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."

1800 Diagonal Rd., Ste 320 * Alexandria, VA 22314-2862 * Ph.: +1 703 524 0096 * Fax: +1 703 997 2414

Postal News and Information from Around the World

March 3, 2015 

2015 Explore New Horizons at PostalVision 2020/5.0! Check out our Session Topics! Why? To expand our horizons, scope, imagination and vision of the ideal postal ecosystem to serve future generations worldwide To enlighten our comprehension of the technological, economic, market and political forces reshaping the global postal-parcel-logistics-delivery industry To be challenged and inspired by speakers and thought leaders from inside and outside the industry to envision a bright and sustainable future To discover new product ideas, technologies, applications and innovations To join the conversation, share concerns, ideas and solutions with stakeholders from everywhere What's 5.0 All About? PostalVision 2020/5.0 will discuss the significance of "Customers, Connections and Collaboration" as key empowering forces driving transformation and reinvention of the global postal ecosystem. Register Now!

Jalopnik: The USPS is replacing the squat little vans you're use to seeing around the neighborhood, and is now trying to find a replacement. This sketch has just been released as an idea of what the Postal Service has in mind.

 At the Postal Regulatory Commission: 

March 2, 2015 

Cato Institute: The United States Postal Service lost $5.5 billion last year. That is the eighth annual loss in a row and the third highest ever. The only good news is that it remains below the red ink tsunami of $15.9 billion in 2012. Why does the federal government deliver the mail? Why does it have a monopoly over delivering the mail? With politics rather than service the PO's priority, Congress took the next step and approved the Private Express Statutes, preventing anyone from competing with the government in delivering first class mail. That left the system ill-equipped to adapt to changing circumstances. Banning competition could not preserve the postal market. The number of pieces of mail peaked in 2001 and continues to fall despite a rising population.

Yahoo! News: Britain's Royal Mail is joining Alibaba Group Holding Ltd's Tmall Global's online marketplace, hoping to link small British companies with Chinese consumers and boost trade for its overseas parcels business. Alibaba's Tmall Global is Asia's largest business-to-consumer retail platform, connecting 302 million online Chinese consumers with virtual store fronts and payment portals, Royal Mail said. It said its Tmall online shop front, which will launch later this month, would provide consumers with access to small- and medium-sized British retailers and exporters who want to do business in China, but do not have the means to do so alone. Royal Mail will handle the necessary documentation for the firms, as well as things such as marketing, promotions and customer services. In return, Royal Mail will receive commission on the sale of products and revenue for shipping them through its Parcelforce express unit.

REMINDER: Webinar on How to get Executive Mail Center Manager Certification at NPF For the first time, National Postal Forum (NPF) attendees will have the ability to receive Executive Mail Center Manager (EMCM) certification at the National Postal Forum in Anaheim, CA, held May 17-20, 2015. This is an exclusive opportunity for NPF attendees! Instructors from the USPS National Center for Employee Development (NCED) will travel to the Forum and provide certification classes. Join an hour webinar on March 4, 2015 at 1 p.m. (EST) to understand more about the program and how this certification provides a solid foundation in mail center management and a return on investment. Speakers: Hear from Paul Warrick, Manager, National Center for Employee Development and Maureen Goodson, Executive Director, National Postal Forum The EMCM course is a comprehensive training program that is designed for individuals who wish to develop Mail Center Management skills. It offers a certified designation that emphasizes professionalism in Mail Center Management. The course teaches skills needed to manage more effectively, boost productivity and cut costs. The program is sponsored by the USPS and has been developed by a professional committee with representatives from the mailing industry. To earn official certification, participants are required to attend all 14 planned sessions and pass an exam at the completion of each module.

Lexology: On 11 February 2015, the Court of Justice of the EU rendered an important decision in response to a preliminary question submitted by the Brussels Court of Appeal in the context of a dispute between bpost and the Belgian Institute for Postal Services and Telecommunications ("BIPT") on the admissibility of the "per sender" tariff model. The "per sender" tariff model, as applied by bpost, entails calculating commercial discounts to be granted to clients (both direct customers and mail handlers) on a "per sender" basis (meaning that the separate volumes of various senders of the mail handlers are taken into account instead of the total volumes deposited with bpost). In its judgment of 11 February, the Court of Justice took a diverging view from that in the Deutsche Post case by ruling that the non-discrimination principle from the European Postal Directive does not preclude a postal operator from applying a system of discounts per sender, as applied by Bpost. The Court considered that the "per sender" model did not entail any discrimination between direct customers and mail handlers as these two categories are not in a comparable situation "as regards the objective pursued by the system of quantity discounts per sender, which is to stimulate demand in the area of postal services, since only bulk mailers are in a position to be encouraged, by the effect of that system, to increase the volume of their mail handed on to bpost and, accordingly, the turnover of that operator". Consequently, the different treatment given to those two categories of client which follows from the application of the system of quantity discounts per sender does not constitute discrimination.

AllAfrica.com: The East African Community (EAC) Council of Ministers has urged the trading bloc to fast track the implementation of the Regional Postal Sector Strategy, an official said over the weekend. The strategy would assist EAC partner states to harmonize their policies, laws and regulations for the sector. In the recent years the region has liberalized the sector, which led to a development of a vibrant private sector. The director said that development of the postal sector cannot take place without the involvement of the private sector. According to the EAC official, electronic commerce presents a great business opportunity for the postal sector. "This is because physical goods bought online have to be delivered physically to the buyer," Wambugu said." However, the challenge is for postal operators to develop strategies for exploiting the opportunities that e-commerce provides," he said.

Lloyd's Loading List: Amid news that three major US passenger carriers have requested that the US government should review and renegotiate Open Skies agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, FedEx Express president and CEO David Bronczek has weighed in to express strong support for "honouring our Open Skies agreements" and warning against a "return to the restrictive, inefficient, expensive agreements of the past where customers, communities, air cargo, and the greater US economy suffered". Bronczek concluded: "FedEx urges the US government to honour the Open Skies agreements it has negotiated with over 110 countries in every region of the world. There is no need to consult with our Open Skies partners absent public proof that alleged unfair competition meets the standards long established in US law. "The US should not capitulate to the interests of a few carriers who stand ready to put their narrow, protectionist interests ahead of the economic benefits that Open Skies provides to the people of the United States."

eCommerceBytes: "Online Selling and the Future of Package Delivery" -- a conversation with John Callan of Ursa Majors on his upcoming conference, Postal Vision 2020.

March 1, 2015 

Direct Marketing News: The Postal Museum, housed in Washington, DC's old main Post Office near Capitol Hill, is now laying the groundwork for telling the complex and significant story of the mailing industry. It hired former Fulfillment Express President Karen McCormick as the project director who will reach out to the 12 segments it has identified as comprising the industry. A website is under construction, and the museum hopes to have a full-blown exhibit in place within the next two or three years. On the occasion of the opening of such an exhibit, scores of printers, list brokers, direct mail agencies, and sorting equipment manufacturers will assume a place in the history of the nation. Allied with the Smithsonian Institution, the Postal Museum creates exhibits on par with the best museums in the world, drawing hundreds of thousands of people a year. In 2013, with the help of a $10 million private donation, the museum opened the William H. Gross Stamp Gallery to showcase gems from its collection of millions of stamps. It's a state-of-the-art multimedia show, featuring interactive displays and a research room where philatelists can conduct digital searches and unearth historic materials from slide-out displays built into the walls.

Special Podcast on the Mailing Industry Project at the
National Postal Museum

Join Allen Kane (Director of the National Postal Museum), Marty Emery (Manager, Public Relations and Internet Affairs), and Karen McCormick (Project Manager) along with Gene Del Polito in a discussion of the latest project to be undertaken by the National Postal Museum -- "The Telling of the Story of the Mailing Industry in America."

There are slides that accompany this podcast. The last two slides are specifically referenced during the podcast.


