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Postal News from April 2008:

April 30, 2008

Globes Online has reported that "Israel Post Company Ltd. CEO Avi Hochman warns that the company faces collapse unless fundamental changes were made in the competitive structure of the postal market and unless the company's operating license was amended. He said that there was a link between the paralysis of the Ministry of Communications officials who supervise the company and the losses that he predicts."

From Market Wire: "Reportlinker.com announces that a new market research report related to the Air transport industry is available in its catalogue. World Air Cargo Markets http://www.reportlinker.com/p087377/World-Air-Cargo-Markets.html." 

British postal regulator Postcomm publishes criteria for approval of redress schemes for licensed postal operators.

The Local has reported that "A last-minute deal between trade union Verdi and the Deutsche Post on Wednesday averted an unlimited postal strike set to begin as soon as this Friday."

Graphics Arts Monthly has noted that "As the U.S. Postal Service's highly automated Flats Sequencing Systems (FSS) ramps up, printers of magazines and catalogs have until March 2009 to adjust systems to inkjet address labels upside down. Mailers of magazines and catalogs will be required to arrange presorted bundles so addresses are readily readable by carriers. In addition to aligning preparation with FSS, these revised standards will help to validate bundle contents and expedite manual bundle distribution, the USPS says."

From the UN News Centre: "Marking the 60th anniversary of the Universal Postal Union (UPU) as a United Nations agency, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has highlighted the important role of postal services, especially at a time when hundreds of millions of people have relocated from their country of origin and are anxious to share news and resources with their relatives. “You may be one of the smallest specialized agencies, but the work you are doing is key to the broader mission of our Organization,” Mr. Ban said on Monday while at the UPU’s headquarters in Bern, Switzerland."

Hellmail has reported that "Austrian postal operator Post.at, is to release what is thought to be the most expensive stamp ever made - a revolutionary lenticular stamp to celebrate the UEFA EURO 2008. According to Post.at, 48 images of a TV recording are superposed on the stamp. To the viewer, the optical effect is that of a film sequence of approx. 3 minutes.

DMM Advisory:  Proposed New Standards for Intelligent Mail Barcodes. Today, the Federal Register published our proposal [PDF] | [HTML] for the use of Intelligent Mail barcodes on automation mailings of letters and flats, which we published online on usps.com April 16. The proposal includes revised mailing standards. We encourage mailers to review and comment by May 30 by writing to the Manager of Mailing Standards, U.S. Postal Service, 475 L'Enfant Plaza SW, Room 3436, Washington DC 20260-3436, or via e-mail to IMB&EDOC@usps.gov.

Federal Register: A recent law requires the Commission to submit to Congress, by late December 2008, a report on the universal service obligation. This notice informs the public of the Commission's obligation to prepare the report, provides background information, and seeks comments from the public. DATES: Initial comments due June 30, 2008; reply comments due July 29, 2008. See SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section for field hearing dates. ADDRESSES: Submit comments electronically via the Commission's Filing Online system at http://www.prc.gov. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Stephen L. Sharfman, General Counsel, 202-789-6820 and stephen.sharfman@prc.gov.

PostInsight (http://postinsight.com) has reported that "The European Commission said it has approved the 1.1 billion euros compensation Italy granted Poste Italiane SpA between 2006 and 2008 to meet the costs of fulfilling its universal postal service obligations. Universal service ensures citizens and businesses located in rural areas get a comparable service to their urban counterparts.

The IDEAlliance presented its highest Award of Distinction, the Donald A. Mumma Award, to Michael J. Winn, Senior Vice President/Division Director of RR Donnelley at its Print Distribution Conference, held on April 6-9, 2008, at the Caesars Palace Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. In making the presentation, David Steinhardt, President & CEO of IDEAlliance, stated that "Mr. Winn has been involved with postal issues and leadership roles in numerous industry and postal initiatives, including representing the Industry as Co-Chair for the MTAC FSS program; working with the USPS through IDEAlliance to resolve the specifications for the Intelligent Mail Barcode; and presenting the industry's case in opposition of the USPS' use of wooden pallets." He added that "in working with other mailers and the Postal Service, he has used his past experience in manufacturing and engineering to help create solutions that are equitable for all parties while maintaining the goal of lowest combined costs." The Mumma Award is the highest award of distinction that IDEAlliance presents in the mail preparation and processing arena. It is presented to an individual from the industry or the U.S. Postal Service. The award is named for Donald A. Mumma, a U.S. Postal Service branch manager, who was described as a "new type" of manager in the early 1980's with a customer focus and seeing the need for U.S. Postal Service and industry dialogue. Winn also serves on the PostCom Board of Directors and its Executive Committee. He also serves as chair for the PostCom Postal Education Committee.

The Postal Regulatory Commission has granted an order to compel and revise the procedural schedule for Docket No. MC2008-1 pertaining to the USPS' provision of "non-postal" services.

The Mailers Council has reported that "The House postal oversight subcommittee has scheduled an oversight hearing on The Economics of Universal Mail Post PAEA for Thursday, May 8, 2008, at 10:00 a.m. in Rayburn 2154. Witnesses will include PMG Potter, PRC Chairman Dan Blair, Inspector General David Williams, and representatives the employee unions and management associations. No mailers were invited to testify. The subcommittee plans additional hearings this summer, with one focusing on workers’ compensation issues, but has yet to decide whether to have a hearing where mailers would be invited to testify on the PAEA."

Transport Intelligence has reported that "   DHL has teamed up with the global relief and development agency Mercy Corps to send $9.6 million worth of pharmaceuticals and medical supplies to southern Iraq. The emergency supplies will be distributed to hospitals in Iraqi cities that are short on resources and near the frontlines of recent fighting. Mercy Corps expects that the shipment will help 140,000 people get improved medical care. DHL Express in Asia, Europe and the Middle East worked in tandem to contribute expenses and handle the cross-border transport of the shipment from the Netherlands to Kuwait. From Kuwait, where the shipment arrived on April 27, Mercy Corps expects to deliver the supplies into Iraq by the first week of May."

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

On a 1.8% increase in turnover (2.72bn euros), TNT suffered a definite drop in profit during the first quarter 2008.
Post Danmark ended the first quarter 2008 with an increase in operating result and net profit. On Tuesday the post announced a slight increase in turnover despite receding letter volumes.
Sweden’s Posten AB achieved an increase in turnover to 826.7m euros (+0.4%) during Q1 due to acquisitions. Otherwise, business was dominated by stagnant or receding volumes. Posten remains dependent primarily on the mail segment, where turnover fell by 3% (457.5m euros) and the operating result caved in by 25% to 51.3m euros. The main cause was a decline in letter volumes between 2 and 6%, depending on mail category.
The public prosecutor in the Swiss canton of Solothurn has opened an inquiry against Schweizerische Post on suspicion of money laundering.
Leading Dutch private mail services say they will start paying hourly wages when the market becomes fully liberalised.
Österreichische Post appears to be planning a 30% takeover of Raiffeisen Daten Service Center (RSC). A subsidiary of Raiffeisen Informatik, RSC GmbH is the IT and logistics division of the Raiffeisen co-operative banking group, which also performs banking services in Central and Southeast Europe.
Marc Furrer, president of Switzerland’s Commission for Communication ComCom and thus head of the country’s regulatory authority, has warned of a return to a monopoly situation and criticised a lack of competence in the postal sector.
Hanover-based publishing group Madsack has bought 100% of the shares in Pin Mail Hannover, which operates as Citipost.
In the first reading of a development programme for Post Russia last Thursday, the Duma (Russian parliament) debated plans for the future of the post until 2011. The ministry for communication had passed the draft bill to the parliament at the end of March. The post’s CEO Kazmin had set three key goals for postal reform: profitability, cost optimisation and the creation of an efficient management system.
Deutsche Post will not present its solution to the heavily loss-making express operations in the USA until the second half of May.
Trans-o-flex has taken a first important step towards the internationalisation of its service. On Tuesday the Spanish partner Redur S.A. acquired 20% of Eurodis GmbH, the European network’s management company. The remaining 80% are held by Trans-o-flex and Österreichische Post in equal parts
Service problems affecting Hermes Paketdienst in Austria appear to be more severe than the company has been willing to admit so far.
  2007 was a good year for Spanish CEP service providers. This week Nacex, a subsidiary of Grupo Logista, announced a 21% increase in turnover to 236m euros. Consignment volumes went up by over 20% to 14.85m items. In March Spain’s second biggest - after DHL - express company Seur announced a 7.5% increase in turnover for 2007 (665m euros) (CEP News 11/08).
Dutch postal workers’ unions carried on their industrial action for 3.5% higher wages this week.
Germany’s minister for culture and the media Bernd Neumann is skeptical with regard to plans for a new free paper to be published by Deutsche Post.

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.)

DenverChannel7 has reported that "A Castle Rock man is accused of breaking the law for reusing a United States Postal Service 'priority mail' cardboard box to send something."

Hellmail has reported that "German postal operator Deutsche Post and services union Ver.di, are to resume talks this week to try to find a solution to the present dispute over pay. Postal workers are demanding a pay rise of 7%. Deutsche Post has offered 5%, assurances on job security plus an extension to working hours - rejected by the union. 130,000 staff are thought to be involved in the dispute which has caused widespread disruption to mail services."

At the multi-site videoconference Annual General Meeting on April 24, four new candidates were nominated and elected to the Board of Directors of the National Association of Major Mail Users. Each will serve a two year term until 2010. The new Board members represent the following organizations and Board portfolios: Michel Viger (Amdocs) Montreal Chapter Director; Jim Wiseman (Transcontinental – RBW) Publications and Catalogue Mail Council Director; Ken Fischer (Key Contact) Membership Director; Jim Wisner (Mail Marketing Corporation) Sponsorship Director.

The Times has noted that "Postcomm, the postal industry regulator, is seeking a new chief executive for November, when Sarah Chambers, the incumbent and a career civil servant, ends her four-year term. But what sort of job will the successful applicant take over? I hear whispers of some sort of reorganisation that is under consideration to create a “super-regulator” to transfer some of Postcomm's responsibilities across to Ofcom, which at present oversees only the Royal Mail's broadband activities. “This is entirely a matter for the Government,” Ofcom insists. Postcomm says that there is no change to the job specifications as they are advertised, which call for “a forward-thinking CEO ... at a time when the postal market is undergoing profound change”.

