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Postal News from November 2007:

November 30, 2007
 
 
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Trading Markets has reported that "American Locker Group Incorporated (ALGI) announced that the United States Postal Service had rejected the Company's application to manufacture the USPS-B-1118 Cluster Box Unit ("CBU"). As previously disclosed, the Company had sought to become a licensed manufacturer of the USPS-B-1118 CBU as a result the of the USPS' decertification, effective September 8, 2007, of the predecessor Model "E" CBU. As a result of the USPS decision, the Company will not be licensed to manufacture the Model USPS-B-1118 CBU, which will have a material and adverse effect on the Company's revenue and profitability through 2008."

Smart Money has reported that "FedEx Corp. will raise its ground shipping rates by an average of 4.9% starting Jan. 7. The increase matches a rate hike by its main rival, United Parcel Service Inc., which said its rates for 2008 would rise by an average of 4.9% for ground shipments, air express and international parcels from the U.S. FedEx's move also matches its 4.9% increase in ground shipping rates a year earlier."

The Guardian has reported that "Italian postal service Poste Italiane's banking business is likely to be listed on the stock market, Chairman Vittorio Mincato said on Friday."

Bloomberg has reported that "TNT NV, Europe's second-biggest express-delivery company, rose the most in two years in Amsterdam trading following speculation the Dutch government may delay plans to open its mail market. An agreement reached yesterday by Germany's coalition government to introduce a minimum wage for postal workers means the Dutch government may ``pull the 'emergency brake' on its market liberalization."

According to the BBC, "Scotland had six of the 20 worst performing postcode areas for first class mail delivery, a new study found."

The Board of Governors of the U.S. Postal Service will meet in Washington, DC, at Postal Service Headquarters, 475 L'Enfant Plaza, SW, on Dec. 10-11, 2007. The public is welcome to observe the Board's open session, scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m. on Dec. 11 in the Ben Franklin Room on the 11th floor. The Board is expected to discuss the following items: (1) Remarks of the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Board (Jim Miller and Alan Kessler). (2) Remarks of the Postmaster General and CEO (John Potter) (3) Holiday preparations (Pat Donahoe, deputy postmaster general and chief operating officer, and Anita Bizzotto, chief marketing officer and executive vice president). (4) Committee reports (5) Consideration of the Postal Service Fiscal Year 2007 Annual Report (Chairman Miller) Fiscal Year 2007 (6) Comprehensive Statement on Postal Operations, including Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) Reporting Requirements (Chairman Miller) (7) Consideration of Final Fiscal Year 2009 Appropriation Request (Glen Walker, chief financial officer and executive vice president) (8) Diversity strategy (Alta Rodriguez, manager, National Diversity Initiatives office).

The Postal Regulatory Commission has issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) from organizations and individuals to assist the Commission staff in developing a Report on Universal Service and the Postal Monopoly to be submitted to the President and Congress in late 2008. The following links will take you to the RFP, which describes on page 4 of the proposal the purpose, background, and scope of the services to be rendered. (1) http://www2.fbo.gov/spg/PRC/POA/PRCHQ/PRC-2007-1/listing.html and (2) http://fs2.fbo.gov/EPSData/PRC/Synopses/29222/PRC-2007-1/RFPforUniversalServiceReportfinal.pdf

Forbes has reported that "TNT NV said it had reached an agreement with trade unions to extend the present collective labour agreement (CAO) to allow more time to develop proposals aimed at achieving TNT's previously announced structural savings and to minimise planned lay-offs."

Reuters has reported that "Packaging delivery company United Parcel Service Inc expects regional growth in Asia will remain robust and be unaffected by a slowing U.S. economy, a senior company official said on Thursday. UPS, the world's largest package delivery company, has said growth this peak season would be below the previous four years, reflecting slowing U.S. economic growth, the housing sector slowdown and expectations of low retail sales growth. But rising trade within the Asia-Pacific region was boosting demand for freight and logistics services in countries including China, India, Vietnam and Thailand, said Ken Torok, president of Asia-Pacific region for UPS."

As one writer for the Hartford Courant noted, "There's still a place for snail mail in this digital age after all."

WTNH has reported that "Postal officials say a ban on donation boxes for Toys for Tots has been reversed."

As PostCom vice president Kate Muth noted, "The Postal Service said in a DMM Advisory this week that the next price change for mailing and shipping services would take place under the new pricing rules. And while the Postal Service Governors will decide when this price change will occur, the USPS will provide at least 90 days' notice to customers on market-dominant products. Future price changes will occur annually, on a predictable schedule, the Postal Service said. When the announcement came out this week that the USPS would commit to 90 days, I swear I heard a few corks popping."

The Times has reported that "After 10 months of instability and infighting, the South African Post Office has appointed a woman to steady the ship. Motshoanetsi Lefoka, the chief operating officer of the troubled organisation — which has been plagued by theft and beset by claims of inefficiency — was yesterday appointed its chief executive officer."

The Periodical Publishers Association has reported that "Postcomm, the independent regulator for postal services, has confirmed its decision to grant Royal Mail greater flexibility to increase prices. PPA will be speaking to Royal Mail in an attempt to gain an indication of what this might mean for Presstream in terms of next April's tariff increases. Postcomm's decision, which follows a consultation with customers, will allow Royal Mail to increase the ‘re-balancing sub-cap' within the Price Control from three per cent to 8.5 per cent. In addition it would also allow Royal Mail to raise the price of a second class stamp to 29p by 2010, subject to inflation (the original price cap was 26p)."

Domain-b has reported that "Around 10,000 parcels in 28 containers from the United Arab Emirates are lying untouched at Kochi Port for more than a month, with the consignee, the Indian Postal Service (IPS), refusing to clear the same. Sources say a dispute between the Emirates Post and IPS is behind the latters reluctance to take charge of the consignment."

November 29, 2007

WBTW has reported that "Steven Ward of Murrells Inlet and William Lancaster of Tabor City, North Carolina were each charged with unlawfully detaining and delaying mail. They could each receive a fine of up to $250,000 and 15 years in prison."

Dow Jones has reported that "German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Thursday she sees conditions in place to introduce a minimum wage for the postal sector next year. "My preconditions and those of the conservative parties have been fulfilled," Merkel said. She also said that not only Deutsche Post AG but also all other countrywide mail delivers must now be exempted from paying value-added tax."

Reuters has reported that "California's Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to hear an appeal by FedEx Corp, which sought to overturn a state court ruling that said the company's drivers are employees, not independent contractors." See also Air Cargo World.

Postal Regulatory Commission Chairman Dan G. Blair has announced that Margaret Cigno has been selected as the Assistant Director of the Auditing and Costing Division of the Office of Accountability and Compliance (OAC). She will join OAC Director John Waller and Charles Robinson, the Assistant Director of the Analysis and Pricing Division of the OAC. The Office of Accountability and Compliance is responsible for technical analysis and assistance in recommending policies to the Commission relative to the new financial and service reporting responsibilities of the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA). The OAC is the former Office of Rates, Analysis, and Planning, whose name was changed this summer to reflect these new authorities and responsibilities. The OAC provides the analytic sup

From the U.S. Postal Service:

"The next price change for mailing and shipping services will take place under the new pricing rules. The Postal Service Governors will decide when this price change will occur, and we will provide at least 90 days’ notice to customers. Future price changes will occur annually, on a predictable schedule.

"Under the new law, the average price change for our mailing services may increase no more than the rate of inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI). The price cap applies independently to each market dominant class of mail — First-Class Mail, Standard Mail, Periodicals, and Package Services (including single-piece Parcel Post). Individual prices may vary within each class, as long as the overall increase for that class does not exceed the price cap. Our shipping services — bulk parcels and expedited products such as Express Mail and Priority Mail — are not subject to a price cap.

"Customers who would like an indication of the average price increase for each market dominant class can refer to the Postal Regulatory Commission’s Web site (prc.gov). The Commission has posted the current price cap that would apply if the Postal Service issued a notice of a price change. The CPI and the postal price cap are updated around the middle of each month. We will send a DMM Advisory to keep you informed."

The Postal Regulatory Commission has posted on its web site "Comments on Modern Service Standards."

The American Bankers Association (ABA) has submitted a letter to urge the Governors of the Postal Service to reaffirm the Negotiated Service Agreement (“NSA”) between the Postal Service and one of our members, the Bank of America." It said: "We do so because we are convinced that the early implementation of the Intelligent Mail Barcode (“IMB”) by Bank of America will provide a tremendous benefit for the Postal Service and the mailing community, including the financial service industry."
 

Join U.S. Postal Service attorney Nan McKenzie, board member of the Women in Logistics and Delivery Services Council, and PostCom vice president Kate Muth, member of the steering committee of the Council, in a podcast as they mark the one-year anniversary of WILDS with a discussion of key achievements of the organization. They also promote the organization's final event of the year, a free wine tasting for members. Editor's note: The final day to reserve your spot for the wine tasting is this Friday, Nov. 30.

Reuters has reported that "German services union Verdi and the postal employers' association have agreed on a new formula for their wage contract which could open the way to a deal on a minimum wage in the sector, the union said on Thursday. Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives and the Social Democrats (SPD), who rule in an uneasy coalition, have been arguing about the possible introduction of a legally binding minimum wage for the sector for months. A spokeswoman for Verdi said the new version of the wage contract would apply to companies that "predominantly" transport letters."

In a letter to the editor of the New York Times, Universal Postal Union director general Edouard Dayan wrote:

As a United Nations specialized agency for postal services, the Universal Postal Union recognizes the social and economic impact of migration on development. It’s true that private operators offer useful services for migrant workers, and several postal operators have partnered with them. But if developing countries are to fully benefit from remittances, more choices must be given to migrant workers to send money home more easily and at affordable prices, even from and to isolated areas.

With more than 660,000 post offices worldwide, the postal sector has a role to play here. Postal services in many countries are moving to electronic money transfer services, which are more secure, faster and reliable than paper money orders created in the 1870s. More than 60 countries are today connected to the U.P.U.’s international financial network, creating corridors among the world’s postal services and giving consumers in countries where large migrant populations exist more options to send their hard-earned money home.

As our member countries get ready to adopt a multilateral framework for electronic money transfers, the U.P.U. will continue to work with them to modernize money transfer services to help individuals and countries benefit from economic and social prosperity.

Precision Marketing has reported that "Royal Mail has mounted an aggressive defence of its proposed zonal pricing scheme, claiming Postcomm’s rejection of its original plan was ‘fundamentally flawed’. The 44-page response comes five months after Postcomm threw out the first proposal (precisionmarketing.co.uk) but includes only a few minor amendments. Royal Mail is sticking to its guns – the main tenet of its argument is that increased competition in the postal market is allowing private operators to cherry-pick areas where it is cheaper, and therefore more profitable, to deliver mail."

A News Leader writer has claimed that "Around this time of the year I feel that I should apologize to the mailman. I pity the poor guy who has to deliver the ghosts of forests past in the name of retail sales. He is measuring out his life in bulk-rate mail. And he's such a nice sort. Helpful. Friendly. On time. He even gives my dog treats. The least I can do is make his job as easy as possible, but unfortunately I can't. Like seasonal dandruff, I'm being showered with unsolicited holiday catalogs. Catalogs are the U.S. Postal Service's equivalent of e-mail spam on the Internet. Their effect is just the opposite of what retailers had hoped. Like those endlessly repeated Christmas songs that stores start pumping in even before Halloween, holiday catalogs are taking all the fun out of the holidays." [You know...there are Sundays when I've felt the same pity for the newspaper delivery guy....All those unsolicited ads....No way to stop them. PostCom to the News Leader: "Gimme a break. Where do you think newspaper profits come from? From ADVERTISING!!]

CNET News has noted that "Yahoo and Adobe are bringing pay-per-click ads to Adobe's Portable Document Format so that publishers can serve up ads inside PDFs distributed on Web sites and over e-mail that are contextually relevant to the content." [Refer to the above: "Oh no!....You mean there are unsolicited ads on the internet too?...Yes, and in the mail, in newspapers, in magazines, on television, on the radio, telephones, facsimile machines, Metro busses, outdoor billboards, posters on walls....Quick! Call Oprah! Call Matt Damon! Call Greendimes!!!]

As the News & Observer has noted, "Being square this holiday season will cost more than just your hipster reputation. After years of looking the other way, the U.S. Postal Service is charging more this year for square envelopes of any size. How much more depends on how big. A rectangular envelope, 5 1/2 by 8 1/2, gets the usual 41-cent first-class stamp. But one of those trendy square 6 1/2-inch greeting cards will cost you 58 cents. If your list is long, it adds up."

The News-Press has reported that "Bigger shipping bills loom next week. Carriers once again are responding to higher oil and gasoline prices by passing along the costs. Rather than raise base rates, they impose fuel surcharges. DHL raises its fuel surcharges Sunday; FedEx and UPS Monday. In catalogs and on Web sites, most of the tables on shipping costs don't include a fuel surcharge. And if they do, many won't be changed to reflect the higher surcharge until scores of orders have been placed. Merchants will have to absorb those costs, unless they were smart enough to build in some cushion to their shipping rates."

The Associated Press has reported that "Cast in the good-guy role of stopping Internet cigarette sales to children, Maine's deputy attorney general got roughed up Wednesday by several Supreme Court justices who suggested the law is not on his side. Congress has encouraged the states "to deal with the significant public health problem of youth access to tobacco," Stern told the court, arguing for Maine's right to regulate shipment of cigarettes bought online. Shipping industry associations that are challenging the law object to delivery requirements that they say only the federal government can impose. The differences in the state laws are a burden to business, several justices suggested."

AK&M has noted that "Mail of Russia" has begun reception of payments which are carried out by physical persons by means of the postal order "CyberMoney", to the address of the Joint-Stock Company "Sequoia Credit Consolidation". It is spoken about in the joint report of the companies. The given service is accessible in all post offices of Russia. "Sequoia Credit Consolidation" will inform the borrowers who will have an opportunity to pay off the duty through "Mail of Russia", additionally. "Mail of Russia" is the network of federal mail service including 84 branches, 42 thousand departments of mail service. The company renders services in all territory of Russia, including cities and rural settlements. Incomes in January-June, 2007 in comparison with the parameter of the similar period of the last year have increased up 26% and have exceeded 30mlrd rbl. The pure loss of "Mail of Russia" in 2007, on preliminary data, will make 5.7mlrd rbl.