 

Some Upcoming Postal Events of Which You Might Want To Be Aware

Prospects for Reforming the Postal Sector - March 27, 2015 Washington, DC http://www.business.rutgers.edu/sites/default/files/user_files/crri/ws/WS15M.pdf

34th Annual Eastern Conference - May 13-15, 2015 Shawnee Inn & Golf Resort, Shawnee on Delaware, Pennsylvania http://www.business.rutgers.edu/sites/default/files/user_files/crri/ws/EC15.pdf

23rd Conference on Postal and Delivery Economics - June 3 – 6, 2015 Vouliagmeni, Athens, Greece http://www.business.rutgers.edu/sites/default/files/user_files/crri/post/PC15.pdf

 

February 28, 2015 

The Sudbury Star: Jon Hamilton knows Greater Sudburians who have home mail delivery may not welcome community boxes with open arms. But the Canada Post spokesperson wants residents to know they'll be treated with respect and their concerns will be noted during the rollout of the so-called superboxes in communities across the city - a vital measure, he said, in ensuring the postal service's long-term viability. Hamilton was responding to concerns raised by members of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, who held an information session in Sudbury to detail reported problems in communities where door-to-door delivery has been cut, including safety and accessibility and even property values in areas where community boxes have been placed.

News: In recent years, Costa Rica has been working on implementing a system of street signs, numbered buildings and even postal codes to combat what some people perceive as an antiquated system of cardinal directions and descriptions based on old (and sometimes dubious) landmarks. Thanks to navigation and mapping technology such as GPS, Waze and Google Maps, mail carriers and delivery drivers these days have an easier time getting around and performing their jobs.

CIO: James Cochran -- The U.S. Postal Service has been a quiet leader in business technology for the past 40 years. Technology has enabled us--one of the largest employers in the country--to remain nimble and responsive to changes in customer trends and needs. Our robust technology infrastructure has been the backbone of improving mail processing operations and reducing costs, but we're also harnessing data and analytics to stay ahead of the curve. The CIO team is enabling this change throughout the organization, which--along with traditional IT, security and analytics--also includes engineering, research and development, and electronic mail entry and payment. This eclectic mix has allowed us to become change agents, delivering technology-supported products and operational savings.

Certificate of Mailing MTAC Workgroup #170: The USPS is seeking mailing industry feedback on proposed changes to domestic Certificate of Mailing service (Firm and/or Bulk Mailing) Used commercially for First-Class Mail and Shipping products. As a result, the USPS: (1) Established new MTAC Workgroup #170 Certificate of Mailing (COM) Improvements to review the processes (i.e. First-Class Mail and Shipping Products) for domestic Certificate of Mailing service, including size and scope of the proposed changes and recommendations for specific improvements and timelines for completion. If you are using Certificate of Mailing service (Firm and/or Bulk) and are interested in being part of this MTAC Workgroup, send an email not later than March 9, 2015, to one of these MTAC Workgroup Leaders: David Marinelli at: david_m_marinelli@progressive.com 
Karen F. Key at: ShippingServices@usps.gov 

In the Subject Line state: COM MTAC Workgroup. In the body of the email: Include your name, contact email address and telephone number and years of experience using Certificate of Mailing (Firm and/or Bulk). Also indicate if your experience is related to First-Class Mail and/or Shipping Products. Participants will be expected to have reviewed the proposed changes for domestic Certificate of Mailing which includes: § New PS Forms 3606-D and 3665-Firm § Adding an Intelligent Mail package barcode (IMpb) on domestic COM forms § Linking PS Form 3606-D barcode and PS Form 3665-Firm barcode to IMpb or applicable extra service barcode, or Intelligent Mail barcode (IMb) on each individual item § Submission of electronic manifest to USPS (using mail.dat or mail.xml or shipping services files) § Using scan events from mail processing equipment to develop sampling solution The Postal Service will review all recommendations for improvements to domestic Certificate of Mailing from the MTAC Workgroup, along with comments received from the February 5, 2015 Federal Register Proposed Rule (New Mailing Standards for Domestic Mailing Services Products) which are not due until March 9, 2015, before developing final requirements.

Fox News: "U.S. Postal Service searching for the mail truck of the future" -- One strong candidate for a donor platform is the new Ford Transit van, which is produced and sold worldwide, but built for the U.S. market in Kansas City. It features a large platform that can accommodate rear, front and all-wheel-drivetrains and right hand drive, and is significantly more fuel efficient than the older E-Series van. Freightliner makes a similar van, the Sprinter, that's assembled in North Carolina and has all-wheel-drive (It's also sold as a Mercedes-Benz.) Currently available only with a diesel engine, it has with a starting price of around $35,000 before any modifications, which is about $5,000 more than the Transit. The Mexican-made Ram Promaster is another European-style van that recently went on sale in the United States. A rebranded Fiat Ducato, it's only available with front-wheel-drive, but it could potentially be updated to all-wheel-drive and it comes in a variety of configurations. Conventional Ducatos are currently used by the Italian postal service.

Washington Post: "Are postcards obsolete?" -- Whatever the exact numbers, the disappearance of postcards is apparent just by visiting the places that used to sell them. Locally, postcards have disappeared from newsstands, which are also in the process of vanishing.

 At the Postal Regulatory Commission: 

February 27, 2015 

Wall Street Journal:: Ahead of its multibillion-dollar listings this fall, Japan Post Holdings Co. plans to manage more aggressively the $1.7 trillion in savings held by its banking operation, a move that could have significant implications for Japan's financial markets.

Telegraph: The price of first and second class stamps is to increase by 1p each to 63p and 54p from March 30, Royal Mail has announced. Sending a large letter will increase by 2p to 95p for first class and by 1p to 74p for second class. The postal group said it had thought "carefully" about the impact on its customers before deciding to raise letter prices. It added that it recognised how the recent tough economic conditions had made it difficult for consumers and businesses. Royal Mail also announced that it is simplifying and cutting the price of sending a second-class medium parcel. And it will maintain prices for second-class small parcels which was introduced as a Christmas promotion.

Executive with Postal Expertise & Governmental Experience Available

Tested strategic postal operative who combines governmental/regulatory experience is looking for the opportunity to connect with an organization and become part of a dynamic team. Skills include extensive USPS network contacts at both L'Enfant Plaza and at the field operations level, and the ability to advocate for USPS favorable pricing and innovative programs that will foster business growth for your organization. Candidate has strong understanding of Postal Regulatory Commission and all regulatory functions, as well a senior corporate experience in strategic planning, marketing, sales, postal operations, and project management. These skills are complimented with a strong Congressional background as a former senior staff to a Member of Congress, and understanding how to advocate for issues on Capitol Hill. Excellent speaking and communications skills.

To contact this individual please email

 

Imperial Valley News: The Justice Department announced today the enhanced collaborations its law enforcement and community partners are taking to stem the tide of fraud schemes directed at certain groups of Americans. On Wednesday, high ranking officials of the department, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) and non-profit community groups met to discuss an increase in fraud schemes that intentionally target older Americans and the Latino community.

Forbes: FedEx is likely to see strong growth in its pricing in 2015. The increase in pricing will be the result of the company's response to the overwhelming e-commerce volumes and declining fuel prices. The likelihood of the logistics industry now imposing peak-based surcharges could also drive an increase in pricing.

 PostCom Members !! The latest issue of the PostCom Bulletin is now available online. 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. See what you've been missing.

GCN: The U.S. Postal Service's Office of Inspector General is looking for marketplace information to support its plans to acquire advanced analytics technology to help it detect fraud and conduct sensitive audits … in all aspects of USPS operations. In a recent request for information, the OIG said potential suppliers should be able to offer a variety of data sources and tools for extracting structured and unstructured data from multiple sources as well as delivering "complex data analysis and algorithms that can be leveraged by end users into actionable intelligence." "With the ongoing challenges the Postal Service faces," the RFI stated, "modernizing the OIG's capabilities to use innovative tools, technologies and methodologies to collect and analyze large volumes of complex information will help ensure that our work is of greatest value to the Postal Service." Under the leadership of the Inspector General, the OIG's Countermeasures and Performance Evaluations (CAPE) team uses data mining and predictive analytics to facilitate improved focus on high-risk audit and investigative threats.

