop postal ties between Vietnam and Sri Lanka. A meeting was held between Postal Services Minister Jeevan Kumaranatunga and Vietnam Ambassador Ton Sinh Thanh yesterday at the Ministry of Postal Services in Colombo. The duo discussed at length strengthening of postal services between the two countries and agreed to exchange know-how for the betterment of postal services in both countries.

Herald Online: MoneyGram, a leading global money transfer and payment services company, today announced an agreement with Postal Savings Bank of China Co. Ltd (PSBC), a large commercial retail bank in China, to provide money transfer services in over 3,700 locations. With the addition of PSBC to MoneyGram’s agent network, and the rollout of MoneyGram’s money transfer services to mainland locations, services are now available at over 20,000 locations in China.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: If you haven't gotten much mail since the extreme cold hit early this week, be patient, the U.S. Postal Service says: It all should start streaming in again, with temperatures starting to rise Thursday. The motto may say that neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stops the mail, but during the recent subzero weather only first-class mail got delivered. First class mail includes letters and packages under 13 ounces, and is often used for correspondence, bills or light merchandise. Spokesman Sean Hargadon said this is standard practice in extreme weather. Some other types of mail, like certified and registered mail, also got priority. Junk mail could wait.

usps logo DMM Advisory: 

  • Revised Postage and Fee Refund Criteria. On January 3, the Revised Postage and Fee Refund Criteria proposed rule was posted on the Federal Register website and on the Postal Explorer® website under Federal Register Notices. The rule proposes to revise the Domestic Mail Manual (DMM®) to update the hourly charges and related postage threshold used in assessing certain types of postage refunds. The rule also proposes to provide customers with refund time periods for extra services fees that align with the revised claims filing periods being made effective on January 6, 2014. We look forward to your comments on this proposal by February 3, 2014.
  • Reminder: NCOALink® Alternative PAF Renewal Policy. The Postal Service™ has implemented a new alternative to the NCOALink® Processing Acknowledgement Form (PAF) renewal process. This alternative method makes the PAF renewal process more effective and less time consuming for NCOALink customers. This policy became effective October 1, 2013. Click here for the full announcement: https://ribbs.usps.gov/ncoalink/documents/announcements/2013_ANNOUNCEMENTS/NewPAFReqSept272013.PDF
    Click here for the Complete Guide to processing PAFs: https://ribbs.usps.gov/ncoalink/documents/tech_guides/PAF_GUIDE.PDF

Post & Parcel: Finland’s national postal operator Itella has launched a new long-term personal support programme for employees to help them change jobs as the demand for postal workers reduces. The state-owned company said it is being a responsible employer providing greater support for staff as changes in the traditional postal market mean a reduced need for labour. It said the postal sector is undergoing major transformation as the switch to electronic communications gathers pace.

Politico: Sen. Tom Coburn doesn’t seem like a typical cancer patient. The Oklahoma Republican often arrives in his office two hours before his aides, sometimes as early as 4 a.m. He attends virtually all of his committee hearings. And in the evenings, he either dines with his senator buddies at Capitol Hill establishments or attends his weekly meetings of Christians, conservatives and others at his well-known C Street house. But for the past several months, the 65-year-old Coburn has privately been undergoing intensive treatment for a recurrence of prostate cancer, a battle that could end up cutting short his second Senate term, which is scheduled to expire in January 2017. Coburn is currently undergoing chemotherapy, and he may soon have major surgery that could temporarily — or permanently — sideline him from the Senate. When the results of medical tests return in February, Coburn will have a clearer indication of the additional treatment he needs and whether it will interfere with his Senate work.

Sun Sentinel: The U.S. Postal Service has been going through turbulent times in recent years, but postal uniform maker AME’s Uniforms in Fort Lauderdale had its best year ever in 2013. “Our business is picking up steam even in a shrinking industry,” said Mark Forst, who bought the company in 1998 with his father, Melvin Forst. AME’s Uniforms snagged increased market share by aggressively marketing to new postal employees and working with them to make their dollars stretch, Forst said.

Bernama: Pos Malaysia Berhad said today it will continue using the existing address system that the public is accustomed to and will strive to improve its delivery service. The national courier also assured the people that the delivery of all postal articles will be maintained under the existing mailing address and postcode.

The Motley Fool: Amazon has stated it is currently reviewing the performance of delivery companies. The company seems quite ready to take shipping matters into its own hands, as became clear from CEO Jeff Bezos' plans to use drones at some point in the future. According to Amazon, the company passed on all the deliveries to the shippers on time. Declining to give exact figures on how many customers were affected, Amazon stated that only a small percentage of shoppers faced delays. The online retail titan has plenty of cash to throw at the venture of developing its own delivery service, and the backlash it faced as a result of the Christmas delays could serve to expedite the development of these options. If major online retailers such as Amazon decide to launch their own delivery services, shippers like UPS and FedEx could potentially find themselves in a lot of trouble.

Reuters: Italian government officials will meet on Thursday to discuss the sale of a non-controlling stake in the state-owned post office group to lower the country's massive debt, government sources said. Prime Minister Enrico Letta's economic advisor, Deputy Industry Minister Antonio Catricala and Poste Italiane PSTIT.UL Chief Executive Officer Massimo Sarmi are among those who will discuss selling as much as 40 percent of the postal service, sources said. The aim is to sell a stake of the umbrella group rather than shares in its individual banking or insurance units, the sources said. Italy's debt, as a percentage of output, is surpassed only by Greece in the European Union.