According to the Toledo Blade, "A jump in postal rates is causing banks to think outside the box. Venders contracted by at least two financial institutions are no longer sending personal and business checks in boxes. Instead, the banks are shipping the items as flat mail that require customers to assemble the containers themselves."

“Dec. 1, 2007, will be a historic day for postal labor,” APWU President William Burrus declared this week. “It marks the elimination of part-time flexible employment for the Clerk Craft in large offices. “As the result of contract negotiations, Clerk Craft PTFs will disappear as a job category in every postal installation of 200 work-years or more,” Burrus noted. “This has been a long-standing objective of postal employees, and it has finally been achieved.”

Reuters has reported that "The British government may help its post offices with 634 million pounds ($1.3 billion) of funding starting on April 1 without violating EU state aid rules, the European Commission said on Thursday. The European Union's top competition watchdog said the British government may also continue providing loan facilities for cash services at post office counters. State aid is generally illegal but an exemption exists for public services."

The Times of India has reported that "The world's largest express carrier, United Parcel Service (UPS), is all set to cement its position in the country by getting into a relationship with AFL, the second largest Indian company in the segment. Promoted by Cyrus Gazdar, AFL shares it distribution infrastructure with the German major DHL. But with DHL and AFL set to snap ties, UPS has gotten the toe hold it was looking for. Sources close to the development said, UPS may also look at buying into AFL."

According to the Stamford Advocate, "Postal service officials say they're banning the collections for the Toys for Tots program, because it violates a U.S. Postal Service police on solicitation. Postal service spokeswoman Maureen Marion says eliminating the program is not a reflection of the programs. She says officials were forced to make a tough decision based on the interpretation of postal service regulations by its legal department."

Transport Intelligence has reported that "Migration of manufacturing from Western Europe to Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) has been considered by many to be an irreversible trend. However, a recent survey has found that many companies are pulling back from the region, troubled by rising costs, lack of quality and production issues. This could have major implications for express and logistics companies which have invested in the region."

The Washington Times has reported that "Rentals of DVDs from companies such as Netflix cost U.S. taxpayers tens of millions of dollars each year because U.S. Postal Service sorting machines can't process millions of return envelopes, government inspectors say. The government incurs more than $20 million per year in labor costs to hand-sort DVDs. And costs are expected to total as much as $30 million per year by 2009. "Because these mail pieces are not machinable, the Postal Service pays significant additional labor costs to manually process them," auditors wrote in a recent report issued by Tammy L. Whitcomb, the deputy assistant inspector general for revenue and systems. The Postal Service declined to discuss the report yesterday."

Here's one from CNET.com. "Labels That Talk, from Kailua Hawaii, has come up with software that lets consumers print high-density bar codes on strips of paper that store recorded voice messages. Scan the paper with a cheap handheld scanner--or a cell phone with a built-in scanner--and it plays back a message. The strip of paper you see in the picture can hold about eight kilobits, enough for a ten-second voice message, said Ken Berkun, president and founder."

November 28, 2007

AllAfrica.com has reported that "The Post Master General of Liberia, Minister Jackson E. Doe has disclosed that the establishment and officials opening of post offices in rural Liberia has been whole heartedly welcomed by rural dwellers in those regions where postal activities have been resumed. Mr. Doe said since the 15-years armed conflict that led to the closure of rural mailing offices communication broke down between people in rural parts and the cities."
 

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Traffic World has reported that "It's back to the North American operations drawing board for DHL and its parent company, Deutsche Post World Net. DPWN is looking to "restart the whole thing" in January, CEO Klaus Zumwinkel told analysts Nov. 15 after issuing a financial report that included a setback in profits in express operations in the Americas."
 
[PostCom logo  

PostCom welcomes its newest member: Limited Brands Direct Media Production 1114 Avenue of the Americas, 25th Floor New York, NY 10036-7703 represented by Jeanette Iglesias, Director, Publishing Operations

Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) Chairman Dan G. Blair has announced that Commissioner Mark Acton has been named Vice-Chairman of the Commission, succeeding Vice-Chairman Dawn Tisdale, whose term of office ended this month. PRC regulations provide that the Commission elect a member to serve as Vice-Chairman for a term of one year.

Reuters has reported that "Italy's postal service Poste Italiane has been valued by investment banks at between 14 billion to 15 billion euros ($20.62-$22.09 billion) and is ready for a public offering as soon as the government decides to launch it."

As the International Herald Tribune has noted, "German Gref, the liberal-minded former economics minister who was ousted in a government shake-up, was elected Wednesday to head Russia's largest bank, OAO Sberbank. Gref was the only candidate to replace Andrei Kazmin, who resigned to head the country's postal system."

The Trend Capital News Agency has reported that "Azerbaijan will take part at the international workshop on postal security for specialists of Communication Administrations. The Azerbaijani Communication and IT Ministry reported that Novruz Galayev, the chief of the Department on Control over State Enterprises, would take part at the workshop. The representatives of the World Postal Union, United States, Germany, Poland and Denmark will take part at the workshop. The workshop is held in Moscow on 28 and 29 November."

On the Postal Regulatory Commission website, you can find a paper by PRC special assistant Michael Ravnitzky at a recent Rutgers University Center for Research in Regulated Industries Workshop on "Network Benefits From Increased Network Size: How postal network characteristics frame the Universal Service Obligation."

From the Office of the Postmaster General: "I am pleased to announce today the establishment of a transitional organization for management of competitive products with the formation of an Express Mail group which is tasked with new ways to invigorate our premier product. Gary Reblin will lead the group as Acting Vice President, Express Mail. He and a small team of key staff will report directly to me. I have asked the team to look for creative and dynamic approaches to generate Express Mail profits, focusing on growth and efficiency."

CEP News (Courier-Express-Postal), published by the MRU Consultancy, has reported that:

The combination of slowly increasing turnovers and rapidly increasing costs has led to a profit collapse for Post Danmark in the first three quarters of the current year.
Japan Post Service Co., the CEP company of the newly founded Japan Post Group, has raised the profit expectation for the second half of the year.
The European Court of Justice’s decision to allows EU member states to reserve cross-border mail services for universal service providers is opening up new possibilities for private operators.
Germany’s social democratic party (SPD) plans to stick to the introduction of a minimum wage in the postal industry.
1,700 sick notes - every day; the number of staff away sick at Post Danmark has reached a new high.
Sepomex and the Mexican postal workers’ union have agreed on a new labour contract.
The Indonesian logistics company Pandu Siwi Group plans to sell 40 per cent of its shares to Emirates Post.
Slovenia plans to prevent a stealthy sell-off of the domestic industry by creating a logistics holding company.
Kiala plans to realise its market entry in Spain and Russia with investments of about 26m euros. For the company which, according to its own information, is the leading independent service provider for takeout store networks in Europe, the two markets bear astonishing resemblances. In both countries, consignments are delivered exclusively by the national postal service.
The joint venture logistics company between the Italian state railway Ferrovie dello Stato and Poste Italiane can begin. Last week, the executive boards of the post and the railway gave the green light for the 50 % shareholding in the company, Italian media reported.
The Hungarian antitrust authority GVH has imposed a fine equivalent to 1.8m euros on Magyar Posta and the newspaper distributor Lapker Ft.
Sinotrans Air Transportation Development Co. Ltd., a subsidiary of Sinotrans Limited, has announced that it will sell its 50 % shareholding in Exel-Sinotrans Freight Forwarding Co Ltd to DHL.
The Portuguese CTT Correios has announced that it is going into the telecom business. According to the company itself, it has obtained a license for a virtual mobile phone network and plans to launch a service offer as soon as December. The business will be offered through post office branches as well as franchise businesses.
The Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) has spoken very condescendingly condescendingly about the "logistics specialist" Österreichische Post’s lack of flexibility.

The MRU, founded in 1992, is the only consultancy in Europe, which has specialised in the market of courier-, express- and parcel services. For large-scale shippers and CEP-services in particular, the MRU provides interdisciplinary advice for all major questions of the market, as there are for example market entry, product design, organisation, and EDP.To learn more about the stories reported above, contact CEP News. (We appreciate the courtesy extended by CEP News to help whet your appetite for more of what CEP offers.)

UPU Director General Edouard DAYAN and Deputy Director General Guozhong HUANG, from France and China respectively, announced they would run for a second mandate from 2009–2012. Both made the announcement during the 2007 Council of Administration session, which ended at UPU headquarters in Berne. No other candidates have so far come forward to vie for the top UPU management positions. The Director General and Deputy Director General positions are elected by member countries at the UPU Congress. The next UPU Congress will take place from 13 August to 3 September in Nairobi (Kenya). Great Britain also announced it would run for the chairmanship of the Postal Operations Council (POC) from 2009–2012. The POC is the 40-member UPU body that deals with operational and technical issues regarding the postal sector.

The Worcester News has reported that "we exposed Royal Mail for leaving bags of mail unattended in gardens, wheelie bins and unlocked foyers in what postal workers call 'unsecured bag drops'. Readers who called us or commented on our website said the practice has been going on for some time."

According to China Daily, "China Post Group, operator of the country's postal system, will auction off 60 hotels, an asset exchange said, as the government urges state companies to shed non-core businesses. The China Beijing Equity Exchange, a site for trade in unlisted assets, said on its Web site that China Post would sell the hotels through an auction at the exchange."

A1Plus has noted that "Ms Siranush has been working as a postwoman for 27 years. She finds it her mission to deliver pension and letters to citizens. Nowadays postmen are “replaced” by new technologies- Internet, fax and mobile phones. Today one can come across rusty and old postboxes everywhere. Unfortunately, few people use them nowadays as postmen deliver letters directly to addressees. Besides, postal service is mainly available for servicemen who send letters gratis and for people ignorant of the Internet."

News.bg has reported that "Austrian postal operator ‘Oesterreichische Post' wants to get into Romanian, Bulgarian and Bosnian market in the coming 15 months, Reuters informed, cited by money.bg. We want to set up a network in the fragmented South-Eastern European market, company's Chief Financial Officer Rudolf Jettmar said on Tuesday. We want to fill in our blank spots in Bosnia, Bulgaria and Romania, Jettmar added. He also specified that the postal operator is aiming to take over private operators working in parcel delivery or distribution of advertising. ‘Oesterreichische Post' has spent 210 million EUR on takeovers in the first 3 quarters of 2007. The Austrian Post is already present in Slovakia, Croatia, Hungary and Serbia."

The Evening Standard has reported that "Postal watchdogs have quietly given the go-ahead to Royal Mail's plans to scrap traditional morning postal deliveries. Despite fierce opposition to the changes, industry regulator Postcomm failed to make a public statement about its decision to approve the scheme. The only notification of its stance is a document buried on the watchdog's website."

Air Cargo World has reported that "Matching competitors FedEx and UPS, DHL Express today announced a 4.9 percent increase in the net average shipping rate for DHL Domestic Air Express and International Express, as well as an average increase of 4.9 percent for DHL Ground Shipments and DHL@Home. The air and international hikes include a 6.9 percent average increase in base rates, offset by a 2 percent reduction in the Air fuel surcharge. The new rates become effective Jan. 6, 2008."

The Associated Press has reported that "Plagued by turmoil at the top, the American Red Cross ousted its president, Mark Everson, on Tuesday for engaging in a "personal relationship" with one of his subordinates. The Red Cross board appointed Mary S. Elcano, its general counsel for the past five years, as interim president and CEO. Elcano's past experience includes a stint as executive vice president of human resources with the U.S. Postal Service."

From Federal Business Opportunities: "The United States Postal Service (USPS) wishes to pre-qualify suppliers who can develop, implement, manage, and analyze information for a national Employee Engagement survey. The purpose of this system is to provide an independent, periodic measure of the satisfaction levels of Postal Service employees. Such a process should also help the USPS to identify which employee engagement drivers need attention to increase employee engagement. The USPS is seeking suppliers who apply current industry best practices and demonstrate innovative approaches to providing actionable insights into employees’ perceptions. Suppliers pre-qualified as part of this process may be invited to participate in response to a solicitation(s) issued by the USPS. It is the intent of the USPS to issue a solicitation for the measurement of employee engagement and analysis using pre-qualified suppliers."

The Hindu has reported that "India’s vast postal network can be utilised for providing various facilities including microfinance, banking and information-based services to the masses. The Department of Posts also needs to gear itself to strengthen its global network to meet challenges posed by its competitors, said Communications and Information Technology Minister A. Raja here on Tuesday."

APWU President William Burrus has slammed the Office of the Inspector General, charging that in a September audit report on employee benefit programs the office had inserted itself into the collective bargaining arena.

November 27, 2007

NOW OPEN...Attendee registration for the spring National Postal Forum happening May 18-21, 2008 in Anaheim, CA!

The Guardian has reported that "Postal workers have overwhelmingly backed a deal on pay and conditions finally ending their long-running dispute. The Communication Workers Union (CWU) said its members voted by 64% in favour of an agreement and will now receive a pay rise of 6.9% over two years." See also the BBC.

Traffic World has reported that "Economists in a new survey predict that the global economy will lose momentum in the last quarter of the year in every major region. Their predictions for the coming six months have been significantly revised downwards, according to the latest ICC/ Ifo World Economic Survey."

Postcomm, the independent regulator for UK postal services, has, following a consultation, decided to confirm its proposals made in August 2007 that Royal Mail should be given extra flexibility to increase some retail prices and that access margins should be left unchanged. These decisions are in response to the requests by Royal Mail, TNT Post and UK Mail for a review of some aspects of the 2006-10 Price Control1. As set out in Postcomm’s proposals document published in August, this decision would allow Royal Mail to raise the price of a second class stamp to 29p by 2010, subject to inflation (the original price cap was 26p). The price cap on a first class stamp will not be affected by this decision2. In addition, Postcomm has decided to reject the requests from Royal Mail, TNT Post and UK Mail to change the margin between Royal Mail’s prices for bulk mail products and the amount Royal Mail charges other mail operators for access to its network and delivery of bulk mail over the ‘final mile’. Royal Mail had wanted to reduce the margin and the two Access operators argued that it should be increased.

According to CNN Money, "Atlanta-based UPS is experiencing a blast from the past. It again has some electric vehicles carrying packages in various U.S. cities. Diesel-electric hybrids, natural-gas-powered trucks and a slew of other experimental vehicles also cruise city streets and highways. The company's morphing into a leader in using truck fleets powered by alternative fuels. And what it's learning offers pointers for other firms trying to lower costs and environmental impacts by using new vehicle tech. UPS has over 1,600 of its trucks using either hybrid or alternative-fueled drive systems around the world. The company says it's invested $15 million over the years in alternative vehicles. At the same time, UPS has a ways to go. So-called green vehicles amount to less than 2% of its total global fleet. That gas and diesel engines remain the norm at UPS underscores the hurdles in turning big brown trucks into green ones."