February 26, 2015 

Reuters: Postal Savings Bank of China plans to raise up to $25 billion with an initial public offering in 2016, the latest of China's large banks to seek funds via the equity markets, according to a source-based report in the official China Daily newspaper. By the end of June, China's seventh-largest bank intends to introduce strategic investors who will invest $6 billion before the IPO in exchange for 15 percent of the bank's equity, in a bid to improve corporate governance, according to the paper.

eCommerceBytes: The US Postal Service is making rate changes in April, both for market dominant services and competitive products. The USPS received approval from the Postal Regulatory Commission this week. The good news for many small online sellers is that Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express rates are not increasing. But there is negative news for sellers using First Class Package International Service. We checked in with Eric Nash of Stamps.com for help in understanding the impact of the new rates on online sellers.

Gulf Times: In a city riddled by a constant fear of attacks, anonymity is highly prized. Most walls are high and very few houses have names of tenants on the door. And yet, as Subel Bhandari and Najeebullah Hazem find out, a phone number may do the trick!

Februry 25, 2015 

 At the Postal Regulatory Commission: 

Save the Date: Webinar on How to get Executive Mail Center Manager Certification at NPF For the first time, National Postal Forum (NPF) attendees will have the ability to receive Executive Mail Center Manager (EMCM) certification at the National Postal Forum in Anaheim, CA, held May 17-20, 2015. This is an exclusive opportunity for NPF attendees! Instructors from the USPS National Center for Employee Development (NCED) will travel to the Forum and provide certification classes. Join an hour webinar on March 4, 2015 at 1 p.m. (EST) to understand more about the program and how this certification provides a solid foundation in mail center management and a return on investment. Speakers: Hear from Paul Warrick, Manager, National Center for Employee Development and Maureen Goodson, Executive Director, National Postal Forum The EMCM course is a comprehensive training program that is designed for individuals who wish to develop Mail Center Management skills. It offers a certified designation that emphasizes professionalism in Mail Center Management. The course teaches skills needed to manage more effectively, boost productivity and cut costs. The program is sponsored by the USPS and has been developed by a professional committee with representatives from the mailing industry. To earn official certification, participants are required to attend all 14 planned sessions and pass an exam at the completion of each module.

MyBroadband: The SA Post Office (Sapo) will review its business operating models, according to the 2015/16 budget documents tabled in Parliament on Wednesday. Its focus over the medium-term was on stabilising business operations and aligning business models with the challenges it faced, the Estimates of National Expenditure stated. "In this transition period, while delivering on government's social mandate, the post office will adapt to its rapidly changing environment by reviewing postal policy, increasing productivity, improving business operations, and improving financial performance." It aimed to achieve these goals by improving cash flow management, reducing costs around infrastructure and procurement, and improving service delivery.

The Sydney Morning Herald: The letter is in its death throes. Most letters are now sent by business and government, many under legislative or regulatory requirement. For business and government this is a costly exercise and it is about to get more costly. It doesn't really make sense to maintain these laws with increasing costs to prop up the Australia Post business. There are potentially large savings for the economy if requirements can be changed to allow for electronic delivery. In contrast, on China's most celebrated annual online shopping day, Double 11, Alibaba's online shopping platform Tmall sold more than $11 billion in products from 168 countries. Parcel services are essential to the burgeoning online shopping trade and Australia's potential to realise its 'Asian Century'. Australia Post should be reformed to enable Australia to take better advantage of the digital age. It will also have an ongoing role in providing equitable access to necessary postal services across Australia at no cost to the taxpayer. The current monopoly over post may or may not need to be part of policy settings in the longer term.

Transport & Logistics News: More needs to be done to encourage women to work in the transport and logistics industry, according to a report into gender and equality released by the SA Freight Council (SAFC). The industry is looking to change the perception that it is a male-dominated area, but alarmingly the percentage of women in the sector has actually dropped significantly in recent years. SAFC CEO Neil Murphy said as an example, the percentage of women in the transport, postal and warehousing sector in SA had dropped by 15 per cent in the past 5 years alone, from 21.7 per cent to 18.7 per cent. Mr Murphy says there is also a worrying trend in the pay gap between male and female workers, jumping from 5.2 per cent to 16.1 per cent since 2007. "More must be done to ensure women are attracted to the transport and logistics industry, and once there, are retained by ensuring they are provided with the opportunities they merit, something they may not have received in the past," Mr Murphy said.

The New Daily: As Australia Post faces its first full-year loss in 30 years, there are calls for its chief executive Ahmed Fahour to stand down. This comes as the Abbott government is expected to announce a reform package – within weeks – designed to help arrest the falling financial performance of Australia Post, which on Monday announced a 56 per cent drop in half-yearly profit. The nation's postal service recorded a first-half profit of just $98 million, with the dive driven by mounting losses of $151 million in its letters business. Mr Fahour says for Australia Post to survive, there are two options. Shutterstock Australians could face dearer postal costs and slower mail. Photo: Shutterstock "Either the government pays us a $6 billion subsidy, or they give us the permission to change regulations to allow us to manage the business," Mr Fahour said. Mr Fahour's annual salary is $4.8 million. The US Postmaster General's wage is a mere $511,000. A coalition of printers, mail houses, licensed post offices and unions, called the Coalition of Mail Service Stakeholders (CoMs), has accused Mr Fahour of making an attempt to build support for major cuts by releasing the half-year financial results one day before a scheduled appearance at Senate estimates. The coalition has said that "there needs to be an industry round table established involving all stakeholders, before any changes to the postal service are considered."

Post & Parcel: La Poste Group's profits dropped 17.7% last year as the French postal operator restructured under a new business strategy. The company issued its full-year results yesterday, showing revenue up 2.1% year-on-year to EUR 22.2bn, with net profit slipping to EUR 513m. La Poste said 2014 had been a "defining year" for the group, after its new strategy, "La Poste 2020: Conquering the Future", was adopted in January 2014. The company said its revenue growth during a "persistently difficult" economy was mainly driven by its GeoPost international parcel business, as well as its banking division, La Banque Postale. The growth offset the impacts of digitisation on the traditional mail business.

Post & Parcel: Parcel carrier GLS has upgraded the IT in about 5,000 of its parcel shops within Germany, basing it on smartphone technology. The company owned by UK postal operator Royal Mail Group said the EUR 7m investment will help make its parcel services in Germany more convenient, reliable and with faster delivery. GLS said the move will mean parcel shops can be operated more easily, with less requirement for specialised equipment — outlets need only a robust smartphone with a bluetooth-enabled printer, and the use of a parcel shop application. It means that in future, information about shipments can be sent direct to recipients' phones, cutting out the need for notification cards.

From the Federal Register: 

Postal Regulatory Commission
NOTICES
New Postal Products ,
10168 [2015–03828] [TEXT]
10168–10169 [2015–03829] [TEXT]
 
Postal Service
NOTICES
Product Changes:
  Priority Mail Negotiated Service Agreement ,
  10169 [2015–03802] [TEXT]
  10169 [2015–03804] [TEXT] 
PostCom Members!! The latest issue of PostCom's PostOps Update has been posted on this site.

Yahoo! Tech: The new generation of "maker" tools like 3-D printers and milling machines promises to let anyone make virtually anything—from prosthetic limbs to firearms — in the privacy and convenience of his or her own home. But first, those tools have to get to customers' homes. That's going to be difficult for at least one new machine with the potential to make homemade firearms, because FedEx is refusing to deliver it. Last week FedEx told firearm-access nonprofit Defense Distributed that the company refuses to ship the group's new tool, a computer controlled (CNC) mill known as the Ghost Gunner. Defense Distributed has marketed its one-foot-cubed $1,500 machine, which allows anyone to automatically carve aluminum objects from digital designs, as an affordable, private way to make an AR-15 rifle body without a serial number.