KTAR has reported that "The U.S. Postal Service is looking to beef up its ranks of criminal investigators to combat identity theft and other crimes in Arizona. The state's rapid population growth is fueling a rise in identity thefts, the most prevalent crime faced by postal inspectors in the state."

In an article published in BtoB, Pat O'Brien, senior VP  for sales and marketing at Direct Group, has said that "as U.S. postal rates continue to rise each year—including a projected increase of around 4% this May—direct marketers are continually challenged to offset these costs, which can represent up to 65% of total direct mail project budgets. Yet many marketers fail to focus their cost-reduction efforts on postage, trying instead to reduce expenses involving printing, materials and other campaign elements. Only by focusing more on reducing postage costs and optimizing campaigns will marketers be able to proactively manage budgets for profitability while still maintaining the integrity of their direct mail programs."

Press Release: The House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on the Federal Workforce, Postal Service, and the District of Columbia voted today to send Congressman John M. McHugh’s (R-NY) “Do Not Mail Tobacco Bill” to the full Oversight and Government Reform Committee for further consideration. The legislation, H.R. 5912, was introduced by Congressman McHugh and is cosponsored by full Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Ranking Member Tom Davis (R-VA) as well as Subcommittee Chairman Danny Davis (D-IL). H.R. 5912 would outlaw the shipping of cigarettes and other tobacco products using the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). Congressman McHugh introduced similar versions of this bill in June 2007 and in the previous Congress.”

April 29, 2008

CNET News has reported that "The Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) and parent company Xerox are experimenting with a type of paper and a complimentary printer that would produce documents that fade away after 16 to 24 hours. A restaurant, for instance, could print its daily specials on a piece of paper, attach the pieces of paper to menus, and then collect the sheets of then-blank paper in the morning to run through the printer again."

According to Entrepreneur.com, "Mail order is one of the hottest industries right now. It's not new--in fact, it can be traced back more than a century. But it's in demand, by consumers and entrepreneurs alike. Why? Reasons abound, both personal and commercial."

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

The Conformer Media Mailer is the first to get the USPS ‘green light’ to ship as an automated flat. It’s quite an accomplishment - given the strict requirements imposed by the postal service - and one that only Conformer Expansion Products can claim. Saving $0.84 in postage per package is virtually unheard of, and the direct mail industry is responding.

The Irish Times has reported that "An Post has today reported a 7 per cent or €57.2 million rise in revenues to €876 million last year, helped by an increase in mail during the general election."

The Honolulu Advertiser has noted that shippers "have been scrambling after word began filtering around Honolulu that Aloha, the state's biggest air cargo carrier, was shutting down immediately after unsuccessful attempts to sell the freight business in bankruptcy proceedings. Shippers yesterday bemoaned being blindsided by the unexpected shuttering as they worked to put contingency plans in place. Aloha's six cargo aircraft carried an estimated 85 percent of non-postal service air cargo shipments, typically ferrying time-sensitive goods back and forth between Honolulu and the Neighbor Islands."

The Data Storage Connection has reported that "The Belgian Post Office recently collaborated with NetApp for its data backup and archival. To manage this data, the post office is switching to a virtual infrastructure developed by NetApp in combination with conventional physical tape. In doing this, the post office is keeping pace with the current trend of virtualization in the storage environment, minimizing risk, and maximizing its return on investment in IT spend."

  As the Telegraph Journal has noted, "Like a veteran weather forecaster suddenly allowed to seed the clouds, Mount Allison University president Robert Campbell now has his chance to change what he has hitherto only studied. What will Canada Post look like after Mount Allison's president reviews it?"

Media Buyer Planner has reported that "Succumbing to the rising costs of delivering newspapers to its customers, an Indiana paper is making the switch from home delivery to delivery by the U.S. Postal Service."

La Poste has just published the results concerning the quality of the universal postal service for 2007 on its website.

Media Daily News has reported that "The long slide in newspaper circulations continued with the release Monday of figures from the Audit Bureau of Circulations showing an overall circulation decline of 3.6% in the six months ending March 2008, compared to the same period one year ago. This is the steepest drop yet."

Output Links has noted that "it's one of the most significant postal changes in decades. Get connected to the Intelligent Mail Barcode through this powerful Webinar series. On May 12, the series looks at pre-sort services."

Press Release: "The CAPS Research Board of Trustees recently elected the U.S. Postal Service's leading supply management professional, Susan Brownell, to serve as Trustee. Brownell is the Vice President, Supply Management at the U.S. Postal Service and is responsible for all Postal Service supply management activities."

April 28, 2008

Transport Intelligence has reported that "Global express operator DHL has reiterated its commitment to sustainable development by announcing that the company will replace its regular plastic bags with new environmentally-friendly ones across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region."

From Business Wire: "FedEx Corp. has announced a major milestone for its existing hybrid-electric truck fleet: more than two million miles of revenue service. The hybrid trucks improve fuel economy by 42 percent, reduce greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 30 percent and cut particulate pollution by 96 percent. FedEx is also expanding its commitment to clean-vehicle technology by placing an additional 75 hybrid vehicles into service in the United States and Europe."

Forbes has reported that "Post and logistics state-owned firm Itella said it will buy Russia's warehousing service provider National Logistic Company (NLC) in a deal worth around 300 million euros."

DMM Advisory:  An advance copy of the Federal Register notice changing the mailing standards for Repositionable Notes (RPNs) is now available on Postal Explorer at http://pe.usps.com. The new standards make RPNs a permanent option for commercial First-Class Mail, Periodicals, and Standard Mail cards, letters, and flats. The 3-inch by 3-inch removable paper notes are priced at just 0.5¢ for First-Class Mail and 1.5¢ for Standard Mail and Periodicals. Recipients can remove the notes to save important messages like upcoming sales, Web site addresses, or phone numbers. RPNs add valuable real estate to the outside of a mailpiece and extend its life beyond when the mailpiece is opened.

Check out the presentation posted on the PostInsight web site on how "Companies can increase the success of their direct mail activity by at least 50 per cent by following a five point plan. an in-depth study of more than 600 mail campaigns has revealed. The research, carried out by Quadrangle on behalf of Royal Mail, revealed that around 30 per cent of business to consumer (B2C) and business to business (B2B) campaigns pull in response rates of between one and five per cent and a further 30 per cent between five and 20 per cent. The top performing campaigns - 14 per cent for B2C and 15 per cent for B2B - achieved responses of between 20 and 75 per cent."

Heard it through the grapevine.... Global Findability is interested in licensing its location addressing system, Geocode®, to the US Postal Service for free. International postal addressing relies on various addressing systems to identify the location of a recipients address. In many countries an alphanumeric secondary addressing system has been developed. In the US and Canada this secondary addressing system is known as the ZIP code addressing system. This system does not provide for geospatial addressing each place of business or discrete home. Furthermore, the systems are country specific thereby requiring translation from one ZIP code addressing system to another addressing system. GFI's Geocode® provides for a single numeric address that is geospatially referenced. Additionally, the Geocode® location addressing system is global and will not require translation from one addressing system to another. Approval by INCITS L1 of GFI’s Geocode® as a proposed ANSI standard, enables the FGDC to establish the system as a US federal government geospatial data standard. ANSI approval will also allow GFI’s Geocode® location addressing system to be proposed as an international standard to the International Standards Organization (ISO). This will ensure that GFI’s Geocode® gains international acceptance and standardization. International government initiatives will be able to specify GFI’s Geocode® location addressing system as a new location identification regulatory requirement.

The Wall Street Journal has noted that "In a globalization manifesto, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman declared that the Internet and other planet-spanning technologies were erasing national boundaries. The world, he said in a 2005 best seller, was flat. No longer. The global economy appears to be entering an epoch in which governments are reasserting their role in the lives of individuals and businesses. Once again, barriers are rising. Call it the new nationalism. The power of the state is reasserting itself. National boundaries are going up even on the Internet, the emblem of the borderless world. The Internet was designed to be beyond the reach of governments, shifting power to individuals or private organizations. Now, pressured by Russia, China, India and Saudi Arabia, the U.S. company that assigns Internet addresses is working on ways for countries to use characters from their home languages. The familiar .org, .com and country codes in Web addresses will be replaced with their equivalents in Chinese, Hindi and many other languages. While that should help locals navigate the Web, it would also put many sites behind curtains to users from abroad. That would spell the end of the days when anyone with a keyboard that produces Latin letters can see sites in any land -- essentially taking the "world wide" out of the World Wide Web. "We're facing a step-by-step Balkanization of the global Internet," says Columbia University law professor Tim Wu. "It's becoming a series of national networks."

From Business Wire: "Newgistics, Inc., the only provider of a postal-based, intelligent logistics solution for forward and returns shipping, today announced that GiftsForYouNow.com has selected Newgistics to reduce costs and increase visibility into the shipping process. GiftsForYouNow.com, the leading provider of personalized gifts, including clothing, picture frames, coffee mugs and other items is leveraging Newgistics’ partnership with the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) to consolidate and forward its shipments directly to the USPS for local delivery, saving GiftsForYouNow.com time and money."

Interactive Investor has reported that "Oesterreichische Post AG is critical of plans to transfer up to 2,000 of its employees with civil servant status to the Austrian state industrial holding OIAG, the Austrian business daily WirtschaftsBlatt reported citing unnamed sources close to company's chief executive. According to the newspaper, the postal services group prefers a "golden handshakes" approach to lowering its headcount of underutilised staff because it views the transfer option as "unsustainable"."

Reporton Business has an interview with Canada Post CEO Moya Greene. It's worth reading.

According to Dutch News, "Postal delivery company TNT said on Monday it booked net profit of €179m in the first three months of 2008, compared with €427m in the 2007 first quarter. 2007's figure was boosted by a number of one-offs, including €200m on the sale of its freight division."

The Echo has reported that "new doubts over the future of Liverpool’s Copperas Hill Royal Mail sorting centre emerged today. A Communication Workers’ Union (CWU) meeting in Manchester last week considered the ongoing Royal Mail review of the region’s seven mail centres, and concluded that Liverpool’s main sorting office has no future as a processing mail centre. However, they did hold out hope that the centre, which supports up to 800 jobs, could be converted to a super delivery office if machinery that sorts postal items into order for delivery in the L1 to L8 areas can be installed."

The Trindad News has reported that "crisis week will come next if the management of TTPost's compensation offer does not impress the Trinidad and Tobago Postal Workers' Union. Reginald Crichlow, general secretary of the TTPWU, said the union had gotten word from TTPost that they would be putting forth a better offer, but he stated that protest action would be escalated if the offer is insufficient."

