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Postal News from December 2008:

December 31, 2008

According to Reuters, "Online sales for the holiday period up to December 23 fell 3 percent from the same period last year, marking the first decline in online spending since comScore Inc started tracking online sales in 2001."

According to Africa Business Daily, " At Posta, e-driven reforms pay off ."

The Postal Regulatory Commission today established Docket No. ACR 2008 to review the Postal Service’s 2008 Annual Compliance Report (ACR) filed on December 29, 2008. The Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006 (PAEA) requires the Commission to review the ACR and make an Annual Compliance Determination (ACD) within 90 days. The Commission’s ACD will address compliance of rates and fees under applicable standards, as well as whether service standards in effect during the period covered by the 2008 ACR were met.

As the Associated Press has noted, "It's been a devastating year for the nation's railroads, trucking companies and package shippers - the companies on the "front lines" of the economic recession. Shipments have plunged as retailers pulled back on orders and consumers tied their purse strings tight in preparation for more hard times. Swiftly accelerating oil prices through the first seven months of the year crippled companies even more."

Media Daily News has reported that "The newspaper business got another round of alarming (but not terribly surprising) news over the last week, as three leading publishers revealed that ad revenues essentially fell off a cliff in November. As the New York Times Co., McClatchy and Media General are bellwethers for the industry overall, their weak results suggest that newspapers will see a year-over-year fourth-quarter revenue decline in the double digits, possibly exceeding 20%. Online revenues, previously the sole bright spot on the books, slipped 2.6% in November. Overall, this year's declines have compounded a trend that started last year. In 2007, total advertising revenue fell 4.9% compared to 2006, making 2008 the second year of losses in a row."

According to the Greenville News, "The United State Postal Service mail processing facility in Greenville will quadruple in size to consolidate services in 2010."

Business Week has noted that "Adam Parks is an avid reader of digital books. But you won't find him downloading the 20 or so titles he reads each year onto an electronic book device like Amazon's Kindle. Instead, Parks flips through pages—Web-site design manuals and Sun Tzu's The Art of War are recent favorites—on his trusted iPhone. As smartphones have become more ubiquitous, so have the tools that make it easy for users to download a book for a fraction of the cost of buying one elsewhere."

According to Information Week, "Mobile banking is a common service in countries like Japan, though less than 10% of U.S. consumers use their cell phones to perform banking transactions. The single biggest factor for the low adoption rate is concerns over security, according to a new report by Javelin Strategy & Research. The report, titled "2008 Mobile Banking Security Standards," said 47% of nonparticipants did not sign up because of security. Despite the lack of large-scale mobile phone attacks, 73% of consumers fear hackers could remotely access their phones. Those surveyed also expressed concern that their sensitive mobile banking data could be stolen with a wireless signal despite encryption, and more than half were worried about what would happen if their phone was stolen."

The Philadelphia Inquirer has reported that "Exel Inc. intends to eliminate 131 jobs in Philadelphia when it halts operations at 3820 N. Second St. starting May 1. The company, based in Westerville, Ohio, runs a distribution center for General Motors Corp. at that location, according to a filing with the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry. A $4.7 billion provider of contract logistics services, Exel is a subsidiary of Deutsche Post World Net, the European postal company that also owns DHL."

"The Postal Service has released additional details on the voluntary early retirement (VER) offer recently authorized by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) for USPS employees in clerk, mail handler, supervisor of distribution operations, and supervisor of customer services positions. The offer is open to employees in positions that meet the OPM conditions and who are at least 50 years of age with 20 years of creditable federal service or any age with 25 years of creditable federal service."

The Fiji Daily Post has reported that "Post Fiji Limited handed over a $371,772 cheque dividend for 2007 to the Government yesterday. Post Fiji Chairman, Ioane Naivalurua said business for the company had been satisfactory and this showed in its stable financial position. He said Fiji’s postal service provider was doing well but he believed that 2009 would be a better year."

WKOW-TV has reported that "The post office is making route changes around the state, but, in the Village of Clinton, people are worried where that might lead. Starting Saturday, the Beloit Post Office will be taking over Clinton's rural routes. When some former employees of the post office found out about this, they told people that is a precursor to the post office shutting down. The US Postal Service said it acknowledges the role the post office plays in communities. "We know that's important we know a lot of times that's the livelihood of a community. We have no plans and there are no plans to close the Clinton Post Office," stated Don Kieler, US Postal Service. The Postal Service says has to constantly make changes like these to stay competitive. "The mail volume is going down, so like any other company, we're doing things to control costs," explained Kieler."

December 30, 2008

The Postal Service's Comprehensive Statement of Postal Operations for Fiscal 2008 can be found on the Postal Service's web site.

The November/December MailPro [HTML] | [PDF] is available now on usps.com/mailpro. You’ll find informative articles on the new shipping services prices, with answers to frequently asked questions; our five-year strategic plan; and four new or updated Intelligent Mail Guides.     Customers can access current and past issues of MailPro online or subscribe by sending an e-mail to mncsc@usps.com. Include your name, title, company name, complete delivery address, and daytime phone number.

According to the Dead Tree Edition, "If you’re one of those sick people who like to rubberneck at accidents, keep an eye on the U.S. Postal Service’s Intelligent Mail Barcode initiative. It’s a train wreck waiting to happen. Representatives of mailers, printers, and mailing-industry vendors in such organizations as Idealliance and the Association for Postal Commerce (PostCom) are nearly unanimous in their frustration with the Postal Service’s lack of communication and planning regarding IMb."

The Alaska Journal of Commerce has reported that "If Alaska's transportation industry officials held up a crystal ball to predict what the next year will bring they would see through the fog that there are changes coming on the horizon. Two of the biggest issues in the upcoming year will be the cost of fuel, and the future of the U.S. Postal System's Bypass Mail Program."

Check out the Wall Street Journal piece on marketing and web 2.0. Then check out the article on "President-elect Barack Obama's call to improve the nation's broadband infrastructure has cable and phone company lobbyists maneuvering to get a leg up. Lawmakers in Congress want a plan that will create jobs over the next two to three years while also tackling the longer-term goal of improving the availability and quality of high-speed Web access in the U.S."  Stamps? What stamps? We don't need no stinking stamps.

The Philadelphia Daily News has reported that "Top officials of the U.S. Postal Service and the American Postal Workers Union are monitoring the serious mail problems in Philadelphia. But William Burrus, national president of the APWU, warned of an even worse problem on the horizon than "just the delay of the mail." With a nearly $3 billion loss in fiscal '08, and a projected deficit of up to $5 billion in the current year, the USPS is "close to not being able to sustain a national postal-service system to the public," Burrus said. "I would not use a word as strong as 'insolvent,' " he said. "But they are in enormous debt. They are in very, very, bad circumstances. "If they continue on a downward trajectory, it may happen sooner rather than later," he added."

The BBC has noted that "The Royal Mail is to launch a campaign to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the postcode. It will stress the importance of using the letters and numbers that make up postcodes on mailed items. Almost a fifth of non-business letters, cards and packets are sent without a full or accurate postcode."

December 29, 2008

The U.S. Postal Service has filed its Annual Compliance Report (ACR) for FY 2008 with the Postal Regulatory Commission. Be sure to check the daily listing for December 29 for all of the Postal Service's reports and work papers regarding its services.

Gear Live would like you to "Take a look at Zumbox, a startup that is a nationwide paperless postal service. They have one virtual mailbox for every street address which they estimate at 150MM+. To use the service, after signup you type in your street address and view your mail as an envelope. Use it to send mail to any other address, including your bills, statements and personal mail. It costs nothing to receive mail and you can send free a “small amount.” Businesses will pay an introductory price of $.02 per address for large mailings."

Logistics Management has reported that "As shippers huddle in a post-holiday “damage control” mode, many of them are hoping the new White House administration will provide some relief."

From today's Federal Register:

Postal Regulatory Commission
RULES
International Mail Contracts,
79396–79400 [E8–30736] [TEXT]  [PDF]
 
Postal Service
 
PROPOSED RULES
New Standards For Letter-Size Booklets and Folded Self-Mailers,
79430–79435 [E8–30752] [TEXT]  [PDF]

DMM Advisory: Today, in the Federal Register is published our proposal [HTML] | [PDF] for new mailing standards for letter-size booklets and folded self-mailers, which we posted previously on Postal Explorer. We encourage customers to review and comment before January 28 by writing to the Manager of Mailing Standards, U.S. Postal Service, 475 L'Enfant Plaza SW, Room 3436, Washington DC 20260-3436.   In addition to mailing or delivering them to the office of Mailing Standards, you also can submit comments via e-mail to MailingStandards@usps.gov. When commenting by e-mail, please indicate “Letter-Size Booklets and Folded Self-Mailers” in the subject line.   The Domestic Mail Manual (DMM) is available on Postal Explorer (pe.usps.com)."

Pacific magazine has reported that "Fiji’s postal and telecommunications services could be disrupted or halted next month if some 1,200 workers go on strike. The union says the quasi-government agency offered tiered wage hikes of between 1 and 3 percent per year. The union believes its workers are entitled to a 5.8 percent salary increase."

December 28, 2008

Hellmail has reported that "The Spanish postal operator Correos is to increase charges on postal items from January 1st 2009. Inland letters and postcards will require a 0.32 franking instead of 0.31 up to 20 grams and the 0.43 if they weigh between 20 and 50 grams. For international letters and postcards, standard mail up to 20 grams will be 0.62, and 1,29 for 20 and 50 grams. Interurban and international tariffs up to 50 grams will increase by 2.04%, whereas the average update of prices across all services in 2009 will be 2.66%."

The Times has reported that "Lord Mandelson is preparing to make concessions over the part-privatisation of Royal Mail after warnings that up to 100 Labour backbenchers will rebel against the government over its plans. The business secretary is expected to offer a statutory guarantee that no more than about a third of the postal service will be sold to the private sector. Labour rebels have been concerned that Mandelson’s plan, rushed out just before parliament’s Christmas break, is a “slippery slope” towards full-scale privatisation. However, last night a senior government source said Mandelson was ready to give ground to the rebels: “The potential for rebellion is huge. There need to be clear reassurances that we have no intention of pushing further.”     

The Mirror has reported that "Campaigners are calling on Lord Mandelson to ditch his plans for the partial sale of the Royal Mail. They want the Business Secretary to back their plan to turn the network of post offices into a new "People's Bank"."

The Greater Triad Business Journal has reported that "FedEx says it will delay the opening of its much anticipated sorting hub at Piedmont Triad International Airport and initially hire fewer employees, according to multiple press reports."

December 27, 2008

The Staten Island Advance has reported that "With the flagging economy triggering unprecedented losses, the United States Postal Service (USPS) is reorganizing delivery routes on Staten Island in hopes of cutting costs. The change is part of a nationwide effort to right an agency that lost $2.8 billion last year after experiencing the largest percentage decline in mail volume since the Great Depression."

The Times of Malta has reported that "This Christmas saw a 52 per cent increase in the amount of packages shipped to Malta over the same period last year, with books, DVDs and CDs topping the list of the most popular items, according to Maltapost. It comes as no surprise because some items can be bought online for about half the price in Malta, according to a simple analysis by The Times. Better still, most online shops include free packaging, shipping and home delivery."