February 24, 2015 

Wall Street Journal: In the latest bid to disrupt FedEx Corp. and United Parcel Service Inc., startup Roadie Inc. aims to entice college students and other travelers to earn some extra pocket money by delivering packages on the way to where they're already going. Waffle House Inc. will unveil a partnership Tuesday to become part of the network of pickup points for the service, offering a place for drivers to rendezvous with both senders and receivers. Roadie, which launched late last month and aims to become the Uber of package delivery, is still tiny. So far, the app has been downloaded about 7,500 times, while drivers have been recruited to deliver about 50 items. But big investors have signed on for the over $10 million initial investment round, including Square Inc.'s co-founder Jim McKelvey, TPG Capital founder David Bonderman and even UPS, according to Roadie.

 At the Postal Regulatory Commission: 

Business Times: Australia Post on Tuesday warned that Japan Post Holdings will "cherry-pick"profitable services if it entered the country, and said it may have to cut services for the first time in 30 years due to intensifying competition. Australia Post Chief Executive Officer Ahmed Fahour told a Senate inquiry that unless he received permission to raise stamp prices for next-day delivery the 206-year-old state-owned firm would have to consider cuts to vital services. "If these competitors are allowed to cherry-pick the most profitable parts of our business with no obligations to regional or rural Australia, who's going to take care of regional and rural Australia if Australia Post is not around?" Mr Fahour said. "This is the last year that we're going to be able to do it on our own. If reform doesn't come in, we're going to need money from somebody or we're going to need to reduce services." Postal services around the world are facing dramatic declines in their core letter-delivery business as customers turn to the internet for all forms of correspondence from billing to greeting cards.

The Guardian: Parts of much-loved postal business are be taken public this year, with proceeds going toward rebuilding areas devastated by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. It is 140 years old, one of the world's largest financial bodies and a much-loved Japanese national institution. And soon, investors will have the opportunity to claim a stake of their own. Plans to float part of Japan Post's business, which were announced in December, represent the culmination of a lengthy process with much at stake politically. The holding company, one of the world's largest financial bodies, and two of its four subsidiaries – tasked with banking and insurance – will be opened to investors. The holding company will continue to manage postal services and mail delivery, to which the Japanese are very attached due to the extensive network reaching even the most remote corners of the archipelago.

Globe and Mail: Target Corp. has sliced its minimum online purchase to qualify for free shipping in half to $25 (U.S.) as the Internet becomes a bigger and bigger sales hub for retailers. The minimum takes aim at competitors Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Amazon.com Inc., both of which have higher minimums for standard purchases, and could be another step in a slow march among retailers toward eliminating separate shipping fees. Target said free shipping is now available to all online orders coming from the continental United States or from military postal facilities. The company says handling fees may still apply to some orders. Amazon and Wal-Mart may follow suit or cut their minimums even further, said Brian Sozzi, chief executive and chief equities analyst for the research firm Belus Capital Advisors.

February 23, 2015 

The Drum: Royal Mail has purchased StoreFeeder, the firm which built its consumer and small business shipping tool Click and Drop, for an undisclosed fee. The StoreFeeder acquisition will see the firm working on improving the Click and Drop tools which enable eBay sellers to print Royal Mail postage labels without manually inputting the address of each buyer.

[PostCom logo

PostCom welcomes its newest member: Epsilon - Ryan Partnership 30 Tech Valley Drive, Suite 301 East Greenbush, NY 12061 represented by Angelica Lent Relationship Manager, Director of Postal Affairs. Epsilon is part of Alliance Data and employs over 5000 associates in 60 offices worldwide.

Office of the Inspector General: What Postal Services Do People Value the Most? The OIG has conducted a nationally representative quantitative survey on the relative value of some key services provided as part of the universal service obligation (USO). This study is the first of its kind in the United States and was done in conjunction with the market research firm Gallup and Professor Michael Bradley of George Washington University's Department of Economics. The study, What Postal Services Do People Value the Most?, focused on four attributes of the USO: mode of delivery, access to postal services, frequency of delivery, and price. This study is a follow-up to our white paper Guiding Principles for a New Universal Service Obligation in which we discuss the need for such a study. The survey found that both consumers and businesses still value postal services, especially door and/or curb delivery instead of delivery to a cluster box or parcel locker. Respondents also value the ability to access postal services through post offices, rather than using other alternatives such as postal counters in non-postal retail stores and self-service kiosks. In addition, while consumers and businesses are indifferent when it comes to the Saturday delivery of letters, consumers still place value on the Saturday delivery of parcels. Furthermore, consumers and businesses also value lower prices and may be willing to accept lower levels of service to keep prices from rising sharply. Read the Full Report (This is an important report.)

Domestic Mailing Services Products Price Change Proposed Rule Comments due March 9, 2015. On February 5, 2015, the Postal Service published a Federal Register proposed rule on New Mailing Standards for Domestic Mailing Services Products. Customers are reminded that the deadline to provide comments is on or before March 9, 2015, by following the instructions in the Federal Register notice at: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-02-05/pdf/2015-01851.pdf

Yahoo! Finance: PostNL reported better than expected fourth-quarter profits, with growth in its parcels business and cost savings more than compensating for falling volumes in the Dutch group's main mail delivery business.

Sydney Morning Herald: It's quite jarring to hear a chief executive talk about the future of their company using armageddon terms, saying their situation is dire and in the company in need of a bailout worth billions. But Australia Post boss executive Ahmed Fahour is no ordinary chief executive. He is running a company that this year will lose $350 million from its mail business and report its first full year loss in more than 30 years. The trouble is he is operating a major part of his business in a sunset industry – selling stamps and delivering letters – all of which is costing Australia Post more than it collects in revenue. In the six months to December the mail operations lost $151 million. It's a bit like a government price legislated horse and buggy company.

Post & Parcel: Australia Post calls for reforms as it predicts losses this year Monday, February 23rd, 2015 The once highly profitable Australia Post has called for reforms after forecasting that it will make a loss this year because of its dwindling letters business. The company now wants the government to allow it to launch a slower letters delivery service, with customers then paying a priority mail rate to continue using the current mail delivery standards. The state-owned postal operator issued first half results today showing its after-tax profits down 56% compared to the same period last year. Australia Post said that the 8.2% year-on-year decline in addressed letter volumes seen in the latest six months has been the worst decline since volumes began to fall in 2008.

February 22, 2015 

CBC: A committee convened by the city to study issues surrounding the quality of life of Montrealers will table recommendations on Monday urging the city to say no to Canada Post's community mailboxes. The motion being tabled criticizes Canada Post for lacking transparency and pushing through its plan to replace home-delivery service without properly consulting municipalities and their residents. "The lack of transparency, the lack of public consultation and quite frankly, just the arrogance in moving forward with something when they clearly know that [there are] problems," committee member and Verdun city councillor Sterling Downey says.

Stuff: New Zealand Post has lifted its first-half profit by 40 percent, boosted by a strong performance from Kiwibank and a one-off profit from selling its Australian courier company. New Zealand Post chief executive Brian Roche said that although New Zealand Post was moving in the right direction it was a challenge to achieve returns from its core mail and logistics business.

Reuters: New York City and New York state sued United Parcel Service Inc. on Wednesday, seeking over $180 million in damages and penalties against the shipping company for allegedly delivering nearly 700,000 cartons of untaxed cigarettes across the state. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, accuses UPS of cheating the state and city of $29.7 million and $4.7 million, respectively, in tax revenue, according to a statement from New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. The deliveries mostly originated from smoke shops on Indian reservations in New York state and were shipped to unlicensed wholesalers and retailers as well as residences in New York and nationwide, according to the lawsuit.