MoneyTalks News: Now that the dust is settled and all the delayed holiday packages are (hopefully) where they’re supposed to be, we couldn’t help but wonder: Do UPS and FedEx guarantee on-time delivery of packages or you get your money back? Sometimes they do, but sometimes they don’t, says Mouse Print, a website dedicated to looking at all of the fine print most of us can’t be bothered about.

Green Optimistic: For delivery companies, such as FedEx, UPS, and USPS, electric vehicles have only been useful for short routes, but the addition of a hydrogen fuel cell (HFC) range-extender could solve that problem.

GCN: The U.S. Postal Service put a new face on an old system to make life easier for workers seeking access to business and productivity applications. The organization’s upgraded and updated access control system, modeled on online app stores, replaces client/server vintage technology. The new technology gives users a more streamlined way to identify the apps they need and request access to them. Currently, more than 300 apps are available through the access application. USPS expects to have 400 to 500 apps available over time.

PR.com: On December 24, the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) voted 2-1 to approve an exigent, or “emergency,” postage rate increase of 4.3 percent, the full amount requested in September by the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). This increase is to be applied in addition to the CPI increase of 1.7 percent, totaling a 6 percent increase for periodicals. In response, Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) President Ken Wasch issued the following statement: “We remain very disappointed that the PRC has continued to ignore the lack of discipline, efficiency and overall fiscal responsibility of the USPS, and instead chose to place a continued and unjustified rate increase on the B2B industry. While the PRC at least had the good judgment to reject the USPS request to make this a permanent increase, we will begin 2014 assessing the opportunities to appeal or further limit the duration of this harmful increase.”

Government Executive: A union representing U.S. Postal Service employees is staging protests later this month against a pilot program that opened retail postal spaces at Staples office supply locations, complaining the resulting jobs are staffed by non-postal workers. The Postal Service reached an agreement with Staples in October 2013 to put retail units in more than 80 stores, with the possibility of expanding dramatically, to create a “one-stop shopping” experience for customers. Staples, however, has staffed the postal areas with its own employees. For the American Postal Workers Union, this represents a lost opportunity to grow services using postal employees whom USPS customers can trust.

January 8, 2014 

  At the Postal Regulatory Commission:

January 2014 Pricing Implementation. The prices as posted on Postal Explorer are now final for the January 26, 2014 implementation. The prices can be accessed at pe.usps.com. They are listed under the “January 2014 Price Change Information” header.

Enhancing the Value of Mail -- Discussion Forum. Tuesday, January 21, 2014   9 - 11 a.m. EST USPS OIG Headquarters 1735 N. Lynn Street, Rosslyn, VA
Please RSVP by Tuesday, January 14th to: Kelly Fryberger kfryberger@uspsoig.gov (703) 248-2260 
 

"The Postal Service OIG completed a project that explored how mail can be enhanced from the perspective of Digital Natives. Specifically, we conducted focus groups with Digital Natives to determine how they currently use and perceive the mail. We also had them reflect on examples of mail features that may enhance the mail's value to them, such as unique designs and digitally interactive printed material. The results of this work may shed light on how the Postal Service and its stakeholders can enhance the value of mail for all recipients."

1. Go to https://uspsoig1.webex.com/uspsoig1/j.php?ED=218574122&RG=1&UID=0&RT=MiMxMQ%3D%3D
2. Register for the meeting.
Once the host approves your request, you will receive a confirmation email with instructions for joining the meeting.

usps logo Attention Postal One! Users:  

  • PostalOne!® Release 37.0.0 Deployment — will require an extended maintenance window to complete all software updates. There will be a PostalOne! outage from 12:00AM(midnight) CT through 9:00AM CT, on Sunday, January 12, 2014. A mandatory Mail.dat® client download will be available immediately following the software update. Release notes for PostalOne! Release 37.0.0 can be found on RIBBS by clicking on Major/Minor Release Schedule/ 2014 Releases in the left-hand navigation bar or by going directly on RIBBS.

  • PostalOne! Release 37.0.0 Deployment to Test Environment for Mailers (TEM) — will occur on Monday, January 13, 2014, and PostalOne! TEM will be unavailable from 5:30AM CT through 3PM CT.

All About Windows Phone: Spending on mobile advertising is set to triple over the next four years, rising from $13 billion to $39 billion by 2018, says the latest industry report from Juniper Research. The majority of the increase in the spend will be concentrated on major networks such as Facebook and Twitter, rather than through third party mobile advertising services. That doesn't mean that developers and publishers who rely on in-app advertising will be left out of the bonanza, there is a case to be made that the rising tide (of advertising money) will lift up everyone involved in this industry, but as more people move to mobile devices (including smartphones, but especially tablets) the general advertising spend is going to move from web and print towards the portable screens.

Logistics Manager: La Poste and Swiss Post have merged their UK operations to form a new business, Assendia UK, focused on the international mail market. The new business incorporates La Poste UK (including Pitney Bowes IMS UK), Swiss Post International (UK) and Bedfordshire-based BTB Mailflight. The head office is at Heathrow within newly extended Swiss Post International facilities.

SBS: The British may have created the world's first postage stamp, but it was one of its Australian colonies that initiated its use for pre-paying the delivery of letters. NSW Governor Sir George Gipps, unimpeded by a doubting parliament, acted on his own by announcing in November 1838 that letters affixed with a 1.5-penny stamp would be delivered free. A few months later, British postal authorities issued the famous Penny Black for official use there. The innovation was a boon for the then 300-year-old Royal Mail and its much younger colonial cousins, in the business for only 30 years. And despite the technological advances in the 175 years since, we're still sticking postage stamps on letters. The trouble for both the Royal Mail and Australia Post is that we are doing it less and less.

