MTAC’s Donald Harle on Postal Matters
The rate case proposed in May by the U.S. Postal Service is full of complexities, extending beyond a rate increase to include changes to classifications, definitions, discounts and preparation rules. Between all these adjustments and the ever-looming possibility of postal reform, mailers are faced with only a vague idea of what their postal costs will look like come spring 2007, when the new rate case is slated to go into effect.
To help mailers get a handle on what all of these mail modifications may mean for them, Target Marketing reached out to postal expert Donald Harle, who currently serves as industry vice chair of the Mailer’s Technical Advisory Committee (MTAC).
Target Marketing: Beyond the rate increase, what do mailers need to know about the new postal rate case?
Donald Harle: They should get the message that the Postal Service really wants to provide incentives for more efficient mail. Shape-based rates are a key element, and we’ll be hearing more about that. Letters are cheaper than flats, flats are cheaper than parcels, and we’re going to be hearing more of that in subsequent rate cases. The weight of the piece is becoming less important than the shape, because shape is what really impacts … processing costs. This works very much to the advantage of First Class mailers, because First Class mailers [that] mail pieces at more than one ounce will actually see a reduction in their rates.
In this rate case, drop ship becomes even more important. Virtually every time the [USPS] has done a rate increase that is anything but a flat rate increase, the drop ship discounts have been improved. And that is happening this time as well. We’re starting to see the [USPS] say, however, it wants [mailers] to drop ship more to where its equipment is, rather than just penetrating deeper into the system. This idea shows up with the elimination of the basic carrier route, DDU [Destination Delivery Unit] drop ship discount, and it will be more important in the future with the flats-sequencing system and as [the USPS] gets into network realignment.