From PRWeb: "The Industry Measure has released "Publishing Forecast 2008," its annual look at the trends and forces that will impact book, magazine, and catalog publishers in the next 12 months and beyond. "Publishing Forecast 2008" looks at how publishers fared in the past 12 months, how they expect to fare in the next 12 months, and what the most important issues and trends affecting their businesses are, both today and tomorrow."

According to the Baltimore Sun, "The dead may read no mail, but tons of letters are still mailed to deceased people every day."

CaymanNet News has reported that "Two members of the Cayman Islands Postal Service “Gold Level” rated Express Mail Service (EMS) team recently facilitated a three-day training seminar for 30 staff members of the Jamaica postal service."

According to The Mirror, "A new row is on the cards as the Royal Mail struggles to plug a £5billion black hole in its pension fund. On the eve of a possible settlement to their current pay dispute, posties are furious at plans to make them work up to five years longer. The move is at the heart of radical proposals sent to 165,000 staff last week which could leave them thousands of pounds out of pocket. Other ideas include shutting their final-salary scheme to new recruits."

Forbes has reported that "Poste Italiane SpA, the company that runs Italy's post offices, aims to have 2 mln clients and 500 mln eur in revenues within three years through its PosteMobile virtual mobile operator, daily La Stampa cited CEO Massimo Sarmi as saying. PosteMobile, which will rent the telecommunications network from Vodafone, offers its clients a series of services including using their mobile phones to transfer money, check the balance on their checking account or pay bills."

The Alaska Journal of Commerce has reported that "The U.S. Postal Service is proposing changes to the bypass mail system that will cut $7 million a year from the cost of the program. The USPS issued a proposal to relocate the bypass mail hubs from larger rural communities like Bethel, to much smaller villages such as Anaktuvuk Pass. The problem is many of the small villages on the Postal Service list don't have the infrastructure to accommodate the aircraft used to move the mail."

November 26, 2007

The following reports posted recently on the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General website (http://www.uspsoig.gov/). If you have additional questions concerning a report, please contact Agapi Doulaveris at 703.248.2286.

According to Advertising Age, "Magazine publishers are already facing way too many rising costs: technology investments, postage, editors both diva and deserving. But the seemingly mundane budget line for glossy paper is suddenly the one everyone is worried about. Paper seems to be emerging from a competitive era of cyclically rising and falling prices. This year already has seen increases implemented and announced. Now structural changes, including mergers and a growing role for aggressive private equity, look likely to drive prices up next year by another 20% to 25%."

The Portsmith Herald News has reported that "Spending by state legislators on mail to constituents has risen sharply over the past two sessions, prompting critics to question whether incumbents are using tax dollars to boost their chances for re-election. Spending by House members jumped from $35,933 during the 2003-2004 legislative session to $95,378 in 2005-2006, according to records provided by the House clerk's office to the Maine Sunday Telegram. That's an increase of 265 percent, which far outstrips the rate of inflation and the rise in postal costs. The increase in mailings has drawn criticism from those who suggest it may be intended to raise visibility and attract votes at election time."

According to WYMT News, "You may call all those credit card applications and ads you get in the mail junk, but the United States Post Office says that isn't the case. Postal workers say during the Christmas season the United States Post Office will make about 58-million dollars, and nearly half of that revenue will come from bulk business mail. But if you just can't stand all the mailbox clutter they say you can just send it back. “They tear the item off and say ‘please do not send that to me’ and the stick it in the return business reply envelope and the customer pays 78 cents to get it back,” says Post Master Ray Lackey."

According to Kyodo, A government panel debating ways to stimulate competition in postal services has drawn up an interim report urging the government to drastically ease requirements for new comers to enter the postal business."

Bloomberg has reported that "DHL Express, the largest courier in China, plans to build a $175 million hub in Shanghai because of the country's growing shipments of documents, auto parts and mobile phones."

The Press Information Bureau of India has reported that the "following steps have been taken by the Department of Posts to enhance the revenue earning ability of the organization: Business Development and Marketing Directorate has been set up in the Department of Posts. It aims at developing new products and services and aims to make Department of Posts a customer oriented organization with business approach; A number of business products like Speed Post, Express Parcel Post and Business Post have been introduced; Value additions like collection from customer premises, credit facility, volume based discounts, door to door delivery, online track and trace system, pre-mailing services etc. have been introduced; Retail network of the Department of Post has been leveraged for providing new services and generating additional revenue and The department has taken initiatives to work out various business alliances and partnership with public and private corporations for leveraging the postal network in rural as well as urban areas."

November 25, 2007

The Daily Mirror has noted that "The postal services in Sri Lanka will come to a standstill when 19,000 postal workers launch an indefinite strike from 12 midnight today to press three demands, the General Secretary of Lanka Postal Workers Association, Rohana Fernando said. The strike would cripple the functioning of the Central Mail Exchange, Foreign Parcel and Mail Service, all Post Offices and Administrative Offices islandwide."

The Evening Standard has noted that "Chancellor Alistair Darling faced fresh criticism last night over his handling of the child-benefit data crisis - from the company he blamed for losing the two computer discs. Courier firm TNT, which Mr Darling named in his emergency statement to MPs last week, said that there was "no evidence" that it was responsible. And it has become clear that Royal Mail and private courier DX also operate postal services at HM Revenue & Customs, the Government department that lost the data."

Postal and logistical industry observer Alan Robinson has noted that "Economists are increasingly acknowledging that the economy has slowed considerably. The number that now forecast a recession in the near term has doubled. He noted some of the challenges to managing in this environment."

As the Canton Repository has noted, "For the 88 people who sort your mail, a proposal to send some of that work out of town, out of their hands, was a slap in the face. The U.S. Postal Service realizes that. “It’s emotional, a Canton pride thing,” said Bill Cullison, plant manager of the Canton district’s processing center on Cleveland Avenue NW, who supports the plan. “It’s not the workers. We have very good workers here.” So how do you rationalize a plan to move the sorting and canceling of the area’s first-class mail to Akron?"

November 24, 2007

According to Sustainable Industries, "Most carbon offsets allow individuals to buy credits toward counteracting the carbon emitted by their own direct actions. ShipGreen, an Arvada-based start-up, is tackling a new segment of the offset market: shipping. U.S. companies and organizations use nearly 7 million trucks and 20,000 Class 1 locomotives to transport over 9 billion tons of goods each year, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Ground freight accounts for 20 percent of all energy consumed in the transportation sector. Trucks carry about 66 percent of all freight shipped in the country, while rail carries about 16 percent. (Water, pipeline, and air transport account for the rest.) Together, truck and rail transport consume 35 billion gallons of diesel fuel each year, the EPA reports."

According to the Wall Street Journal, "Retailers are expected to have a mediocre shopping season, amid higher prices for food and gas, economic worries and toy recalls."

icPerthshire has reported that "a Royal Mail spokeswoman has commented on allegations that a Crieff postie had dumped up to 10,000 letters in one month. In an email to the Herald the spokeswoman stated: "I can confirm that a postman working at Crieff Delivery office has been suspended as part of an ongoing investigation into intentional delay of mail."

The Wall Street Journal has reported that "Commerzbank AG Chief Executive Klaus-Peter Müller said Friday the German bank is interested in Deutsche Postbank AG."

A rural carrier web site has an interesting feature on flat sequence sorting.

Today's TMJ4 has reported that "Claudia Marinkovich got a certified letter this week that shocked her. Her employer, The U.S. Postal Service, told her not to report to work on November 24th. Claudia is one of at least 20 workers in the Milwaukee Post Office who got the letters. All of them had requested light duty because of various disabilities. The letters say there is "no productive work available within your restrictions."

The Charleston Daily Mail has noted that "in May, the Postal Service launched its “shape-based” initiative, adding a surcharge for oddly shaped envelopes like squares. It will take Americans a while to get used to it. If mailed in a standard-sized, oblong envelope, a one-ounce letter costs just 41 cents. But mailing a non-standard envelope now costs $58. But contrary to what critics suggest, this shapism is not crazy. Standard envelopes can be sorted by machines. Non-standard envelopes require human intervention — a lot of it, and people are expensive....Bravo to the post office for cutting costs."

November 23, 2007

The Washington Post has reported that "despite the fabulous harvest and the boom in ethanol made from corn, corn farmers often sound beleaguered and aggrieved. Corn, they say, has been getting a bad rap. "You have to wear a flak jacket," said Bill Couser, who farms 5,000 acres here in central Iowa. "When we planted this crop, people said we were the villains of the world." The gist of the criticism: So much corn, doing so many things, serving as both food and fuel, and backed by billions of dollars in government subsidies, has been bad for America and the rest of the world. Environmentalists decry the impact on soil, waterways and wildlife of so much acreage planted in vast tracts of a thirsty, fertilizer-hungry plant. Corn, in the form of high-fructose corn syrup, is even accused of causing the national obesity epidemic. Recently Jean Ziegler, the United Nations expert on the "right to food," called the diversion of food crops to biofuels a "crime against humanity."  [Who'da thunk? Corn has become agriculture's "junk mail."]

The Daily Sentinel has claimed that "Postal, shipping services getting ready for onslaught." [Editor's Note: Given the economy, they'd better pray the "onslaught" comes.]

According to KGW-TV, "A federal jury has awarded a former postal worker $258,000 for emotional damage she said she suffered during years of verbal abuse by the Medford postmaster."

The Republic of Botswana has noted that "The Minister of Communications, Science and Technology Mrs Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi is expected to officially open a two-day National Postal Policy stakeholders consultative seminar in Gaborone. The purpose of the seminar is to solicit public views on the policy. The ministry says in a press release that the development of the event follows public concerns that the lack of a policy hampers service delivery and infrastructure development. Consequently, the draft policy will interrogate the need to define a structure for governments vision in terms of service provision in the postal sector. The seminar will be held under the theme: Postal Policy-Responding to challenges of postal services in the digital age."

As the Naperville Sun has noted, "By today's standards, it's decidedly low-tech. You can't download it onto your iPod or MP3 player. It doesn't have a plasma screen, nor is there anything high-definition about it. People don't trample each other the day after Thanksgiving to find one. But still, the simple pieces of folded paper known as holiday greeting cards fly off the shelves, especially this time of year. The U.S. Postal Service says 20 billion cards, letters and packages will be delivered between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Close to 2 billion holiday cards will go from one thoughtful person's mailbox to another, according to the Greeting Card Association. And even with the advent of free e-greetings, paper cards aren't going away anytime soon, the trade group says." See also Topix.

And then there's this from the 24-7 news release service: "A staggering 744 million Christmas cards were delivered by the Royal Mail in 2005. An estimated 1 billion Christmas cards (that's 17 per man, woman and child), weighing 20,000 tonnes will end up in the bin this Christmas. 200,000 trees will be cut down to make the Christmas cards and envelopes that we send each Christmas in the UK. Many of the Christmas cards could still be with us in 30 years time, there is evidence that landfill sites actually preserve paper instead of letting it naturally degrade, this is due to the lack of Oxygen underground which in turn stops the bacteria being able grow and feed off the waste. To help reduce this waste HOH Ltd is using the power of the internet to persuade companies to send an eCard this Christmas. An eCard is a Christmas card sent via email and has many advantages over a traditional paper card."

According to The Motley Fool, "Both FedEx and UPS have strong growth prospects, and an investment in either company's stock is likely to reward long-term investors. In the near term, however, UPS seems better-equipped to weather a sluggish economy, and less volatile in its share price than FedEx."

The Postalnews Blog has reported that an "Arbitrator has denied a rural ‘fletters’ grievance."

As The Statesman has noted, "Costa Rica doesn't have a standardized system of addresses — at least not ones that can be typed into MapQuest. Many streets aren't named, and virtually none has a sign. Many houses don't have numbers. Only a few pockets of the country use anything close to the "123 Main St." format that Americans would recognize. Instead, most Costa Rican addresses are expressed in relation to the closest community landmark. In colonial times, that was the church or town hall. Today, it could be a fast-food joint or car dealership." [Editor's Note: Sort of "Don't deliver to you. Don't deliver to me. Deliver to the man behind the tree." Try putting THAT in an intelligent bar code.]

The Norman Transcript has reported that "The U.S. Postal Service formally opened its third training center on the campus of the National Center for Employee Development on State Highway 9 in east Norman this past week. NCED Manager Scott P. Morgan led dignitaries in cutting the ribbon on the 128,000-square-foot Northeast Learning Center. It will accommodate massive flat-mail processing equipment that is too large for NCED’s existing training buildings. There are dozens of the machines placed around the country in mail processing centers and employees will come to Norman to train on operation and maintenance."

The San Francisco Chronicle has reported that "A check by the Washington Post of 60 people whose names were attached to identical, anti-merger e-mails instigated by the National Association of Broadcasters, a major opponent of the merger, produced mostly unanswered phone calls and recordings saying the phones were disconnected. Of the 10 people reached, nine said they never sent anything to the FCC. The responses raise questions debated a lot in Congress and at federal agencies lately: Are the hundreds of millions of narrow-interest e-mails that deluge official Washington each year a useful measure of public sentiment? Are they even being sent by real people? Congress is also wary of the trend. A poll of 350 congressional staffers conducted by the Congressional Management Institute in 2005 indicated that half of them did not believe that form-letter messages were sent with the knowledge or approval of constituents. Yet the volume of e-mail has skyrocketed. House and Senate offices received 318 million electronic messages last year, up from 200 million e-mails and postal letters in 2004."

ITWire claims that "A new message has arrived saying “it’s time” to consider electoral voting via SMS, thanks to mobile phones, SMS text messaging and voting by SMS for TV show contestants an everyday reality for years now."

The Philippine Information Agency has noted that "In its efforts to give more satisfactory and improved quality of postal services to its constituents, the Philippine Postal Corporation (PhilPost), Region 8 through the leadership of Regional Director Fabiolita P. Ferraris recently introduced the premium services of Priority and Express (PREX) mails which has been proven to be faster, safer and more reliable mail service delivery."

The Toronto Sun has reported that "Posties in several parts of Canada are increasingly being told where to stuff junk mail they are now forced to deliver -- even knowing a person no longer lives at an address. And a consumer group says Canada Post's motive for not letting carriers divert wrongly addressed admail to a shredder, mark it "return to sender" or deliver to a new address is keeping businesses happy. Canada Post vows to stop delivery of unaddressed admail sent to "occupant" or left blank, if a note is put on a mailbox and the occupant signs a subsequent release form delivered by a carrier."