The Times has reported that "What started as a reform to increase British election turnout has descended to such a farce that staff counting this Thursday’s polls have needed lessons from the Forensic Science Service. Postal voting on demand was supposed to herald a democratic golden age of greater participation and social inclusion, but its benefits have been exaggerated, a report concludes today. Suspicions of cheating, though, have become so grave that every London borough has sent poll officials for training by police experts on how to detect whether voters’ signatures have been forged."

Hellmail has reported that "Following a meeting with senior field officials, the Communication Workers Union is to begin a campaign on the 5th May to highlight what it sees as government and Royal Mail policy failures and the effect that these policies have had on postal worker pensions."

April 27, 2008

According to Advertising Age, "By now you know the story: The business of newspapers is in decline. It's a terminal decline, if you believe experts such as Jeffrey Cole, director of the Center for the Digital Future at the University of Southern California at Annenberg. His research suggests traditional media in general must learn to shrink but newspapers in particular are a special case. The newspaper industry must say goodbye to the double-digit profit margins that made it the darling of Wall Street, to its old unsurpassed authority, to its central place in American conversation and commerce. "

The Dominion Post has reported that "Trade Me twice considered setting up its own courier company to help traders ferry goods to one another, but rejected the idea and is unlikely to revisit its decision despite controversy over the impact of new postal charges."

According to The Tide, "You remember the good old days when the written word was sacred, when communication with loved ones where in the form of love letters. Then the post offices were kings and the postage stamps were money equivalent. Today, many Nigerians would rather spend their time talking than walking into a post office to buy stamps, and send letters. Besides, the postal agencies that once dotted many remote and rural villages have been closed down and their staff laid-off or transfared to the big cities. Most of the post offices are either moribund and hardly have mails to send or receive. Their staff sleep all day in the offices just to earn their monthly stipend or salary."

The Canadian Press has reported that "Three of Canada's best-known institutions the post office, its militant union and Tim Hortons are at the centre of an unusual libel action that erupted over a controversial posting in the swelling blogosphere. The beloved Tims chain is an innocent bystander, in the picture only because Canada Post president Moya Greene accepted a position on its board of directors. But the main protagonists, Greene and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, appear to have locked horns in determined fashion after the union's former president posted a blog last month satirizing Greene's decision to take the Tim Hortons seat. Greene retained high-priced legal help from the large and prestigious Torys firm in Toronto to fire off a notice of intent to sue for libel, saying then-president Deborah Bourque's blog was defamatory. The posting, which the union has refused to pull down despite the legal threat, mimics a David Letterman top-10 list to quote union member "theories" about why Greene accepted the position despite her full-time job at the helm of Canada Post."

The Associated Press has reported that "For military voters, the U.S. Postal Service will once again provide free express mail service this year for those mailing ballots home. In addition, FedEx Express, the air-cargo division of FedEx Corp., has agreed to deliver ballots at a low cost or free, but details are still being worked out. Also, defense officials said mailed absentee ballots will be given special markings and handling, particularly by the Military Postal Service Agency."

Motley Fool has reported that "During the company's conference call, UPS CEO Scott Davis noted that, amid the U.S. economic slowdown, many UPS customers have "tightened their belts" and are shifting away from premium air products in favor of ground, but management expects a continuation of the company's growth overseas."

WINK News has asked: "Do you have one of those white post office bins in your garage? If you do, you're breaking the law. It's federal property and the post office wants them back. The post office says people receive the bins and then use them for storage. If you do have them, you won't be fined or face charges. Postal workers are just urging you to return them to your local post office. Each bin costs $4, and if people keep them, postal workers say you could see higher charges to offset the cost."

Khaleej Times has reported that "Emirates Post and India Post yesterday launched an electronic international money order facility between the United Arab Emirates and Kerala, fulfilling a long-standing demand of expatriates for an affordable electronic money transfer service."

April 26, 2008

Check out Trend Capital's exclusive interview with Edouard Dayan, the Director General of the UPU International Bureau.

Las Vegas City Life has reported that "everyone knows it's a federal offense to monkey with the U.S. mail, but the men and women who spend their careers ensuring its safe delivery are blowing the whistle on what they call a "routine, inside job" that hides or destroys parcels just to cut costs."

FOLIO: asked two magazine executives—each with vastly different publishing backgrounds—about the impact of last July's shape-based postal rate structure. While mega magazine publisher Time Inc. was perhaps the foremost proponent of the new structure, it could be argued that The Nation was among those hit the hardest, having to absorb a half-million dollar increase in postage costs. The political weekly, with a circulation of 181,070, had to turn to subscriber donations to stay afloat. So, ten months into the new rate structure, here's a look at their different approaches and different experiences.

According to Hellmail, "Irish postal operator AN Post, is trying clear a serious mail backlog' at Blackrock (Dublin) Mail Delivery Office. The backlog is said to be the result of a row with local postal staff over changes to working conditions. Parcels and Post Office Counter services are said to be unaffected."

News8 has reported that "More than 3 million pieces of advertising mail are processed and delivered just in San Diego every single day, according to postal officials. Much of this is unwanted junk mail, and tossed away."

April 25, 2008

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.

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PostCom's Rate charts showing comparisions between the Postal Service's 2008 postal rate increases and current postal rates are available on this site.

As the Chronicle of Philanthropy has reported, "Lawmakers who want to discourage charities from spending most of the money they bring in on fund-raising costs are considering introducing legislation to require nonprofit groups to post information for donors to a Postal Service Web site, including the ratio of their fund-raising costs to program spending."

Deutsche Post World Net's worldwide executive magazine Network received the top platinum award at the 2007 Inspire Awards in San Diego, California, USA. Network took first place in the "Employee Publications-Print-Bimonthly" category. The magazine also received the "Best Visual Design" special achievement awa

DutchNews.nl has reported that "TNT postal workers in Amsterdam go on strike today in the latest of a series of industrial actions in support of their demand for a 3.5% increase in wages, reports ANP news service."

Panorama.gi has reported that "The T & G union workers say that totally reject the insinuation by RGPO that the Postal workers "are refusing to work or do so on a go-slow basis" when in fact it is the airline and the government's inability to tackle this problem that are on a "go-slow" basis."

The UNI Post & Logistics affiliate in Korea, the KPWU have advised that Brother Lee Hang-gu has been elected as the new President of the Korean Postal Workers' Union.

NorwalkPlus has reported that "Attorney General Richard Blumenthal will testify before a congressional committee later today in Washington D. C. supporting a measure to prohibit mail shipments of cigarettes and other tobacco products. If passed, the bill would effectively end sales of cigarettes and tobacco products over the Internet. The nation's private delivery services -- including United Parcel Service, Federal Express and others -- already have a voluntary ban on shipment of cigarettes and other tobacco products."

GibFocus has reported that "Management's position that only some (not all) of the Postal Workers are operating on a "Go-Slow" basis is precisely based on the Postal Workers' admission that they have recently only completed 70% of some walks carried out. These same walks and volumes have previously been completed by Postal Workers within the contracted hours and were further also completed by trained Supply Workers well within their contracted hours during the dispute period in question. The RGPO's CEO Mr C Riddell's reference to Christmas mail was relevant as at Christmas there is often at least double the mail allocated recently to walks and even then it is completed within the contracted hours. The RGPO would also like to particularly emphasise that it is not accusing all Postal Workers of such a practice."

The testimony of Postal Regulatory Commission chairman Dan Blair before a House postal oversight subcommittee on the cooperative mail rule as it pertains to nonprofit organizations has been posted on the PRC's web site.

The Columbo Page has noted that "Sri Lanka Postal Department is planning to set up an international money transfer service in collaboration with Western Union to enhance the foreign currency inflow to the country."

If you haven't done so in a while, you might want to review the policy and consultation documents posted by the British postal regulator on its web site.

April 24, 2008

Reuters has reported that "Europe's largest publisher, Axel Springer AG, said its strategy to enter the German mail and logistics business was a mistake and that it will stick to expanding its digital and international business. "2007 was a bad year for Axel Springer AG," Chief Executive Mathias Doepfner told shareholders at the company's annual general meeting on Thursday. "The investment into the mail and logistics business, acquiring the majority of the PIN Group, was wrong from today's view."

FedEx Kinko's, an operating company of FedEx Corp. Has released the results of its national "Signs of the Times" small business survey, which found 89 percent of those small business owners polled were moderately to very concerned about the current economy's impact on their business. Despite concerns, decreasing their marketing and advertising budgets is not a likely course of action. In fact, 92 percent of survey respondents say they will either keep their spending the same or increase it this year.

Congressman Edolphus "Ed" Towns (NY-10) announced his co-sponsorship of H.R. 5548, the "Postal Service Access Assurance Act of 2008". This legislation would serve to ensure the continued availability of automated stamp vending machines by the United States Postal Service for underserved communities. USPS announced in October 2006 that it would phase out stamp vending machines by 2010. Approximately 5,900 vending machines would be removed each year until nearly 23,000 machines – now in service – have been withdrawn. USPS points to reasons such as aging equipment, lack of repair parts, and the high costs of maintenance."

According to Gulf Times, "the Radio Frequencies Identification (RFID) project, initiated by Q-Post along with other postal corps of the region is expected to improve the quality of services in the whole region, according to Yusuf Nasser al-Muzafer, director of administrative affairs at Q-Post. Al Muzafer was addressing a meeting of the project group held at the GPO on Monday. The RFID, said to be the first of its kind in the region is an innovative postal project being implemented by Q-Post in association with Emirates Post and Saudi Arabian Postal Corp."

The New Zeland Herald has reported that "New Zealand Post has defended its new parcel pricing scheme, following an outburst of outrage from online traders. The company last month introduced a "pricing in proportion" scheme, in which letters and parcels are charged in direct proportion to their size and weight. Items were previously charged by weight alone."

The New York Times has reported that "At a time when the world's top climate experts agree that carbon emissions must be rapidly reduced to hold down global warming, Italy's major electricity producer, Enel, is converting its massive power plant here from oil to coal, generally the dirtiest fuel on earth." [Wow! And to think we worry about paper's carbon footprint.]

According to Hellmail, "TNT has been classed a Business Superbrand ahead of rival Royal Mail in a recent YouGov survey of the UK's strongest B2B brands for 2008."