February 21, 2015 

American Postal Workers Union: Contract negotiations between the American Postal Workers Union and the U.S. Postal Service got underway on Feb. 19 with a dramatic break with tradition. Joining the APWU at the opening session were actor-activist Danny Glover and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, who made brief remarks following a statement by APWU President Mark Dimondstein. National Association of Letter Carriers President Fredric Rolando joined APWU negotiators at the bargaining table as well. At the bargaining table Their presence was designed to send a message: The U.S. Postal Service belongs to the people, and the people have a stake in the union's fight to protect and strengthen a great national treasure. Also observing the session were Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes-Norton (D-DC); Jim Hightower, commentator and editor of the Hightower Lowdown; Larry Cohen, president of the Communications Workers of America; J. David Cox, president of the American Federation of Government Employees; Matt Myers representing AFSCME President Lee Saunders; Clayola Brown, president of the A. Philip Randolph Institute, and Rev. Terry Melvin, president of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists.

Postalnews.com: "Department of Labor announces criminal enforcement actions involving APWU, NALC officials"

The Global Dispatch: Sen. Elizabeth Warren has been named the 2014 Porker of the Year by Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW), a watchdog group that monitors lawmakers, offices and agencies on government spending. The Massachusetts Democrat won the title over six other nominees in a public poll, with 34 percent of the vote. photo donkeyhotey donkeyhotey.wordpress.com photo donkeyhotey donkeyhotey.wordpress.com "Warren emerged from this year's competitive field as a result of her hare-brained scheme to permit the United States Postal Service (USPS) to get into the banking business as a way to rebrand itself and garner new streams of revenue," the coverage noted.

Post & Parcel: Austrian Post and the wholesale grocery supply firm Pfeiffer Handelsgruppe have completed an 18-month trial delivering food to households. The "Food4all@home" trial involved around 600,000 households in Upper Austria ordering groceries online for daily delivery by the Post. The aim was to develop an affordable home delivery service where a local supply of food could be guaranteed for busy consumers, regardless of where homes were located, when householders were available to take delivery or what householders' mobility situations were. One of the keys to the project was in using cooled packaging, instead of expensive cooled vehicles, with the packaging having to be compatible with Austrian Post's existing sorting and transport systems.

February 20, 2015 

Forbes: According to John Palatiello, the president of the Business Coalition for Fair Competition, a coalition of trade associations, businesses and organizations dedicated to free enterprise, "the Postal Service appears to be suffering from a case of mission creep by taking on a slightly larger basket of delivery items now bordering on the absurd. It recently expanded into grocery delivery services through a program known as Customized Delivery. When the agency did so late last year the test venture was subjected to review by its lead regulator, the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC). This body found the Postal Service's analysis of the venture to be wholly insufficient and that it lacked proof of continued financial stability—yet it still allowed the program to continue. Furthermore, just last month, the Postal Service also expanded its same-day delivery service called Metro Post. That decision was suspect considering that, in its initial 5 month trial period, the program delivered less than 100 packages and earned less than $1 for every $10 it spent. For the agency, being able to track costs associated to each of their products, and the factors that impose them, is an essential matter. Under current practices, the Postal Service assigns 55% of its costs to specific products and leaves the remaining portion categorized as 'overhead.'  For the U.S. Postal Service, adapting to the market truly means being able to accurately determine what money is coming in and what is going out."

usps logo Attention Postal One! Users:   The Memphis metropolitan area is currently under a winter weather advisory. The NCSC - Memphis inclement weather policy has been implemented, which impacts the PostalOne! Help Desk. If you should require assistance with PostalOne!, and experience difficulty making contact by phone during our normal business hours (7 am – 7 pm Central Time), please send an email to postalone@usps.gov and we will respond as soon as possible. After hours support will continue as normal. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

  Remittance Mail Information on RIBBS -- Plants with Caller Sort Programs and Point-of-Contact List: A special Remittance Mail menu option has been created on the RIBBS website. This option contains important information for Remittance mailers to help resolve specific processing-related problems at Postal Service destination Remittance Mail centers throughout the country. Currently, the site includes the following information: (1) Plants with Remittance Mail Caller Sort Programs (2) Remittance Plant Point-of-Contact List To access these documents, please click on this link: https://ribbs.usps.gov/importantupdates/remittancemail.htm Other relevant information will be added to the site as it becomes available. Therefore, we encourage you to visit the site from time to time find out what's new.

ABC News: An unlikely candidate has volunteered his services to help save what has been called the dying U.S. Postal Service. Danny Glover is an actor, producer and activist who has been a part of Hollywood for over two decades. He is well-known for his role in "The Color Purple" and costarring with Mel Gibson in the Lethal Weapon series. Glover's ties to USPS run deep. The video shows that his father, mother, brother and sister were postal workers. As a teenager, Glover worked for USPS during winter breaks from school. Over a montage of family photos, Glover reflects, "Working for the Postal Service enabled my parents to buy their first home. They took great pride in their work." Several unions -- including the APWU -- strongly oppose USPS's efforts to privatize transactions to retailers, consolidate facilities and drop day of delivery services. APWU President Mark Dimondstin has made the APWU's battle a broader fight recruiting 64 national organizations including farmers, civil rights groups and religious labor committees to form "A Grand Alliance to Save Our Public Postal Service."

  New Mailing Standards for Lithium Batteries. As part of the Postal Service's continued efforts to keep you informed, this is a reminder that effective March 2, 2015 the Postal Service is revising its mailing standards regarding lithium batteries to align with new regulations recently implemented by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), Department of Transportation (DOT). This alignment is the final step in a series of amendments to harmonize domestic and international standards by mirroring DOTs Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) with the provisions of the United Nations (UN) Model Regulations, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code. While the DOT had a voluntary compliance date of August 6, 2014, and a delayed compliance date of February 6, 2015, the Postal Service notified its customers via a Federal Register notice on January 26, 2015, with a subsequent Postal Bulletin article (http://about.usps.com/postal-bulletin/2015/pb22408/pb22408.pdf) published on February 5, 2015 announcing aMarch 2, 2015 effective date for its customers. Many of the USPS revised mailing standards now align with current UPS and FedEx requirements, bringing consistency across the industry, and provide standards that mailers are already familiar with. The online Publication 52, Hazardous, Restricted, and Perishable Mail, is expected to be updated the first week in March. Pub 52 is available on the Postal Explorer website at pe.usps.com. Mailers may also review the Postal Bulletin article published on February 5, 2015 for the complete revision article.

 At the Postal Regulatory Commission: 

  • Postal Service RULES Relocating Retail Services: New Retail Services Facilities , 9190–9194 [2015–03238] [TEXT]
  • Did you know the PRC currently has 53 pending dockets?

Wall Street Journal: The American Postal Workers Union is making a big ask as part of contract talks it kicked off Thursday with the U.S. Postal Service: It wants the post office to expand customer offerings to include financial services. "We're very serious about the post office taking on financial services. The post office is trusted, it's in every community, the workers are skilled and trained," said the union's President Mark Dimondstein, who spoke at a press conference in Washington Thursday to mark the start of negotiations where the union made its general opening remarks to management. Mr. Dimondstein said cuts and closures to the Postal Service have eliminated tens of thousands of "good, living wage jobs." "Postal management's policy has been to severely degrade service, dismantle the postal network, and engage in piecemeal privatization," he said. "We have a very different vision of enhancing and expanding services," he added, cautioning that if the union's proposals aren't put into action there'll be more job losses and shifts into low-wage work.

Ghana Business News: The Postal and Courier Services Regulatory Commission on Wednesday advised companies and individuals operating postal courier services without license from the Commission to regularize their operations. It is illegal for individuals and companies to operate postal and courier services without registering with the Commission for a license, the Commission said. He said the Commission would soon embark on a nationwide exercise to flush out illegal postal and courier operators who were depriving registered operators of business and the government of revenue. Mr. Riverson said some people were operating postal and courier services under the guise of food delivery and event organizers.