The Mainichi Daily News has reported that "Losses caused by the fraudulent use of a discount postal service totaled about 4.6 billion yen between April 2007 and October 2008, Japan Post Service has announced. Japan Post Service conducted investigations after finding out that companies exploited a discount service intended for disabled groups to send advertisements to consumers at a lower cost."

The Independent has reported that "More than 100 Labour MPs are ready to defy the Government and join a guerrilla campaign against moves to sell off a stake in Royal Mail. The backlash against the part-privatisation – with plans being drawn up for protests around the country – threatens to present Gordon Brown with his biggest rebellion of 2009."

December 26, 2008

According to Digital Trends, "New estimates put the number of active mobile connections worldwide at about 4 billion - meaning, in theory, about sixty percent of all humanity has a cell phone."

As Wales Online has noted, "they were once seen as bastions of queuing pensioners, but the nation’s struggling post offices may have found an unlikely new saviour in a generation of internet shoppers. In the past year post offices in Wales say they have experienced a surge in sales of around 10%, largely due to high-spending internet shoppers and fans of web-based auction sites such as eBay. And over the next two years, Royal Mail says it expects business generated from online sales and home shopping to increase by around 20%, prompting claims internet shoppers could help prevent the demise of this mainstay of the high street."

The Asahi Shimbun has reported that "About 80 percent of mail sent through a special discount postal service for disability support organizations over a 19-month period was unqualified for the lower rates, Japan Post Service Co. officials said Wednesday. The loss through the abuse of the system totaled at least 4.9 billion yen, they said. Of the roughly 188 million items sent under the system between April 2007 and the end of October this year, 148 million copies of 17 publications did not meet the requirements for the discounts and mainly contained advertising material for companies."

December 25, 2008

Fox News has reported that "As the economic recession deepens, more and more states are turning to temporary furloughs to grapple with severe budget shortfalls, prompting questions about whether the cash-strapped federal government should try the same."

The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press has reported that "The internet, which emerged this year as a leading source for campaign news, has now surpassed all other media except television as a main source for national and international news." See also CNET News.

The Peninsula has reported that "Qatar National Bank (QNB), the country’s leading bank, and Qatar Postal Corporation (Q-Post) have signed an agreement under which Q-Post will provide comprehensive postal services to the bank."

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

December 24, 2008

MSNBC has reported that "Three Bay area members of Congress — Reps. Gus Bilirakis, Kathy Castor and Adam Putnam — say they intend to launch new congressional efforts to create a free-mail-to-troops program for service members in combat zones. The trio plan to push for passage of a bill in the congressional session that will start in January. Such a program has been estimated by the Congressional Budget Office to cost taxpayers as much as $30 million over two years."

According to Multichannel Merchant, "A few days after the U.S. Postal Service revealed its proposed changes to slim-jim catalogs, the executive director of the American Catalog Mailers Association says he’s happy with the revisions. “Overall, I am pleased to see so many of the concerns we have raised in discussions and prior comments on this issue reflected in the soon to be published Federal Register notice, says ACMA executive director Hamilton Davison. What’s more, he says the language choices “clearly reflect a more customer-oriented perspective than we have seen from the USPS historically.”

In response to a member inquiry, American Postal Workers Union President William Burrus said: "There is no question that under Potter’s leadership, decisions detrimental to the Postal Service have been made; but I do not begrudge him a salary commensurate with his responsibilities. Jack Potter is the Postmaster General of the largest postal system in the world; he is the CEO of the 10th largest commercial enterprise in our country, which is second only to Wal-Mart in the number of workers it employs. Despite the scope of his responsibility, he is the lowest paid CEO of a major corporation in our country."

According to FinancialAdvice.co.uk, "News that first-class stamps in UK will rise by 3p to 39p from April 2009, which is roughly twice the rate of inflation, is seen by many as further evidence that the Royal Mail will soon be sold off by the government. This latest rise comes on the back of potentially tens of thousands of job cuts, a partial sell-off to Dutch group TNT and concern about the state of the company's pension fund. There are rumours that the taxpayer will need to inject substantial amounts of money into the pension fund to steady the ship ahead of a possible sell-off."

DMM Advisory:  The U.S. Postal Service has noted that "Last week we posted an advance copy of the Federal Register notice proposing new mailing standards for letter-size booklets and folded self-mailers. We invite your written comments on our proposal. In addition to mailing or delivering them to the office of Mailing Standards, we can now accept comments via e-mail to MailingStandards@usps.gov. When commenting by e-mail, please indicate “Letter-Size Booklets and Folded Self-Mailers” is the subject line.   The comment period ends 30 days after the notice appears in the Federal Register. We will use the DMM Advisory to let you know when it is published."

The Financial Times has reported that "Postal prices will rise by an average of 5.85 per cent from April 6, Royal Mail has announced - just below the 6 per cent maximum permitted by the regulator. Much larger increases will be charged to users of stamped mail, where the price of the cheapest first class and second class stamps will rise by 3p to 39p and 30p respectively. Business customers will pay on average 4.2 per cent extra. The rises mean that stamped mail will remain loss-making, with UK postal charges still among the lowest in Europe. The universal one-price- goes-everywhere service is losing more than £100m a year, as competition from digital communication eats into mail volumes."

Wales Online has reported that "a new £4.5m Welsh Assembly fund for beleaguered post offices has been welcomed. The One Wales Government’s Post Office Diversification Fund will be launched next month to help sub-postmasters and sub-postmistresses to develop their businesses by providing money for such things as business and marketing advice, advertising, training and some set-up costs for new services."

The Reporter has noted that "Local package shippers are noticing a difference among those shipping gifts and other boxes to friends and family. Folks seem to be waiting longer to ship items and seem to be choosing the cheaper, and slower, options when sending the gifts."

Register Early and Save on Admission to 2009 National Postal Forum May 17-20 – Washington, DC. Postmaster General John Potter will deliver the keynote speech May 18. A closing gala reception will be held at the newly reopened Smithsonian National Museum of American History. An early registration price of $900 is offered through Feb. 28. Onsite registration increases to $995 for most attendees. For more information and to register, go to npf.org or call 703-218-5015.

Federal Register:

Postal Regulatory Commission:
RULES

Accounting and Periodic Reporting Rules, 79256–79265 [E8–30613] [TEXT]  [PDF]
NOTICES
Universal Postal Service, 79198–79199 [E8–30758] [TEXT]  [PDF] 

Postal Service:
RULES

Bylaws of the Board of Governors, 78981–78991 [E8–30020] [TEXT]  [PDF]
NOTICES
Product Change; Express Mail & Priority Mail Contract 1 Negotiated Service Agreements, 79199 [E8–30573] [TEXT]  [PDF]
Product Change; Express Mail Contract 2 Negotiated Service Agreements, 79199 [E8–30576] [TEXT]  [PDF]
Product Change; Parcel Return Service Contract 1 Negotiated Service Agreements, 79199 [E8–30609] [TEXT]  [PDF]
Product Change; Priority Mail Contract 2 Negotiated Service Agreements, 79199 [E8–30610] [TEXT]  [PDF]
Product Change; Priority Mail Contract 3 Negotiated Service Agreements, 79199–79200 [E8–30572] [TEXT]  [PDF]
Product Change; Priority Mail Contract 4 Negotiated Service Agreements, 79200 [E8–30611] [TEXT]  [PDF]

Media Daily News has reported that "At a time of year when big magazine publishers normally are locking down annual advertising rate increases for the coming year, demand for magazine advertising is proving as volatile as the overall economy, and media buyers expect corporate publishing deals to stretch on to early 2009."

In a letter addressed to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Federal Workforce, Postal Service, and the District of Columbia Subcommittee Chairman Danny Davis (D-IL) and Ranking Minority Member John McHugh (R-NY) said:/p>

"We are writing to request that the text of H.R. 7313, introduced on December 9, 2008, be included in the economic stimulus package currently being developed. This bill would assist the U.S. Postal Service to address its serious financial constraints and would serve to protect existing Postal Service jobs.

"Challenging economic conditions are reducing mail volume substantially. The Postal Service lost 9 billion pieces of mail in FY2008. In addition, Congress statutorily required the Postal Service to begin pre-funding its retiree health benefits obligation in 2006 and this requirement is also placing a tremendous burden on the Postal Service.
The payment schedule statutorily mandated by the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006 (PAEA) requires the Postal Service to make an annual payment ranging from $5.4 to $5.8 billion from 2007 to 2016. In addition, under PAEA, the Postal Service makes a separate payment to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) for its annual retiree health benefit premiums until 2016.

"Based on our conversations with the Postmaster General, it is clear that the Postal Service understands that it must constrain costs. The Postal Service reduced the number of employees by more than 100,000; offered a voluntary early retirement to virtually every employee in the Postal Service; and is exploring a variety of ways to consolidate its processes to achieve efficiency while maintaining service. However, the Postal Service's fixed network costs cannot be reduced immediately.

"To address the Postal Service's immediate financial distress, we believe Congress should amend the PAEA to leave the ten-year PAEA payment stream intact, but allow the Postal Service to pay its retiree health premiums out of the Retiree Health Benefit Trust Fund (RHBF), rather than make a separate payment to OPM. This option would simply accelerate a provision in PAEA, which states that after 2016, premium payments would no longer be paid separately, but would be drawn from the RHBF. We would note that at the end of FY2008, the RHBF had a balance of roughly $32 billion, so the goal of pre-funding retiree health benefits would continue.

"This change would ease the financial pressure while the Postal Service pursues the long-term actions necessary to address the network costs. It would also reduce the need for the Postal Service to borrow money from the Treasury for the sole purpose of depositing that money into the RHBF."

The National Association of Major Mail Users has told its members that "As you are aware, Canada Post re-gazetted on October 18 the Transaction Mail (Lettermail) rates proposed for January 2009. The 60-day appeal period ended December 18, and the government now makes the decision taking all comments into account.

"We do not have the final information at this point, however, it seems certain that:

  • The <30g BLR .02 cent increase will be approved, and the <30g commercial Incentive rates you have already been advised will then come into force January 12 as planned;
  • The 31-50g commercial Incentive rates are in question and you will need to contact your Canada Post representative in the new year for the final decision;
  • The newly proposed Irregular Oversize Lettermail rates will not be approved. This new rate category was very controversial and refusal at this time means a win-win solution can still be found with mailers."

The Muskogee Phoenix has reported that "The postal agency announced the move a few weeks ago, stating declining mail volume dictates the move next year. While the Postal Service spokesman didn’t say delivery would not be affected, he did say the move will save transportation and off-loading time. A representative of the American Postal Union criticized the service, saying the move would mean the Muskogee office would lose control of delivery. For good or bad, modern technology, such as cell phones, the Internet and e-mail, has made the Post Office less relevant today. It is slowly fading, and the sorter move from Muskogee is another example of the decline of a once vital service to every American."