Here's a very handy plugin for Address Book (at least according to tuaw.com.) PostCheck does two things. First, it fills in missing Zip Codes for when you've only got a contact's city and state. It's super simple. Just right-click on the empty Zip Code field and select PostCheck from the contextual menu. In my testing, it accurately provided the accurate 9-digit code across several cities and states. It also works when you've got the Zip Code but need the city and state. PostCheck's other trick is to format your addresses so that they meet the US Postal Service's exacting standards.

April 23, 2008

From CNNMoney.com: "SteelCloud, Inc., a manufacturer of embedded integrated computing systems for the industrial automation marketplace ("SteelCloud"), has received a contract from the United States Postal Service Engineering Department for SteelCloud specialized servers. These are integrated servers using SteelCloud's patent pending chassis which will be utilized in postal sorting facilities nationwide in support of the Automated Parcel Processing Systems ("APPS"). SteelCloud will manufacture the computers, integrate all components into specialized packaging, and provide fulfillment logistics to all of the APPS sorting facilities. The specialized servers will be delivered during the third quarter of 2008."

DMM Advisory: New 42¢ stamps in coils of 100, 3,000, and 10,000 are on sale at Post Offices and online from the Postal Store (shop.usps.com). Stamps ordered online are usually shipped within one business day. This is the first time ever that we are selling denominated stamp coils prior to a pricing change. We encourage everyone to purchase their coils now in preparation for the May 12 change.

The minutes from the inaugural meeting of the Federal Advisory Committee on International Postal and Delivery Services can be found on the Department of State's International Postal Policy web page. http://www.state.gov/p/io/ipp/c25478.htm

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 May 6-7, 2008. The public is welcome to observe the Board's open session, scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m. on May 7 in the Ben Franklin Room on the 11th floor. The Board is expected to discuss the following items:

From Business Wire: "Canada Post Corporation and FedEx Express Canada have combined forces in the development of Priority™ Worldwide, a new international express service that will be sold in Canada through Canada Post's retail and commercial networks and delivered worldwide through the extensive FedEx international delivery network. Priority™ Worldwide will be available to customers in the fall of 2008."

The Postal Regulatory Commission has opened a regulatory document with an invitation to comment on the application of the fundraising exemption to the cooperative mail rule.

UPS has reported increased revenue in all segments with double-digit gains in both international package and supply chain and freight operations. A sharp decline in U.S. economic activity, however, led to a 9. 4% drop in diluted earnings per share to $0.87 compared to a prior-year adjusted $0.96.

According to the Hammonton News, "Consumers have moved online and so have we. The Postal Service has an online product that allows consumers and businesses to create customized greeting cards that can also be used in combination with a gift card. It is easy, convenient and affordable. Create Mail, found at www.usps.com/createmail, offers online services that combine the speed of the Internet with the effectiveness of traditional mail. Create Mail allows you to select or design a mail piece and enter addresses or upload an address list. Your mail piece is then printed, prepared and mailed in as few as one or two days. Create Mail allows customers to submit electronic documents and mailing lists to the Postal Service website. The Postal Service sends those files to a contract printer, who prints the items and enters them into the mail. Create Mail can provide a discounted postage rate by automating and presorting your mail. There is no minimum number of pieces required. And you don't have to apply for a permit or pay an annual fee."

The Mailers Council has sent its members "A reminder that the House Subcommittee on Federal Workforce, Postal Service and the District of Columbia will hold a hearing entitled "Eliminating Smoke and Mirrors in the Mail." The hearing will be held on Thursday, April 24, 2008, at 2:00 p. m., in Rayburn 2154. The hearing will examine Postal Cooperative Mail and Postal nonmailable tobacco."

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

After wage negotiations between Deutsche Post and trade union ver.di failed last week, postal operations were disrupted on Sunday night when warning strikes erupted throughout Germany. The negotiations had failed after the post presented an offer of a 5.5% pay increase over the next two years and an extension of the protection against dismissal until June 2011. After the negotiations broke down, the union's central bargaining committee declared that nationwide and unlimited industrial action would begin on 2 May.
Österreichische Post appeared confident during its AGM this Tuesday. CEO Anton Wais told the circa 500 shareholders who were present. He announced that he planned further growth in Central and South-East Europe in the future, as well as in niche businesses, adding that "massive investments" were currently being made in Croatia and Slovakia. With the domestic business in mind, Mr Wais underlined that the post continued to generate high margins in the mail segment. "We have a market share of 98 per cent. In the Infomail sector our share is 90 per cent, despite numerous rival businesses", Mr Wais claimed.
Johnny Thijs, CEO of the Belgian La Poste, fears that the liberalisation of the postal market could lead to turnover losses of between 25 and 50 per cent. Mr Thijs said that if the government did not do enough to enforce equal competitive conditions, the post's current business model would no longer be sustainable.
Posta Slovenije has completed the fiscal year 2007 with a net profit equivalent to 16.55m euros.
The Dutch postal union intends to increase the pressure on TNT Post through selective strikes.
The new DHL hub in Leipzig appears to be struggling with start-up problems. According to an article in the daily newspaper »Die Welt« (18. 04), pilots are reporting massive delays and teething problems at the new 300m euro facility on Internet forums. In addition, there are said to be communication problems between international pilots and the ground personnel from east Germany.
DHL has now taken over the Romanian CEP operator Cargus (turnover 2007: 29.7m euros) (CEP News 06/08). According to information in Romanian media, the acquisition cost DHL Romania around 50m euros. The takeover of the operator, which was founded in 1991, has made DHL the biggest operator on the Romanian CEP market.
Poczta Polska has manage to avert a strike by its employees at the last minute.
According to a study by the British market research company YouGov, TNT Post has overtaken Royal Mail - at least in the current brand index.
DPD Russia is planning further expansion. As the company announced this Monday, the main focus is on the countries of the Commonwealth of Independent State (CIS), the alliance of former Soviet Republics. The company has already struck cooperation agreements with 2 companies in Kazakhstan and Ukraine. The next planned step is the market entry in Belarus and Azerbaijan.
Hongkong Post wants to join hands with its big brother in mainland China in an effort to expand into the logistics market.

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.)

Yahoo! News has reported that "Individuals have a "reasonable expectation of privacy" in the connections between their personal information and the IP address they use to access the Internet, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled Monday. ADVERTISEMENT While the court's ruling was based on the New Jersey constitution's expanded definition of privacy, it is "an open question" as to whether the same privacy rights would be upheld in federal court, said Eric Goldman, a law professor at Santa Clara University Law School, in a telephone interview."

Reuters has reported that "U.S. online DVD rental company Netflix Inc on Monday said it expects to soon announce three partnerships, similar to its set-top box alliance with LG Electronics Inc, that will let subscribers watch films streamed directly from the Web to Tvs. Like Netflix's PC instant viewing feature, the online TV streaming feature would be included in all of its various price plans, generally ranging from $4.99 to about $16.99 a month, at no extra charges. About 90,000 titles are available through the Netflix online mail order service."

Selected Presentations from 11th Annual IEA European Postal Services Conference - April 5, 2008 11th Annual IEA European Postal Services Conference held at the Berlin Intercontinental Hotel on 11th, 12th & 13th March 2008 hasve been posted on the PostInsight web site.

According to Air Cargo World, "A German publication reported Tuesday that talks about a strategic partnership between FedEx and the troubled DHL business in the United States fell apart. The report in Handelsblatt, a business magazine based in Germany, cited a report by the ING Group investment firm that said talks between DHL parent Deutsche Post and FedEx "have fizzled out."

Bloomberg has reported that:

Falling shipments at United Parcel Service Inc. and FedEx Corp., which together deliver 80 percent of packages in the U.S., show the economy is in a recession and unlikely to rebound this year.
Germany's Ver.di union will widen selective strikes that are disrupting delivery of business mail as it steps up pressure on Europe's biggest mail carrier, Deutsche Post AG, to agree to its pay demands.

From PR-Inside: "Direct mail still produces some of the best return-on-investment for companies looking for cost-effective ways to advertise and promote their goods and services. A leading expert has several tips on how to save."

According to SheKnows.com, "Singing sensation and pop diva, Bette Midler has joined NBC Universal and their "Green is Universal" initiative in honor of Earth Day. Bette and hundreds of NBCU volunteers were in East Harlem, New York today for a massive tree planting. It's all part of the "MillionTreesNYC" program which was set up by Mayor Michael Bloomberg which plans to plant one million trees in New York City by 2017. Also during the week of April 21st, the "NBC Experience Store" windows will feature an art installation and decoupage of junk mail commissioned by GreenDimes, a company committed to reducing the amount of postal junk mail sent to American mailboxes. This creative design speaks to the magnitude of junk mail we receive, and the necessity to save trees. A special GreenDimes kiosk will be in the store throughout the week, where consumers can register to eliminate junk mail. A portion of the store's proceeds from Earth Day will be donated to MillionTreesNYC." [EdNote: I'm not sure what Ms. Divine knows about, but I can tell you for sure she doesn't know fact from myth when it comes to the impact of mail on the environment.]

Today's Zaman has noted that "Most people today think about communication in terms of e-mail, instant messaging and thousands of other online tools. Granted, we are living in the age of the Internet. But when we need to send something physical, we are suddenly reminded of the good old postal system, and the question arises: "How can I mail something in Turkey?" This week Today's Zaman provides you with some useful information about the range of postal and courier services available in Turkey."

Cambridge Network has reported that "The first intelligent C2C parcel shipping system was demonstrated by E-BOX at Post expo 2007 in Barcelona."

Hellmail has reported that "Postal workers at Deutsche Post in Germany are to hit hard with selective strike action at ten regional sorting offices tomorrow. Ver.di, the union representing around 130,000 workers at Deutsche Post is to discuss moving to all-out strikes next, if the resent rolling-strike action fails to persuade Deutsche Post to reconsider it's offer. Workers are calling for a rise of 7% but Deutsche Post has offered 5% plus changes to working conditions including reduced breaks which would add 2.5 hours to the working week. The proposal has been rejected outright by the union."

April 22, 2008

  Beta tests are underway for two advertising platforms designed for targeting users of the social networking Web site MySpace, a division of Fox Interactive Media Inc., reported DIRECT Magazine.  Advertisers will be able to use the new platforms for targeting consumers through blogs, sweepstakes, contests and other interactive formats.  Advertisers will have round the clock online access to update campaign elements and gather analytical data.

   Bloomberg.com reported that "falling shipments at United Parcel Service Inc. and FedEx Corp., who together deliver 80 percent of packages in the U.S., show the economy is in a recession and unlikely to rebound this year."