Steve Barr of the Washington Post has noted that "Anthony J. Vegliante, chief human resources officer and executive vice president of the U.S. Postal Service, will be the guest on IBM's "Business of Government Hour" at 9 a.m. Saturday on WJFK radio (106.7 FM)."

November 22, 2007

As courier-transport-postal industry expert Alan Robinson has noted, "The funding of pensions is an important issue for both United Parcel Service and DHL in the United States market. Both carriers participate in Teamster multiemployer plans. While UPS will be withdrawing from Central States plan before the end of the year, it still a contributor to twenty other multiemployer plans and offers a single employer pension plan to its part-time employees and some non-union employees. Now that the true risk associated with these investments are becoming known, questions are being raised about whether any of the parties that were involved in decisions to invest in structured debt failed in their responsibilities and should be held financially accountable for losses that pension funds have incurred."

According to PC Magazine's John Dvorak, "One thing is certain: Web users don't want to pay for anything, ever. Sadly, the only way that equation works is with advertising. I have nothing against advertising, except when you cannot turn around without being confronted by it. We are inundated. An hour-long television show is 20 minutes of advertising and 40 minutes of content. In other words, 1 minute of advertising for every 2 minutes of content. This excess is obvious when you flip through the networks looking for something to watch and get 15 minutes of nothing but advertising. Here's a humorous idea: Why not have 2 minutes of content followed by a 1-minute ad break, then 2 minutes of content, then an ad . . . on and on all night? This is similar to the way radio stations break for ads constantly. The public does not like all these TV ads and will watch PBS to avoid them."

The Newark Star Ledger has reported that "Changes in the U.S. Postal Service's long-running Operation Santa charity, in which the mail workers and volunteers bought gifts to answer needy children's letters to Santa, have led to anger and disappointment among volunteers. In the past, the Newark Post Office did everything it could to make it easy for private volunteers to contribute. People could come to the post office and pick up a letter from a child or call and a letter would be sent to them. This year, however, donors must come in person to the Newark Post Office. They must sign an Operation Santa Letter Adoption contract holding the U.S. Postal Service blameless "against any and all causes of action, claims, liens, rights or interests of any kind or type whatsoever ..." and show photo ID. No longer will the post office wrap and deliver the gifts for free. The decision to end free delivery was made locally based on input from the law department in Washington, said USPS spokesman George Flood, adding there is no chance the agency will change its policy."

Reuters has reported that ""While UPS and FedEx are not immune to an economic slowdown, they should continue to perform well thanks in part to online sales."

According to Canadian Postal Workers Union president Deborah Bourque, "Large international corporations have been salivating at the thought of carving up the public postal pie for years. An obscure bill called C-14 may give them their first slice. If passed, this bill will hand international mailers a carving knife called deregulation."

According to the News & Observer, "FedEx, UPS and the Postal Service have all increased prices to help counter the higher fuel costs they are paying. For years, UPS and FedEx have added a surcharge based on the price of diesel and jet fuel which can make shipping costs fluctuate. With crude oil prices hitting record highs, the recent movement in shipping prices has been up -- way up."

Caboodle.hu has reported that "The Competition Office (GVH) has penalised the state-owned postal service Magyar Posta and regional periodical distributor Lapker Ft 468 million apiece, after it proved that the two companies had agreed not to enter each other's markets."

As the Prague Post has noted, "Traditional postal service providers are experiencing challenging times. The golden age of mail is gone, killed by the advent of electronic communications, while postal operators in the Czech Republic and abroad are pushing to discover new rationales for their existence."

AMEInfo has reported that "Emirates Post showcased its advanced POS system and other IT solutions at Post Tech, a major international event on postal technology, held in Jeddah recently."

Trading Markets has reported that "SingPost said last month it will continue to grow its core businesses of mail and logistics locally, and extend its regional reach."

The Times-News has reported that "To glimpse how migration is changing the world, consider Western Union, a fixture of American lore that went bankrupt selling telegrams at the dawn of the Internet age but now earns nearly $1 billion a year helping poor migrants across the globe send money home."

Transport Intelligence has reported that "Global express and mail operator TNT has become embroiled in a political storm in the UK following the loss of two computer disks containing the contact and bank details of 25 million taxpayers in that country."

According to Precision Marketing, "The Communications Workers Union has refused to get involved in the so-called ‘data-gate’, claiming that, as the union has members in all the postal operating companies, it cannot comment."

Reuters has noted that "Prime Minister Gordon Brown apologised on Wednesday for the tax authority losing the personal details of nearly half the population in an error which has dealt a new blow to his government. The government says there is no evidence the discs, which disappeared after being sent via Dutch postal and parcel company TNT NV, have fallen into criminal hands."

MarketingWeek has reported that "Fedex Express has launched a global advertising campaign to highlight how the delivery company helps customers to access market opportunities. It breaks today (November 21) across the UK, France, Germany and India."

November 21, 2007

Engadget has opined that "It looks like the United States Postal Service is considering all its options for how it handles mail in the future, with it even go so far as to commission a GPS tracking system from TrackingTheWorld Inc."

The Washington Post has shared the kind of news no one in business likes to hear: "Leaders of the Federal Reserve expect the U.S. economy to slow in 2008 and believe there are higher-than-usual risks that the economy will perform worse than they forecast." [Not a good harbinger of near-term mail volume growth.]

Reuters has noted that "Online advertising spending at U.S. newspapers rose 21 percent in the third quarter but failed to offset a print ad spending decline."

CEP News (Courier-Express-Postal), published by the MRU Consultancy, has reported that:

The Spanish post Correos has come out on top in its dispute with the Belgian company International Mail Spain. On Thursday, the European Court of Justice pronounced the decision that the member states of the EU are permitted to reserve crossborder postal services for the operator(s) of the universal services, as far as this is necessary in order to guarantee the functioning of the universal service under a financial equilibrium.
The union of new mail and delivery services (Gewerkschaft der Neuen Briefund Zustelldienste - GNBZ) has piped up with its own suggestion in the dispute around the introduction of a minimum wage in the German postal industry. According to the union’s vision, the minimum wage must be adjusted to different regions and their existing economic power. Therefore, employers in regions with already high profitability because of the economic power, should pay a higher minimum wage.
The Italian antitrust authority has announced that Poste Italiane has offered commitments to settle an investigation into possible abuse of its dominant market position.
The negotiating teams of Schweizerische Post and the unions Kommunikation and Transfair have agreed on a new wage contract. The company disclosed (16.11) that employees would receive a 2.2 per cent pay rise next year. Additionally, because of the company’s anticipated good results in 2007, workers will get a one-off payment of 500 francs as well as an additional performance-related remuneration, which amounts to an average of 1.0 per cent of the wage bill.
During an interview, Pál Szabó, chairman of the executive board of Hungary’s Magyar Posta, has emphasised the need for a "sustainable financing solution to the universal service".
The loss of about one third of the current parcel volume could mean the elimination of up to 700 jobs in the parcel sector of Österreichische Post, »Wiener Zeitung« reported.
Hungary is becoming an increasingly important location for the major CEP operators.
FedEx has reinforced its European network with a further air freight connection.
Australia Post delivered 96 per cent of letters on time in the period July to September.
The postage for letters up to 1,000 grams and postcards sent within Germany will remain stable next year.
The number of complaints to the Belgian La Poste’s ombudsman has risen by 15 per cent in the last year.
The Dominican Republic’s post, Instituto Postal Dominicano (Inposdom), plans to modernise its parcel service.
The Malawi Postal Cooperation (MPC) has introduced a new system for fast cash transfers.

The MRU, founded in 1992, is the only consultancy in Europe, which has specialised in the market of courier-, express- and parcel services. For large-scale shippers and CEP-services in particular, the MRU provides interdisciplinary advice for all major questions of the market, as there are for example market entry, product design, organisation, and EDP.To learn more about the stories reported above, contact CEP News. (We appreciate the courtesy extended by CEP News to help whet your appetite for more of what CEP offers.)

Bloomberg has reported that "United Parcel Service Inc. workers represented by the Teamsters approved a five-year contract with annual wage and benefit increases of about 4.1 percent."

From Business Wire: "DHL, the world’s leading express delivery and logistics company, is ramping up its facilities and workforce across the country and around the world in anticipation of the high volume of packages moving through its global network during peak season – the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas."

November 20, 2007

The Postal Regulatory Commission now has on its website a link to a chart detailing the monthly changes of the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) issued by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). When monthly figures are released by BLS, the Commission will post the price cap for market dominant products determined by the established average method. This price cap represents the annual price cap for market dominant products available to the Postal Service until the release of the next month's CPI-U figure. You'll find the link on the right hand side of the entry page at www.prc.gov, but be sure to note that you'll need to visit the site to get a live up-to-date link.

For those who are interested, you also can find links to "A New System of Ratemaking. RM2007-1: New Order Establishing Ratemaking Regulations for Market Dominant and Competitive Products" The documents there include: (1) Final Rules, (2) Review Filed Documents, (3)Transcript of USPS-PRC Joint Summit on Ratemaking and the (4) Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act.
 
 
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Air Cargo World has reported that "French postal workers are threatening strike action if the planned sale of La Poste’s domestic airfreight business to Air Contractors goes ahead."

The Chicago Tribune has noted that "An independent survey of Chicago mail-delivery performance has found that 94 percent of first-class mail sent from July through September was delivered on time."

Florida Today has reported that "Some annual gift-fruit consumers may have noticed fewer catalogs in their mail this year and more solicitations over the Internet. Chalk it up to gift fruit shippers being squeezed by higher bulk-mailing rates. New regulations, which lowered rates for some bulk mailers, made it more costly for others."

Reuters has reported that "French teachers, postal workers and other civil servants began a one-day strike on Tuesday, joining forces with protesting transport workers to challenge President Nicolas Sarkozy's plans to reform the economy. The nationwide protests over issues ranging from pension reform to the cost of living disrupted schools, trains, postal services and airports."

November 19, 2007

NonProfit Times has reported that "Charities dodged another massive postal rate increase that, if comparable to the in some cases 400-percent increase the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) implemented just seven months earlier, could have sent charities into yet another frenzy from skyrocketing costs."

According to Royal Mail, "shoppers who browse a catalogue before making purchases online spend on average 25 per cent more than those who do not. Royal Mail’s Home Shopping Tracker Study 2007 revealed that on average online shoppers spend £1,221 every year. But this figure jumps to £1,526 for online shoppers who consult catalogues before making an internet purchase."

Forbes has reported that "The head of Germany's services union Frank Bsirske said his union is against renegotiating a wage agreement with a group of postal services companies dominated by Deutsche Post AG."

According to Financial Week, "Budgeting for corporate shipping costs in 2008 is going to be tricky, given that rising crude oil prices have resulted in record to near-record prices for both gas and diesel in the past few weeks—increases that are being passed on to customers by trucking and package delivery firms in higher rates or surcharges. But truckload shipping rates could be flat or only slightly higher through mid-year 2008 as load volumes drop amid slowdowns in housing and other industries and competition for the remaining business gives shippers the upper hand in negotiating rates."

The New York Times has reported that "Consumers who curse the growing stacks of holiday catalogs in their mailboxes have a new alternative: a coalition of environmental groups has introduced a free Web site, CatalogChoice.org, that allows people to remove themselves from more than 1,000 mailing lists. Since it opened for business on Oct. 9, Catalog Choice has helped more than 165,000 people opt out of almost 1.7 million catalogs, the groups say....About 16 companies, including L. L. Bean, Lands’ End and Lillian Vernon, have signed up as official merchant partners of Catalog Choice. In exchange for working with the coalition, the merchants are being rewarded with links from the Catalog Choice site to their Web sites."

The BBC has reported that "Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has suggested an end to the trading of oil in US dollars, calling the currency "a worthless piece of paper".  [PostCom to President Ahmadinejad: We're willing to take off your hands whatever "worthless pieces of paper" you might have lying around.]

November 18, 2007

From WebWire: "DHL, the world’s leading express delivery and logistics company, has introduced the express delivery industry’s first prepaid, all-inclusive flat-rate box, designed to minimize time, paperwork, and expense for U.S. shipping customers."

According to The Herald, "Royal Mail is planning to create a network of part-time post offices across rural Scotland, leading campaigners to suspect it is plotting a new wave of closures by stealth. The company, which has already announced swingeing cuts in its counter business, has signalled 500 UK post offices could be replaced by part-time or even mobile "outreach" services."

As the Billings Gazette has noted, "Mail is a big deal in remote area."

Reuters has reported that "French postal and telecoms unions said on Sunday they would join a planned public sector protest on Tuesday."

November 17, 2007

The Financial Times has reported that "Investor worries about a US economic slowdown deepened on Friday after reports that industrial production had dropped unexpectedly and FedEx, a bellwether of economic activity, issued its second profit warning in two months. Weak industrial figures for October and meagre demand for freight on the part of FedEx customers raised fears that global economic growth and the weak dollar would not be enough to offset plunging house prices and waning US consumer confidence."

According to Forbes, "Economic headwinds are taking their toll on FedEx." See also the Financial Times.

The American Postal Workers Union has told its members that it "won a significant victory on Nov. 15, when Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA) introduced legislation that would require the Postal Service to bargain with postal unions before making a commitment to significant subcontracting. H.R. 4236 would require the USPS to submit to arbitration if management and the affected unions were unable to reach agreement. The APWU has been strenuously advocating such legislation for several months."

According to CTV, "Canadians empowered by a strong dollar and faced with long lines at border crossings have turned to the Internet as a way to do their holiday shopping in the United States. But a consumers' agency said this week that online shoppers are already facing a "bottleneck" that will only make delays longer as the Christmas season approaches. Canada Post reported seeing cross-border parcel traffic increase 15 per cent in October compared to the same month last year, and noted a similar jump in September."

The Peninsula has reported that "The GCC states have plans to set up a single regional postal agency to handle express mail deliveries. Plans are also afoot to jointly order procurements of postal equipment."
 
 
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November 16, 2007

The latest copy of the National Association of Postmasters of the U.S. electronic governmental affairs newsletter is available on the NAPUS web site.