ITWeb: Africa: Ghana’s postal service company has recorded a drop in its traditional mail service as the country’s population shifts towards electronic means of communication, like email. It has been reported that the Ghana Post (GP) company experienced revenue loss as stamp sales dropped from 10.1 million Ghanaian cedi in 2011 to 8.6 million Ghanaian cedi in 2012. Abdulai Abdul Rafiu, managing director of GP said the growing internet and telecommunications sectors are dominating the postal scene in that country.

Bernama: Zimpost, the Zimbabwean postal service operator, says it has earned at least US$300,000 in commission from transactions processed under its new money transfer facility, Zipcash, during the last quarter of 2013. The money transfer service, which was launched on Oct 21 last year, allows Zimbabweans to send money locally and internationally using an electronic platform.

Post & Parcel: US mail and parcel export specialists APC Postal Logistics have opened a new processing facility in California. The company said the facility opened just ahead of the festive break will serve as the nexus of its West Coast sales and operations in the United States. Expansion will mean enhancing the international delivery and logistics services it offers to online retailers, fulfillment companies, publishers, mail houses and printers in the Western United States, while extending live customer service hours. The new facility is located in Bell, close to LAX Airport in the Los Angeles area, and is designed to process and export both parcels and mail.

United Parcel Service: Severe weather in the Midwest has caused a significant disruption to operations in Indiana, Michigan, New York, and Ohio, as well as at Worldport®, UPS's main hub in Louisville, Ky. As a result, some shipments may experience unavoidable delays. We have contingency plans in place to minimize service disruptions and are committed to moving shipments to their final destinations as quickly as possible. We are balancing our priorities of customer service and employee safety, and will make every effort to deliver to all areas as conditions safely permit.

Webwire: Holiday returns — an annual rite for millions of gift receivers that starts the day after Christmas — are easy with U.S. Postal Service.The improved shipping products and services from the Postal Service offer the easiest, most stress-free solution for returning gifts after the holidays.

January 7, 2014 

New York Times: Advertising Age, the trade publication introduced in 1930, said Monday that it would publish its print edition 25 times a year rather than weekly. The print edition of Advertising Age had been weekly for almost its entire history, except for a period in the mid-1980s when it was published twice weekly. The decision by Crain Communications, the parent of Advertising Age and its website, adage.com, is another example of the changing economics of print publishing in an increasingly digital world. It comes after consumer publications like New York magazine reduced their frequencies in print.

The Capital Times: House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., has made no secret of his desire to diminish and dismantle the U.S. Postal Service. Issa has for some time now peddled plans to end Saturday deliveries by the USPS — which continues to perform with more agility than private firms, as holiday delivery patterns illustrated — in ways that are all but certain to make the Postal Service vulnerable to privatization. Issa has a right to his opinion. But the cynical determination with which he is now advancing it is jarring.

Nogales International: The Postal Service is just one in a long list of businesses that have been facing the challenge of operating in a changing world. Most others have learned to adapt, but the Postal Service stubbornly clings to doing business essentially the same way it always has. The Postal Service’s big problem is its delivery network, specifically door-to-door mail delivery for millions of homes and businesses. Sure it’s great to have mail delivered to you, but would it really be that much of a hardship if everyone had to drive a few miles and pick up their mail at a post office? The longer the Postal Service and lawmakers avoid reducing core costs for the delivery network, the more pain will be inflicted upon all who use the mail. Fewer and fewer customers will be paying more and more.

Washington Post: At least five lawmakers have proposed legislation to repeal a controversial pension cut for working-age military retirees included in the budget deal that President Obama signed last month. Most of the bills would replace the estimated $6 billion in benefits savings with cuts in other forms of spending, from tax breaks for offshore companies to funding for Egypt and Pakistan. One of the more debatable ideas came from House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who proposed ending Saturday mail delivery from the Postal Service to replace the pension savings. Issa pitched his bill as a measure that would “restore COLAs for military retirees while doubling savings.” But the Postal Service is largely independent from the federal budget, so we wondered how the government could use savings from that agency to pay for military pensions. Setting aside any questions about whether the government can claim savings from an agency that is “off-budget,” labor groups and lawmakers from both parties have spoken out against ending Saturday mail as a way to fix the Postal Service’s finances. The National Association of Letter Carriers, a union that represents postal employees, has argued that Congress should instead end a statute requiring the agency to prefund health benefits for its future retirees.

Reviewed.com: Unlike most developed nations, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) does not employ a traditional mail delivery service. Residential delivery is almost unheard of, and the municipal post services only deliver to registered P.O. boxes. All of this is likely to change soon, with the rollout of a new address system in Dubai. And the new system is facilitated by—of all things—fridge magnets. The Dubai government has assigned a location code to each building, and plans to send fridge magnets with the location code and a scannable QR Code to all residents and business. Not only will this system allow the delivery of mail, but will also be used by other municipal operations, such as fire departments and ambulance services.

AllAfrica.com: The Sudanese Postal Services Company (SudaPost) and South Sudan's Ministry of Telecommunications and Postal Services have signed on Monday an agreement on postal exchange. The agreement would allow for the resumption of postal services between the two countries following a two-year halt.

Forbes: Last week I got a call asking me to write a Direct Mail Trends Report …what I expect to see in 2014. I started to make a list and pretty soon it was almost as complicated as an actual direct mail program. Sorted out simply, the top items on my 2014 trend list included....