   Gannett Co., publisher of USA Today and 84 other daily newspapers, released its first quarter earnings today, marking an 8% dip in revenue for the three months, DMNews reported.

   MultichannelMerchant reported that less than two weeks after it reportedly was in talks with two potential buyers, the San Francisco-based gifts cataloger Red Envelope has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

  CNSNews.com reported that the use of more private contractors is considered by some analysts to be the best cost-cutting option for the U.S. Postal Service, but it's an option that some members of Congress want to restrict even though private contracting has been used since 1785.   Advocates who want to limit the U.S. Postal Service's use of private contracting say that it hinders mail delivery service and puts customers at security risk.

   Environmental Leader reported that Discover Magazine has said the entire lifecycle of every copy of its magazine produced costs 2.1 pounds in Co2 emissions.  "Two and one-tenth pounds of carbon dioxide," said Discover. "That is our best estimate of what is emitted into the atmosphere when we harvest trees, turn the freshly milled paper into your individual copy of DISCOVER, get it into your hands, and see it to its final resting place. For comparison, this is the same amount of CO2 produced by twelve 100-watt lightbulbs glowing for an hour or a car engine burning 14 ounces of gasoline."

   MultichannelMerchant reported that fourth-quarter sales slipped 2.8% to $317.6 million for St. Paul, MN-based sporting goods retailer Gander Mountain, resulting in net income sinking 62%, to $5.8 million, down from $15.3 million last year.

  CNW Group reported that the Government of Canada will conduct a strategic review of the Canada Post Corporation that will be guided by established terms of reference.  "We are conducting a strategic review of Canada Post to make sure this public institution has the right tools and means to fulfil its mandate in the future," said Minister Cannon.  The review will focus on four major areas: market and competition; public policy objectives and responsibilities; commercial activities; and financial and performance targets. A review of Canada Post has not been conducted since 1995.  The review will be led by an external, independent advisory panel composed of three members:  Dr. Robert Campbell will  chair the panel and Mrs. Nicole Beaudoin and Mr. Daniel H. Bader will support him as panel members.  The report and recommendations are due by December 2008.

According to Hellmail, postal workers at Dutch postal operator TNT are to begin strike action from 23rd April in the Hague, followed by Amsterdam on the 25th, and a series of further one-day strikes designed to cause maximum disruption but minimise losses incurred by workers. A national strike is planned for the 27th May.

The Belgian Post Office recently collaborated with NetApp for its data backup and archival. To manage this data, the post office is switching to a virtual infrastructure developed by NetApp in combination with conventional physical tape. In doing this, the post office is keeping pace with the current trend of virtualization in the storage environment, minimizing risk, and maximizing its return on investment in IT spend, reported BusinessWire.

A strike by the labor unions of state-owned postal services company Poczta Polska was narrowly averted last week, reported The Warsaw Business Journal.  The unions had threatened a walkout, scheduled for this Monday, in order to press for a zł.700 gross general pay raise. The planned work stoppage was timed to coincide with tax season.  The unions have said that the strike could go ahead on May 5 if their demands are not met.

Swiss Post is one of the fastest postal organizations in Europe - according to the International Post Corporation, reported Hellmail. Measurements carried out on international delivery times showed that last year, Priority-class letters sent to Switzerland from Europe reached their destination in an average of just two days - faster than the European average.

  Hellmail reported that strike action at Germany's Deutsche Post looks set to escalate as postal workers ceased deliveries today. Talks over pay between union Ver.di and Deutsche Post failed to reach agreement and workers refused to deliver post today.  The strikes are expected to hit millions of households in Germany after Ver.di turned down an offer by the company of 5.5 percent plus an extension to the working week by 30 minutes. The union says the 30 mins extra time each day does not include proposed reduced breaks which could mean workers having to work an extra 2.5 hours a week in total. Ver.di said the offer was completely unacceptable.

  Trinidad and Tobago's Newsday reported that local postal workers continued to down tools in protest against management's failure to expedite a quick resolution to the negotiations for the period 2005/2007.

  Hellmail reported that companies can increase the success of their direct mail activity by at least 50 per cent by following a five point plan, an in-depth study of more than 600 mail campaigns has revealed.  The research, carried out by Quadrangle on behalf of Royal Mail, revealed that around 30 percent of business to consumer (B2C) and business to business (B2B) campaigns pull in response rates of between one and five percent and a further 30 percent between five and 20 percent. The top performing campaigns - 14 percent for B2C and 15 percent for B2B - achieved responses of between 20 and 75 percent.

The New Nation reported that different steps are being taken to turn the service oriented Bangladesh postal department into a profitable one.   These includes delivery of passports, delivery of money to recipients through e-mail, distribution of remittances of Bangladeshis working abroad through Citi bank and Standard Chartered bank in the remote areas by the post offices. Already a number of services have been started.

April 21, 2008

  "Last year, the U.S. Postal Service lost $5 billion. It's on track to lose at least another billion this year. The agency is trying to straighten out its balance sheet, but some federal lawmakers are attempting to eliminate the best option it has to cut costs -- outside contracting," reported the Louisville Courier-Journal.com.

  The APWU, with a different perspective on the issue of the USPS contracting out, reported that "eight more members of the U.S. House of Representatives have become co-sponsors of the Mail Network Protection Act (H.R. 4236) in the past two weeks, thanks to continuing outreach efforts by APWU locals."  "The legislation would help reduce wasteful, inefficient, and detrimental subcontracting by requiring the USPS to bargain with postal unions before it engages in significant contracting-out." The APWU said.

  Coupons, yes, coupons -- a staple of mail and newspaper inserts -- could be moving to paperless transactions. Computerworld reports that five companies will begin testing mobile coupons at the Kroger grocery chain. Procter & Gamble Co., The Clorox Co., Del Monte Corp., Kimberly-Clark Corp. and General Mills Inc. will begin a four-month test sometime this spring to determine how consumers will react to using wireless coupons. Users will download a mobile-marketing application from San Jose-based Cellfire Inc. to cell phones, enabling coupons from the companies to be stored directly on their wireless devices.

According to UNI Global Union, the Dutch unions representing TNT postal workers have announced that they are to embark on a rolling programme of strike action in a bid to seure a fair wage deal. Last month, workers rejected an offer of 3%.

  Graphic Arts Online has a short article announcing the Postal Regulatory Commission's establishment of a docket on universal postal service and the postal monopoly, and includes the dates and locations of the PRC's planned field hearings on the topic.

DMM Advisory: Priority Mail Open and Distribute Service:  The Postal Service has published a proposal in today's Federal Register to require concatenated UCC/EAN Code 128 barcodes with a unique Service Type Code on all Priority Mail Open and Distribute container labels. Priority Mail Open and Distribute provides an option for mailers to expedite commercial mailings to destination postal facilities using Priority Mail service.

AHN (All Headline News) reported that a new partnership in Bangladesh between the post office and Citibank will help citizens working abroad send money safely home.  Citibank, N. A. Bangladesh and the Bangladesh Post Office on Sunday signed a correspondent network arrangement to help facilitate payments for the banks clients, specially the remittances of Bangladeshis working abroad.  This is the first time that a commercial bank is setting up such a unique correspondent network arrangement with the Bangladesh post office, a Citibank press statement says in the capital, Dhaka on the day.

  Postcomm is seeking views on potential barriers to competition in delivery, the so-called ‘final mile' in the UK postal sector. 
As part of the regulator's forward work plan it is assessing the potential benefits of delivery competition, particularly in ensuring a healthy universal service and supporting  a range of reliable, innovative and efficient postal services, including a universal service reflecting the needs of users, valued by customers, and delivered through a successful Royal Mail and a sustainable competitive market. While competition through access agreements has developed quickly since Royal Mail negotiated the first such agreement in 2004, competition in delivery has actually declined for the last two years.  Postcomm has already identified a number of possible barriers, and the regulator is seeking views on new and emerging issues affecting the growth of competition in delivery.

  Hellmail reported that TNT has been classed a Business Superbrand ahead of rival Royal Mail in a recent YouGov survey of the UK's strongest B2B brands for 2008.  The survey was commissioned by Business Superbrands UK Ltd and canvassed the views of more than 1500 business professionals. Within the list of top 500 brands, TNT is ranked 118, 22 places ahead of Royal Mail, its leading competitor in the UK postal market.

U.S. Postal Workers are to collect non-perishable foodstuffs on May 10th to help ease hunger in the United States, reported The initiative supported by US letter carriers and underpinned by Second Harvest is called 'Stamp Out Hunger'.

DHL is launching the international initiative "Discover Logistics" on the inaugural nationwide "Logistics Day", reported Hellmail. The aim of the initiative is to make this fast growing industry accessible to as many young people as possible and inform them about the international career prospects which the logistics industry offers.  Potential managers can already register for the world's first logistics business simulation on the online portal www.dhl-discoverlogistics.com.

  The Trinidad and Tobago Express reported that members of the public are being asked to empathise with the plight of postal workers who are currently taking industrial action, slowing the delivery of mail.  "It is not that we are trying to hold the public at ransom, it is just that we too are going through difficulty," said Reginald Crichlow, general secretary of the Trinidad and Tobago Postal Workers' Union, yesterday.

  Russian Post has restarted it's money order exchange with Moldova this month, according to Hellmail. The exchange was stopped two years ago due to technical problems. It had been running since 1997.

Deutsch Post AG said it was open to a resumption of talks with union verdi in a bid to avoid a possible walkout at Germany's primary mail delivery company, according to Associated Press.

 PostInsight, Pitney Bowes' comprehensive website of premier postal information, has a number of excellent presentations posted, including "Hybrid Mail: Effectively Transforming Postal Operations," "Following the Trend: Moving the Post Office to Meet the Customer," "All Change at USPS -- Transforming the World's Largest Postal Operation," and "From Postal Operator to Leader in Global Logistics: The Deutsche Post Vision."

  The National Association of Postmasters of the U.S. has a recap of the presentation given by French Professor Phillipe De Donder at the Postal Regulatory Commission recently. NAPUS' newsletter is posted here.

  Message boards and blogs are buzzing in New Zealand as customers adjust to New Zealand Post's new "pricing in proportion" model,  according to The New  Zealand Herald. Customers are finding its more expensive toship parcels in many cases.