MENA-FN has reported that "The Saudi Postal Incorporation signed two memoranda of understanding on postal money services with Egyptian and Yemeni counterparts in the two-day 1st International Postal Information Technology Conference that ended yesterday. Universal Postal Union Director General Edouard Dayan emphasized the importance of postal companies to compete in money transfer services with global banks, noting that postal services should be a facilitator of E-commerce, citing the role of postal companies in Amazon.com's global success. Cathy Rogerson, director of IBM, pointed out that the future of postal services whether in the Kingdom or worldwide would depend heavily on the transformation of postal companies into diversified businesses."

According to Columbus Business First, "ABX Air Inc. and its largest customer, DHL, said Friday they will arbitrate an ongoing payment dispute."

Hemscott has reported that "Italy's antitrust authority said Poste Italiane SpA has offered commitments to settle an investigation into possible abuse of its dominant market position in liberalised postal services."

Prensa Latina has reported that "France and Russia have taken new steps to strengthen bilateral relations in all fields, especially in economic, commercial and financial cooperation. The two prime ministers signed several agreements, including an accord on exchange and electronic postal transfers between the two countries' post offices."

Air Cargo World has reported that "With the legal ramifications of an international cargo pricing probe still coursing through the airline industry, authorities in Europe and the United States are pressing new investigations into whether some of the world's largest forwarders fixed fuel surcharges and other prices."

Business Week has reported that "FedEx Corp. cut its earnings expectations for the fiscal second quarter and full year, citing soaring fuel costs and a troubled U.S. freight market." See also the Financial Times.

A copy of the November 16, 2007 issue of the National Association of Postal Supervisors Legislative Update has been posted on this site.

The Association for Postal Commerce has shared with the U.S. Postal Service its views concerning the USPS' proposed mail service performance standards.

The Wall Street Journal has reported that "On top of their usual blitz of holiday ads in newspapers, on TV and on the Web, a variety of retailers are testing a new marketing medium this year: the mobile phone. Companies have begun using mobile phones to market everything from electronics to cars to apparel and footwear. [Holy crow! And the goodie two-shoes of the carbon footprint world complain about the intrusiveness of mail? Gimme a break! Advertising comes in the mail, but mail comes for free (actually sender-paid). When retailers start paying my Blackberry phone bills, then I MIGHT be willing to talk about receiving ads on my phone.]

As the Washington Post has noted, "Rupert Murdoch's announcement this week that he expects to stop charging for access to the Wall Street Journal's Web site is the latest example of a publisher giving up on the subscription-based business model -- a significant shift in the evolution of online content. The shift toward free, ad-supported sites should prove to be more lucrative, said Murdoch." [Whaaaat? Free and AD-supported??? Sounds like the mail. Quick! Call Oprah! Call Matt Damon! Call Greendimes! Heaven forfend! Free?And supported by ads??]

According to The Guardian, "The Universal Service Obligation (USO) is a bogeyman that haunts Royal Mail, for it requires the organisation to deliver mail to every UK address every working day. An expensive bore, this, for an organisation that is trying to make money."

As the Wall Street Journal noted, "The U.S. Postal Service, embracing overhauls mandated by Congress last year, said it will file its next rate increase under a new pricing system that holds most increases in mail rates at or below inflation. The move, announced by the Postal Service Board of Governors, is a key step in revamping and modernizing U.S. mail service in the age of the Internet. The Postal Regulatory Commission, which reviews postal rates, seemed to pave the way for the decision by finalizing its regulations last month, eight months ahead of a timetable called for in last year's postal legislation."

According to Hemscott, "The French government will decide in the next few weeks whether to allow Banque Postale, a unit of the French postal service La Poste, to compete with commercial banks in offering consumer loans."

Forbes has reported that "Vittorio Mincato, chairman of the Italian post office Poste Italiane SpA, said the group is ready to list on the stock exchange its banking unit Bancoposta by the end of next year. He added that he does not believe that the Poste Italiane can be privatised until postal services are liberalised in 2010."

According to Multichannel Merchant, "Catalogers can breathe a sigh of relief: It’s official that postal rate increases will follow the Postal Reform bill passed 11 months ago. The U.S. Postal Service’s Board of Governors announced Thursday that future price increases will be tied to the Consumer Price Index (CPI), or rate of inflation, for mailing services that include First Class, Standard Mail, and periodicals."

The Chronicle of Philanthropy has reported that "The U.S. Postal Service today announced that postage costs for nonprofit and other mailers will be set using a new approach pegged to inflation. Organizations that represent charities welcomed the news."

Postal Podcast Number 19
Join PostCom President Gene Del Polito, Kate Muth, PostCom Vice President, and Kathy Siviter, President & CEO of Postal Consulting Services in a discussion of some of the information that came out of the most recent MTAC meeting concerning
the new postal ratemaking rules.

CNN Money has reported that "Package delivery powerhouses United Parcel Service Inc. and FedEx Corp. have both suggested they are well on their way to setting volume records this holiday season, while trucking companies are suffering through one of the weakest holiday peaks this decade. UPS and FedEx experience their busiest day of the year the week before Christmas, as shoppers rush for last-minute gifts. The seasonal peak for trucking companies, meanwhile, is concentrated in October and November. UPS said earlier this week it expects to deliver 22 million packages on Dec. 19 -- its busiest day of the year. The projection is about 5 percent higher than the 21 million packages shipped on the peak day last year. Excluding a partnership with the U.S. Postal Service, FedEx expects to haul 10.4 million packages through express and ground service on Dec. 17 -- the last day of FedEx Ground shipments for Christmas. This is a 6 percent increase over 9.8 million shipped on last year's busiest day."

According to the Associated Press, "Pitney Bowes Inc. is beginning the final leg on its race to all-digital and computer-networked equipment. The Stamford-based mail and document-managing company announced Thursday it will take a charge of between $300 million and $400 million to write off inventory and leases of equipment that is discontinued. And it will cut 1,500 jobs, about 4 percent of its work force, as it outsources manufacturing work and streamlines management. Pitney Bowes, which began its shift to digital mailing technology in 2002, is reacting as much to changes in the U.S. Postal Service on which its business relies as to technological advances such as Internet mail tracking, Web-based postage sales and computer networks."

You can find a copy of the Postal Service's Chief Financial Officer's report on end of year FY2007 performance posted on this site.

The following reports have been posted on the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General website (http://www.uspsoig.gov/) today. If you have additional questions concerning the report, please contact Agapi Doulaveris at 703.248.2286.

November 15, 2007
 

Postal Podcast Number 18
Join PostCom President Gene Del Polito, Kate Muth, PostCom Vice President, and Kathy Siviter, President & CEO of Postal Consulting Services in a discussion of some of the information that came out of the most recent MTAC meeting concerning flat sequence sorting.

From PR Newswire: "The Smithsonian Institution will continue to showcase the history of the nation's mail service for at least the next 10 years under the terms of a renewed agreement with the United States Postal Service to operate the National Postal Museum. The new agreement, ratified Nov. 1, extends the Smithsonian's current stewardship of the museum in the historic City Post Office Building in downtown Washington, DC, for the next 10 years, with options for both parties to extend the agreement for two consecutive five-year periods beyond that."

As the New York Times has noted, "IT sometimes seems that everything is being digitized, particularly in businesses like media and marketing. But there are still a few things that cannot be reduced to electronic pulses and sent around the world instantly: The taste of chocolate, for example, or the smell of perfume or the human touch. Now the Royal Mail, the British postal service, which has been hit hard by the effects of the Internet, is trying to stimulate business by appealing to the senses. A new initiative, aimed at marketers who use the mail to reach potential consumers, encourages them to incorporate a scent, taste or sound in their snail mailings. Just as consumers are sending fewer letters, businesses, too, are relying less on physical mail to communicate and generate sales. The quantity of direct mail in Britain has fallen 12 percent over three years, according to the Direct Marketing Association, a trade group."

James C. Miller III, Chairman of the U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors, announced at the Board's open meeting that the Postal Service will be seeking new rates in the coming year, and will do so under the new postal rules recently promulgated by the Postal Regulatory Commission. [Editor's Note: Old style cost of service rate cases are "dead." Long live the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act.] See also the Postal Service's new release.


Postal Podcast Number 17
Join PostCom President Gene Del Polito, Kate Muth, PostCom Vice President, and Kathy Siviter, President & CEO of Postal Consulting Services in a discussion of some of the information that came out of the most recent MTAC meeting concerning
the intelligent mail barcode and electronic documentation.

The Wall Street Journal has noted that "Of the seven billion greeting cards Americans buy each year, squares are a minority. At the giants, Hallmark Cards Inc. and American Greetings Corp., they occupy a remote corner of the business. But small companies that rely on them, like Mr. Friedman's, feel they're victims of postal shapism. It's bad enough when grandma's birthday card comes back stamped "postage due." It's worse when grandma herself has to pay the extra 17 cents. Afraid of deflating card-customer cheeriness, some card shops are chucking their squares into the circular file."

EurActiv has reported that "As rules on liberalising Europe's postal markets look to be adopted in the New Year, Pál Szabó, CEO of Hungary's Magyar Posta, points to a number of "bad experiences" in countries that have already opened up their postal markets to competition and stresses the need for a "sustainable financing solution" to allow operators to continue providing citizens with quality mail delivery."

Businesses and consumers will soon be able to ship to the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) and the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) at U.S. domestic prices. The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) will reinstate ZIP Codes and domestic-rate services for nearly 170,000 people in these two Pacific Island nations effective Nov. 19, 2007.

The Times has reported that "One of Royal Mail’s biggest rivals is to petition the Government to break up the state-owned postal group, in an escalation of pressure for change from its competitors. Business Post made the call as sales at its mail division, which competes with Royal Mail, rose 59 per cent. The company argues that last month’s Royal Mail strikes have made more people aware that there is a competitive postal market."

The Daily Nation has reported that "The number of post offices offering electricity bill payment services around the country were on Wednesday increased from 40 to 200. This followed an agreement between the Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC) and Postal Corporation of Kenya (Posta)."

InformationWeek has noted that "In one of the largest government mobile-device rollouts ever, AT&T is deploying 5,400 BlackBerry devices, equipped with specialized mobile applications, to United States Postal Service employees. The BlackBerry 8800 and 8820 models will go out to executives, IT staff, and high-level managers in the 800,000-person organization, replacing older devices that the USPS first purchased in 2001."

November 14, 2007
 

Postal Podcast Number 16
Join PostCom President Gene Del Polito, Kate Muth, PostCom Vice President, and Kathy Siviter, President & CEO of Postal Consulting Services in a discussion of some of the information that came out of the most recent MTAC meeting concerning service performance measurement.

[PostCom logo  

PostCom welcomes its newest member: Earth Class Mail Corporation 14525 SW Millikan Way, Suite 101 Beaverton, OR 97005-2343 represented by Cameron Powell V.P. of Business Development

According to eKeymailer.com, "The OIG report on CD-DVD mailers looks at just the return portion of the disk rental process. Using their own cost differential between automated and manual processing, the OIG says over the last two years the Postal Service has spent more than $40 million in additional costs processing the return portion of one company's mail pieces. The reason for the increased processing costs is due to the non-machinable characteristics of their mail piece design....The OIG says that this could be viewed as Postal favoritism....This seems like more than favoritism. It sounds more like malfeasance or even corruption."

The USPS Office of the Inspector General has released "Audit Report – Review of Postal Service First-Class Permit Reply Mail (Report Number MS-AR-08-001)." This report presents the results of our self-initiated audit of the U.S. Postal Service First- Class Permit Reply Mail (PRM) (Project Number 06YG041MS000). We initiated this audit based on concerns raised regarding potential preferential treatment given to a large digital versatile disc (DVD) mailer. While the OIG found faults and made recommendations, it reported that postal management thus far has been "nonresponsive."

CEP News (Courier-Express-Postal), published by the MRU Consultancy, has reported that:

Royal Mail will not get rid of its pension deficit so quickly. Its 17-year plan to clear the deficit with yearly payments of 260m pounds, equivalent to almost 367.9m euros, does not add up, according to pensions consultant John Ralfe.
Customers could initially be faced with an increase in postage rates following the liberalisation of the Dutch postal market.
Österreichische Post AG has reported rising turnovers and profits for the first three quarters of the current financial year.
Should the liberalisation on the postal market in Switzerland be pressed ahead with further, the concept of a nationwide universal service provision would have to be redefined.
The capital market programme announced by Deutsche Post was eagerly anticipated last Thursday. The "Roadmap to Value" is intended to have a positive influence on the development of the post’s stock, said CFO John Allan.
The dispute over the liberalisation of the Spanish postal market continues.
The Canadian government is apparently considering stripping Canada Post of its monopoly on international mail.
The Swedish Posten AB has settled a dispute with its licensed dealers in a timely manner. A good week ago, the post was still threatening its appointed dealers with consequences, should they serve as receiving and issuing points for DHL. Posten referred to an existing exclusivity clause, which forbids cooperation with rival businesses.
In the future, TNT will forward India-bound express consignments for Hong Kong Post.
Deutsche Post AG is apparently searching for a partner for its loss-making US express business. After admitting that it would not manage a profit turnaround by the end of 2009, the group is apparently considering working together with a partner company, »Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung« writes. A closer cooperation with the US post or a private partner company would be possible, the paper claims.

The MRU, founded in 1992, is the only consultancy in Europe, which has specialised in the market of courier-, express- and parcel services. For large-scale shippers and CEP-services in particular, the MRU provides interdisciplinary advice for all major questions of the market, as there are for example market entry, product design, organisation, and EDP.To learn more about the stories reported above, contact CEP News. (We appreciate the courtesy extended by CEP News to help whet your appetite for more of what CEP offers.)

Stars and Stripes has reported that "Just in time for the holiday rush, the staff at Yokota’s post office have a new tool to help them sort and track incoming packages. The A2B system enables postal workers to reduce the time they spend processing packages and filling out customer notification slips."

From PR Newswire: "GrayHair Software announced today the addition of Raymond Chin as Vice President, Product Development and Management. Mr. Chin is a globally recognized innovator and expert in software development for postal and USPS-related applications, specifically address-related CASS implementation."

The Irish Independent has reported that "the familiar face of the daily postman arriving like clockwork is set to change over the coming weeks. Changes in the An Post delivery system mean homeowners could be losing their familiar postman who arrives at the same time every day. The post office is overhauling the way in which it delivers the post and has redesigned routes for greater efficiency. A spokeswoman for An Post said the delivery overhaul may result in people getting a different postman and their deliveries arriving at a different time in the day."