According to the Dayton Daily News, "Members of Congress from Ohio are questioning whether express shipper DHL is providing all the money it promised to help offset the economic devastation anticipated from the planned shutdown of its U.S. freight hub in Wilmington and loss of at least 8,000 jobs. DHL said on Tuesday, Dec. 23, that it has been making regular payments to provide all the money it promised, including funding severance, retention and health care benefits for the Wilmington-area work force and funding a facility at its Wilmington airport to help workers find new jobs."

December 23, 2008

According to Sky News, "Thailand Post has introduced a new international postal service, EMS World, with an aim to meet its revenue target this year of 16 billion baht. Anusara Jitmitraparp, senior vice-president of the state enterprise, said the new service would provide international delivery to more than 90 countries, on par with private couriers such as DHL and Fedex. "We want to strengthen our EMS service and inform customers about our ability to expedite mail," Ms Anusara said."

TMCNet has reported that "Thailand Post has introduced a new international postal service, EMS World, with an aim to meet its revenue target this year of 16 billion baht. Anusara Jitmitraparp, senior vice-president of the state enterprise, said the new service would provide international delivery to more than 90 countries, on par with private couriers such as DHL and Fedex. "We want to strengthen our EMS service and inform customers about our ability to expedite mail," Ms Anusara said."


The Postal Regulatory Commission's "Annual Report to the President and Congress" has been posted on the PRC web site.

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

  • The Postal Regulatory Commission released its report on Universal Postal Service and the Postal Monopoly to the President and Congress December 19, 2008. The PRC report, mandated by the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, found the current obligation to provide service to all “is paramount, and should not be altered.” It also said the universal service obligation applies to both market-dominant and competitive products under the current law.
  • The Postal Regulatory Commission issued its report on Nonpostal Services under the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act Dec. 19. The new law requires the PRC to review each nonpostal service offered by the USPS to determine whether the nonpostal service shall continue and to determine which continuing postal services should be regulated as market dominant, competitive, or experimental products.
  • The Postal Service last week published a proposed rule changing the mailpiece design rules for letter-size booklets and folded self-mailers. The USPS proposed revisions to tab size, tab location, paper weight, and dimensions for folded self-mailers and booklets mailed at automation or machinable letter prices, effective May 2009. Because the Postal Service proposal includes significant changes in mail preparation standards for these pieces, and a redefinition of folded self-mailers, PostCom urges members to review the proposed rules thoroughly and provide the USPS with comments as to how the changes would impact their costs, operations and use of the mail.
  • David Hendel of Akerman Senterfitt Wickwire Gavin spreads a little holiday cheer with his take on Jack Potter’s wish list.
  • Dr. Tatiana Vazulina says the verification of postal indicia – stamps, meter marks and others – is a problematic area for mail processing, creating bottlenecks and reducing the potential effectiveness and benefits of using state-of-the art technology. Vazulina says integrating technology advancement for indicia detection is the next logical step the postal industry can take to further increase cost savings, safeguard against revenue loss, and ensure mail security.
  • USPS earns ‘most trusted’ citation. Postal Service beefs up RIBBS website.
  • Trouble looms over proposed Royal Mail sale. Striking postal workers accept Canada Post offer. Swiss Post wins European document-handling contract. UPU pledges to help reduce postal CO2 emissions.
  • Postal previews
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The Daily Herald has reported that "Consumers will have to pay a tad bit more to use certain services at Nieuwe Post N.V. from January 2009. The Management of Nieuwe Post announced what it called a “slight” rate increase of some postal products which will take place on the basis of a government approved formula. The formula, Nieuwe Post officials said, entails that the postal rates for each of the regulated products in 2009 may not be increased by more than 80 per cent of the price index figure. The applied increase for 2009 is 4.2 per cent. “This means, for example, that the current price for sending a local letter of 20 grams will increase by 4 cents (from NAf. 1.06 to NAf. 1.10).”

Distribution & Postal Coordinator
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The Vancouver Sun has reported that "Canada Post workers voted late Monday night to end their month-long strike, accepting a deal with the national mail agency that replaces a contract that expired in August."

One writer for the Wall Street Journal has written: "This morning, I found myself in line at my local post office. It’s consistently one of my most loathsome chores — especially during the holiday season. Once I reached the customer service window, a postal employee presented me with a surprisingly profound question. Did I want to spend $20 and have my item shipped priority mail, or did I want to spend $45 to ensure that it arrives in Oregon before Christmas day? Did I want delivery confirmation? Tracking...? What’s actually necessary...? Standing at the post office counter, I wondered: Should I have gone for FedEx? UPS? Pack mule...? After a moment of contemplation, I could see that the woman working the counter (and the twenty or so people in line behind me) were frustrated. I had to make a decision. I went for the $20 option, the cheapest one. Maybe next year, I’ll consider the economics of the pack mule."

From PR Web: "Window Book releases Postal Package Partner with new January 18th 2009 USPS domestic rates including the new Commercial Plus rates for Express Mail and Priority Mail."

Transport Logistics has reported that "UK postal organisation Royal Mail and the national government should look closer to home for a business partner rather than to foreign players like TNT Post (Ti Logistics Briefing, Briefing, December 17), argues APC Overnight. APC, which claims to be the UK's largest nextday parcel and document delivery network organisation, said in a statement that existing UK market leaders such as itself, Parcelnet, Home Delivery Network and City Link all presented viable alternatives to Dutch-owned TNT Post."

Radio New Zealand has reported that "New Zealand Post is concerned its Christmas workload is down this year. Postal workers are handling up to five million items per day - which is one to two million more than normal volumes. But postal chief executive Peter Fenton says that is down about 4% on other years, representing about 200,000 items of mail per day. He says the postal service has heavy fixed costs and it is not easy to adjust staffing levels according to mail volumes. He says the numbers of Christmas cards are down and so are parcels from overseas. People are paying bills online or at the counter rather than sending a cheque through the mail."

December 22, 2008

Anspress has reported that "State postal service of Azerbaijan Azerpost will join international money transfer system. According to the Ministry of Communication and Information Technologies, the system will enable individuals to carry out urgent electron money transfers."

According to the New York Times, "After a pilot run in 2007, United Parcel Service is once again adding bicycle carriers to meet its holiday demand. It’s a tack that, like alternative fuel vehicles and other measures the company has historically taken to reduce operational costs, provides an attending environmental benefit in the form of reduced carbon-dioxide emissions."

Hellmail has reported that:

  • Johnny Thijs, CEO of the Belgian Post office, said of the regulatory framework for opening up the Belgian postal market to competition in 2011: “All the players in the postal market know now which conditions they will have to fill on the liberalized postal market. Each one has time to prepare”. "All operators in Belgium will have to satisfy certain minimal obligations in the field of the distribution and working conditions. These measurements will ensure that real competition is possible on the postal market” he said, pointing out that Belgium's La Poste will have to continue to provide a Universal Service, whereas competitors would not have this obligation. He underlined the urgent need for La Poste to continue its preparation for liberalization in 2011.
  • Swiss Post has won an international tender to handle document management on behalf of Zurich Financial Services Group (Zurich) in six European countries. Swiss Post will take over Zurich's cross-border in-house postal service, and the digitization, processing and archiving of documents and will set up an integrated document management platform. It will process around 400,000 documents per day for Zurich. The employees who work in document management at Zurich will be taken over in stages. Swiss Post can thus continue to expand its strong position in this strategically important growth segment.

From the Rand Corporation: "The Role of the United States Postal Service in Public Safety and Security: Implications of Relaxing the Mailbox Monopoly"

According to Direct magazine's Larry Riggs, "before the passage of the 2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, many mailer groups repeatedly called for the U.S. Treasury to pick up the tab for the pensions of former postal workers and free up USPS funds for postal purposes. That didn’t really happen. In fact, the USPS still has to pay as much as $5.8 billion a year in employee retirement costs and Reps. John McHugh and Danny Davis—two key figures in the marathon postal reform fight—are set to introduce legislation to give the USPS a financial break. All this begs the question about who’s gonna pay to ensure that workers who spent their lives delivering the mail and keeping the country together will be able to spend the ends of their lives in relative comfort and security. The money has to come from somewhere. Maybe it’s time for somebody in government to think a little outside the box and realize you can’t make money on everything—that you must provide essential services."

Outgoing Time magazine President-Worldwide Publisher Ed McCarrick has told Advertising Age that:

"This is more difficult than any recessionary period I've seen in my 35 years here. I think it runs deeper. It runs across large categories of advertising. It runs across consumers in terms of what they're willing to spend for products. We all have to be enormously competitive these days. And margins are literally being cut to the bone. Ultimately, how do you define value? At the end of it, where will everybody wind up? Because you get to a place that eventually you can't cut any more, and you can't reduce costs any more without it cutting into the muscle and fiber of whatever it is. Your commodity costs are going up. Your postal and delivery are going up -- your print costs, which are oil-based derivatives. Publishers especially are getting hit with double-digit increases in the physical part of their process. You have clients and agencies who are demanding lower and lower out-of-pocket costs. At some point, where do you say, "Hey, this isn't worth it for me, to ultimately be doing my business this way"?"

The Financial Times has reported that "Labour committed to a "wholly publicly owned" Royal Mail at its party conference barely three months ago, rebels pointed out yesterday, amid an escalating row over Lord Mandelson's decision to part-privatise the postal operator. The business secretary is determined the sale of about 30 per cent of Royal Mail to a private sector rival should go ahead as quickly as possible, said aides. Lord Mandelson is close to finalising the appointment of UBS, the investment bank, to advise, insiders said yesterday. TNT, the Dutch postal operator, has already expressed an interest in the sell-off, subject to agreement on the government's pledge that Royal Mail's £7bn pension deficit will be funded principally by the taxpayer. Ministers will make a statement on progress after MPs return from the Christmas break on January 12. The legislation required to effect the part privatisation is expected in the spring. But Lord Mandelson is running into increasing opposition from his own party to the move. MPs have already complained that the sale would break the spirit of Labour's 2005 manifesto commitment to keep Royal Mail publicly owned."

AllAfrica.com has reported that "The Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST) will soon commence alert system through mobile phones to notify customers of unclear letters in their post office boxes. The Abuja Territorial Managers, NIPOST, Aliyu Mahmoud said Thursday that "an alert system will be installed to alert costumers of any notice or letters in their boxes" from the first quarter of next year."

According to ZDNet, "The theory that sophisticated direct mail is the sole preserve of large companies conducting bulk mailings, no longer stands up. With an ever-increasing range of new marketing technologies available small organisations can reap the benefits of this cost-effective marketing medium. "

Telegeography has reported that "The Republic of Ireland’s postal service An Post is looking to launch its own-branded mobile phone service in the summer of 2009 as part of a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) deal with Vodafone Ireland."

The Philadelphia Daily News has reported that "A South Jersey printer says 3,365 envelopes he mailed to Medicaid subscribers last month were destroyed and returned three weeks later in hampers along with a withered orange, a bottle of joint ointment, a videotape wall-rack, books, trash and unrelated mail. Shrink-wrapped pallets of envelopes were mailed at the Bellmawr center but were returned from bulk-mail centers in Jersey City, N.J., and Northeast Philadelphia. Hamilton Press said it has used materials and mailing procedures recommended by the Postal Service since 2002. But postal investigator Richard Spanburgh blamed weak envelopes for the ordeal. According to postal workers at the Southwest Philadelphia processing plant, the APPS (automatic package-processing system) machine handles small parcels but throws off too many rejects, which then must be processed manually."