  RIA Novosti reports that Russia will resume postal communications with Georgia today. Russian Post Office declared that it would provide all services to Georgia, including monetary transfers. Moscow banned all kinds of transport communication with Tbilisi on 3rd October 2006 in protest of the violations of the international agreements in this sphere. The relations between the states deteriorated after the arrest of Russian officers accused in espionage.

April 20, 2008

  The Postal Regulatory Commission has opened docket PI2008-3 and has invited public comment on universal postal service and the postal monopoly in the United Sates. The Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA) requires the commission to submit a report to the president and Congress on universal service and the monopoly, no later than Dec. 19 2008. Initial comments are due 60 days after publication in the Federal Register. See the PRC's order establishing a docket in the Daily Listing on its website.

  The PRC also issued a recommended decision on the negotiated service agreement (NSA) with the Bradford Group, finding that the proposed NSA meets the requirement of the Postal Reorganization Act, that the agreement is in the best interest of the Postal Service and the mailing community and that the financial analysis supports approval of the agreement. See Friday's Daily Listing.

Online retailers and catalogers alike are facing a new challenge with the news that New York State is looking to charge them taxes for doing business in the state, despite not having any office there. The new "Amazon Tax," which is awaiting approval from Governor David Paterson's office, is expected to meet with opposition, though it hasn't met with much surprise, reported DMNews.

 The Canadian Press reported that Canada Post launched a project last year that tracked the burgeoning number of free mailouts enjoyed by members of Parliament to help bolster the corporation's claims for a bigger government subsidy.  Newly released documents show the project, dubbed Six Sigma, was designed to demonstrate that the post office is losing millions of dollars as Mps and political parties crank up the controversial mailouts. Canada Post "is now in a position to more accurately quantify the volumes and foregone revenue associated with government free mail," says an internal discussion paper, obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act.

  FT.com reported that President Vladimir Putin ordered the Russian government to lift 18-month-old postal and visa restrictions on Georgia, and to hold talks on allowing banned Georgian goods, which include wine and mineral water, back on to the Russian -market.

German postal workers began staging warning strikes early on Monday to raise pressure on Deutsche Post in a dispute over pay, reported Reuters.  The strikes, held in cities including Berlin, Hamburg, Stuttgart, Hanover and Dresden, meant some 3 million letters would go undelivered for the time being.

April 18, 2008

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

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


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.)

Hellmail reported that Postcomm is seeking views on potential barriers to competition in delivery, the so-called ‘final mile’ in the UK postal sector.  As part of the regulator’s forward work plan it is assessing the potential benefits of delivery competition, particularly in ensuring a healthy universal service and supporting a range of reliable, innovative and efficient postal services, including a universal service reflecting the needs of users, valued by customers, and delivered through a successful Royal Mail and a sustainable competitive market.

Hellmail also reported that Postcomm, the independent regulator for postal services, has today published its revised policy in relation to the imposition of financial penalties.  Postcomm has the discretionary power to impose a reasonable financial penalty on a licence holder that has breached or is breaching one or more of its licence conditions. In 2006, Postcomm decided to review this policy.

  The USPS has issued the agenda for the April 29 - May 1 meeting of the Mailers Technical Advisory Committee in Washington, DC.

  PostCom has learned that Julie Moore has been appointed as the new Secretary of the USPS Board of Governors, replacing Wendy Hocking, who will begin a new assignment in USPS Government Relations.  Moore has a wide range of postal experience, both in field and headquarters roles, and in 2000 was selected as a Sloan Fellow, where she received a master of science degree in management from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  She subsequently served as USPS Executive Director, Postal Transformation. 

  In other postal organization moves, Mitzi Betman will act in the position of Vice President, Public Affairs and Communications.  Mitzi has served as Director, Operations Planning and Strategies, in the office of the Deputy Postmaster General and Chief Operating Officer since June 2005. 

According to DutchNews.nl, "Postal delivery workers will begin a series of strikes next week in support of their pay claim. The Hague will be the first to be hit, with no deliveries or collections planned for next Wednesday. Amsterdam will follow two days later. A national strike is planned for May 27.

Harrogate Advertiser has reported that Harrogate businesses are demanding better postal deliveries from Royal Mail. The businesses claim Royal Mail has lost sight of its customers' needs and "totally underestimated" the effect its unreliable deliveries were having on the local economy.

Members of the Verdi union took strike action earlier this week to warn Deutsche Post to take seriously their demands for proper collective contract negotiations, according to Union Network.

April 17, 2008

   Members of the Mailers Council, the nation’s largest coalition of mailers and mailing associations, have elected John L. Campo of Pitney Bowes Inc. to its Board of Directors. Also, the board elected James R. O’Brien as board president, and R. Craig Cecere as secretary/treasurer.

  The DailyMirror news in Sri Lanka reported that postal voting in the Eastern Provincial Council (EPC) polls in Sri Lanka will be held on April 28 and 29 and polling cards to 22,338 eligible postal voters in the three districts will be issued tomorrow, election officials said yesterday.

  U.S. Postal Service inspectors in St. Louis returned $4500 to a St. Charles County woman who sent money to Nigeria after she was duped in an Internet scam, reported MyFox St Louis.

  The Trinidad and Tobago Express reported that  postal workers have started industrial action, crippling various arms of the organisation.  Reginald Crichlow, general secretary of the Trinidad and Tobago Postal Workers' Union (TTPWU), said workers from various sections of the TTPost would be "taking time off to rest from the stressful conditions" until the company decided to return to the negotiating table.

The Warsaw Business Journal Online reported that a postal strike looms as negotiations break down between members of the Solidarity trade union of Poczta Polska (PP) and the company's management board.  During a recent referendum, some 87% of employees supported strike action.

  Officials for jewelry and gifts merchant Ross-Simons say the USPS' proposed "slim jim" rules, if implemented, would lead to the elimination of its entire circulation of 20 million letter-size catalogs in 2008, reported Multichannel Merchant.   In its April 7 comments to the USPS on its proposal, Ross-Simons President/CEO Darrell Ross and Lawrence Davis, vice president of marketing, outlined their concerns.  The company’s current annual mail volume exceeds 40 million catalogs.  According to the letter, in May 2007 when Ross-Simons faced a 34% increase in postage costs for flat mail, it had two choices: “Pull 20 million catalogs from circulation, thereby crippling our business,” or “adopt what the Postal Service extolled as a great compromise: the letter-size catalog or ‘Slim-Jim.’”   “Indeed, Ross-Simons would not be mailing letter-size catalogs if we didn’t have to,” the letter says. “However, our decision was not simply a ‘popularity’ contest; it was a business necessity. Ross-Simons was priced out of mailing 20 million flat-size catalogs and the Postal Service extolled the virtues of letter-size catalogs. We were under the assumption that we could run our business with this new paradigm."

  The Talbots Inc. is the latest multichannel merchant to become a victim of the financial industry's growing wariness of funding retail operations.  Talbots quickly responded, however, by renegotiating terms with its vendors and said these arrangements are expected to be sufficient to fund the company's working capital needs under its 2008 operating plan, reported DMNews.

Hellmail has reported that hybrid mail will form part of the UK postal market.  Recent evidence put forward in a 'Mail Trends' document written by Fouad H. Nader (Adrenale Corporation) and Michael Lintell (Pitney Bowes), suggests that those with internet access are actually likely to send and recieve more mail than someone without internet access. Much of the content is given over to U.S. examples but it does underline a growing fall in mail volume just about everywhere. However, competition has also helped 'ease' the downturn in profitability of many state-owned postal operators in liberalized markets, even if the 'face value' of such mail is less than ordinary stamped mail. This is particularly true of DSA (downsteam access).

  Deutsche Post AG, Europe's biggest postal service, plans to cut 230 employees at its DHL Express division in Bochum, Germany, because of the closure of Nokia Oyj's operations in the city, reported Bloomberg.com.

  According to Bloomberg.com New Zealand's biggest trade union says companies will face demands for higher wages as food and fuel prices soar and houses become less affordable.  The union negotiates for about 50,000 workers in the manufacturing, postal, media and mining industries.

  Technology zooms past Posta's snail mail, reported AllAfrica.com.  "Such is the tribulations of customers of the postal monopoly, the Postal Corporation of Kenya, which operates some 366,000 rental post boxes countrywide," it said.  "The Corporation is watching as businesses worldwide are quickly adopting the latest technology which includes e-mail, mobile phone short message services (SMS) and the Internet to deny it business."

April 16, 2008

  The U.  S. Postal Service today published an advance notice of its proposed rule for the use of Intelligent Mail barcodes on automation mailings of letters and flats. The notice includes revised mailing standards for the use of Intelligent Mail barcodes effective May 2009 concurrent with the date that the USPS will implement the Mailing Services price change.   The comment period will extend 30 days from the date the notice appears in the Federal Register., and the USPS encourages mailers to review and comment on its proposal as soon as possible. It notes that mailers may submit additional comments any time within the comment period.

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

  The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs has posted its hearing schedule, including the April 23 hearing set to consider the nomination of Nanci Langley as commissioner at the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC).

  According to the International Post Corporation (IPC), President Bush has announced he intends to nominate David J. Bronczek, president and chief executive officer of FedEx Express, to the National Infrastructure Advisory Council (NIAC).  The NIAC advises the president, through the Secretary of Homeland Security, on the security of critical infrastructures that support sectors of the economy.  The council is composed of a maximum of 30 members, appointed by the president from private industry, academia, and state and local government.

  Quality of letter service between postal operators in Europe continues at a very high level, reported the International Post Corporation (IPC). "It is far above both the European Union’s speed objective of 85 percent of intra-EU mail delivery within three days, and its reliability objective of 97 percent within five days."  Quality of service performance is measured by IPC’s UNEX end-to-end monitoring system which is conducted independently by an external research firm. Results are based on about 400,000 test letters per year, as they move anonymously through the international mail processing system, from posting to delivery.

  The U. S. Postal Service today published in the Federal Register its final rule outlining changes in mailing standards to support its pricing changes for its competitive products.  The new rules take effect on May 12, 2008.