Associated Press: The U.S. Postal Service and a major union began contract talks Thursday as the agency continued to face huge financial losses. The Postal Service's current contract with the American Postal Workers Union expires May 20.

usps logo Attention Postal One! Users:

  • PostalOne!® Release 40.0.4.0  Production Deployment-  PostalOne! Release 40.0.4.0 will deploy on Thursday February 19, 2015 between 5:00PM Central and 7:00PM Central. This release includes fixes for some known issues related to Release 40.0. This release also incorporates items previously scheduled for PostalOne! Release 40.0.3.0. The PostalOne!system will be available during the patch release. There is no mandatory Mail.dat® client download required. Release notes for PostalOne! Release 40.0.4.0 can be found on  https://ribbs.usps.gov/intelligentmail_schedule2015/releaseoverview2015.cfm .   

     

  • PostalOne! Release 40.0.4.0  Deployment to Test Environment for Mailers (TEM) will also occur on Thursday February 19, 2015 between 5:00PM CT and  7:00PM CT. TEM will remain available during the release. TEM validation will occurtomorrow Friday February 20, 2015 between 9:00AM CT and 11:00AM CT. If you have any additional questions please contact the help desk at 800-522-9085.

FedSmith: How much does an individual Postal Service employee make each year or per hour? For most federal employees, you can quickly locate the information. FedSmith has updated the annual salary figures for Postal Service employees on FedsDataCenter.com with the 2015 salary figures. Federal employee salaries are in a separate database but can be searched in the same way. The Postal Service listing has been updated for 2015. If you want to find out the salaries for Postal Service employees in your city or town, here is how to do that. . . .

February 19, 2015 

Office of the Inspector General: Premier Post Offices -- What is most important to you when you visit a Post Office? The Premier Post Office Program began in the spring of 2013 as part of an effort to make it easier for customers to use postal products and services and to improve customers' experience in retail facilities. The program includes 3,100 post offices located across the country in highly populated areas. Selected facilities represent about 10 percent of the total number of post offices and generate 44 percent of all walk-in and self-service kiosk revenue. Our audit aims to identify characteristics of high-performing post offices that can serve as models for other facilities.

"The USPS Office of Inspector General established an Audit Project Page web site to provide an opportunity for our stakeholders to comment on our projects. Web site visitors can register comments and upload documents related to our project on Premier Post Offices on our web site. We will consider and use this information as appropriate during the course of our work."

 At the Postal Regulatory Commission: 

"The Postal Service has failed to explain why it could not design a nonprofit rate schedule producing projected average revenue per piece that is closer to 60 percentage of projected average revenue per piece for commercial Standard Mail. This violates 39 U.S.C. § 3626(a)(6). Second, the worksharing discounts proposed for Nonprofit Standard Mail diverge in many significant respects from the discounts proposed for commercial Standard Mail. The Postal Service has failed to offer a cogent justification for this discrimination. Hence, the proposed disparities violate 39 U.S.C. § 403(c), 35 years of precedent construing Section 403(c), and the settlement agreement entered into by the Postal Service and ANM and approved by the Commission in ACR2012. Accordingly, the Commission should reject the proposed rates for Standard Mail without prejudice to filing new rates in this docket, and should order the Postal Service Postal Regulatory Commission Submitted 2/19/2015 1:42:47 PM Filing ID: 91534 Accepted 2/19/2015- 2 - to submit an alternative schedule of nonprofit rates that (1) are projected to generate, as nearly as practicable, 60 percent of the projected average revenue per piece generated by commercial Standard Mail, and (2) eliminate the noncompliance with 39 U.S.C. § 403(c) found by the Commission."

WARC: The United States Postal Service (USPS) has demonstrated how an official tie-up with the right movie can deliver powerful benefits for brands – as well as the power of welcoming ideas from external sources. Nagisa Manabe, chief marketing and sales officer at USPS, discussed this subject during a session at a recent conference. And she explained that a formal affiliation with The Amazing Spider-Man 2, released by Sony Pictures last year, had a tangible impact in tackling negative brand perceptions for USPS. One problem, Manabe reported, is that despite serving consumers come rain or shine – and even now delivering packages from Amazon at weekends – it often receives low favourability ratings. "But the truth is the United States Postal Service (USPS) is an extraordinary organisation with tremendous amounts of technology that help to drive all of the things we do," she said.

usps logo Attention Postal One! Business Customer Gateway Users:   Program Registration Release 13.0.1.0 — will be deployed to Production from 4 am to 10 am CST on Sunday, February 22, 2015. There will be an outage and the Incentives Program and Online Enrollment Shipping Services accessible via the Business Customer Gateway will be unavailable during this time.

Dead Tree Edition: Because of a calculation error, the average postal rate increase for magazines in April will be less than originally announced.

Norwich Bulletin: Despite conventional "wisdom," the agency's finances are rapidly improving. The Postal Service, which supports itself by revenue earned from selling stamps — not by taxpayer money — had an operating profit of $1.4 billion in Fiscal Year 2014, and recently announced a $1.1 billion profit for the first quarter of Fiscal Year 2015. Joseph Corbett, the Postal Service's chief financial officer, noted it was "a fantastic quarter." And Brennan cited "a tremendous momentum" moving forward. The $7 billion in available cash is the highest in years.

Haaretz: The major reform that the Israeli post office has promised has resulted in higher postal rates but no major improvement in service yet. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not yet signed a new license for the government corporation that will enable it to change how it functions, but in any event the changes, which will include more flexible post office hours with branches open until 8 P.M., are not expected to be implemented until next year. In the interim, the Israeli taxpayer is being required to foot the cost of a downsizing plan encouraging the retirement of postal employees.

eCommerceBytes: As the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) gets ready to enter into contract talks with the U.S. Postal Service for a new contract on February 19, it issued a statement saying that along with issues such as fair wages and benefits, it proposes "bold improvements in customer services, such as postal banking, the sale of licenses, and the addition of public notary services, along with a proposal for longer and more convenient hours for customers to allow USPS to capture a greater share of the growing ecommerce market." "The Postal Service must take advantage of the explosion in ecommerce to modernize and better serve the people," he said. The APWU is a participant in a new initiative formed by 64 organizations called A Grand Alliance to Save Our Public Postal Service. Today, Dimondstein will be joined by actor-activist Danny Glover, the son of postal workers, at a news conference that precedes the start of negotiations between the Union and the Postal Service.

The Lamar Ledger: The U.S. Postal Service has not made it official yet, but the implementation of 2015 postage rates on April 26 should ease the pain for newspapers surprised by a postage increase in January.

February 18, 2015 

Folsom Telegraph: Mail theft continues to be a problem for neighborhoods with cluster mailboxes all over the region. After a surge of Folsom cluster mailbox burglary reports in December, other neighborhoods in the city have faced similar issues. According to Lisa Miller-Hobbs, a 20-year Folsom resident, the cluster mail boxes located on Stockman Circle were broken into Jan. 2. Miller-Hobbs and her husband were told the mailboxes would be repaired within a few weeks and that they would have to pick up their mail at the post office in the meantime. This is Miller-Hobbs' second incident with mail theft, and both she and her husband have been victims of identity theft, as well. Bringing up these latest incidents in her neighborhood, Miller-Hobbs wrote a letter to several Folsom city officials sharing her discontent with the situation and demanding action. "The Folsom Post Office made no attempt to notify the resident victims," Miller-Hobbs said in her letter. "If it wasn't for the neighbor's handwritten note, none of us would have known a thing if we had not seen the front of the boxes wide open." Miller-Hobbs expressed her frustration with the "pass the buck" mentality she perceived from the U.S. Postal Service, developers, homeowners associations and City of Folsom. The use of cluster mailboxes was also a concern given their lack of security.