Federal Times: "Postal Service again restrained on top executives’ pay in ’12"

Bangalore Mirror: Postal dept to rope in retired staff and contract workers after daily carry-over of mails that need sorting reaches 5 lakh from 50,000 less than a month ago The Railway Mail Service (RMS) of the postal department is reeling under a crisis. The daily carry-over of mails that need to be sorted has shot up from the usual 50,000 to over five lakh mails per day. The net result is that mails are reaching people a day late. Employees say night sorting has been reduced, so that those engaged in sorting will work for an additional three hours during the day. This, they say, has backfired and the mails are piling up. The department, however, says that it is only a temporary problem resulting from shortage of staff. They are now roping in retired employees and contract workers to tide over the situation.

Proactive Investors Australia: TZ Limited has started the new year with integration partner FBA Italy winning a tender to supply Italian postal service Poste Italiane with its Smart Parcel Locker requirements for an initial pilot program. The Italian contract win will further boost TZ's global presence, adding to the lockers it has already deployed in Australia, Singapore and the United States. The company will supply an initial five locker banks as well as associated software and integration services.

Commissioner Mark Acton has been named Vice Chairman of the Postal Regulatory Commission.

January 6, 2014  

The Motley Fool: In analyses of Netflix, the DVD segment tends to get short shrift. All things considered, this isn't very surprising: Streaming is clearly the company's main focus, while the DVD-by-mail business is in permanent decline. That said, the DVD segment still makes a critical contribution to Netflix's earnings. It is on pace to generate a contribution profit of $430 million to $435 million for 2013, down from $538 million in 2012. That's more than double the company's total pre-tax profit -- in other words, without the DVD-by-mail business, Netflix would have lost money in 2013. Due to the ongoing membership decline and increasing postage costs, Netflix's DVD segment earnings are likely to fall very quickly in the next two to three years.

The Ann Arbor News: U.S. Postal Service workers are on the road and working to deliver mail Monday after a winter storm dropped nearly 11 inches of snow on the Ann Arbor area, but a company representative said mail could be delayed because of road conditions. The postal service's policy is to continue to attempt delivery unless there is an extreme situation that would prevent carriers from doing so.

usps logo Attention Postal One! Users:   January 26, 2014 Mailing Services and Shipping Services Price Change Update — Plant-Verified Drop Shipment.  As a reminder, Mailing Services and Shipping Services prices will change on January 26, 2014. Relative to that change, plant-verified drop shipment (PVDS) mailings will be verified and accepted as follows:

  • Current Prices — PVDS mailings verified and paid for before January 26, 2014, using the current prices, will be accepted at destination entry postal facilities through February 9, 2014, when presented with appropriate verification and payment documentation.
  • New Prices — PVDS mailings may be verified and paid for beginning January 13, 2014, using the new prices, provided the shipments are not deposited at destination entry postal facilities until January 26, 2014, or later, when presented with appropriate verification and payment documentation.
  • For mailings with electronic documentation, mailers must enter a Mail Arrival Date that is on or after January 26, 2014.
  • For mailings with hard copy postage statements, USPS acceptance employees must enter a Mail Arrival Date that is on or after January 26, 2014.

Fierce Government: The Postal Service could help sustain its advertising mail business by adding a scannable code for recipients to provide feedback to advertisers, a report from the office of inspector general says. With their mobile devices, recipients of advertising mail could scan a code or symbol, such as a QR code, to access a feedback form with questions from advertisers. Participants would receive some kind of coupon as a reward. The OIG received the idea from Marshall Van Alstyne, a Boston University management professor, and Geoff Parker, a professor at Tulane University's business school. The pair proposed the digital feedback system in a paper enclosed in the OIG report, dated Dec. 11.

Fierce Government: The Postal Service doesn't employ a formal process for patenting its inventions and even the most seasoned inventors at the agency don't know which new ideas they should present for patents, a Dec. 18 USPS inspector general white paper says. The IG retained external consultants ipCapital Group to review the Postal Service's current intellectual property strategy for the report (.pdf). Throughout its history, the Postal Service has either invented intellectual assets, such as the ZIP Code, optical character reader technology, address standards and address management techniques. Read more: USPS isn't protecting its intellectual property, Even experienced inventors at USPS find the intellectual asset management process to be unclear, the white paper says. USPS also lacks clear goals on what inventions should be patented and would add the most strategic value to the organization as a whole. The current approach utilizes informal processes between attorneys and inventors, and features a small pipeline of inventions. The IP legal team employs one full-time patent attorney and little administrative support, the paper says. Because of these patenting problems, USPS should develop a more structured and formal intellectual asset management process, the IG says. The process should include periodic, widespread internal education for employees on the importance of IP as well as best practices for generating, capturing and protecting ideas and inventions, the white paper says. Read more: USPS isn't protecting its intellectual property.

Sydney Morning Herald: Postal systems are grappling with a substantial change to their business model in a digital world. Australia is no different. Former banker Ahmed Fahour was recruited in 2009 with a mandate to manage Australia Post through the change, but this has not yet extended to privatisation. There is room for a discussion about the future of Australia Post, indeed privatisation is a natural extension of the way it has been managed for the past few years. Australia Post, with investments in commercial logistics business - Startrack Express - and a fast-growing parcels delivery arm, making it public largely in name. The sector needs to be revitalised with competition to drive an improvement in services.