  TransportIntelligence reported that Descartes Systems Group, a Canada-based global on-demand software-as-a-service (SaaS) logistics solutions provider, is introducing its latest intelligent Automated Vehicle Locator (AVL) wireless services to customers and partners at the company's global user group conference in Atlanta, Georgia, US.  Available on the Descartes Global Logistics Network, the AVL services are said to integrate efficient on-demand delivery route planning and execution with web-based tracking of vehicles via global positioning satellites (GPS). According to Descartes, the AVL services extend visibility to fleets in the field and enable delivery route changes on-the-fly when exceptions occur.  "By integrating on-demand route planning and optimisation with real-time visibility, dispatchers and customer service staff gain access to a web-based view of delivery status in real-time," stated Descartes executive vice president, solutions and services Chris Jones.  "It also provides rapid notification of critical events affecting deliveries, enabling operators to make customer-focused decisions on routes and delivery reservations in real-time to reduce costs, streamline operations and ensure consistent quality of service."

  TransportIntelligence has reported that  J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc., one of the largest transportation logistics companies in North America, has announced 2008 first quarter net earnings of $36.4m, or diluted earnings per share of 28 cents, compared with 2007 first quarter earnings of $44.2m, or 30 cents per diluted share.  "The increase in operating revenue was partially attributable to higher intermodal volumes and significant growth in our integrated capacity solutions (ICS) segment, which more than offset a reduction of revenue in our truck segment," stated J.B. Hunt. "The significant decline in this random, truckload business was primarily due to our actions to reduce the size of the applicable tractor fleet and weaker demand."

  Advertising budgets have suffered due to the slowing economy, according to figures from the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA), with the direct marketing sector showing the biggest decline in eight years, reported printweek.com.   The Bellwether Report from the IPA found that declines in corporate profits and lower consumer spending heavily impacted marketing budgets for the first quarter of 2008, with internet spend masking a poorer picture for print and other sectors.

  DIRECT reported layoffs and freezes will continue for the direct marketing job arena for the second straight quarter, according to the latest Bernhart Associates employment survey.

  Postcomm will hold an open meeting on 14 May at which Royal Mail will present its case on the reasons for its quality of service failures in the past year.  In June 2007, Postcomm agreed Royal Mail’s request to suspend – until the end of its current financial year – the payment of compensation to bulk mail customers, and to ensure that the company is not subject to a downward adjustment to its allowed revenues, where industrial action has taken place and quality of service figures have dropped.  Postcomm agreed to the request because it wished to ensure that Royal Mail was not discouraged from taking the steps needed to modernise its business – such modernisation would be to the benefit of all mail users.

  Nearly one quarter of consumers said purchased items having no resemblance to their image on the Internet as their biggest online shopping frustration, reported DIRECT. A similar amount indicated the inability to speak to a customer service representative at an online store to address any purchasing questions or concerns was their top headache.  While Amazon.com was named the company offering the best online shopping experience by more than one-quarter of online shoppers, 21% could not identify a top candidate.

Apil 10, 2008

  The Postal Regulatory Commission has found that the Postal Service's planned price increases for its competitive products, which USPS calls its shipping services, are in compliance with the "applicable statutory provisions." In its order., the PRC encouraged the Postal Service to provide more complete and unambiguous information in subsequent competitive-products price change filings.

  An audit by the Government Accountability Office into abuse of government credit cards has put the Postal Service on the defensive, the OrlandoSentinal.com  reports. "When the U.S. Postal Service rang up a $13,500 tab at an Orlando steakhouse, it spared no expense during a five-hour meal that government investigators are calling 'abusive' in its extravagance." But U.S. Postal Service officials said it was unfair to compare the dinner with other abuses cited in the GAO report, noting that the Postal Service is funded solely by its own products and services, the article says.

  Matt Broder of Pitney Bowes responds to a blog attack on mail from the Center for Media and Democracy's PR Watch.org. Kudos to Matt and PBI for this quick response and for sharing the facts about mail. It's not a debate if only one side is talking. Or as Matt writes in his response to PR Watch's attack on mail:  "In the marketplace of ideas, what do you find objectionable about a balanced, two-way debate that lets individuals make truly informed decisions on their own?"

April 9, 2008

  The Postal Regulatory Commission issued an order finding the changes the Postal Service made to the rates associated with the passthrough for non-automation machinable mixed AADC letters to automation mixed AADC letters passthrough are consistent with the statute. The changes produce a discount for having mailers affix a barcode on the mailpiece that is consistent with section 3622(e). The changes reduce the class average increase for Standard Mail from 2.875 percent to 2.838 percent. This reduction keeps the Postal Service below the 2.9 percent price cap for the Standard Mail class and results in a revised banked amount of 0.062 percent. Order No. 69 in R2008-1 is available on today's Daily Listing.

Everyone says they want to save post offices, but hardly anyone uses them much these days, The Times Online  laments. Opponents of post office closures make eloquent arguments for their survival. "Yet at the heart of the post office problem is one simple fact. However much we may claim to 'want' there to be post offices, we are increasingly unlikely to use them. They are an antique habit - a virtue, almost - which we are losing. I scarcely visit our local post office at all, and it doesn't take much to winkle out of  'I use it all the time' protesters that, in fact, they vastly exaggerate their own attendance," the article says.

DMM Advisory: New Address Standards for Presorted, Carrier-Route and Automation Flats. The Postal Service has posted an advance copy of the Federal Register notice changing the address standards for flat-size mail on its Postal Explorer. The new standards are effective on March 29, 2009, and require mailers to place the delivery address in the top half of all Periodicals, Standard Mail, Bound Printed Matter, Media Mail and Library Mail flat-size pieces mailed at automation, presorted or carrier-route pieces. Additional formatting standards apply to all commercial flats.

  More news from the IDEAlliance Print Distribution 2008 conference in Las Vegas:  The Postal Service announced that it hopes to publish its proposed Inteligent Mail Barcode (IMB) rules on its Postal Explorer web site within the next week or so. The Postal Service plans to allow a brief comment period (this will be the second opportunity for comments because the USPS published an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking).  Comments are likely to be due on May 2.  The USPS hopes to publish a final rule around May 16, with implementation in May 2009.

Following 14 years of civil war and destruction, Liberia is trying to rebuild its infrastructure and institutions and restore peace and security, and as part of that effort, the United States is helping to deliver the mail to millions of Liberians who want to be in contact with each other and the rest of the world, accoring to News Blaze. The U.S. Postal Service, with the help of other U.S. government agencies, delivered thousands of dollars' worth of postal equipment to Liberia. It has been training Liberians in the use of that equipment and in ways to set up an efficient postal service.

April 8, 2008

  Update from the IDEAlliance Print Distribution 2008 conference in Las Vegas: Tom Day, senior vice president of intelligent mail and address quality, said the Postal Service legally cannot announce the exact pricing for the automation rates that will be attached to the various barcoding requirements (Intelligent Mail Barcode Full Service, IMB Basic Service and POSTNET barcode) until its annual price change process for new prices that would take effect in May 2009. Conference attendees strongly encouraged the Postal Service to explore ways it can work with industry to determine appropriate incentives that would allow mailers to make the necessary decisions to determine their ROI for converting to IMBs. Attendees also urged the USPS to communicate ballpark pricing as soon as possible.

 · Also at the IDEAlliance conference, the Postal Service said it expects to publish this week a final rule for flats address placement and flat address construction reqirements.  The Postal Service said the rule, which it would publish on its Postal Explorer as soon as it is finalized, reflects the feedback mailers provided in the first comment period. (The USPS published its original proposed rule in October 2007.)  The implementation date for the new rules will be March 29, 2009. Mailers can expect the final rule to include the following requirements for flats address placement: the address appear completely in the top half of the mailpiece, and for smaller digest-sized flats, the rule will allow the address to cross the mid-point as long as it starts within an inch of the top; the address cannot be upside down as read by the carrier, but if the address is vertical (parallel to the bound edge), it can be read in either direction. For flats address construction, the final rule will include the following requirements: for pieces using a delivery point barcode (11-D or IMB), a minimum 6-point font is required and for pieces bearing a barcode that is not a delivery point barcode, minimum font size would be 8 points; no more than five blank spaces between address elements; and characters in the address cannot touch and address lines cannot touch or overlap. Look for  detailed information on the final rule in this week's issue of the PostCom Bulletin.

  And we always thought "please" was the  magic word. The consumer reporter for NBC4 in Washington, DC, found that using the word "cheaper" when asking about prices for shipping a package prompted clerks to provide the lower Parcel Post prices. An NBC4 producer went to five post offices in the area to ship a box of books and found that only one post office volunteered the lower Parcel Post price for shipping without a prompt. Only when she asked whether there was something "cheaper" at the other four did the producer get told the lower Parcel Post price.

  It's "green week" on  Live with Regis and Kelly so you know what that means... more misinformation about mail and the environment. Today's show featured a segment on getting off mailing lists. (Editor's suggestion for next week's shows: reducing the number of fluff shows on television, which by the way, are supported by advertising.)

  For the first time ever, the U.S. Postal Service is offering discounts based on volume, as well as other incentives, including online discounts, for Express Mail, Priority Mail and other shipping services, effective May 12, according to the USPS. These rate changes are now posible due to a change in federal law, enabling the Postal Service to better compete in the shipping market, said Steve Rifai, director of marketing for Endicia, an Internet postage service and an approved licensed vendor of the USPS. E-Commerce Guide highlights some of the new Postal Service offerings in this article.

Arcandor AG, the owner of Karstadt department stores and the Quelle catalog company, said Russia may become its largest overseas mail-order market next year as sales surge in the country, Bloomberg.com reported. "The mail-order market is undergoing a boom in Russia," said Marc Sommer, the head of Arcandor's Primondo mail-order unit.
People begin to realize how convenient it is to order by catalog and get goods delivered to your home."

Medco Health Solutions Inc., the biggest U.S. manager of drug benefits, acquired a majority stake in mail-order pharmacy Europa Apotheek Venlo BV for $120 million to enter the growing German market,  Bloomberg.com reported. Medco, the first U.S. company to enter the German pharmacy market, is taking on Celesio AG, Europe's largest wholesaler. The companies are vying for share of a 35 billion-euro ($55.2 billion) market as restrictions on dispensing medicines ease.

April 7, 2008

  Mailers of flat mail and their suppliers should be sure to attend the Flats Symposium at the National Postal Forum, scheduled for Tuesday, May 20.  The NPF will be held in Anaheim, CA, from May 18-21. The Flats Symposium on May 20 will provide an overview of the Postal Service's flats vision, an update on the Flats Sequencing System, including address placement issues, and flats containerization, and the day will close with a "town hall" meeting. For more information, check out the detailed brochure available on  the flats sequencing brochure of the NPF's website.

 Reuters reports that German union Verdi said today that it expected Deutsche Post to make a negotiable offer on conditions for workers on Wednesday and threatened unlimited strikes if that did not happen.