Post & Parcel: The Universal Postal Union has joined a global coalition governments and multinationals promoting a move away from cash towards digital payments. The UN-affiliated group of national postal administrations around the world said it has already supported the shift from cash to electronic payments for many years as paper money orders become "obsolete", and new technologies are helping establish a worldwide network of electronic payment systems provided by Posts. Berne-based UPU said being a member of the Better Than Cash Alliance will help further its work in this area, benefiting from the expertise of its members and taking advantage of opportunities from collaborating with other members of the Alliance.

February  17, 2015 

Tweets from the Alliance of Nonprofit Mailers during this week's MTAC meeting (our thanks for the magical fingers of Steve Kearney, the Alliance's Executive Director):

  • USPS‬ CFO says OIG overestimated the market value of postal real estate. He fails to address estimation of liabilities based on record low interest rates.
  • CFO says in better position than 4 years ago but need for legislation remains.
  • Lower fuel costs could save the USPS $300 million annually.
  • CFO says Standard Mail revenue up 7.5% benefits from volume and exigent surcharge.
  • CFO says USPS in better position than 4 years ago but need for legislation remains.
  • USPS has to participate in "ridiculously inefficient" govt. workers comp program.
  • CFO says controllable income is a measure of performance and was $1.1 billion in first quarter.
  • CFO Corbett says Sales and Operations are making his job easy. Trend continues in January.
  • COO Williams says Saturday delivery of mail should be driven by "marketplace realities." Does not say #usps needs five day mail delivery.
  • USPS expected 13% package growth during holidays and got 18%.
  • COO Williams assures MTAC that USPS is responding rapidly to network "missteps" with "tiger teams."
  • Consumers not aware of postal service standards but do notice consistent delivery time each day.
  • January 5 operating windows changed at all postal plants nationwide, not just the 82 consolidating plants,
  • USPS touts very successful peak season with 463 million mail pieces delivered in December.
  • USPS moving some first class volume from surface to air to meet their 8 am critical entry time at destinations plants.
  • COO Williams focusing on 3-5 first class service by working on air and surface capacities and monitoring surface routes. Also reducing cycle time.
  • COO Dave Williams says first class 3-5 day Q1 service performance down to 91.84%.
  • Asked whether periodicals or catalogs anchor the mailbox, PMG Brennan says "I love all my children."
  • PMG Brennan expresses great optimism based on Q1 growth in Standard Mail.
  • PMG Brennan says most consolidating plants will be "repurposed" to reflect decline of single piece first class and growth of packages.
  • PMG Megan Brennan tells MTAC that investments in infrastructure will increase with growth in cash.

Office of the Inspector General: Be Careful What You Assume -- What if your credit card company told you: "You will charge a million dollars on your credit card during your life; please enclose the million dollars in your next bill payment. It's the responsible thing to do." Doesn't seem quite right, does it? Well, that's what the U.S. Postal Service's requirement to prefund its long-term pension and healthcare liabilities is like. The Postal Service is required to pay the full estimate of its liabilities, currently estimated at nearly $404 billion, even as that estimate moves around and is based on assumptions that are highly uncertain and can frequently change over the life of the liability. Our recent white paper, Considerations in Structuring Estimated Liabilities, evaluates these assumptions and other considerations and shows the Postal Service is closer to being fully funded, or potentially overfunded, when certain assumptions are reasonably adjusted or considered.

Save the Post Office: The USPS Office of Inspector General has just released a new report about the Postal Service's unfunded liabilities for its pension and retiree health benefit funds. It's entitled "Considerations in Structuring Estimated Liabilities." As with previous OIG reports on the topic, the Inspector General suggests that concerns about unfunded liabilities are way overblown. The OIG's report provides a refreshing reminder that the Postal Service is actually in very good long-term financial condition and certainly not in the dismal shape that critics claim — or, for that matter, as maintained by the new Postmaster General, Megan Brennan, who said recently, ""Our current financial situation is untenable when you consider that we have 35 cents in assets for every dollar of liability."

Daily Telegraph: Japan Post has offered $9.04 per share, which is 49 per cent above the company's closing price on Tuesday of $6.08. Toll's board of directors has unanimously recommended shareholders accept the offer. The move came as Toll announced a 22 per cent slide in its first half profit to $134.3 million. In a statement, Japan Post said it plans to use Toll to help grow its international operations. It said it was looking to expand overseas to offset a decline in demand for postal services in Japan. "Japan Post will position Toll as a platform for cultivating global business, leveraging that company's expertise to expand Japan Posts global logistics operations and revenues," the company said.

PostalReporter.com: PMG Megan Brennan has named Linda Malone as Network Operations vice president. Malone will oversee the Postal Service's distribution network, including design,policies and programs, logistics and maintenance. She will report to Chief Operating Officer David Williams, who previously held the position.

TechCrunch: Amazon is now offering one-hour delivery in all of Manhattan. In December, the online retail giant promised one-hour delivery to a very expensive, very small zone in Manhattan. Today, an Amazon spokesperson confirmed to Mashable that the service is available across the entire island. The one-hour delivery program is called Amazon Prime Now, and it offers free two-hour delivery from 6am to 12am, with one-hour delivery available for an extra $7.99. Prime Now is applicable to products like paper towels, shampoo, books, toys, batteries, and other general household items. Prime Now products are available exclusively through a dedicated companion app called Amazon Prime Now.

PostalVision 2020, the pioneering forum that encourages and enables no-nonsense discussions about what constitutes a modern mail and parcel delivery infrastructure, will hold its fifth annual conference beginning March 10th at The Ritz Carlton in Pentagon City, Virginia. Register Now!
 

  • John Hagel, Founder and Chairman of the Deloitte Center for the Edge and author of "The Power of Pull," will join the conference as Keynote Speaker for the first time this year.
  • Also new to this year's event will be a delegation from the Postal Innovation Platform (PIP), a Switzerland-based group that studies the future of the postal industry under the umbrella of an academic postal research centre, EPFL- MIR, the Universal Postal Union (UPU) and Swiss Post.
  • Launched in 2011 by independent consulting company Ursa Major Associates, PostalVision 2020 began with a mission to jumpstart the national conversation about what a realistic future for the United States Postal Service (USPS) will look like in an increasingly digital and e-commerce driven society. Its conferences focus on the challenges facing the mailing industry in an age of digital disruption, and the opportunities arising from the growing demand for residential delivery of goods purchased on the Internet. PostalVision 2020/5.0 will expand the conversation to consider how the forces of "Customers, Connections and Collaboration" are driving radical transformation and reinvention of a dynamic, sustainable global postal ecosystem.
  • John Hagel's keynote remarks will examine how the Internet has fostered an unprecedented, worldwide shift in power towards customers. He will then join a "fireside chat" on consumer empowerment with Jeff Jarvis of Buzzmachine.com, author of "What Would Google Do?", Larry Weber, author of The Digital Marketer, and Marshall Van Alstyne of MIT and BU. PIP Chairman Bernhard Bukovc will moderate a discussion on the new postal logistics and ecosystem and its application of "Big Data" and "Internet of Things," as well as new postal products that may hasten the pace of change, with UPU's Deputy Director General, Pascal Clivaz, SwissPost's Ulrich Hurni and DHL Parcel Germany's Ole Nordhoff.

Lexington Institute: A recent study commissioned by the U.S. Postal Regulatory Commission concluded that the current system for assigning fees between countries for mail and small packages sent internationally produces market distortions and disruptions in global mail and trade flows. This system, known as terminal dues, is governed by the Universal Postal Union (UPU), a United Nations body whose 192 member countries include the United States. The UPU's terminal dues system establishes rates each country is paid for delivering mail that originates outside its borders, with varying rates for outgoing mail.

