Um, This Is Postal Progress?
For practically a decade, postal reform has been a pressing concern for direct
marketers. And with last year's development of a Presidential Postal Commission as well as the various Senate committee hearings on postal reform currently being held in the nation's capital, the government is finally taking some steps to patch the holes on this slowly sinking ship.
Or is it? While Congress holds meetings to probe for solutions that will not put the needs of mailers over the needs of the public, or the needs of postal workers over mailers' needs, etc., it has punched an extra hole in the hull of the U.S. Postal Service and ripped the patch off a previously covered hole.
The two situations I refer to are: the charge that the USPS fund the pensions of its retired workers who served in the military, a financial burden no other government agency is required to shoulder personally; and the placement of excess funds from the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) into escrow until Congress decides if and when the USPS may have access to this money.
Considering that First-Class mail volumetraditionally the USPS' biggest source of revenueseems to be shrinking, direct mail continues to be an important source of revenue for the postal service. So why does the agency continue to bite one of the hands that feeds it?
According to industry buzz, the USPS decided early this year to classify certain types of campaigns that had previously mailed Standard Mail as First Classa change that meant extra postage to the tune of millions of dollars for numerous marketers. And, as Bob McLean, executive director of the Mailers Council, a mailers advocacy group, notes, these mailers were given no warning of the change and no formal process to file a grievance. Imagine their surprise when they showed up at the post office with their mail drops in tow and were told they needed to pony up an extra $500,000 or so to mail a campaign that had been considered Standard Mail for years!
The USPS is within its right to enforce the regulations of the Domestic Mail Manual, regardless of how open to interpretation they might be. But for companies that have projected annual budgets based on consistent mail classifications, this is one big rug the USPS will be pulling out from under many of its best customers.
What can you do before the rug under your feet starts to move? Let your congressional representatives know what a healthy postal service means to the future of your company and its employees. Without reform, who knows where the USPS will turn next for additional revenue?