Sydney Morning Herald: Labor has demanded that the federal government say whether it plans to sell Australia Post, as a former commissioner of the competition regulator says the postal service ought to be privatised. Debate flared on Monday after Rod Sims, chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, was reported to be urging the Abbott government to consider selling Commonwealth-owned assets such as Australia Post and Medibank Private. In the ensuing debate, Mr Sims said he was only talking about the benefits of privatisation in general.

Nerdylorin.net: This is a great site for looking at the benefits of postal rate simplicity.

Wall Street Journal: Companies worldwide spend roughly $5 billion a year on software that’s supposed to help them mine nuggets of useful information from their troves of Big Data, according to Gartner Inc. But experts say new behavior patterns spurred by retailer promotions and bad weather across the U.S. made it nearly impossible for analytics tools to predict the last minute scramble for Christmas gifts that left retailers and shippers red-faced with embarrassment and consumers red-faced with anger. Sucharita Mulpuru, a Forrester Research Inc. analyst who follows retail, said while CIOs can use Big Data to make predictions based on what has happened in the past, deviations from those patterns can render prognostications “completely useless.” [EdNote: And the same could be said for hanging your hat on estimated mail price elasticities based on retrospective data rather than recognizing that disrupting technologies may render such estimates useless....Then again, what the hey....It also took the British Admiralty quite a while to recognize that forming sailing ships into a line of battle was not the wisest way to fight a war at sea.]

The Motley Fool: Did you hear the one about the U.S. Postal Service wanting to stop delivering mail on Saturdays? Actually, that's nothing. Up in Canada, the postal service says it's planning to quit delivering mail ... period. Or at least, delivering it door-to-door. Canada's plan makes so much good sense that you could almost imagine USPS wanting to give it a try here, too. Almost.

Forbes: Simply put, the Post Office’s ongoing existence as a government-operated monopoly is a constant reminder to the electorate of the impressive incompetence that is government itself.

January 5, 2014 

Atlanta Business Chronicle: UPS was given a late Christmas present Dec. 27, a potential class-action lawsuit. A complaint was filed against Atlanta-based United Parcel Service Inc., claiming the delivery giant "has for years been systematically overcharging customers." The complaint filed in federal court in Michigan is seeking damages for all customers who used UPS to ship a package and paid for additional coverage for loss or damage from UPS.

Dead Tree Edition: The U.S. Postal Service’s shift to a more flexible workforce has reduced average hourly pay, but adding so many new employees has also hindered productivity gains. Downsizing of the workforce, consolidation of facilities and carrier routes, and greater automation are helping USPS work more productively. But the growing volume of labor-intensive parcels, though profitable, tends to mean slower deliveries, as does the increasing number of delivery points.

The Telegraph: Mark Russell's last word on the Royal Mail relates to the Government’s universal service obligation on mail delivery, emphasising that the Royal Mail is the only organisation that could currently meet this. “The key objective of protecting the universal service obligation has been kept. We’re not like private equity, this was not a company we cut our ties with. “If anything happened to that business, we’d have to step in . . . if we’re selling it, we want it sold in a strong position.”

The Nation: House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-California, has made no secret of his desire to diminish and dismantle the United States Postal Service. Issa has for some time now peddled plans to end Saturday deliveries by the USPS—which continues to perform more agilely than private firms, as holiday delivery patterns illustrated—in ways that are all but certain to make the postal service vulnerable to privatization. Issa has a right to his opinion. But the cynical determination with which he is now advancing it is jarring.

January 4, 2014 

From the Federal Register:

Postal Regulatory Commission
NOTICES
Annual Compliance Report, FY 2012 ,
669–671 [2013–31512] [TEXT]  [PDF]
Change in Postal Prices ,
671–672 [2013–31540] [TEXT]  [PDF]
Nationwide Change in Postal Delivery Service Standards ,
672–674 [2013–31510] [TEXT]  [PDF]
New Postal Products ,
675–676 [2013–31541] [TEXT]  [PDF]
674–675 [2013–31542] [TEXT]  [PDF]
 
Postal Service
NOTICES
Product Changes:
  First-Class Package Service Negotiated Service Agreement ,
  676 [2013–31491] [TEXT]  [PDF]
  Priority Mail Negotiated Service Agreement ,
  676 [2013–31490] [TEXT]  [PDF]

Sierra Sun Times: Holiday returns — an annual rite for millions of gift receivers that starts the day after Christmas — are easy with U.S. Postal Service.The improved shipping products and services from the Postal Service offer the easiest, most stress-free solution for returning gifts after the holidays.

The Times of India: Postal Department has entered the growing market of parcel business with 'Cash on Delivery' now. This new 'Business Parcel' service aims to promote the e-commerce market in India by offering reliable and cost efficient delivery solutions. This service will provide add-on facilities to customers, which include online end-to-end tracking of consignments, cash on delivery facility, insurance, etc.

Bloomberg Businessweek: There is something politically mischievous about U.S. Representative Darrell Issa’s new bill to end Saturday letter delivery. The California Republican announced yesterday that he has introduced legislation that would use the saving from eliminating Saturday delivery to restore cost-of-living adjustments for military retirees that were cut in last year’s budget act. Issa is chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which oversees the money-losing U.S. Postal Service. He has emerged as the primary advocate of postal reform in Congress. But Issa hasn’t been able to pass his sweeping reform bills in the House. He can’t get any Democratic support, and some of his ideas spook Republicans, too. Rank-and-file members of both parties are leery of alienating voters with service cuts.