From the Federal Register:

  • Docket Nos. MC2009-12 and CP2009-14; Order No. 149: The Postal Regulatory Commission is adding Express Mail and Priority Mail Contract 2 to the Competitive Product List. This action is consistent with changes in a recent law governing postal operations and a recent Postal Service request. Republication of the lists of market dominant and competitive products is also consistent with new requirements in the law.
  • Docket Nos. MC2009-11 and CP2009-13; Order No. 148: The Postal Regulatory Commission is adding Parcel Select & Parcel Return Service Contract 1 to the Competitive Product List. This action is consistent with changes in a recent law governing postal operations and a recent Postal Service request. Republication of the lists of market dominant and competitive products is also consistent with new requirements in the law.

Canada.com has reported that "More than 2,100 Canada Post inside workers are in the process of voting on a new contract offer to possibly end a strike than began more than a month ago."

As one writer for The Times put it: "there is an alternative reality where the first post arrives before dusk. There used to be a service that guaranteed next day delivery. It was called the first class post. But now that's been downgraded to make way for “special delivery” - essentially the same service but now much more expensive. This whole process - by which first class becomes second class, second class becomes message in a bottle and special delivery becomes a way of subsidising the chairman's handsome remuneration package and golf club membership is just another example of a trend the late, great Kingsley Amis identified - the great business principle of 'Sod The Public'."

The Telegraph has reported that "UBS has been drafted in to help the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform with its controversial plans to part-privatise the Royal Mail. Business secretary Lord Mandelson is pushing through the changes after a review by Richard Hooper concluded that radical new measures were needed to revive the service."

The Nigerian Tribune has reported that "the Postmaster General of the Federation, Alhaji Ibrahim Mori Baba, has said that the system of addressing houses in the country is one of the greatest obstacles to quick and smooth delivery of letters and parcels by Nigerian Postal Service (NIPOST). "

December 21, 2008

The New York Times has reported that "Operation Santa has resumed with a few tweaks, including the redaction of last names and addresses with heavy black ink. And instead of sending gifts directly to children, secret Santas must take wrapped presents to the post office and provide the recipient control number that corresponds with their letter. The post office will then deliver the gifts."

According to Polskie Radio, "even though the Internet has become our main method of written communication, the traditional postal service is still going strong, especially in the run up towards Christmas. The reason? Many people still believe that greetings are still sent best by mail, and not by e-mail. Postal workers have also had their work cut out as a record number of children have been sending letters to Saint Nicholas. The Polish Post estimates that in December it will deliver around 200 million letters and 5 million parcels. In comparison, in other months the Polish Post delivers around 140 million items of mail."

The Southern has reported that "The premier privacy trust study in America cites the Postal Service as sixth among 200 of the “Most Trusted Companies for Privacy.” For the fifth year in a row, the U.S. Postal Service has been recognized by the Ponemon Institute for its best practices in safeguarding U.S. consumers’ personal information among private sector companies. This year, the Postal Service moved up one position from last year’s listing."

The Hindu has reported that "The indefinite strike by district postal employees was called off following the "acceptance of their long-standing demands by the authorities concerned."

December 20, 2008

According to Reuters, "Federal Express Corp's decision this week to force its salaried workers to take at least a 5 percent pay cut and to suspend its 401(k) match isn't just bad news for the shipping giant's employees. Experts say the takebacks are an ominous sign of things to come at many other U.S. companies as businesses -- even healthy ones like FedEx -- adopt defensive corporate crouches in response to the worst economic downturn in decades. The moves also underscore how much the tables have turned on U.S. workers as a result of the economic crisis, which has put employers firmly back in the driver's seat."

The Hindu Business Line has reported that "Large number of mail bags containing thousands of letters and other articles have accumulated at the Head post office on this city following the indefinite strike by the postal employees working in the villages which entered the fourth day in So nepat district and elsewhere. According to official sources, atleast 125 branch post offices have been locked since December 17 and their non- functioning have led to inconvenience to the people living in the villages."

As CNET's Charles Cooper has noted, "Michael Dell gets a lot of the credit for pioneering the direct sale of PCs to the public. The reality is that there is a legion of now long-forgotten mail order entrepreneurs who came along earlier. He just did it better than all the rest. So it was with more than usual interest that I read a piece published by InternetNews.com earlier this week in which Dell's eponymous company claimed that sales alerts on Twitter had resulted in about $1 million in sales."

December 19, 2008

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

  • The Postal Regulatory Commission has issued its final regulation for accounting practices and tax rules for USPS competitive products. The Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act mandates the Postal Service to transfer the assumed federal income tax on competitive products income from the Competitive Products Fund to the Postal Service Fund every year.
  • The PRC this week verified rates for Postal Service competitive products or shipping services. The planned adjustments will take effect January 18, 2009.
  • Postal commentator Cary Baer voices his opinions and concerns about Robert McGowan, who President Bush nominated to serve on the Postal Service Board of Governors.
  • PostCom consultant Kathy Siviter shares a Christmas wish list for what 2009 will bring.
  • Hellmail’s Mark White looks at the findings of the Hooper Report on Britain’s Royal Mail. The report, released this week, recommended that the British government sell part of Royal Mail to “forge a strategic minority partnership with another postal operator with a proven record in transforming its business.”
  • McHugh introduces bill to fund USPS retiree health premiums. Congressman calls for probe of USPS Philadelphia processing center. Trade associations slash jobs, costs. Magazines see ad sales drop sharply. APWU initiates Step 4 dispute. Postal Service IG addresses two new topics. Former Teamster President Carey dies.
  • Hooper Report says Royal Mail needs a partner. Posties move fast to save money in Britain.
  • Help Wanted: Time Inc. seeks distribution and postal coordinator.
  • Postal previews
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From the Postal Regulatory Commission:

  • Docket Nos. MC2009-9;  CP2009-10; CP2009-11: The Postal Regulatory Commission issued its final order regarding the Postal Service's request for the classification of order concerning global direct contracts as negotiated service agreements and as competitive postal services. The Commission found that Global Direct Contracts is appropriately classified as a competitive product and should be added to the Competitive Product List.
  • Docket No. MC2008-1:  In its order on the review of postal and nonpostal services, the Postal Regulatory Commission wrote: (1) The Commission finds that 26 of the 47 revenue-generating activities identified by the Postal Service are not services under the above definition and not subject to review under 39 U.S.C. § 404(e). (2) The Commission finds that 6 revenue-generating activities meet the definition of postal services. The Postal Service shall within 60 days make the appropriate filing under 39 U.S.C. § 3642 to add these items to the Mail Classification Schedule. (3) The Commission finds that 15 revenue-generating activities meet the definition of nonpostal services. Of these, 1 was not offered on January 1, 2006 and may not continue. The Commission authorizes the 14 remaining nonpostal services to continue. Of these, 7 are market dominant, 7 are competitive, and none is experimental. (For those nonpostal services authorized to continue, the Commission will initiate a rulemaking proceeding to address the scope and extent of the regulation of such services under title 39.) (4) The Commission finds that the record is not sufficiently developed in two areas: the licensing of Mailing & Shipping services, and the warranty repairs program. The Commission will grandfather those services pending the outcome of Phase II of this proceeding.

DMM Advisory:  An advance copy of the Federal Register notice proposing new mailing standards for letter-size booklets and folded self-mailers is available on Postal Explorer at pe.usps.com. The new standards describe the characteristics required for automation and machinable letter prices, including tab size, tab location, paper basis weights, and mailpiece dimensions.

The Postal Regulatory Commission today transmitted its Report on Universal Postal Service and the Postal Monopoly to the President and Congress. The Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006 directed the Commission to identify the scope and standards of universal service and the postal monopoly based on a comprehensive review of their history and development. The report found that the public is generally satisfied with the current level of universal service provided by the Postal Service. While no changes to either the universal service obligation or the monopoly are recommended at this time, the Commission noted the serious financial situation currently facing the Postal Service and the general economy. The Commission urged Congress to use this Report as a guide should a rebalancing of postal obligations become necessary to ensure future universal service. The Commission affirmed the current USO of providing mail service to all persons throughout the United States. Further, the Commission determined current law requires that the USO apply to both competitive and market dominant postal products. The Commission is initiating a new public inquiry, Docket No. PI2009-1, to allow interested persons to express their views on this report.

WhatTheyThink has reported that "mail and messaging technology specialist Pitney Bowes is at the vanguard of the wider industry’s calls to ensure fairness and clarity in new EU-wide postal VAT principles that are likely to emerge from the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in 2009. Speaking at the 11th Königswinter Seminar – the annual Postal Economics forum – Dr Tim Walsh, VP, Corporate and Regulatory Affairs, Pitney Bowes, outlined the industry’s concerns over the likely changes to EU postal VAT-exemption that the ECJ are reviewing. Among these concerns is that the basis for future VAT exemption be consistent with the EU tax principle of fiscal neutrality, not least in respect of alternative payment options available to mailers."

From PR Newswire: "Royal Mail and the Government should look closer to home for a business partner says APC Overnight, the UK's largest next day parcel and document delivery network organisation. It says that existing UK market leaders such as APC Overnight, Parcelnet, Home Delivery Network and City Link all present viable alternatives to Dutch-owned TNT Post."

Hellmail has noted that "A German court has ruled this week that the German government exceeded its legal authority by imposing a minimum wage across the German postal sector. Dutch mail operator TNT argued that in so doing, it made competing with Deutsche Post difficult and gave Deutsche Post an unfair advantage. The court agreed, but the case is also to undergo further examination by labour courts."

The Wall Street Journal has reported that "CVC CAPITAL PARTNERS Group, a U.K.-based buyout firm, is interested in taking a stake in the state-owned postal service Royal Mail Group, according to people familiar with the matter. CVC's interest in the Royal Mail comes in the wake of CVC's stake purchases in Belgian and Scandinavian mail companies. CVC has been in talks with bankers about making an offer, people familiar with the matter say."

The New York Times has reported that "For decades of Christmases, it had been a gratifying way to function as a substitute Santa Claus. Every holiday season, thousands of New Yorkers trooped to Manhattan’s main post office and sifted through heaps of dream-encased letters that children had scribbled to the big guy at the North Pole. They picked out the ones that tickled the heart and responded with gifts for otherwise empty stockings. Then came Thursday. Gift-giving souls who reported to Operation Santa Claus at the post office on Eighth Avenue and 33rd Street, looking for the familiar cardboard boxes bursting with letters, were instead greeted with no boxes, no letters and no explanation.A Postal Service official in Washington, after an initial, limited acknowledgment of a “privacy breach,” said that at one of the programs, not New York’s, a man whom a letter carrier recognized as a registered sex offender had “adopted” a letter. Postal inspectors retrieved the letter and notified the family of the child. The Postal Service, indicating that the closing down of all of Operation Santa might be temporary, said that it felt it was wise to take the precaution."