EasyBourse has reported that "China said Wednesday it is returning all letters and parcels stamped with a "Taiwan enters the United Nations" postmark, arguing the message advocates independence of the island territory. "Recently Taiwan authorities have urged Taiwan's post company to stamp letters with the postmark 'Taiwan enters the United Nations' in Chinese and English," said Fan Liqing, spokeswoman for China's Taiwan Affairs Office. "This is brazenly using the postal service to engage in propaganda advocating Taiwan independence." Mainland post offices have been ordered to return all mail with such postmarks back to Taiwan, she said."

China Economic Net has reported that "China's express delivery industry has made considerable progress after 20 years of development since it was initiated in 1987. Statistics show there has been 2,422 legal enterprises engaged in express delivery service, with 227,000 employees by the end of 2006; a total of 1.06 billion pieces have been sent via express delivery, generating a total of revenue of RMB30 billion, which are 693 times and 375 times respectively the figures in 1987."

According to Forbes, "Deutsche Post World Net AG has given up on its plans to introduce industry-wide minimum wages after German coalition parties conservatives CDU/CSU and Social Democrats SPD failed to agree on it."

The Daily Express has reported that "a proud father sent a parcel of home comforts to his soldier son on the front line in Afghanistan – but the Royal Mail rejected it because it was a tiny fraction too heavy."

The Muslim News has reported that "Sweden's largest direct marketing company has joined the national postal service in refusing to distribute a political newspaper containing a caricature of the Muslim prophet Muhammad. Earlier this week Posten decided not to distribute SD-Kuriren - a newspaper produced by the far-right Sweden Democrats - in Svedala in southern Sweden. As the newspaper contained a reproduction of Lars Vilks's controversial illustration of Muhammad as a dog, the postal service said that to distribute the publication would constitute a security risk."

The Associated Press has reported that "A postal worker in Chicago was shot in the leg late Tuesday after a resident along his postal route allegedly became angry that he was delivering the mail too late."

Transport Intelligence has reported that "UK mail, parcel and pallet carrier Business Post has reported like-for-like revenue growth of 15% and a pre-tax profit (before exceptionals) up 50% for the six months to September 30, 2007, despite the loss of a Federal Express contract which ceased in April 2007." See also Logistics Manager.

From Market Wire: "SteelCloud, Inc., a manufacturer of embedded integrated computing systems, announced today it successfully completed the October 2007 delivery of more than 1,600 ruggedized systems as part of its approximately $8 million contract with the United States Postal Service. The U.S. Postal Service Flats Recognition Improvement Program (FRIP) required SteelCloud to design, manufacture and ship embedded integrated computing systems that incorporate upgraded processing capability as well as active cooling and filtration techniques into the chassis in order to cope with significant industrial environment intrusion such as mail nap, paper dust and heat. In addition, the SteelCloud specialized servers were designed to withstand shock and vibration normally found in industrial automation applications."

According to Air Cargo World, "With express shipment rate discounts running deep, there's another competitor tapping the stream - the U.S. Postal Service. Under new postal regulations released Oct. 29, the USPS will be able for the first time to discount rates for high volume shippers and negotiate special contract terms. The final rules, released by the Postal Regulatory Commission Oct. 29, also treat Priority Mail and Express Mail as "competitive" products, which means they are exempt from price caps placed on "market dominant" products. The final rule - issued eight months before a statutory deadline - implements the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006."

November 13, 2007

Wiener Zeitung has reported that "Around 700 postal workers look set to lose their jobs following a decision to liberalise the Post’s package distribution services. Last week Austria Post lost around a third of its business in package handling when mail order firms like Otto and Quelle anounced their intention to change over to private distributors. The loss in income was estimated at around 20 million euro. Post management will meet with the worker’s council and unions on Thursday to negotiate a redundancy agreement for the affected workers."

The Financial Times has asked: "Royal Mail and the Communication Workers Union have just agreed a package of changes to pay, working practices and pensions to end industrial action. Is the agreed deal enough?"

Reuters has reported that:

According to Hemscott, "German government parties conservatives CDU/CSU and Social Democrats SPD last night failed to agree on the introduction of minimum wages for postal workers."

Forbes has noted that "Oesterreichische Post AG said it has raised its planned 2007 dividend and full-year EBIT growth projections on solid nine-month results that came in slightly above analyst forecasts. The company said it expects the mail market to remain stable for the remainder of 2007 despite increasing competition in its business environment. It anticipates constant organic growth in the current business year, with additional growth driven by the integration of new subsidiaries."

BtoB has reported that "Despite some soft spots in the U.S. economy, direct marketing is expected to grow next year in spending, sales, return on investment and even employment. That's the conclusion of the Direct Marketing Association's "The Power of Direct Marketing" report, which looks at the current state of direct marketing and what lies ahead. "Commercial e-mail and Internet marketing are clearly outstripping the other media channels, and part of it is the postal rate increase this year had a significant effect on the ROI in direct mail," said Peter A. Johnson, VP-research strategy and platforms at the DMA and author of the report."

Exchange4media has reported that "The Association of Indian Magazines (AIM), which represents the Indian magazine industry, has sent a pre-budget memorandum to Finance Minister P Chidambaram. The Association has requested for introduction of special rate for postal transmission of magazines."

November 12, 2007

eKC Online has noted that "There is an increasing possibility that your U.S. mail will be delivered by a private contractor or subcontractor, and career letter carriers don’t like it. With mail delivery contracted out, the letter carrier said, Al-Qaeda could use a front person to become a mail delivery contractor, which would give the terrorists the opportunity to distribute weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) anywhere they wanted." [What a crock. This sort of stuff is over the top.]

  The DM Bulletin has reported that "Rosemary Smith, chairwoman of the Direct Marketing Association (UK), has called for the placing of a 'recycle' logo on direct mail packs to be part of the DMA's Code of Practice."

VNUNet has reported that "VARs are feeling the bite of the postal strike as the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) warns further strikes could force small companies out of business. The strike in October is believed to have cost the London economy alone more than £300m after several thousand postal workers took part in the dispute, causing a backlog of 12 million letters and parcels in UK sorting offices. Simon Briault, representative for the FSB, said: “It is not just about sending a few letters or parcels, it is about the whole economy. Research conducted by the FSB found that 94 per cent of SMEs use Royal Mail exclusively and 89 per cent of them use the company every day. “SMEs do not really have an alternative to Royal Mail."

Infoworld has reported that "Embracing technology to help monitor and improve its delivery service, Correos launched Q-RFID, a quality-control system that taps 13,000 passive RFID labels, 2,300 antennas, and more than 331 readers at the post office's 16 APCs (Automated Processing Centres)."

Ireland has one of the slowest postal services in Europe, with standard letters taking up to four days toarrive, Irish Examiner research reveals.

Cargonews Asia has reported that "TNT, one of the world's largest express delivery service providers headquartered in the Netherlands, has signed a strategic partnership agreement to provide express services in India with Hongkong Post, the postal service provider in Hong Kong. The companies are also likely to tap into the emerging markets in the Middle East in the next couple of years. The companies will together provide the Speedpost FreightPlus service, which enables Hongkong Post to deliver items to India in two to three days instead of five to six days as in the past."

SmartOffice has reported that "Australian owned company Bing Technologies has designed a unique way of sending postal mail which is designed to cut the cost businesses spend on postal mail by half, while taking less time to receive the recipient than traitional mail. Called ‘bing', the system is the first of its kind in the world and allows users to post mail electronically from their computer before being delivered by Australia Post as normal, hard copy business mail. One the document has been sent to Australia Post, the bing system automatically prints, folds, envelopes and dispatches the mail into the Autralia Post network to be delivered by a traditional postie."

Mediaweek has reported that "In the latest episode of downsizing in the challenged computing-magazine category, two leading publications are chopping their rate bases as they combat rising costs and shrinking demand for tech news and information in the printed form. In January, International Data Group’s monthly PC World will cut its rate base to 600,000 from 710,000, citing growing paper, postal and ink costs."

EDP24 has reported that "Royal Mail has applied to the postal regulator Postcomm for permission to charge more to business for delivering mail in rural areas to reflect the higher logistical costs. The proposals are currently being consulted on with a final decision expected next month."

According to Panorama, "Thousands of Prime Prepaid MasterCard cards are being sent daily from Gibraltar to outlets throughout the UK. This is a massive mailing operation which is expected to grow in the New Year in tandem with the implementation of expansion plans. The post office management sees the revenue generated by these e-commerce ventures as the only way to safeguard the existing postal grades employment in the future."

According to Business Day, "There is no doubt that the advent of internet in the global environment played a leading role in spurring NIPOST into action, as it was faced with the possibility of total extinction from the surface of the postal industry generally. The good effect of internet challenge on NIPOST is therefore, the resurrection of the establishment from its comatose condition, through reform efforts of its leadership."

Transport Intelligence has reported that:

November 11, 2007

Twice as many first-class letters are being delivered late since the end of the postal strike, a Sunday Telegraph investigation has found.

November 10, 2007

Reuters has reported that "Dutch mail company TNT NV is mulling whether to turn its back on the German postal market, its Chief Financial Officer Peter Bakker said in a letter to German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
 
 PostCom Members! The latest PostCom Postal Ops Update is waiting for you on this site. Among the topics treated in this issue: Intelligent Mail Barcodes. Hybrid internal and external USPS service performance measurement systems. More on Flat Sequence Sorting. Mailers' comments on Critical Entry Times. FSS mail prep and sorting. PostOne barriers. Advance mail data. Seamless acceptance. FAST. Upcoming postal rule changes.

UPS has announced new list rates for 2008, including an average 4.9 percent increase for UPS Ground and Ground Hundredweight shipments and a net average increase of 4.9 percent on all air express and U.S. origin International shipments. The increase for air express and international shipments is based on a 6.9 percent increase in the base rate, less a 2 percent reduction in the current fuel surcharge. Updated rate and service information will be posted on ups.com/rates beginning Nov. 16, and customers can preview UPS Ground, Air and International express rates. On Dec. 31, customers can download the 2008 Rate and Service Guide. The new rates will take effect on Dec. 31, 2007.

Air Cargo World has reported that "ABX Air on Friday declared its principal customer DHL in default of their agreement. The express subsidiary of Deutsche Post World Net stopped making full reimbursements for leasing services, ABX said in an SEC filing. ABX provides aircraft, crew, maintenance and insurance for DHL in the United States."

Money AM has reported that "Russia's government has not extended Deutsche Lufthansa AG's right to use its airspace for cargo flights. The Russian government is currently examining proposals for the German government and a decision is not expected before next week. German transport minister Wolfgang Tiefensee earlier said the two governments have reached an agreement to discuss in December a possible move of Lufthansa's refuelling hub for cargo planes to the Siberian airport of Krasnoyarsk from Astana in Kazakhstan. The two governments have been in talks to defuse a dispute sparked by Moscow's move last month to revoke Lufthansa Cargo's rights to use the country's airspace in an attempt to pressure the airline into moving its refuelling base to Siberia from Astana."

November 9, 2007

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

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.

The PostCom Bulletin is distributed via NetGram

From PR.com: "Shipping Sidekick, the web’s leading shipping rate comparison website, announced today that it has added a package tracking feature allowing users to track their UPS, DHL, FedEx and USPS packages all in one place free of charge."

Surprising many mailers at this week’s MTAC meeting, USPS senior vice president of Intelligent Mail and Address Quality Tom Day revealed a fairly mature USPS proposal for a service performance measurement system for all market-dominant products, as required under the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA). The USPS’ proposed “hybrid” measurement system includes data analysis and reporting performed by current EXFC contractor IBM, using Intelligent Mail Barcode (IMB) data as well as external IBM seed data and industry seed data. The USPS plans to publish its measurement proposal in the Federal Register for comment, but did not say when, although first reports from the new system could be available in mid- to late January 2009. Look for more details in this week's PostCom Bulletin and Post Ops Update reports, automatically distributed to PostCom members.

From the Federal Register: "A recently-enacted federal law directs the Commission to develop rules to implement a new postal ratemaking system. This document responds to that directive by adopting rules addressing market dominant and competitive products, including negotiated service agreements, the regulatory calendar, and product lists. Adoption of the rules allows the Postal Service and mailers to begin to exercise its options under the new law. Effective date: December 10, 2007. November 20, 2007: deadline for the Postal Service to provide information necessary for further development of the Mail Classification Schedule."

The Financial Times has reported that "The Post Office and travel agents look set to play a key role in the national identity card system as Gordon Brown presses ahead with the controversial project, according to senior officials."

In a commentary that was published in the Salem Statesman Journal, James Montanye wrote that "the United States Postal Service is an anachronism. Yale's law and economics scholar George Priest has characterized it as "the most significant example of socialism in the United States...[embracing] almost all the aspects of socialism rejected in Eastern Europe and in the privatized Western economies."The Postal Service has survived -- despite high costs, bland offerings, and comparatively middling service -- by exploiting its two statutory monopolies: the carriage of First Class mail; and exclusive access to customer-owned mail boxes. Despite this economic leverage, its continued survival is being threatened by the Internet, which enables better, faster, and less costly alternatives to First Class mail. As a result, mail volume is declining, and at a faster pace than was predicted only a few years ago."

The American Postal Workers Union has reported to its members that "APWU President William Burrus outlined an ambitious agenda for the union’s future in a speech to the All-Craft Conference on Nov. 7. Urging conference participants to embrace change in a time of challenge, Burrus announced plans to hire five grass-roots organizers to help implement the union’s legislative program, and unveiled plans to better communicate with far-flung union members via the Internet....Burrus also announced that the union had prevailed in its efforts to gain admittance to the Mailers Technical Advisory Committee, a panel composed of large mailers that meets secretly with postal officials to develop long-term plans for the Postal Service. He called the agreement a “major accomplishment for the union.”

The UN News Centre has reported that "the Universal Postal Union (UPU) and the Association of Post Office and Telecommunications Operators from the Portuguese Speaking Countries and Territories (AICEP) signed a cooperation agreement that means $120,000 will be distributed among the five Portuguese-speaking countries in Africa over the next two years. The funding in the deal will be used to introduce a series of measures to modernize the postal operations of those countries, as well as to broaden some reforms that began last year. New software will be introduced to better track postal items, a database of mail collection and delivery points will be created, an electronic money transfer network will be set up, and continuous testing and training will be provided to help staff. "

The papers and presentations from the November 5 EMA Foundation Institute for Postal Studies seminar have been posted on the EMA Foundation web site including a paper by PostCom President Gene Del Polito on "On Service Performance Standards And Measurement."