Washington Post: House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) introduced the bilLawmakers have lined up with legislation to replace the pension cut with savings in other areas after the measure triggered a major backlash from veterans, military groups and many lawmakers, including those who voted for the overall budget.l Thursday, saying his plan would trim the federal deficit by about $17 billion over 10 years. The proposal is likely to draw criticism from postal-worker groups, such as the National Association of Letter Carriers, which has strongly opposed plans to end six-day mail delivery as a means of achieving savings for the financially troubled Postal Service.

Newsmax: Rep. Darrell Issa has introduced a bill to replace proposed military pension cuts by scrapping Saturday mail delivery. Issa believes that cutting Saturday service would create an estimated $17 billion reserve over 10 years, replacing a one percent annual cost of living adjustment for some retired military veterans that was included in the 2013 bipartisan budget deal. "This legislation will restore cost of living adjustments for our military retirees and not only replace the savings but nearly triple them, saving $17 billion over 10 years according to conservative USPS estimates," Issa (R-Ca.), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said in a statement. "The common sense reform will help restore the cash strapped Postal service to long-term solvency and is supported by the president and key congressional leaders in both chambers, he said, referring to President Obama’s recommendation to eliminate Saturday service in his budget proposal." Package, express, and priority mail delivery would continue. But the cash-strapped Postal Service says it does not have the money to meet its own obligation to a retiree healthcare trust fund. The USPS has tried to eliminate letter delivery on Saturday in the past, which it estimates would save about $2 billion a year. The USPS lost $16 billion in 2012.

January 3, 2014 

The Postal Regulatory Commission has posted a position vacancy notice regarding its office of the General Counsel.

National Association of Major Mail Users: The Minister of Transport and the Minister Responsible for Canada Post, the Honourable Lisa Raitt, needs to hear from business mailers and suppliers whose business activities and in many cases, livelihoods, will be significantly and negatively impacted if Canada Post is allowed to proceed with the outrageous increases to commercial Letter Mail tabled for March 2014. The Minister needs to know that Canada Post’s fortunes will spiral downward quickly and certainly as they lose this commercial revenue by pricing themselves out of the market.

Copenhagen Post: Privately-owned advertisement distribution firms are accusing Post Danmark of using its state subsidies for postal distribution in order to finance its own advertisement distribution operations, financial daily Børsen reports. The allegations came about as the postal service announced plans to hike the price of postage for a standard letter to 9 kroner, yet charges less than 1 krone for an advertisement weighing the same. While not ruling out the possibility that Post Denmark was more efficient than they were, the privately owned firms argued it was unlikely the state-owned monopoly's cost were lower.

 
The latest issue ofthe
PostCom Bulletin is available online.
 In this issue:

  • The U.S. Postal Service has released its Annual Compliance Report (ACR). The report focuses mostly on the market dominant products (First-Class Mail, Standard Mail, Periodicals, Package Services, and Extra Services). The Report is submitted pursuant to 39 U.S.C. § 3652, which requires the Postal Service to file with the Postal Regulatory Commission, within 90 days after the end of each fiscal year (FY), a variety of data on “costs, revenues, rates, and quality of service,” in order to “demonstrate that all products during such year complied with all applicable requirements of [title 39].”
  • The Postal Services intends to change the manner in which it processes and dispatches Destination Sectional Center Facility (DSCF) Standard Mail. This operational change would result in a nationwide change in the nature of postal service, therefore it has requested an advisory opinion from the Postal Regulatory Commission. It is proposed to widen the window of delivery for DSCF Standard Mail for pieces entered on Friday and Saturday. Instead of receiving the typical Monday and Tuesday delivery, respectively, the USPS is looking to defer this deferrable product by one day and having DSCF Standard Mail delivered on Tuesday and Wednesday,
  • Included with this week’s PostCom Bulletin are revised price comparison charts for the DFSS Discount, Heavy Letter adjustment, and the IMpb compliance fee from the exigency price increases scheduled to take effect on January 26, 2014.
  • Senator Collins reacts to PRC exigent decision. USPS finalizes deferment of Full Service IMb. Why the Postal Service can’t capitalize on Christmas shipping woes. Attention PostalOne Users. Fox promotes privatizing the USPS. Amazon, UPS offer refunds for delays. Time Inc. preparing to head out on its own. UPS Christmas debacle shows why we need a public USPS. An unlikely star of the holiday-shipping season: the USPS. USPS is testing mobile point-of-sale technology.
  • Announcement of postal related Federal Register Notices.
  • An update from the USPS Office of Inspector General.
  • An update on postal news from around the world.
  • Postal previews.
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From the Federal Register:

Postal Regulatory Commission
NOTICES
New Postal Products ,
414–415 [2013–31441] [TEXT]  [PDF]
 
Postal Service
PROPOSED RULES
Revised Postage and Fee Refund Criteria ,
375–376 [2013–31443] [TEXT]  [PDF]
Service Standards for Destination Sectional Center Facility Rate Standard Mail ,
376–378 [2013–31442] [TEXT]  [PDF]

Wall Street Journal: SimplyLobsters.com owner Donald Lee was expecting a good Christmas when orders for his live shellfish and other foods jumped 30% this holiday season. That was until the express-shipping system broke down under a crush of last-minute orders and delayed about 10% of his shipments. The lobsters were shipped from Maine in insulated boxes with gel ice packs and wet newspaper to help keep their shells and gills moist, he said. But the extra travel time was too much for some of them. "The ones in hotter areas—they didn't make it," Mr. Lee said. "This was the worst year in terms of delivery hiccups." [Troubles also affected the delivery of drugs and other perishable foods.]