The Financial Times has reported that "When John Mullen gets depressed he takes a look at the "FedEx sucks" or "UPS sucks" websites. Naturally, as one of the big three global parcel delivery companies, DHL has its own site containing consumer criticism but Mr Mullen, chief executive of DHL Express, prefers to gloss over that fact. The 53-year-old Australian-born manager has had plenty of reason to study the sites in recent months as DHL goes through a testing time. Founded in 1969 in the US, it was bought by Deutsche Post, the German postal monopoly, in 2001 and then merged with Airborne Express, another US company, in 2003. That integration was deemed a failure, and after running up costs of about $5bn in the US, DHL was forced earlier this year to announce it was abandoning domestic delivery in the region. Still, DHL remains a global carrier with strong operations in many emerging markets, such as China and Brazil."

Business First has reported that "Package carrier United Parcel Service Inc. blames a drop in package volume for its decision to close its Next Day Air night sort operations at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, according to a letter the company filed with the Texas Workforce Commission. The change will cause the reduction of 72 staff positions -- all of which will take effect after Feb. 8, Atlanta-based UPS said in its letter to the TWC."

Posted on the Postal Regulatory Commission web site:

The Times has reported that "it is understood that Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse, UBS and Goldman Sachs pitched for the government work yesterday and that Royal Mail will be separately advised by NM Rothschild, its longstanding adviser. Royal Mail has also hired Slaughter and May, the City law firm. The battle for the mandate will be hotly contested. With lucrative mergers and acquisitions work thin on the ground since the credit crunch, the Royal Mail disposal is one of the few deals of any size around. TNT, the Dutch postal group, became the front-runner for a new “strategic partnership” with the publicly owned mail business this week after Lord Mandelson welcomed its expression of interest. It emerged yesterday that CVC would also be interested in bidding. CVC acquired a 22 per cent stake in Post Danmark from the Danish state in 2005 in a partial privatisation. CVC and Post Danmark then together bought a 50 per cent stake in De Post - La Poste, the Belgian postal service, in 2006. The private equity house could structure a bid for the Royal Mail stake in a similar way, using one of its portfolio companies as a vehicle."

The Tribune has reported that "Lord Mandelson was accused of driving “the final nail into the coffin” of Royal Mail this week, as he unveiled plans to invest in and modernise the company by partly privatising it. Speaking as the Hooper review of the postal sector was finally published by ministers, the Business Secretary said the Government was committed to maintaining a universal postal service, but that falling letter volumes meant that Royal Mail needed to innovate and become more efficient if it was to survive."

December 18, 2008

Bloomberg has reported that "FedEx Corp. cut Chief Executive Officer Fred Smith’s pay by 20 percent and will trim smaller amounts from U.S. salaried employees as the package shipper struggles with the longest recession in a quarter century. About 12 percent of the workforce will be affected by the pay reductions, which will be 5 percent for U.S. salaried employees and as much as 10 percent for senior executives. Hiring will be frozen and contributions to retirement accounts suspended for at least a year, FedEx said today in a statement."

The Postal Regulatory Commission today released final regulations establishing financial accounting practices and tax rules for the Postal Service’s competitive products category. Order No. 151 is available on the Commission’s website, www.prc.gov and has been submitted to the Federal Register.

The Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA) required the Commission to develop accounting rules and principles applicable to competitive postal products. The PAEA also directed the Commission to develop rules for determining the assumed Federal income tax on competitive products income.
The final rules in this order differ slightly from the proposed rules and were designed to address comments of the Postal Service and the Public Representative. Principal differences between the proposed and final rules include:

  • Treatment of group specific costs when calculating net income for competitive products has been changed to be consistent with PRC Order No. 115 - Order Accepting Certain Analytical Principles for Use in the Postal Service’s Periodic Report;
  • Title for the Pro Forma Balance Sheet has been changed to Statement of Allocated Assets and Liabilities;
  • Provide opportunities for public comment on the Postal Service’s assumed annual Federal income tax calculations.

The BBC has reported that "A strike planned by postal workers in five mail centres has been called off."

Writing in the Wicked Local, one local APWU official said: "Millions of American households and many small businesses depend on the Postal Service to deliver their prescription medications, Social Security checks, legal documents and, of course, letters and packages from family, friends and colleagues. We deliver to more than 140 million addresses every day. This is a responsibility our members and those in our sister unions within the Postal Service take seriously. What we do ask is that you help us Save Our Service. Be assured, these tactics are affecting the levels of service you have come to expect and our members wish to provide. In certain instances, management representatives are blaming our members for the delays and substandard services as opposed to accepting responsibility for their schemes and telling you the hard truth. To me such action is a display of cowardice and is symptomatic of a management group that lacks accountability. the American Postal Workers Union needs your help in our fight to return the United States Postal Service to the prominence it enjoyed not so long ago. We have contacted numerous elected officials throughout the Boston Metropolitan Area who pledged their support to hold postal management accountable. We ask that you contact them as well. Let them know that you do not appreciate dishonest business practices and that you want service to be the most important part of the United States Postal Service." [EdNote: "A house divided against itself cannot stand." -- Abraham Lincoln]

The Oxford Mail has reported that "Royal Mail has said it is confident of getting services back to normal in time for Christmas following tomorrow’s planned strike by workers."

Reuters has reported that "French state post office operator La Poste will become a limited company but will only sell shares to public institutions and will not be open to private investors, President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Thursday. La Poste is looking to raise around 3 billion euros ($4.3 billion) to help fund investment needed to face growing competition after the liberalisation of the European postal services market in 2011."

According to The Drum, "Business Post plc has turned to b2b marketing agency Marketecture to provide online marketing support for the launch of imail – a postal service designed to provide a more cost-efficient and greener alternative to traditional postal mail. Claimed to lower the cost of producing and posting first class items by up to 60 percent and reduce the carbon footprint of a letter by more than 80 percent, the service allows users to send mail direct from their desktops for next day delivery across the UK."

The BBC has a video clip on a village Christmas postal service run by the scouts has been raising money for the local community.

The U.S. Postal Service has said it will announce its May 2009 postal price changes in February.

The American Postal Workers Union (APWU) has told its members that "the APWU has initiated a Step 4 dispute [PDF] with the Postal Service, protesting management’s nationwide plan to eliminate or drastically reduce Tour 2 assignments and employees. The dispute, filed Dec. 16 by union President William Burrus, is in addition to an Unfair Labor Practice charge filed by the APWU with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) on Nov. 25.

The Bradenton Herald has reported that "Congressman Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota, has pledged to fight for the employees at the Manasota U.S. Postal Service Distribution Center as they brace for the possible re-routing of jobs and mail to a Tampa distribution center. Buchanan and local politicians toured the center on Tallevast Road Tuesday in response to the recent announcement of a cost-cutting study by the Postal Service. It has aroused workers’ fears that the center could be closed altogether, putting its more than 350 employees out of a job. Postal Service officials denied during the tour that there are any plans to close the center."

The Guardian has reported that "The Conservatives warned yesterday that the government could be threatening a £22bn raid on Royal Mail's pension fund. Alan Duncan, the party's shadow business secretary, said industry sources had suggested the government could take over the pension fund's assets to allow it to make public borrowing look smaller. But he warned that with the fund's liabilities expected to rise to up to £8bn any such move would saddle taxpayers with a huge bill in the future."

According to the Financial Times:

  • Gordon Brown signalled his determination to override cabinet concerns about plans to part-privatise the Royal Mail, as the resignation of a ministerial aide reflected a growing Labour revolt on the issue. The prime minister yesterday e-mailed Labour party members to underscore his support for Lord Mandelson's proposals.
  • The government will on Tuesday pave the way for part-privatisation of Royal Mail, as it publishes a report warning of the financial pressures on the postal operator. Lord Mandelson, the business secretary, is understood to back the recommendation of the independent Hooper review that Royal Mail needs an injection of private sector capital. But he will rule out full privatisation.
  • If there is one message in Richard Hooper's report on the Royal Mail, it is that the state-owned postal operator is in such a mess that only radical surgery can save it. Lord Mandelson, business secretary, deserves credit for grasping a challenge Labour has avoided in more than a decade of power. His support for the report's findings means Royal Mail could at last secure the private investment it needs. The postal workers' union will protest at what it fears is a creeping privatisation that breaks a manifesto commitment to keep Royal Mail in public hands. But the sale of a minority stake is the minimum needed to keep the business afloat. Chronic under-investment, a huge pension scheme deficit and the structural decline in the UK letters market mean Royal Mail has few options if it is even to survive when Europe liberalises its mail markets fully in 2011. Its anomalous practices and lack of automation make it less efficient and less profitable than European rivals. The £7bn pensions hole is a drain on Royal Mail's cashflow and could jeopardise its one-size-goes-anywhere service. Swift government action is needed to ease those liabilities. Without it, moreover, a private investor may be hard to find. Since the only way for the government to take on the historic liabilities and not break European Union state aid rules is if Royal Mail restructures, it makes sense to tackle the deficit and find a buyer at the same time.

According to the Yorkshire Post, "Lord Mandelson is right: the world is changing around the Royal Mail, but the Royal Mail is not changing itself. The problem is that the Post Office has found itself balanced on a precipice, torn between the roles of a public service and a sustainable business. The debate about the role of beleaguered sub-post-offices rests on this. Anti-closure protesters say that they are a "lifeline" to the community, the place people rely on for pensions and benefits. The Prime Minister is already embroiled in a political revolt over plans to close thousands. The main postal union is planning to strike tomorrow over mail centre closures, just in time for Christmas. So the last thing Gordon Brown needs is the Hooper Report, which describes the Royal Mail in its current form as "untenable", and warns that the universal service is under threat without modernisation. And then there is the small matter of the pension fund deficit, which is expected to reach £7bn by next spring, and which taxpayers might be asked to fund on behalf of the Treasury."

Leadership Nigeria has reported that "Determined to retrieve the huge debt owed it by various organisations, governmental agencies, parastatals and individuals, the Nigeria Poster Services, (NIPOST) Abuja territory has set up a debt recovery commitee to go after the numerous debtors and increase the fortune of the organisation."

The Cebu Daily News has reported that "A week before Christmas, the Cebu Central Post Office––once a beehive of activity in years past––is nearly subdued in recent days with most of their mail consisting of either credit card bills or promotional materials from magazines and call centers. “Almost all are business mail. Out of 100 letters that we get, only 20 are personal mails. There was a time when during Christmas time the sorting rooms are filled with packages and letters. But the bulk of mail has decreased since 2005,” Post Master Walter Mayola said." [EdNote: Less mail, folks, is a worldwide phenomenon. The huge volume days of yesteryear are rapidly becoming only a memory.]

Precision Marketing has reported that "Royal Mail has welcomed the move to change postal regulator from Postcomm to Ofcom. The postal operator says the Government’s decision to implement change reflects the reality of the marketplace, which is increasingly switching away from mail to electronic communications."

The Liverpool Daily Post has reported that "unions have called off a postal strike that was set to hit Liverpool tomorrow after a legal challenge by the Royal Mail."