Fierce Government: The Postal Service Inspector General Office is asking Congress for $250 million for fiscal 2016, says a Feb. 11 UPS OIG budget document. The amount represents a 2.8 percent increase over what the OIG had to spend in fiscal 2015, the document (pdf) says. "This budget will allow the OIG to maintain our current level of support to help the Postal Service address its financial and operational challenges," the OIG says. The document says the office has done a lot since it was tasked with investigating USPS crimes along with its normal duties. In 2006, the responsibility for internal crimes investigations was transferred from the Postal Inspection Service to the OIG. The total number of Postal Service full time employees at the PIS was 732. But when the work was transferred to the OIG, the office only took on 345 new employees to do the work. Reducing 377 FTEs created a savings opportunity of $60 million in salary and benefits for the Postal Service, the OIG says. Also, over the past 5 years USPS OIG budgets have been flat or reduced every year requiring the office to prioritize and shift resources. "Therefore, the expansion of the Healthcare and Disability Fraud initiative will require new funding," the document says.

Tatango: Have you been looking for a really good retail SMS marketing case study? If so you're in luck today, as we here at Tatango have found a great retail SMS marketing case study for you! This retailer was able to get 300,000 customers to opt-in, and with an 85% redemption rate, was able to generate $7.2M in new sales. The best part, this happened over the course of three days

The Digital Marketing Blog: Digital marketing has finally turned the corner for a majority of U.S. small businesses. From social media ads to SMS marketing, domestic small business owners are now embracing online and mobile channels to an unprecedented degree with staggeringly impressive results to show for their efforts.

Wall Street Journal: Here's a math problem for you. Each United Parcel Service Inc. driver makes an average of 120 stops per day. There are 6,689,502,913,449,135,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 alternatives for ordering those stops. Which option is the most efficient, after considering variables such as special delivery times, road regulations, and the existence of private roads that don't appear on a map? Even if an optimal answer exists, the human mind will never figure it out. And while experts at UPS have been giving the problem their best shot for more than a century, the company is shifting that work over to a computer platform called Orion, which is 10 years and an estimated hundreds of millions of dollars in the making. "Can a human really think of the best way to deliver 120 stops? This is where the algorithm will come in. It will explore paths of doing things you would not, because there are just too many combinations," says Jack Levis , senior director of process management at UPS. The 1,000 page Orion algorithm is an exercise in heuristics, written by a team of 50 UPS engineers in Timonium, Md.

Scientific American: Once heralded as the death of the personal human touch, e-mail has now taken over the letter's place as a ubiquitous form of communication—both business and personal. But is its day in the digital sun coming to a close? Today's instant electronic memos—such as texting and Facebook and Twitter messages—are more direct, more concentrated, more efficient. Many corporations are moving to messaging networks for exactly that reason: more signal, less noise. And less time. Does this mean e-mail is on its way to the dustbin of digital history? Was it just a transitional technology—from postal mail to the new, rapid-fire communication channels? Not necessarily. E-mail still has certain advantages. So, no, e-mail won't go away completely. Remember, we've been through a transition like this not so long ago: when e-mail was on the rise, people said that postal mail was dead. That's not how it works. Postal mail found its (smaller) niche, and so will e-mail. Technology rarely replaces an institution completely; it just adds new avenues.

Retail Times: In reesponse to the increasing trend for online goods shopping, Jersey Post has launched the first of eight locker banks for alternative packet and parcel delivery. The new locker bank will be the first of its kind in the Channel Islands and will be located at the General Hospital. For the next three months, these lockers will be available for all Health and Social Services staff to use as part of a full, user service trial. The three-month service trial will enable Jersey Post to fully test the operational processes, but also ensure that customer collections run seamlessly. With a large number of shift workers, who would be unable to pick up parcels from the current parcel pick-up locations, the Health and Social Services staff were an ideal trial audience.

i24News: Disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong, who was stripped of seven Tour de France titles for doping, must pay $10 million (8.8 million euros) after losing an arbitration dispute with SCA Promotions. The Texas firm announced Monday in a statement that the arbitration panel punished Armstrong for "an unparalleled pageant of international perjury, fraud and conspiracy." The award, what SCA said was believed to be the largest sanction assessed against an individual in American judicial history.

AllAfrica.com: Every cloud has a silver lining. This expression implies that there is some good in every troubled circumstance. Yet it is often difficult to find that silver lining in terms of benefits gained or lessons learned. However, in the present shambles that is the Post Office many workers and trade unions seem to have learned a valuable lesson: nationalisation -- state control -- does not necessarily mean any improvement. The Communication Workers' Union (CWU) has expanded on this theme, noting: "The current shenanigans happening at the SA Post Office are a confirmation of the fact that nationalization without workers' control and input is meaningless and unsustainable." Now the "workers' control" element will probably set on edge the teeth of the usual suspects on the free market fringe. And especially among those individuals with short memories who think only of the four-month postal strike last year. But that was the culmination of years of frustration, a last straw or tipping point born of desperation. As this column noted in October last year, the strike was "not a cause, but a symptom of the malaise" affecting the Post Office.

IT Online: The South African Post Office (Sapo) could soon be embarking on yet another strike. The Communication Workers Union has secured a certificate to strike and is now in the process of consulting with members. A final decision about whether or not to strike will be taken next week. The union has recently expressed its disappointment in what it calls the "continuing total lack of leadership and sound governance practices at the South African Post Office (Sapo)".

HTXT: Did you know that the University of South Africa (UNISA) offers free online courses where you can learn five of our eleven official Nguni languages? The courses offering lessons in isiZulu, Northern SeSotho, Southern SeSotho, isiXhosa and SeTswana have been around for a while now and are the only form of Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) offered by the nation's biggest tertiary institution. There is, however, word that UNISA will begin offering its courses online to avoid future troubles with postage and late deliveries as a result of the past few months' postal strikes – we'll be keeping an eye for official word on that from the institution.

RDM: Is this the real life? Or is this just fantasy? Caught in a landslide, no escape from reality." The opening lines from Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody perfectly capture the sense of the unreal colouring events in SA. The circus that was the opening of Parliament show that the nation is in a state. There's a hard-fought election campaign under way here in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. But, so far, none of the contesting parties have stooped so low as to call their opposition "cockroaches", as speaker of the National Assembly and ANC chairwoman Baleka Mbete reportedly called EFF leader Julius Malema. That's discomforting. It was not that long ago that Rwandan local radio was inciting violence against Tutsi "cockroaches". Like a naughty little boy, President Jacob Zuma has been hiding behind the skirts of two aunties, Parliament's presiding officers, Mbete and Thandi Modise, speaker of the National Council of Provinces. And, under their protection, he giggles as he licks the crumbs off his fingers while denying that his hand was ever near the cookie jar.

Watchdog.org: The debt-ridden U.S. Postal Service is looking to expand its service footprint from well beyond its core mail-delivery operations — everything from grocery delivery to payday loans. But the quasi-governmental agency's hunt for badly needed revenue streams is coming at the expense of private-sector competitors, undercutting the basic principles of the American free-market system, critics contend. "We think this is a huge overreach on the part of the USPS," David Williams, president of the Taxpayers Protection Alliance, told Watchdog.org. "We already have companies that are doing this (grocery delivery). The Postal Service should deliver the mail, to get back to its core business, not this mission creep." In its approval order, the Postal Regulatory Commission said the "record contains no indication" that USPS' involvement in grocery delivery would disrupt the market, but the results are not final.

Washington Post: The Postal Service inspector general's office is doing its second review of a controversial surveillance program that allows law-enforcement agencies to intercept suspects' mail items before they are delivered to record their information. A previous review that found the Postal Service almost never denies requests for so-called mail covers from outside law-enforcement organizations, saying the agency only rejected about 0.2 percent out of 6,000 in 2013.

Post & Parcel: Over the last eight years Correos de Costa Rica has been completed transformed and rebranded. The organization has been restructured, personnel re-trained, IT systems invested in, and the operation has been redesigned to manage high volumes of packages. Through new connections with government institutions Correos has also now become the core institution for delivery of government services to citizens and business.

Business Day: Electronic commerce operators in Nigeria are taking massive advantage of the retail extensive network of the country's postal and courier industry to enhance service delivery, market observers have said. Considering the rising number of orders being processed by online retailers in Nigeria, there is need along with the attendant need for efficiency in delivery.

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