  The premier privacy trust study in America has named the The U.S. Postal Service  the Most Trusted Government Agency for the fourth year in a row. More than 86 percent of the 9,000 Americans surveyed by the Ponemon Institute ranked the Postal Service first among 74 agencies as the one that is best able to keep their information safe and secure. Copies of the 2008 Privacy Trust Study of the United States Government are available at www.ponemon.org.

  Can a National Turkey Bite Prevention Week be far behind? The manager of the Hilldale Station Post Office in Madson, Wisconsin, says wild turkeys have been pestering postal delivery workers in Parkwood Hills, the Wisconsin State Journal reports.

  The Postal Regulatory Commission's redesigned web site is up and running. New and improved, indeed! Check it out at www.prc.gov.

April 6, 2008

  A Postal Service proposal to cut costs by expanding the number of Western Alaska villages where bypass mail is distributed has sparked a turf battle over the lucrative program, The Seward Phoenix Log reported. Created by Alaskan Senator Ted Stevens in the 1970s, the $150 million bypass program subsidizes bulk mail delivery and air travel in rural Alaska.

Allan Leighton has chaired the Royal Mail for six turbulent years. But with the row over post office closures hotting up, why is he spending so much time in Canada? Andrew Davidson of the The Sunday Times interviews the chairman of Royal Mail. (Yes,  they say "hotting up" over there, not "heating up.")

  Women in Logistics and Delivery Services, a nonprofit organization created to promote women's leadership in the postal and delivery industries, will host a discussion and reception on April 29 on the topic, "The Expanding Impact of Mail in this Election Season." Speakers for the event are Trish Hoppey, partner, MSHC Partners; Ann Daley, vice president, postal pricing & policy development, Pitney Bowes Inc.; and Karen Tucker, acting manager, correspondence and transactions, Postal Service. For more information on the event or the organization, visit the WILDS website, www.shedelivers.org.

The Bangledesh  governent has the exclusive privilege of conveying by post, from one place to another, all letters. The government will also have the exclusive privilege of performing all the incidental services of receiving, collecting, sending, dispatching and delivering all letters. Some private courier services are doing business outside their legal rights by taking advantage of the age-old, ambiguous law that sets the terms for letter mail delivery and incidental services, according to a report in the Daily Star.

April 4, 2008

  Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which has oversight over the US Postal Service, addressed the National Association of Postal Supervisors on Apr. 1 during its annual conference in Washington DC. On the topics of direct mail and calls for Do Not Mail registries, Sen. Collins said: “Direct mail is in no way comparable to the unsolicited and invasive telephone calls that are curbed by the Do Not Call registry. Direct mail imposes no burden on the public, it causes no interruptions, and I, for one, look forward to the Bed, Bath & Beyond coupons I get in the mail. A Do Not Mail registry would attempt to solve a problem that does not exist and would have devastating consequences for every home, community, and business that relies upon our Postal Service. I commend the postal community for joining with the Direct Marketing Association and other business groups to form the Mail Moves America Coalition to educate consumers and states on how a Do Not Mail registry could be detrimental to them. You may be sure that if this issue comes before the Senate you will find no stronger advocate than me for your interests.”   For the full text of the Senator’s speech, click here.

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

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UK small businesses are crying out for an alternative to the postal service as concerns mount over the increased number of local post office closures forcing firms to use expensive courier companies, reported vnunet.com.

According to DMNews,  "The estimated amount of direct mail sent by credit card companies in the United States dropped 3% from December 2007 to January 2008, according to research from Mintel Comperemedia, a media monitoring service."

Hundreds of folks expecting to pick up their Social Security checks in Corpus Christi, TX, on Thursday had to leave the Post Office empty-handed because "a lot of those checks were sent to the wrong place because of a mistake by the postal service," reported KRISTV.comThe local post office said it is working quickly to fix the problem, which began at a mail-sorting facility in San Antonio.  The mistake is blamed on human error when hundreds of checks were apparently sent to the wrong Zip codes.

  DMNews reports that "a company specializing in custom printing prevailed in an auction that was held earlier this week to purchase bankrupt cataloger Lillian Vernon."  "Though the sale to North Mankato, MN-based Taylor Corp. must still be approved by US Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, DE, Michael Muoio, CEO at Lillian Vernon, said he expects the deal to close on April 10," it reported.

April 3, 2008

The Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) on Monday, April 7, 2008, will unveil its new web site (http://www.prc.gov).  The current website will be unavailable beginning today, Thursday, April 3, after 5 pm through Sunday, April 6.  The enhanced site will provide seamless access to Commission information and will be easier for users to navigate with updated security, usability, and accessibility standards.

On Thursday, April 17, 2008, at 10:30 am, the Postal Regulatory Commission, together with the U.S. Postal Service, is sponsoring a lecture by Philippe De Donder, Visiting Assistant Professor at Yale University and a Research Fellow at the National Centre for Scientific Research at the Toulouse School of Economics, Toulouse, France. Professor De Donder will speak on “Funding USO and Optimal Worksharing Discounts.” The public is invited to attend the presentation, which will be held in the Commission’s hearing room, 901 New York Avenue, N.W., Suite 200, Washington, DC.

Nigel Stapleton, chairman of Postcomm, the independent postal regulator, today welcomed the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform John Hutton’s reappointment of Wanda Goldwag as Postcomm commissioner. Ms Goldwag has been reappointed for a further three years.  

Reuters has reported that "France's Banque Postale, the state-owned post office bank launched in 2006, reported a rise in earnings in 2007, despite strong competition, and said it would start offering consumer loans in 2009 or 2010."  "The bank said its net attributable income grew 9.4 percent to 539.6 million euros ($843.2 million)."

Freedom is not just a concept in Wisconsin...it shortly will be a recognized USPS destination.  The Post-Crescent reported that the USPS has revealed its plan to offer town residents the choice of using "the long-awaited mailing identifier of Freedom as their home addresses."  "The announcement ends a 20-year fight to mend what residents have called their "fractured postal identity," the Post-Crescent reported.

TWeb has reported that "Absa has completed the handover of its virtual Internet service provider (ISP) business to @lantic Internet, part of Vox Telecom." Absa introduced free Internet access in January 2001 and set itself up as a virtual ISP to “get customers used to Internet banking. "People really want this service, as immediacy is becoming more important and you can't rely on the postal service, which also takes time," said Carl Louw, the bank's internet channel head.

April 2, 2008

"The trucking industry has called for a shutdown of all trucks for the full first week of April, in hopes of drawing government attention to the issues currently driving profitability from the industry, primarily the prolonged soaring cost of diesel fuel," reported  Quebecor World Logistics. "Although the total number of truckers involved in this shutdown is unknown," it said, "the majority of drivers involved are believed to be independent contractors looking for a solution from the government to provide immediate relief to this crisis."

In his opening comments at the Postal Service's Board of Governors open meeting this morning, PMG Jack Potter said the economy remains the Postal Service's biggest challenge in the short-term. The discouraging financial trends the USPS experienced in the first quarter of the fiscal year have heightened in quarter two. The Postal Service will continue its aggressive cost-cutting to offset the erosion in mail volume, he said.   The Board of Governors approved funding for two capital projects at today's meeting: the purchase of 550 Advanced Facer Canceller System (AFCS) machines to replace existing sorters operating on dated technology; and the purchase of 400 computer systems to replace existing National Directory Support System (NDSS) and the Integrated Data System (IDS). The NDSS contains the nation’s 148 million addresses and downloads ZIP Code directories to more than 13,000 letter, flat and parcel sorting machines weekly. On a daily basis, the NDSS generates and downloads more than 25,000 programs to sort mail in the order of delivery.

[PostCom logo

PostCom welcomes its newest member: Capital One, 15000 Capital One Drive, Attn: 12071-0110, Richmond, VA 23238, represented by  Niki Howard, Supplier Manager

  "This year, celebrate Earth Day by clearing the clutter of junk mail from your home with the 41pounds.org service. Named for the amount of junk mail the average American receives every year, 41pounds.org stops postal junk mail and unwanted catalogs," as reported by Forbes(Obviously this site needs some education about the insignificant impact of advertising mail on the environment!)

The Guardian reported that "The Communication Workers Union yesterday called for fresh talks on pensions reform after a ballot of 140,000 members voted heavily against Royal Mail's plans to curb the fund's £5bn deficit."

Direct Marketers are to be dealt a heavy blow by the CPUT (Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading) on May 28th 2008. New regulatons come into force that will compel marketers to adhere to new rules or face a prison sentence or a maximum fine of £5k.  Under the new regulations which ban 31 practices in Direct Marketing, marketers could now face imprisonment if they continue to mail consumers who have contracted out for marketing purposes," reported Hellmail.

Bloomberg.com reported that "Deutsche Post AG increased 46 cents, or 2.3 percent, to 20.12 euros. HSBC Holdings Plc raised its share-price estimate for Europe's largest postal service by 3.7 percent to 28 euros."

Hellmail has reported that "Postcomm, the independent regulator for postal services, has today announced it is minded to accept Royal Mail’s proposed changes to its retail compensation arrangements for lost, damaged and delayed mail."

Denmark and Sweden plan to merge their postal services and sell shares within five years, giving them more clout to compete with companies including Deutsche Post AG and TNT NV," according to Bloomberg.com.

Bloomberg.com reported that Deutsche Post AG, Europe's biggest mail carrier, agreed to sell real estate to U.S. buyout firm Lone Star Funds for 1 billion euros ($1.6 billion) to focus on its postal-delivery business.  Lone Star, which has headquarters in Dallas, will pay cash for about 1,300 Deutsche Post assets located mainly in Germany, the Bonn-based company said today in a statement. Deutsche Post will transfer the properties to Lone Star on July 1 and then lease most of them back. 

Bloomberg.com reported that "Europe's biggest maker of mailroom equipment had a 30 percent decline in second-half profit after U.S. demand for new postal machines fell short of forecasts and the company booked a reorganization charge."

April 1, 2008

According to WTOP News, "Nearly three dozen workers at a Northern Virginia post office have tested positive for exposure to tuberculosis, but officials say there is no cause for alarm."

According to Advertising Age, "Time Inc., whose star performers singled out include People and Real Simple, is undergoing a sometimes-wrenching transformation from a print company to a multiplatform media company. Moves toward that end -- amid challenging market conditions for all print publishers. According to the company, digital sales growth in the beginning of 2008 is outpacing any decline in print."