The Crewe & Nantwich Guardian has reported that "postal workers in Crewe will go on strike tomorrow (Friday) in a battle to save their jobs. Hundreds of workers at the Weston Road sorting office will join in a 24-hour walkout days before the last posting date for Christmas." [EdNote: And British postal employees wonder why the government is now recommending the partial privatization of Royal Mail?]

As the Washington Post has noted, "Looks like Santa's sleigh will be a little lighter this year. Delivery of packages and mail has been down with the rest of the economy, and the shipping industry is counting on this week -- expected to be the busiest of the year -- for a final boost to lift it out of its slump before Christmas. Retail experts are predicting that sales this season could be the weakest in decades as consumers keep a close eye on their wallets. Sales at stores open at least a year -- a key indicator of a retailers' health -- fell 2.7 percent in November, according to one industry trade group, the worst performance in at least 30 years. Online retail sales are also expected to remain flat after several years of explosive growth. That's bad news not just for stores but also for shipping companies. Fewer gifts mean fewer packages mailed -- and less revenue for shippers."

Hellmail has reported that "According to the Parcel Post Index conducted by the University of Fribourg, Switzerland, Swiss Post boasts the second-lowest prices for parcel post in Europe. The Index is based on a basket of parcel consignments which is weighted according to frequency. The Parcel Post Index and the former Letter Post Index show that Swiss Post's prices are within the least expensive third of postal enterprises in Europe."

Reuters has reported that "Nearly 18 percent of households in the United States have no traditional telephone and rely on wireless services only, which is up several percentage points from a year earlier, the government said on Wednesday. In the first half of 2008, 17.5 percent of households were wireless only, up from 13.6 percent a full year earlier, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention." [EdNote: This number will continue to grow. It means that portable communication devices will become the primary means by which many people communicate and do business. Expect the popularity of mail to continue to diminish.]

The Hindu has reported that "Employees of Postal Department, attached to various unions, held a protest demonstration here on Wednesday and urged the Union Government to fulfil their long-pending demands. Members of All India group ‘C’ postal employees association, All India postal employees association (Postman and group ‘D’) and All India postal employees (extra departmental) association staged a protest demonstration in front of the Deputy Commissioner’s office for a while here and submitted a memorandum to the Union Government through the office of Deputy Commissioner of Bangalore."

The Indian Express has reported that "Retail experts are predicting that sales this season could be the weakest in decades as consumers keep a close eye on their wallets. Sales at stores open at least a year -- a key indicator of a retailers' health -- fell 2.7 percent in November, according to one industry trade group, the worst performance in at least 30 years. Online retail sales are also expected to remain flat after several years of explosive growth. That's bad news not just for stores but also for shipping companies. Fewer gifts mean fewer packages mailed -- and less revenue for shippers."

From PR Newswire: "DST Output's East Operation Center, located in South Windsor, Conn., was honored as one of IndustryWeek magazine's 2008 Top 10 Best Plants in North America. The company's East facility is profiled with other Top 10 winners in the January issue of IndustryWeek Magazine."

According to the Financial Times, "If there is one message in Richard Hooper’s report on the Royal Mail, it is that the UK state-owned postal operator is in such a mess that only radical surgery can save it. Lord Mandelson, business secretary, deserves credit for grasping a challenge Labour has avoided in more than a decade of power. His support for the report’s findings means Royal Mail could at last secure the private investment it needs. The postal workers’ union will protest at what it fears is a creeping privatisation that breaks a manifesto commitment to keep Royal Mail in public hands. But the sale of a minority stake is the minimum needed to keep the business afloat."

The Times has reported that "Labour faces losing a big union backer as the rebellion against Lord Mandelson’s plans to sell part of the Royal Mail gathers force. The Communication Workers Union (CWU) will ask its 250,000 members to approve a formal split from the party if the Business Secretary presses ahead."

NBC4i asked: "What is it like to deliver the mail on the busiest delivery day of the year? First At 4’s Ellie Merritt found out Wednesday; she tagged along as carrier Brenda Barton delivered the holiday goodies. Although Wednesday is the post office’s self-proclaimed busy day of the year, it wasn’t what it once was."

Gulf Times has reported that "QATAR will host an Arab stamps museum in 2010 when the Cultural and Heritage Village at West Bay is expected to be ready, Q-Post chairman and chief executive Ali Mohamed al-Ali said yesterday. The Arab League, which oversees the operations of the museum now located in Cairo, has agreed to transfer its entire collection to Qatar."

December 17, 2008

For those who are interested. On this site you can find:

The Federal Times has reported that "fifteen embassies have received envelopes containing white powder, State Department deputy spokesman Robert Wood said in a press briefing this morning in Washington. Tests have come back negative in all cases save for The Hague, where results are still pending. Wood said the department has no information on a possible motive for the mailings. The white powder in each of the letters has been field tested and come back negative for any harmful material, the FBI said in a statement released this morning. All of the letters have been postmarked from Texas and are similar in nature, the FBI said. An ABC News report says 11 U.S. embassies in Europe have received the letters. The FBI and Postal Inspection Service are investigating the case. Meanwhile, the FBI has told governors and the State Department to be on the lookout for additional letters."

For the fifth year in a row, the U.S. Postal Service has been recognized by the Ponemon Institute for its best practices in safeguarding U.S. consumers’ personal information among private sector companies. This year, the Postal Service moved up one position from last year’s listing.

According to the DM Bulletin, "The recommendation to part-privatise Royal Mail made in the Hooper Report has been welcomed by DM postal experts."

Docket No. CP2009-16:  This document announces a recently-filed Postal Service notice of a new international mail contract. It addresses procedural steps associated with this filing. On December 9, 2008, the Postal Service filed a notice announcing that it has entered into an additional Global Expedited Package Services 1 (GEPS 1) contract. GEPS 1 provides volume-based incentives for mailers that send large volumes of Express Mail International (EMI) and/or Priority Mail International (PMI). The Postal Service believes the instant contract is functionally equivalent to previously submitted GEPS agreements, and supported by the Governors' Decision filed in Docket No. CP2008-5. Interested persons may submit comments on whether the Postal Service's contract is consistent with the policies of 39 U.S.C. 3632, 3633, or 3642. Comments are due no later than December 19, 2008.

The Philadelpha Daily News has wondered: "So where is the Christmas mail? Where are the packages? Where are the letters? Where are the Christmas cards? On what is normally one of the biggest mail days of the year, the mail wasn't moving during yesterday's day shift at the U.S. Postal Service's processing plant on Lindbergh Boulevard near Island Avenue in Southwest Philadelphia. "There was no mail in there," said a day-shift postal worker, who asked to remain anonymous. "The trucks are not coming in. We're supposed to be busy, and we're not running the machines. "The floors are empty," the worker said. Postal workers on the day shift were sent home without pay. "All of a sudden, there's no mail?" asked Gwen Ivey, president of the American Postal Workers Union Local 89. "It's unlikely that the plant wouldn't have mail in December." The processing plant moves 6 million pieces of mail on an average day, and Ivey said yesterday's lack of it was unprecedented."

It's been reported in the New York Times that "The mail-scanning service Earth Class Mail is opening a new outpost in downtown Manhattan on Wednesday to cater to jet-setters, business travelers, expatriates, nomads and anyone else who is on the road too often to manage their snail mail. Earth Class Mail, a Seattle-based start-up, offers services that take old-fashioned mail and make it digital. Customers route their mail to one of the company’s offices, where employees scan the outside of envelopes. Then, customers log in to their Earth Class Mail accounts and select which pieces of mail are opened, scanned and e-mailed to them, and which ones are left unopened, shredded and recycled. The company’s Manhattan storefront will offer shipping services and will also take packages, which is useful for city-dwellers who lack doormen, said Ron Weiner, the company’s chief executive. And the Park Avenue address (near Union Square) is ideal for anyone who “works in an industry where your address means something,” he said."

According to the Financial Times:

"Postal unions have spent the past week arguing about the speed at which members have to complete their rounds. If four miles an hour feels rushed for people charged with delivering our letters, imagine how they feel about Lord Mandelson's desire to deliver part-privatisation in mere months.

"The legislative hurdle may yet prove insuperable - at least until after an election. But Richard Hooper's report on the future of Royal Mail is still a landmark, particularly for Allan Leighton, Royal Mail chairman. He has been talking about these sorts of reforms since he took on the thankless task in 2002. The need to switch regulation from Postcomm to Ofcom is a particularly sweet victory for Mr Leighton only months before he steps down as chairman. It may turn out to be the only recommendation that can be pushed through quickly but at least Mr Leighton will be able to give his successor a clearer view of the route ahead.

"The situation for postal services in the UK remains, in Mr Hooper's words, "untenable". It's sad and strange, given Royal Mail's history and the commitment of successive governments to privatisations in other sectors, that the prospect of partial takeover by Dutch, German or American rivals looks like progress."

Also from the Financial Times:

  • [British Prime Minister] Gordon Brown is facing a huge Labour revolt against plans to sell at least 25 per cent of Royal Mail to a foreign competitor, announced by the government yesterday. The Conservatives, who stopped short of privatising Royal Mail when they were in power, broadly welcomed the proposals.
  • With two important exceptions, the response to Richard Hooper's report from those with an interest in the postal system was little short of ecstatic yesterday. "Great job," said Allan Leighton, Royal Mail's outgoing chairman. "Brilliant," said Guy Buswell, chief executive of Business Post, one of the state-owned group's main rivals. "One of the most thorough and com-prehensive reviews of the British postal sector," said DX, another competitor....TNT is the only bidder to have shown its hand, but others may turn up, including Deutsche Post and Fedex of the US, which would find Royal Mail's European parcels business attractive.

According to The Times: "Six years ago a merger between the ailing Royal Mail, then called Consignia, and TPG, the Dutch postal group now rebranded as TNT, was attempted by the Government. The idea was that a more commercially savvy organisation would inject more money and a better business sense into Royal Mail. Six years on the plan has been revived for the same reasons. In the interim Royal Mail has made only relatively small changes to its business while its commercial environment has become tougher and its competitors have become sharper. Royal Mail is often compared unfavourably with its European rivals. A little like an elderly relative who struggles with technology, the state-owned UK postal operator is seen as slow, operating an unwieldy structure and lacking in mechanisation."

The Telegraph has reported that:

  • This is his busiest time of the year, with postmen delivering millions of letters and parcels to 28 million addresses every day. He must have thought that his Christmases had come early when the report by former Ofcom boss Richard Hooper into the future of the postal system thumped onto his desk this week. The year-long study even came with a strong endorsement from Business Secretary Lord Mandelson. It is sure to tick most of the boxes on Mr Leighton's Christmas wish list.
  • As disclosed by The Daily Telegraph, Dutch postal firm TNT is set to buy a stake in nation's postal service. The Business Secretary said he agreed with the conclusion of a major review of Royal Mail that it should "forge a strategic minority partnership" with a private company. See also Brand Republic.