The Wall Street Journal has reported that "Retailers reported weak October sales, setting the stage for a lackluster holiday season as shoppers grapple with a swooning housing market, stiff energy prices and lurking worries about jobs. Persistently warm weather throughout much of the U.S. quelled demand for fall fashions, forcing department stores to take markdowns despite cautious bets on seasonal inventory. But retailers also blamed underlying weakness in the economy, with some predicting turmoil in the credit and mortgage markets will hamper holiday returns."

November 8, 2007

GibFocus has noted that "Postal Workers were this afternoon locked out after they refused to comply with instructions to deliver delayed mail to the homes today. A rift between the management of the local postal services and postal workers erupted this afternoon when six days of mailbags were delivered by air to Gibraltar today. After the arrival of the delayed mail, and once sorted by the Sorting Office, postal workers allege to have been told to deliver the mail today. After initial refusals with claims that the demand was too much to make to the workforce, a rift erupted between management and workers which saw the workers stage a protest outside the sorting office at Line Wall."

From Market Wire: "DMTI Spatial (DMTI), a leading provider of Location Intelligence, has commissioned an independent research study conducted by York University that has concluded the use of 6 digit postal boundaries provides a significant increase in the discriminating capabilities of marketing analytics when compared to commonly used census dissemination areas. The analysis, conducted by York University's Spatial, Environmental and Action Research (SpEAR) Laboratory, compared measures of central tendency and variation among popular demographic variables typically used in market segmentation and trade area analysis applications. The findings validate that market analyses conducted and represented at the 6-digit postal code level provide a framework that yields the highest precision results and ultimately a better return on investment."

According to Bloomberg, "Deutsche Postbank AG, Germany's biggest consumer bank by clients, rose the most since its initial public offering after parent company Deutsche Post AG said it may look at the lender's future next year. Deutsche Post Chief Executive Officer Klaus Zumwinkel, answering a question at a Frankfurt analysts conference, said that after Germany's mail market is liberalized in 2008, there will be ``more time to think about'' Postbank's future. Deutsche Post is ``the best owner'' of the bank at the moment, Zumwinkel said, adding that the unit has attracted interest from a number of banks. He later reiterated that Postbank isn't up for sale."

According to Nyasa Times, "Malawi Postal Cooperation (MPC) introduced a new system of Fast Cash Money Transfer. Chief Post Master, Goodson Gama said the new system is providing easy access, reliable, high quality and affordable postal and financial services to meet customers' demand."

Electronista has reported that "The large video store chain Blockbuster may be on the verge of financial collapse, the company's latest quarterly results show. The company posted a net loss of $35 million during the summer and will be engaged in a defensive effort to protect its "core rental business," company chief Jim Keyes says. This involves both ramping down Blockbuster's promotions for its online Total Access rental service and emphasizing new developments in its brick-and-mortar stores. Jobs and duplicate resources will be cut both online and for retail shops, Blockbuster says."

The November 8, 2007 DMM Advisory has been posted on this site.

The Scotsman has reported that "the Royal Mail has begun telling people to pick-up their own post as they struggle to clear a backlog created by the recent strikes. It is understood thousands of parcels are still waiting to be delivered. Industry regulator Postwatch today hit out at the decision, saying customers who paid to have their packages delivered would at the very least have expected the company to try to make a delivery."

Online Media Daily has reported that "Market researcher eMarketer cited stats from TNS Media Intelligence showing that the top 100 advertisers spent $230 million less in 2006 than 2005 on the top four traditional media categories-television, radio, magazines and newspapers. At the same time, they increased online spending by $558 million. One marketer clearly embracing the trend is American Express. Internet ad spending by the financial services company jumped by 180%, while its total ad spending dropped by 13.1%."

Bloomberg has reported that "Deutsche Post AG, Europe's biggest postal service, said third-quarter profit fell 35 percent as declining shipments led the company to scrap a deadline for the U.S. express-delivery unit's turnaround." See also the Journal of Commerce.

The Pacific News Center has reported that "For those island residents who have experienced problems receiving packages from the U.S. mainland because of customs forms, there is some relief in sight. According U.S. Postal Service Spokesman Duke Gonzales, officials have been meeting in the nation’s capital to identify possible solutions. He says that so far, the post office has placed special attention on items being shipped to Guam and have been communicating with businesses who have had problems in recent months."

Forbes has reported that "Oesterreichische Post AG (Austrian Post) will lose its delivery contract with the Austrian arm of the mail-order company Neckermann from the middle of next year to the German logistics company Hermes, according to the Austrian daily WirtschaftsBlatt. Yesterday, Austrian Post said Quelle Oesterreich, also a unit of Acandor, had decided to use alternative postal services providers to deliver its 7 mln packages in Austria as of Jan 1."
 
 PostCom Members! The latest issue of the PostCom Postal Policy Report has been posted on this site. This issue deals with the Postal Regulatory Commission's final rules on a modern system of postal ratemaking.


November 7, 2007

As the British postal news web site Hellmail has noted, "The idea of deregulation was to generate an environment for competition, and so it has in part. The trouble is, no one wants to actually deliver it - Royal Mail are still doing that. Rather than providing a framework where rivals jostle for all postal business, deregulation is pushing Royal Mail towards becoming the country's biggest paper round. Its prices are virtually fixed in stone by Postcomm."

According to the Communication Workers Union, "A half year bonus payment of £325.00 has been announced by Royal Mail Customer Services today. Payments will now be made in the November salaries."

The Turkish Daily News has reported that "The world's biggest logistics group, Deutsche Post, plans to sell property worth up to 1.5 billion euros ($2.17 billion) to generate cash and boost its shares, a press report said yesterday. Deutsche Post, also the biggest European postal service, said it had hired U.S. bank Morgan Stanley to organize the sale of real estate it was no longer using or which will be emptied soon, the Financial Times Deutschland said, citing industry sources."

Cecu.de has reported that "Quelle Austria has informed Austrian Post of its decision to primarily rely on the parcel delivery services of an alternative postal service provider. Austrian Post will continue to be responsible for the delivery of all Quelle catalogues and printed documents produced by its subsidiary meiller direct, and for the return parcel service customers have the opportunity to take advantage of. Accordingly, Quelle will remain an important customer of Austrian Post. Austrian Post has to accept this decision of the free market, and will thus continue striving to win back any lost parcel volume on the basis of its outstanding delivery quality." See also Hemscott.

DM News has reported that "PitneyBowes PSI and Direct Resource Solutions LLC have launched UAA Clearinghouse, a secured, central repository for undeliverable-as-addressed data. The database works on a pay-per-match basis, charging clients only when a valid new address match is found. The product is an attempt to pick up where list hygiene services NCOA and CASS/DPV leave off, updating data for movers who have not reported change of address to the US Postal Service, as well as supplying missing apartment numbers or updated addressee information."

CEP News (Courier-Express-Postal), published by the MRU Consultancy, has reported that:

Royal Mail has reported that operating profits slumped by more than 34 per cent to 334.5m euros. In the official statement, chairman Allan Leighton and CEO Adam Crozier referred to the 2.5 per cent decline in the standard mail volume combined with increasingly intensive competition. The realisation of the next steps of the modernisation plan would therefore be imperative.
Axel Springer Verlag AG apparently plans to resell 46.6 per cent of the shares it holds in the mail service Pin Group.
TNT and the Dutch unions have agreed on an extension of the existing labour agreement until 1 April 2008.
CEO Adam Crozier’s salary has provoked considerable criticism in the light of Royal Mail’s loss of profits.
A postman at one of Deutsche Post’s rival companies is paid on average 7.33 euros per hour.
Deutsche Post has made the surprising announcement that its subsidiary company Williams Lea is expanding to Germany.
The competition is intensifying between Post Danmark and Citymail. Citymail has now announced postal rates which are, on average, 17 per cent lower.
Following several short strikes in two sorting centres in Brussels last week, all La Poste hubs in Brussels could now soon be paralysed by industrial actions.
In the Czech Republic, postage rates for standard letters will be considerably higher from January 2008. As reported by »Prague Monitor« (5.11), the Finance Ministry has approved the adjustment of tariffs for several services. A standard letter will now cost about 37 eurocents, a third more than it has up until now.
A high global demand in all business areas has brought the Swiss logistics group Panalpina significant growth in terms of turnover and profit in the first three quarters.
The Mexican CEP service Estafeta plans to invest a total of 68m Mexican pesos, equivalent to some 4.37m euros, in new vehicles.
UPS plans to introduce a delivery guarantee in the American forwarding business at the beginning of the new year.
The logistics industry in China has developed downright explosively. As the China Federation of Logistics & Purchasing (CFLP) reported last week, over 20,000 companies are operating throughout the country by now, 30 per cent more than the official figure circulating up until now.
Now that Beijing Post has just communicated the success of its red express mailboxes (CEP News 41/07), the postal administration of the Southern Chinese city of Guangzhou is now following suit. The Internet portal »people.com« (29.10) reported that Guangzhou Post is offering multi-coloured mailboxes. The green side is intended for regular mail and the red-orange side for the new city express service.
The Dutch post’s offer for customers to have their own stamps printed has left TNT hard pressed to explain. A prisoner used the offer to have a stamp printed with the image of Willem Holleders, Amsterdam’s most powerful Mafia leader. The ordered image of Holleder was passed without difficulties by the commission responsible for checking material before printing, reports »NieuwNieuws«.

The MRU, founded in 1992, is the only consultancy in Europe, which has specialised in the market of courier-, express- and parcel services. For large-scale shippers and CEP-services in particular, the MRU provides interdisciplinary advice for all major questions of the market, as there are for example market entry, product design, organisation, and EDP.To learn more about the stories reported above, contact CEP News. (We appreciate the courtesy extended by CEP News to help whet your appetite for more of what CEP offers.)

The Board of Governors of the U.S. Postal Service will meet in Washington, DC, at Postal Service Headquarters, 475 L’Enfant Plaza, SW, on Nov. 14-15, 2007. The public is welcome to observe the Board’s open session, scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m. on Nov. 15 in the Ben Franklin Room on the 11th floor.

November 6, 2007

Ever wonder what annual inflation looked like if you had been living under the new postal law? Don't wonder....LOOK!

From openPR: "Norpost - a leading postal service company from Norway announces a value added web service. Dedicated to business customers, the new business mapping solution is a perfect tool to simplify requests for unadressed direct marketing campaigns. Norpost AS, a Norwegian specialist in customer oriented door drop marketing, leaflet distribution and spatial segmentation services is offering its customers an online geoinformation system for campaign planning. By using the new technology of the German MapChart GmbH customers in Norway are now able to select in a fast and easy way target and distribution areas together with the latest houshold figures."

The Liverpool Echo has reported that "Liverpool’s mail mountain is getting higher – despite Royal Mail claiming it would be cleared by the end of this week by employing hundreds of casual posties. Mail for ‘L’ postcode areas mounted during nine days of unofficial strike action by Communication Workers’ Union members last month. Royal Mail’s policy is not to award overtime to posties if they have been involved in unofficial action and have, instead, advertised for casual workers and brought in managers from around the UK. But postal workers claim that rather than reducing the mail backlog by the end of this week, delays have grown and will carry on into the hectic Christmas period."

Reuters has reported that "A draft Dutch post regulation could mean higher stamp prices from mail and parcel firm TNT after liberalisation of the market, post and telecoms regulator OPTA said on Tuesday. OPTA pointed out a potential loophole in draft regulation supplementing the country's new postal law that is due to end TNT's remaining monopoly in the Netherlands from January 2008, which could lead to higher prices."

LiveMint.com has reported that "India Post plans to invite consultants, such as KPMG International and Ernst & Young, to help the loss-making postal department buy technology solutions, including software applications and computer hardware, as it plans to spend around Rs2,300 crore on technology in a year’s time."

Forbes has reported that "Dutch postal group TNT NV has signed a memorandum of understanding with Russian Post to explore areas in which they can work together. TNT, which has been active in Russia in the area of International Express since the late 1980s, said the two companies will set up a programme to facilitate the exchange of knowledge."

Bloomberg has reported that "Kurt Beck, leader of Germany's Social Democrats, said the government was close to agreeing on minimum wages for letter carriers, after the ruling coalition parties narrowed their differences at a late-night meeting yesterday. ``We assume that the minimum wage for postal workers will be agreed next Monday,'' Nov. 12, when coalition leaders resume policy talks, Beck told reporters in Berlin today. ``A few questions still need to be answered, but these are questions of detail and not fundamental in character.''

The Financial Times has reported that "Royal Mail has filled one of the toughest jobs in British business with the surprise appointment of Mark Higson as managing director of its letters operation. Mr Higson’s previous experience has been largely in manufacturing companies, most recently as group operations director of BPB, the plasterboard company bought by France’s Saint-Gobain two years ago. In his latest role, he will be responsible for the collection, sorting and delivery of more than 80m letters daily by almost 170,000 postmen and women."

Sify has reported that "After the communications ministry drew from examples across the world for drafting the Indian Post Office (Amendment) Bill, the express/courier industry is now using the same global path to convince the government that `monopoly' is a bad word. The international examples are being cited mainly to illustrate the weight-and-rate criteria in the express/courier industry. It is learnt that the express industry representatives in a meeting with Ajay Shankar, secretary, Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), on Monday, cited global examples to make their point that some of the provisions in the Indian Post Office amendment draft bill are `retrograde' in nature."

ThisIsMoney has said that "Unsolicited mail is about to get noisier and smellier. That's if the Royal Mail is successful in its' latest business venture – getting junk mailing businesses to embrace 'sensory mail'."

Reuters has reported that "Royal Mail's plan to clear its pension deficit is set to leave a 2.9 billion pound hole because the group is understating the size of the deficit."

Transport Intelligence has reported that "DHL has introduced what it claims is the express delivery industry's first prepaid, all-inclusive flat-rate box, designed to minimise time, paperwork and expense for US shipping customers. The global express delivery and logistics company's new ShipReady Box will provide second day delivery service, without any weight restrictions, for one inclusive fee, to and from all points within the 48 US contiguous states."

The Financial Times has reported that "Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, on Monday warned her Social Democratic allies not to try to roll back recent economic reforms as she reasserted her authority over her unruly grand coalition. The coalition partners agreed in principle on Sunday on a minimum wage of €8-€9.80 an hour for postal staff, but the number of the employees covered is likely to be smaller than the SPD had hoped for. Mr Beck's party, which for months has campaigned for minimum wages as a means of boosting its flagging poll ratings, had hoped that most of Germany's estimated 312,000 postal workers would be covered. Under the complicated formula agreed on Sunday, many fewer are now expected to be covered, with tens of thousands of part-time post delivery workers being excluded."