  Washington Times: Companies that rent movie and video games by mail to tens of millions of Americans could see the price of delivery go up if the financially strapped U.S. Postal Service succeeds in a push to change the rules governing DVD mail. The Postal Service, which has run a multi-billion dollar deficit for years, said in regulatory filings that DVD mail ought to be changed from a so-called “market-dominant” to “competitive” classification. That, officials say, would allow the cash-strapped service to negotiate a price with companies like Netflix to recover mailing costs, ending years of what critics describe as a highly favorable deal Netflix struck early on. But officials vowed not to set too high a price that could wipe out consumer demand for the mail-DVD business, though at least one DVD company is skeptical about such assurances.

January 2, 2014 

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee: House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) announced the introduction of legislation to allow the U.S. Postal Service to implement a modified six-day delivery schedule and repeal reductions in military pensions made by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013. The military pension cuts were made to achieve $6.2 billion in savings over 10 years. “This legislation will restore Cost-of-Living Adjustments for our military retirees and not only replace the savings but nearly triple them– saving $17 billion over 10 years according to conservative USPS estimates,” said Chairman Issa. “This common sense reform will help restore the cash-strapped Postal Service to long-term solvency and is supported by the President and key Congressional leaders in both chambers.” USPS is forced to deliver paper mail, like bills and advertisements, six days a week by an unfunded mandate included in annual appropriations legislation. If the mandate is lifted, the Postmaster General has announced that USPS would modify its current delivery schedule to deliver packages 6 days a week and paper mail 5 days a week. Express and priority mail delivery would not change, and post offices would remain open on Saturdays. Chairman Issa recently outlined the benefits of ending the unfunded mandate in a letter to House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) Full text of H.R. 3801, can be viewed here.

"SEC. 2. NATIONWIDE MAIL DELIVERY SCHEDULE. 5 (a) IN GENERAL.—Section 404 of title 39, United 6 States Code, is amended by inserting after subsection (e) 7 the following: 8 ‘‘(f)(1) The Postal Service may establish a general, nationwide mail delivery schedule of 5 days per week.  ‘‘(2) The Postal Service shall ensure that, under any schedule established under paragraph (1), there shall not occur more than 2 consecutive days on which mail is not delivered, including as a result of Federal holidays.  ‘‘(3) For a period not to end before January 1, 2019, the Postal Service shall provide domestic competitive product service 6 days per week to each street address that was scheduled to receive package service 6 days per week as of September 30, 2012. ‘‘(4) Nothing in this section shall be construed to authorize a reduction, or to require an increase, in frequency of mail delivery for any address for which the Postal Service provided delivery on fewer than 6 days per week as of January 1, 2013.’’. (b) MAILBOX ACCESS.—If the United States Postal Service establishes a general, nationwide mail delivery schedule of 5 days per week, the Postal Service shall amend the Mailing Standards of the United States Postal Service (as set forth in the Domestic Mail Manual) to ensure that the provisions of section 508.3.2.10 of such Manual, as in effect on September 30, 2012, shall apply on any day on which the Postal Service does not deliver mail under the established delivery schedule."

Federal Times: A key lawmaker is continuing to press for ending Saturday mail delivery after Congress again failed to approve a broader overhaul of U.S. Postal Service operations. “We must act now if the Postal Service is to endure as an independent, self-funding agency,” Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said in a letter urging an end to a long-standing congressional requirement for six-day mail delivery. The requirement is renewed each year as part of a spending bill; the letter asks House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers, R-Ky., to drop the provision from a fiscal 2014 spending package likely to be introduced in the next two weeks. Issa’s office released a copy of the letter, dated Dec. 19, this week; a Rogers spokeswoman declined comment Thursday. Also on Dec. 19, Issa introduced a bill to give the Postal Service the go-ahead for five-day mail delivery while repealing cuts in future cost-of-living adjustments for working-age military retirees that are part of a budget agreement signed last month. See also Federal News Radio.


SOME POINTS CONGRESS SHOULD KEEP IN MIND AS IT CONSIDERS POSTAL REFORM

Regarding the wrong-headed call for mailers to pay higher postal rates because facility closures and labor cuts have gone far enough--the "mailers should have more skin in the game" nonsense-- here are some facts Congress should keep in mind.

  • The ENTIRE cost of providing the nation a universal mail delivery system is underwritten by the postage dollars that MAILERS (not management and not labor) pay. We already have substantial skin in the game.
  • When management screws up or when labor decides to "grieve" every damn thing, the cost for all that waste and inefficiency is borne by MAILERS, not management or labor. We REALLY have skin in the game.
  • When management compensates the wrong people for doing other than the right thing, or when labor "wins" pay, benefits, and work rules that do little to enhance the Postal Service's fiscal viability, the costs for all those snafus are paid for by MAILERS -- not management or labor.
  • Mailers just got stiffed with a larger-than-inflation postal rate increase through no fault of their own -- other than being customers who are captive to the USPS' statutory monopolies over the carriage of mail and the deposit of mail in letter mail receptacles.

Mailers are out of skin. The Postal Service already has started cutting on the muscle and bone. Congress should leave postal customers alone -- while the Postal Service still has any to pay the costs of universal mail service!