The Evening Standard has reported that "Royal Mail chiefs defended part- privatisation of the postal service today as it emerged that Lord Mandelson will defy Labour MPs to press ahead with the plan. Chief executive Adam Crozier said the proposal to give a private firm a minority stake is "good news for the company and for customers" and would increase efficiency and profitability. His words came despite anger among some Labour backbenchers over the plans outlined by Lord Mandelson yesterday, with MPs linked to postal unions threatening to oppose the move outright." See also eGov Monitor. [EdNote: Somehow, I just can't imagine the U.S. PMG saying this sort of thing.]

According to Precision Marketing, British postal regulator "Postcomm could soon cease to exist if it cedes responsibility of regulating the postal market to Ofcom as proposed in a report. The study by Richard Hooper, the former deputy chairman of media watchdog Ofcom, proposes that Ofcom should maintain the Universal Service in the wider context of the other changes taking place in communication markets." [EdNote: There are those in the U.S. who would like to see the Postal Regulatory Commission suffer a similar fate.]

According to the Daily Record, "thousands of Royal Mail jobs could be lost after the Government yesterday announced a part sell-off to Dutch giants TNT. Business secretary Peter Mandelson said the move was essential to ensure the long-termsurvival of the organisation. But union chiefs and opposition parties warned the move could lead to more privatisation and many of Royal Mail's 200,000 employees losing their jobs." See also Reuters and the Sunday Mirror.

From PR Newswire: "The nonprofit 41pounds.org service ( http://www.41pounds.org) stops your postal junk mail by contacting dozens of direct mail companies to remove you from their marketing lists. The service covers everyone in your household for five years and costs $41, including a $15 donation to the environmental or community organization you choose. These partners include Outward Bound, StopGlobalWarming.org, Habitat for Humanity chapters, Carbonfund.org and others." [EdNote: Yup. It stops your mail. Eliminates your choice. And will bring to an end a totally self-supported U.S. universal mail delivery system. And won't 41pounds be proud....Idiots.]

Reuters has reported that "The European Commission opened infringement proceedings against Slovakia on Wednesday for failing to reopen competition in its hybrid postal sector. The EU executive, which is the bloc's top antitrust authority, ordered Slovakia in October to drop an amendment of its mail law which extended the monopoly of incumbent operator Slovenska Posta to the delivery of hybrid mail services."

Logistics Manager has reported that "TNT has staked its claim to a partnership with Royal Mail following a statement by business secretary Lord Mandelson, that the government plans to bring in a minority partner to help revitalise the business." See also the Financial Director.

The Coventry Telegraph has reported that "a war of words has broken out between union leaders and Royal Mail bosses in the run up to Friday’s 24-hour strike. Members of the Communication Workers' Union claim vital talks were arranged with postal chiefs on Monday, but nobody turned up. However, Royal Mail bosses are insistent that negotiations were not scheduled to take place on Monday."

The Press Association has reported that "A ministerial aide has quit in protest at Government plans to partly privatise the Royal Mail. Jim McGovern resigned from his position as Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to Business Minister Pat McFadden. The Dundee West MP said: "I believe a PPS has to be fully supportive of proposals of the department which they serve. In this case, I do not support what looks to me like partial privatisation of the Royal Mail." See also The Spectator and Politics.co.uk.

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

Royal Mail’s pension deficit appears to have more than doubled since 2006. Members of the political opposition warned that this step would create "a gigantic mortgage for generations to come".
Last week, the board of Austria’s Österreichische Post reached a compromise on planned cost cutting measures. The board assured union representatives that the approx. 1,000 redundancies would be achieved solely through natural fluctuation and as part of a redundancy programme. The agreement is likely to have prevented a strike in the run-up to Christmas.
Next year the French La Poste will undergo changes, albeit not in "Big Bang" style. A majority of the Ailleret committee appointed by President Sarkozy is in favour of turning the post into a plc, which will remain entirely in government ownership.
According to Massimo Sarmi, CEO of Poste Italiane, "We do not intend to close any post offices. We are aware of the social role played by Italy’s 14,000 post offices and we are trying to run our business model in a direction that will not require redundancies or closures." However, privatisation of the post, which has been discussed for years, is not an issue at the moment. "In times of crisis, you don’t talk about going public."
The EU Commission has increased pressure on the German government as a result of the introduction of a minimum wage in the German postal market. Charlie McCreevy, the commissioner responsible for the internal market and services, sent another written appeal to economics minister Michael Glos, asking him to explain how a minimum wage was compatible with fair competition in Europe.
Before the backdrop of a slow economy in the Czech Republic, the post has drastically lowered its profit expectations for the current year.
Michel Kunz has been appointed successor of Ulrich Gygi and new CEO of Schweizerische Post. The appointment was preceded by a fierce power struggle (CEP News 41/08). New chairman of the board of directors Claude Béglé was strongly opposed to the appointment of Mr Kunz, a favourite of the former management crew. Therefore, the appointment of a new CEO was delayed several times.
Logistics is enjoying increasing importance in the Italian economy.
Despite lower fuel prices and DHL’s departure from the US domestic business, US express and logistics operators are facing tough times.
A bleak economic outlook is hampering expansion ambitions harboured by Federal Express.
U.S. Postal Service has issued a recruitment stop at local and regional levels with immediate effect.
Privatisation of the Japanese post is set to be carried through - at least for the time being.
India is threatened by a postal strike. Trade union All India Dak Karamchari Sangh has called for an unlimited strike to begin on 17 December. The strike is a protest against the government’s rigid attitude in the face of union demands for an adjustment of working conditions for temporary staff as well as a new pension scheme.
This Tuesday the 2,140 members of the Union of Postal Communication Employees (UPCE) at Canada Post will cast their vote on a new agreement.
 

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.)

As the Associated Press has noted, "An independent review of Britain's state-owned postal service, due to be published Tuesday, was expected to call for the company to be partly privatized and could result in the sale of stakes in the business to foreign companies, according to media reports. The review _ by Richard Hopper, a former deputy chairman of Britain's media watchdog _ is expected to say that Royal Mail, which is burdened with a multibillion-pound (dollar) pension deficit and falling sales, should allow private, rival mail operators to buy stakes in the company and should close half of its 71 mail centers, according to a report by The Times of London newspaper. The Daily Telegraph newspaper said that Royal Mail already has plans to sell at least a third of the company to a foreign postal company in a deal worth around 3 billion pounds ($4.5 billion).TNT NV, a part of the Netherlands' former state postal service, and DHL, the parcel carrier run by Germany's Deutsche Post AG, are both interested in buying the stake, according to the report."

The Jakarta Post has reported that "nstead of giving in to faster communication tools like email and mobile phone features, state-owned postal company PT Pos Indonesia hopes to cooperate with telecommunication companies in order to diversify services and keep business alive. Denpasar Post Office head Akhmad Taufik on Monday said partner telecommunication companies would provide payment services and send bill notifications to the companies' post-paid subscribers thanks to the wide distribution network of the country's postal system. "If there is no cooperation, we may close (our office)," he said."

As the Columbus Dispatch noted, "Christmas mail, like just about everything else that involves spending money this year, seems to be in a slump. The Postal Service predicted that yesterday would be the busiest day so far, and it was. Postal workers canceled 2.13 million pieces of mail, including packages, in central and southeastern Ohio. But that was down from last year's busiest day, with 2.65 million pieces of mail. The Postal Service originally had predicted that 2.6 million pieces would be mailed yesterday in central Ohio, then looked at how people were cutting spending. They lowered their prediction to 2 million. The actual number was worse than originally expected."

The USPS OIG has published two new topics on their blog site ‘Pushing the Envelope’: “Mail Volume: What goes up….?”, discussing declining mail volume, and “Moving less mail” which focuses on the transportation implications of declining volume. Check them out at http://blog.uspsoig.gov/. Join in the discussion.

EdNote: People are beginning to get a little antsy about the May postal rate increase. Inquiring minds want to know: How much will rates rise within the bounds of inflation? That's a tough question to answer to the satisfaction of everyone. The CPI chart posted on the Postal Regulatory Commission web site can provide some insight into what number will represent the CPI cap. Whereas the number was 4.5% in October, you can see it dropped to 4.2% in November. Some have speculated that the December figure might still be a bit lower yet.

According to the Dead Tree Edition, "Deflation of consumer prices means that next year's postal rates will almost certainly average less than 4%, rather than the 5% that most commentators were expecting until recently. The Consumer Price Index decreased 1.9% in November, the Department of Labor announced today, following a 1.0% decrease in October. The average increase in prices for most classes of postage will generally be capped by the change in the average monthly Consumer Price Index for 2008 versus 2007. The new rates are scheduled to be announced in February and implemented in May. Another 1.9% decrease in December would yield a rate cap of about 3.75%. No change in the December CPI would yield a cap of about 3.9%."

According to The Guardian, "If ever a company had an appropriate acronym, it would be TNT, which blasted its way into the minds of the trade union movement, when its lorries drove through printer picket lines outside the Wapping headquarters of News International TNT helped revolutionise the newspaper sector and is well on its way to doing the same thing to the postal business, having opened talks with the government about taking a stake in the state-owned Royal Mail."

As Direct has noted, "Postal regulatory and appellate lawyer David Levy has joined law firm Venable LLP as a partner in its Washington office. Levy was previously with Sidley Austin LLP, where he practiced postal rate work since 1983. Over the years, he has represented many of the nation’s largest mailers and their trade associations, including the Alliance of Nonprofit Mailers, the Magazine Publishers of America, the National Postal Policy Council and the National Association of Presort Mailers. He also counsels large companies and institutions – including large banks, magazine publishers and nonprofit organizations – that rely heavily on direct mail to correspond with customers. [EdNote: PostCom's legal counsel, Ian Volner, is a senior partner in the Venable law firm.]

According to Internet Retailer, "E-retailers are continuing to experience problems using online shipping tools from the U.S. Postal Service, which is reporting “intermittent system interruptions” as the cause for the unavailability of services such as shipping costs presented in online shopping carts. When the problems were first reported last week, the Postal Service said it was working with technology vendors to fix a situation that, at best, has left several online shipping tools available only sporadically. A U.S.P.S. spokesman did not immediately return a call for comment....The lack of consistent service from the U.S.P.S. rate-finding software has also made it difficult for the retailer to run free-shipping programs, particularly on low-price products, because it is unable to figure the shipping costs with each order’s profit margin."

As Smart Brief has noted, "Overnight delivery services like UPS and FedEx have become proxies for the U.S. economy. UPS alone counts 6% of the U.S. GDP in its system at any given moment, according to TheStreet.com's Ted Reed, who recently rode along with a veteran driver to get a feel for the economy in Charlotte, N.C. Like many of its customers, UPS has been stung by the recession, reporting a 10% decline in net income for the third quarter. FedEx, meanwhile, slashed its 2009 earnings outlook based on "significantly weaker macroeconomic conditions."