The Daily Echo has reported that "Postal workers will start voting later this week on whether to accept a deal aimed at ending their long-running dispute over pay, jobs and working conditions. The Communication Workers Union said it will send ballot papers to its 130,000 members from Friday. The ballot closes on November 27 and the result will be announced soon afterwards."

November 5, 2007

The New York Times has reported that "The circulation declines of American newspapers continued to accelerate over the spring and summer, as sales across the industry fell almost 3 percent compared with the year before, according to figures released today. The drop, reported by the Audit Bureau of Circulations, reflects the growing shift of readers to the Internet, where newspaper readership has climbed."

According to Inquirer.net, "Aside from a P6-billion modernization project to increase efficiency, the Philippine Postal Corporation is mounting efforts to curb theft and restore the public's trust in their services."

Forbes has reported that "Contradictory statements made by German government coalition partners Social Democrats SPD and conservatives CDU/CSU after a mutual committee on coalition issues met yesterday suggest the debate on introducing minimum wages for postal workers will continue."

As the Helena Independent Record put it: "Neither moose nor squirrel shall stay this courier ... "

As Delaware Online has reported, "It's like a three-act play, and we're in the opening minutes of the second act," says Steve Swasey, vice president of corporate communications at movie-rental Web site Netflix. Act 1 was getting people used to renting DVDs over the Internet. Act 3 is "no more DVDs and everything is online." As the curtain rises on Act 2, the world is somewhere in the middle. The by-mail business model that made it a success could disappear as quickly as the old mom-and-pop video store, particularly if Apple or Amazon figures out a more appealing approach that doesn't rely on the U.S. Postal Service."

According to icCoventry, "union leaders have warned of further postal strikes if plans to close the Coventry mail depot in Bishop Street go ahead."

As Yokwe Online has noted, "The United States Postal Service's restoration of domestic mail designation is a "great victory in many ways" for the people and businesses of the Freely Associated States (FAS), according to Marshall Islands Chamber of Commerce President Jack Niedenthal."

As the Los Angeles Times has noted, "It may be difficult for GPS addicts to comprehend, but Costa Rica doesn't have a standardized system of addresses -- at least not ones that can be typed into MapQuest. Many streets aren't named, and virtually none have signs. Many houses don't have numbers. Only a few pockets of the country use anything close to the "123 Main St." format that Americans would recognize. Instead, most Costa Rican addresses are expressed in relation to the closest community landmark. In colonial times, that was the church or town hall. Today it could be a fast-food joint or car dealership."

The Jamaica Gleaner has reported that "The term 'high-tech' is usually associated with some element of computer use, so it's not surprising that the new bar-coded labels being introduced by the Jamaican postal administration for tracking registered mail utilise a digital format for data to be captured by a computerised scanner."

Precision Marketing has reported that British postal regulator "Postcomm has hit back at union claims that Royal Mail’s fall in profits has been fuelled by the regulator’s ‘irresponsible decisions’, instead blaming it on the rise of new media and recent strike action."

According to The Republican, "In the old days, it went something like this: personal letter, electric bill, L.L. Bean catalog. Now, it goes like this: credit card offer, credit card offer, L.L. Bean catalog. Postal Service research found that the average household now receives just one personally addressed letter a week, including such things as holiday cards and wedding announcements."

Bloomberg has reported that "Deutsche Post AG will restate earnings from eight quarters, Der Spiegel reported, citing Chief Executive Officer Klaus Zumwinkel. The changes will be published Nov. 8 when the postal operator reports third-quarter earnings, Zumwinkel said, according to the German weekly magazine. The CEO said he aims to create ``more transparency,'' Der Spiegel reported. Zumwinkel said Deutsche Post may distribute free newspapers if the business can be profitable, Der Spiegel added."

November 4, 2007

According to DM News, "Catalog Choice, a new service created by the National Resources Defense Council, the National Wildlife Federation and the Ecology Center that lets consumers specify which catalogs they wish not to receive, made it onto the pages of several major newspapers upon its launch earlier this month. About 20,000 people have reportedly signed up for the service, opting out of receiving more than 50,000 catalogs."

Logistics Management has reported that "The American Society of Civil Engineers recently gave the nation a grade of “D” for its overall infrastructure. Douglas G. Duncan, president and CEO of FedEx Freight, says he thinks that might be charitable. At the McGraw-Hill annual construction business forum in Washington last month, Duncan said that shippers and logistics solutions companies are facing a growing crisis in transportation infrastructure—and they need to act together in helping solve it."

As the Charlottesville Daily Progress has noted, "Much fanfare had accompanied the inauguration of the Pony Express on April 3, 1860. So too the start of airmail service in 1918. But when rural mail delivery service was first experimented with in 1896, what little notice it got was often hostile."

According to the New York Daily News, "Rep. Anthony Weiner wants to snuff out illegal on-line cigarette sales by making them a felony and by banning the delivery of cigarettes through the mail. Under current law, illegal cigarette sales are considered a misdemeanor. Private carriers now voluntarily refuse to deliver online cigarette orders, but Weiner's bill would also ban the U.S. Postal Service from making the deliveries. The bill would also allow the U.S. attorney general's office to keep a list of companies who flout the law and ban their deliveries."

As the Indianapolis Star has noted, "Automated Postal Centers will be available every day of the week, including holidays and can conduct 80 percent of transactions available at post office retail counters. Customers can ship domestic packages via Express Mail, Priority Mail or Parcel Post, deposit First-Class Mail, buy stamps, look up ZIP codes, print shipping labels, purchase Delivery Confirmation, Certified Mail and Return Receipt services and insurance for shipping packages. The Automated Postal Centers accepts most major credit and debit cards."

November 3, 2007

AFP has reported that "A Nigerian court has sentenced a university student to 34 years in jail for forging US Postal Service money orders, although he will serve only one year, newspapers said Saturday. Omoniyi Sanlola, 25, a final year Geology student, was sentenced on Friday after pleading guilty to 34 counts of fraud and forgery. The judge handed him one-year terms for each count, to run concurrently."

As Mother Jones put it, "Defying the Founding Fathers, Bush appointees at the USPS have decided to strangle the free press."

The Chicago Tribune has reported that "The early warning signs of another holiday season are all around. Green and red decorations are showing up in stores. Ads are appearing for this year's crop of Christmas movies. And America's mailboxes are bulging with catalogs. But a new service, started by three environmental groups, is giving people a chance to gain some control over the postal flood tide that inundates them with billions of catalogs a year."

Multichannel Merchant has reported that "The May postal rate hike definitely put a crimp in some catalog circulations."

According to the Manassas Journal, "Neither snow, rain, heat nor gloom of night will stay the couriers of the U.S. Postal Service, but a heavy volume of political mailers almost did them in in Woodbridge on Thursday."

November 2, 2007


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

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With sadness, we note that Maynard Sundman, founder of the Littleton Coin Co., died Wednesday of natural causes at 92. Sundman was introduced to the hobby of stamp collecting by a friend in grade school in Bristol, Conn., and turned that passion into a lifelong hobby and business, launching what became Littleton Coin Company after returning from World War II in the U.S. Army.

The latest copy of the National Association of Postmasters of the U.S. electronic governmental affairs newsletter is available on the NAPUS web site.

The following reports have been posted on the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General website (http://www.uspsoig.gov/) today. If you have additional questions concerning the report, please contact Wally Olihovik at 703.248. 2201, or Agapi Doulaveris at 703.248.2286.

The Periodical Publishers Association has told its members that "PPA is hosting a workshop to help publishers get to grips with a new sales ordering, invoicing and reporting facility from Royal Mail. Online Business Account (OBA) is now available and will be replacing the existing system, E-pro, with effect from the end of November. The OBA workshop is being held in conjunction with Royal Mail and will take place from 9.30 – 11.30am on 14 November at PPA offices. It is designed to help publishers ensure they are up to speed with the new system, know how to use it and are able to get the most out of it."

Federal Times has reported that "When it comes to procuring alternative fuel vehicles, the U.S. Postal Service leads the way. Its alternative fuel fleet — nearly 38,000 vehicles that run on ethanol, compressed natural gas or other nonpetroleum products — is the largest of any employer nationwide. But other companies have a chance to catch up. The Postal Service won’t be purchasing any vehicles — gasoline-powered or otherwise — until 2015 at the earliest, said Walt O’Tormey, the agency’s vice president of engineering."

Forbes has noted that "German postal services companies vying for a piece of the market dominated by Deutsche Post AG are paying deliverers an average hourly wage of 7.33 eur, undercutting what the former monopolist pays, Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported, citing a study by Germany's infrastructure regulator."

According to the Associated Press, "Sens. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., and Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said the State Department and Postal Service quietly gouged U.S. citizens over the government's $97 passport fees, even as new anti-terrorism laws require more travelers to carry passports. They are asking the Bush administration for an accounting of where the passport profits go."

From Business Wire: "ABX Air, Inc. has agreed to acquire Cargo Holdings International, Inc. (CHI), a privately held provider of outsourced air cargo services based in Orlando, Fla., in a transaction valued at approximately $350 million."

CargoNews Asia has reported that "Publisher Axel Springer is in talks with Dutch mail and parcel group TNT about merging German mail services companies TNT Post and PIN Group. The idea is to create a company that can challenge German market leader Deutsche Post once its domestic monopoly on letter deliveries ends at the start of next year."

Expatica has reported that "The workers at two sorting centres of postal company De Post in Brussels are on strike at the moment. Workers failed to start work on Thursday evening at the centre in in Schaarbeek. Some of the residents of Schaarbeek and Etterbeek may therefore not get any post delivered today. The workers are dissatisfied with the automated sorting system and the communication from management at the centre."

Transport Intelligence has reported that "Russia has banned Lufthansa Cargo flights from its air space for reasons that are not immediately apparent. It is suggested that the ban, introduced at the beginning of this week, may be linked to negotiations concerning fees for 'over-flight' rights but there is no confirmation of this. There is also a rumour that Russia is pressurising the German authorities, and Lufthansa, to move its re-fuelling station from Kazakhstan to Siberia."

November 1, 2007

Be sure to check out the CRRI Advanced Workshop in Regulation and Competition 2007-2008 concerning "The Universal/Default Service Obligation: Burdens, Benefits and Lessons from Post, Telecommunications and Energy Sectors." It will be held at Rutgers University, Newark Campus, Dana Library, 4th Floor, The Dana Room. Among those participating: Michael Ravnitzky, Postal Regulatory Commission; Michael D. Bradley, George Washington University; Michael Tate, Bank of America; and E. Rand Costich, Postal Regulatory Commission.

The following reports have been posted on the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General website (http://www.uspsoig.gov/) today. If you have additional questions concerning the report, please contact Agapi Doulaveris at 703.248.2286.

As the DM Bulletin has noted, "Royal Mail group has said its letters business will not make a profit in the current financial year, after revealing its 2006/7 profits fell 44% to £194m from the service. Overall, the group's operating profits, including its international parcel operations and the Post Office network, fell by 55% to £158m in the year ending March 25 2007. Overall revenues rose 1.4% to £9.18bn, and letters revenues were unchanged at £6.86bn, despite a 2.3% fall in inland addressed mail volumes."

In its latest report to Congress, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) noted that "As required by Congress, the U.S. Postal Service (Service) has issued three fundraising stamps—also called semipostals—which are sold at a higher price than First-Class stamps, with the difference distributed to designated federal agencies for specific causes. The proceeds from the three stamps are to fund breast cancer research, assistance to families of emergency relief personnel killed or permanently disabled in the terrorist attacks of September 11, and services to children exposed to domestic violence. Of the three stamps, the Breast Cancer Research stamp is the only semipostal currently being sold. GAO is reaffirming one of its prior recommendations that HHS annually report to Congress on the NIH’s use of Breast Cancer Research stamp proceeds."

The BBC has reported that "The main postal union has attacked the latest pay rise for Royal Mail chief executive Adam Crozier, which comes at the same time as a fall in profits."

Media Daily News has reported that "roughly 59.6 million people visited newspaper Web sites in July, according to new figures from the Newspaper Association of America released Wednesday. That's 37.1% of all active Internet users in the U.S., and the number represents a 9% increase over the same month in 2006."

CNN Money has reported that "United Parcel Service Inc., the world's largest shipping carrier, said Tuesday in a regulatory filing its board authorized the company to buy back up to $2 billion in stock. The authorization replaces the about $50 million that remains available under the February share repurchase authorization of $2 billion, the company said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. UPS said it will purchase stock from time to time on the open market or in private transactions. The program has no time limit. The Atlanta company has about 1.06 billion shares outstanding."

Logistics Manager has reported that "General Logistics Systems, the European parcels operation, is turning out to be the jewel in the crown for Royal Mail, which has seen profits slashed in its domestic letters business over the past year. GLS increased its operating profit by 15 per cent to £115m on sales of just over £1bn for the financial year 2006-7. And there was also good news from Parcelforce Worldwide which made an operating profit of £10m – double the figure for last year and the second year running of profit after more than 15 consecutive years of losses."

ABC Money.co.uk has reported that "Germany's CDU, the senior member of the nation's two-party ruling coalition, has demanded that an accord between Deutsche Post AG and the ver.di union on minimum wages should not be declared binding for the entire postal services industry. The collective bargaining agreement cannot be extended, as initially agreed by the government coalition, because it does not cover half of the industry's employees, Die Welt newspaper cited CDU secretary general Ronald Pofalla as saying."

According to the Jerusalem Post, "The cost of a regular stamp goes up today from NIS 1.50 to NIS 1.55. Bulk mail rates have dropped a bit, but most of the 78 different postal charges have increased significantly. Few of the changes made by the Communications Ministry, however, have found favor with Israel Postal Company workers who have been threatening a strike but hope that negotiations with management over the next few days will lead to a compromise."

The Telegraph has reported that "Despite the loss of twice-daily postal deliveries and the closure of thousands of post offices, Mr Crozier, who has just been embroiled in the worst postal strike in 20 years, received a performance bonus of £469,000. His salary was £629,000 and he had £158,000 in pension and benefits. The pay increase was almost 10 times the 2.9 per cent awarded to other staff in the year to March 2007. Royal Mail's profits fell by a third, despite its effective monopoly over postal services."

The Edmunton Journal has reported that "Canadians living outside of cities could have to travel a bit further to collect their mail as Canada Post is estimating that nearly a third of the number of rural mailboxes across the country will have to go." See also the Ottawa Citizen.