Post & Parcel: Iceland’s postal regulator has approved an increase in postal rates effective from the start of this month. The Post and Telecom Administration (PFS) said it approved the pricing request by Iceland Post to allow the company to respond to the continuing trend for “significant’ reductions in mail volumes from year to year. Mail volumes have fallen by 37% since 2006 thanks to factors including e-substitution. In 2013, mail volumes in Iceland dropped by 6%. The regulator said expectations were that mail volumes will reduce by a further 5% in 2014. The rate increase also takes into account cost increases for Iceland’s postal service seen since the last rate rise back in July 2012.


PostCom Members!!
A revised set of 2014 postal rate charts has been posted on this site and will be included with the next PostCom Bulletin.

usps logo Attention Postal One! Users:  

  • PostalOne!® Release 37.0.0 Deployment — will require an extended maintenance window to complete all software updates. There will be a PostalOne! outage from 12:00AM(midnight) CT through 9:00AM CT, on Sunday, January 12, 2014. A mandatory Mail.dat® client download will be available immediately following the software update. Release notes for PostalOne! Release 37.0.0 can be found on RIBBS by clicking on Major/Minor Release Schedule/ 2014 Releases in the left-hand navigation bar or by going directly on RIBBS.
  • PostalOne! Release 37.0.0 Deployment to Test Environment for Mailers (TEM) — will occur on Monday, January 13, 2014, and PostalOne! TEM will be unavailable from 5:30AM CT through 3PM CT.

Washington Post: The Postal Service faces a pretty dire budget situation, but in spite of that, officials there are still finding ways to make your visit less of a hassle. Over the holiday, USPS began experimenting with a mobile point-of-sale tool that you might more commonly expect to find at a crowded Potbelly sandwich shop. IPods loaded with package scanners and credit-card readers handled more than 100,000 transactions across 50 post offices during the season, according to USPS. The new technology lets Postal Service agents take prepaid packages, sell postage and conduct other services while walking around the store.

Sentinel & Enterprise: Death, taxes and a rise in postal rates. Those seem to be the only certainties in life. On the day before Christmas, federal regulators approved the Postal Service's request for a "temporary" 3-cent increase in the price of a first-class stamp to help the USPS recover from the drop in mail usage it says stems from the Great Recession of 2008.  You can bet this increase is as temporary as Lowell's Rourke Bridge over the Merrimack River, built 30 years ago.

Punch: The Nigerian Postal Service intercepted counterfeit financial instruments worth N13bn in 2013, the Minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku, has said.

Gizmodo: Door-to-door mail delivery might be on its last legs, but that isn't stopping the US Postal Service from flogging the horse. Now, it's testing a mobile point-of-sale system to reduce waiting times in its customer lines. The new technology, reports Postal News, is called Mobile Point of Sale (mPOS), and uses a modified iPod Touch and portable printer to "scan and accept prepaid packages, scan package pickups as delivered, or sell stamps, ReadyPost and other retail products." It'll also spit out Priority Mail flat-rate postage. Trialled in 50 locations over the holidays, mPOS undertook over 102,000 transactions, allowing customers to get out of line more quickly, as long as they had a credit or non-PIN debit card to hand. Whether such successes can streamline an ailing business model, though? It seems unlikely. [

January 1, 2014 

Socialist Project: In 2013, a fifteen year process of the liberalization of postal services in the European Union came to a preliminary end as the last member states abolished the remaining sections of the national post monopolies. [1] In theory, any private company that obtains a license from the market regulator can now provide postal services in Europe. In practice, the letter markets are still dominated by the former national post companies, some of which have been privatized, [2] and only in a few countries new competitors have acquired more than ten per cent of the market share. [3] After fifteen years of market-opening the balance sheet of post liberalization is overwhelmingly negative.

From the Federal Register: Postal Regulatory Commission NOTICES New Postal Products , 153–154 [2013–31360] [TEXT] [PDF]

Forbes: The delivery delays that plagued UPS and FedEx during the 2013 Christmas shopping season were largely the result of factors beyond the carriers’ control, according to one parcel industry veteran. It was the carriers who suffered the brunt of the criticism, but many of the tardy deliveries weren’t their fault, according to Jerry Hempstead, who spent decades as an executive with DHL and Airborne Express, and now heads up his own firm, Hempstead Consulting. He blamed the severe snowstorm that struck large portions of the South and East, including UPS’s hub in Louisville, KY and FedEx’s in Memphis, Tenn., for much of the delay.

Business First: The drone deliveries envisioned by Amazon.com Inc. and United Parcel Service Inc. moved closer to reality on Monday as the Federal Aviation Administration approved six "large scale" test sites for the concept. The sites will be run by the University of Alaska, New York’s Griffiss International Airport, the North Dakota Department of Commerce, the state of Nevada, Virginia Tech and Texas A&M University, ABC News reported. Companies such as Amazon  and UPS could work out deals with the site operators to conduct their own testing.

WABE: The Complex Litigation Group LLC has filed a potential class action lawsuit against the United Parcel Service. The law firm is accusing UPS of "systematically overcharging customers" for the first $100 of declared value coverage. Officials with the Atlanta-based shipping giant refute the claims. "The UPS rate and service guide is in accordance with other carriers. As to these type of charges, Fed Ex and DHL, for example, assess declared value charges in the same way," says UPS spokesman Dean Foust.

Reason: The U.S. Postal Service has been plagued with financial problems for years, but fewer adults now believe the federal government should sell the Postal Service. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 35% of American Adults think the U.S. government should consider selling the Postal Service to a private company in order to reduce the federal budget deficit. But that's down from 40% in 2011. Forty-eight percent (48%) oppose such sale, while 17% are undecided. [EdNote: Government doesn't need to sell the Postal Service. It only has to end its monopolies.]

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