As The Times put it: "The unions may not like it, but public sector workers must accept that well-paid retirements have gone for ever. The combination of recession and a public sector vastly swollen under Labour has turned the inequity of the pension system into political tinder. “Taxpayers who are struggling to build their own personal pension will be lumbered for decades by the cost of covering public sector workers who retire years earlier on risk-free pensions,” the CBI deputy director-general, John Cridland, said. No doubt unions will threaten to strike over the rest of the plans for the part-privatisation of the Royal Mail. For postal workers to go on strike on the busiest day of the year, disrupting the post during what may be a pretty grim Christmas for many families around the country, and in the same week that ministers, or rather taxpayers, are bailing out their pensions, must be the worst piece of PR since Cherie threw out the Downing Street cat. The stupid unions who have been partly responsible for bringing the Royal Mail to its knees will not recognise that, of course."

From Business Wire: "SkyPostal Networks, Inc., the largest private postal network in Latin America, announced that its President and CEO Albert P. Hernandez was interviewed today on Wall St. Network's 3-Minute Press Show. The audio interview can be accessed by visiting the Investors section of www.skypostal.com or at http://tv.wallst.net/3-minute-press/363/1449/SKPN/albert-hernandez/skypostal-networks-inc/.

Hellmail has reported that "The Hooper report, while a comprehensive document, made it clear that drastic change was needed at Royal Mail both in terms of operational and technological improvements but in terms of industrial relations which were hampering much-needed change. The report recommended that Postcomm be scrapped and that Ofcom take over the regulation of the UK postal market with extended powers to root out anti-competitive behaviour. Poor industrial relations between the CWU and Royal Mail had also been identified as causes for concern The comprehensive review underlined several key areas that had been identified as major hurdles to the modernisation of Royal mail, stimulating competition, and for the long term funding of the universal service." [EdNote: This is a piece the Obama transition team should look over. It seems to echo, in part, the comments of some long-time postal watchers regarding the U.S. Postal Service.]

December 16, 2008

Luton Today has reported that "A planned 24-hour strike by Royal Mail workers that could have disrupted festive postal deliveries in the Luton and Dunstable area has been called off. Members of the Communication Workers Union at the Dawson Road processing centre in Bletchley, Milton Keynes, had scheduled the industrial action for December 19. But they now say they don't want to penalise the public who have shown them such support." [EdNote: Folks, you're a day late and a dollar short. You've already penalized and ticked off the public.]

From PR Newswire: "Shipping holiday packages to family and friends once required a trip to the post office and a long wait in line. Instead, December is now the busiest time of year for online shipping. To identify which online shipping site was easiest for casual holiday shippers, User Centric, Inc. ( http://www.usercentric.com), a Chicago-based user experience research firm, compared FedEx, UPS, and the US Postal Service."

According to The Guardian, "The longstanding crisis of service provision and financial viability has its genesis in two decades of Royal Mail profits – to the tune of £2.3bn – being siphoned off by the government as a source of revenue to the Treasury, while recently private competitors have been allowed to cherry-pick the most profitable parts of the market and, to boot, to use Royal Mail's existing infrastructure to do so. The response to the government-generated crisis has been for it to keep proposing further deregulation and backdoor privatisation. Private business is not interested in maintaining the universal service obligation of a flat-rate stamp price for delivery to anywhere in Britain because money cannot be made out of that. It is clear that only a publicly owned and controlled operation that has as its purpose service provision, not profitability, can deliver the universal service obligation by cross-subsidising some parts of the services with the revenue from other parts of the service."

The Telegraph has reported that "As disclosed by The Daily Telegraph, ministers said that the Government had accepted a recommendation that Royal Mail should "forge a strategic minority partnership" with a private company. Lord Mandelson, the Business Secretary, said a review into the Royal Mail by Richard Hooper had concluded radical new measures were needed to revive the service. As part of the deal the Government will take on the full pension liabilities of Royal Mail. Its £22 billion scheme has a £7 billion deficit. The Business Secretary said the Post Office network would be excluded from any such partnership." See also Reuters and Bloomberg.

Newspapers & Technology has reported that "The Detroit Media Partnership today said that it will cut home delivery of the Detroit Free Press and Detroit News beginning in March. DMP Chief Executive Officer Dave Hunke said DMP will restrict delivery of the Free Press Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays. The News, which doesn't have a Sunday edition, will be delivered Thursdays and Fridays. But both papers will continue to be printed, albeit in an abbreviated form, the other days of the week. "We are here today because we are fighting for our survival," Hunke said at a press conference outlining the new strategy." [EdNote: Hmmm. Cutting days of delivery....Where have I heard that discussed before?]

The Press Association has reported that "The Government has opened the door to foreign investment in the Royal Mail after signalling support for a partner through a minority stake to bring fresh investment to the postal business. Dutch postal giant TNT immediately expressed an interest in exploring a "strategic partnership" with Royal Mail, a move warmly welcomed by the Government. Business Secretary Lord Mandelson said he would also welcome other expressions of interest from other "credible partners", should they come forward." See also Sky News.

As Hellmail put it: "One could almost call it a media frenzy this week. The press today seem divided on quite what the future has in store for Royal Mail but whatever changes are proposed, they're likely to be big ones."

Uni Global Union has told its members that "The Financial Times is reporting that the UK government will today pave the way for the part-privatisation of Royal Mail, as it publishes a report warning of the financial pressures on the postal operator. The news paper which is publishing leaked information about the report in an apparent "softening up" process by the government, has said that the Royal Mail is "technically insolvent" and drastic action is needed to fix the problems. Lord Mandelson, the UK Business Secretary, is reported as backing the recommendation of the independent Hooper review that Royal Mail needs an injection of private sector capital. But it is claimed that he will rule out the full privatisation. Government officials are dismissing reports that up to 50,000 jobs at Royal Mail could be at risk. But officials said the modernisation that the state-owned company needed would inevitably result in job losses."

As one writer for PC Magazine has noted, "A few weeks ago PC Magazine ceased publishing its print magazine, after 27 years of covering the technology industry. These days it simply doesn't make economic or environmental sense for us to print a magazine, load it on trucks, and send it across the country when the same information can be delivered instantly online via PCMag.com. At about the same time, my girlfriend gave me a love letter: a paperback book she made herself with glossy pages, full-color photos, and a production quality that would make any magazine art director salivate. How can she afford to print a single book when big publishing companies lose money selling hundreds of thousands of copies? Welcome to the world of print on demand."

The Prague Daily Monitor has reported that "Czech postal services provider Ceska posta has lowered its plan for this year's profit to Kc250m from the original Kc504m. The reason for the cut is an economic slowdown in November and a need to create provisions for investment in highly speculative securities abroad which was made by the firm's previous managers."

The Coventry Telegraph has reported that "union leaders have warned that a one-day strike by postal workers in Coventry on Friday could just be the start of a campaign of industrial action. They say that there would be more disruption to the mail across Coventry and Warwickshire is expected during December and the New Year if talks fail this week."

DutchNews.nl has reported that "Dutch postal company TNT is in the running for a €3.4bn stake in British post firm Royal Mail, the Daily Telegraph reports. The paper says one third of state-owned Royal Mail is up for sale, which would mark the beginning of the full privatisation of the company. Insiders tell the paper that TNT is a favourite candidate."

According to the Evening Standard, "foreign firms were vying to buy up large chunks of Royal Mail today after it emerged that Lord Mandelson has drafted a £3billion plan to part-privatise the service. Under a shake-up, at least a third of the company would be sold to a private firm. Dutch-owned TNT and German-owned DHL are both keen to secure the stake."

According to Personnel Today, "Calls for a radical shake up of Royal Mail are less likely to lead to job cuts as the government will not agree to part-privatise the organisation. A report delivered to ministers last week by Richard Hooper, a former deputy chairman of Ofcom, is said to recommend selling half of the state-owned group to private business, which would result in closing 30 mail centres. But Business secretary Peter Mandelson is said to have ruled out any plans privatisation this morning, although a full report confirming the government's decision is due at 3:30 pm [10:30 EST] today."

According to Bloomberg, "Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s administration today will detail plans for the government stake in Royal Mail Group Plc, the state-owned postal service, as the European Union opens local deliveries to competition. The announcement, due this afternoon in Parliament, may include selling a share of the network to a foreign private postal company."

Management Today has written that "Given the state of affairs at Royal Mail these days, opening up to half of the organisation to private business and closing half of its 71 mail centres is probably as sound a suggestion as any. Financial and organisational pressures have rendered the group far less efficient than many of its sleeker commercial competitors, who now handle one in three of every letter posted. One major hurdle is that the government remains committed to maintaining the ‘universal service' - a millstone round Royal Mail's neck which means it has to make daily deliveries to every UK home, and collections from every postbox in the country. There are of course other pressures: e-mail has hammered the market, as has a contraction in business post due to the recession. Mail volumes are said to have dropped 7%, costing Royal Mail around £500m over the past few years. The group is now handling 5m fewer items daily than two years ago. Then there's the small matter of a voracious black hole in its pension pot: reckoned to be around £7bn.The group's overall operating profit last year was just £162m on £9.4bn of revenue." [EdNote: Is this where the U.S. Postal Service is heading?]

Docket No. MC2008-1 (Determination of postal vs nonpostal services): On December 12, the U.S. Postal Service filed with the Postal Regulatory Commission a request to "Sever from This Proceeding the Consideration of Those Previously Unregulated Services That the Postal Service Asserts Are Postal Services.” The Association for Postal Commerce, along with Alliance of Nonprofit Mailers, Magazine Publishers of America, Inc., National Postal Policy Council, Parcel Shippers Association and The Direct Marketing Association, has filed a reply to the Postal Service's request.

Bloomberg has reported that "Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s administration today will detail plans for the government stake in Royal Mail Group Plc, the state-owned postal service, as the European Union opens local deliveries to competition."

For the third consecutive year the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) is organizing it's Global Postal Research and Education Network conference. This conference is aimed at bridging theory and practice and is a place for executives, academics, regulators and other industry stakeholders to meet in a neutral and academic forum. The conference will be an occasion to find out the latest European research results relative to the post, parcel, express and logistics sectors, whilst drawing very practical conclusions from the experience of players in the sector. This year's conference takes place at the EPFL campus in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Monday April 27th 2009. The general theme for the conference will be: New Business Models in a Changing Industry

According to The Telegraph, "In a deal likely to be worth around £3 billion, at least a third of the state-owned firm that runs Britain's postal network will be sold to a private company. The move – which will see taxpayers footing the bill for Royal Mail's £7 billion pensions black hole – will be seen as the first step on the way to full privatisation of Britain's mail services."

The Philadelphia Daily News has reported that "the announcement in late August that the U.S. Postal Service planned to transfer 162 mail clerks made no sense to veteran postal worker Nick Casselli. With hundreds of overflowing unsorted mail bins blocking passageways at the Southwest Philadelphia processing plant and a yearlong ban on overtime, Caselli said, he knew there weren't enough clerks to process the daily mail. As a new shop steward, Casselli set out to find out why. Using the "eyes and ears" of co-workers, Casselli was first to uncover the Philadelphia post office's dirty little secret."

Canada.com has reported that "Striking Canada Post workers rejected the latest management offer in votes held across the country over the weekend. More than two-thirds of the union's 2,140 members voted against the latest Canada Post offer to resolve a walkout that has dragged on for more than a month." See also Market Wire.

December 15, 2008

CNN Money has reported that "The last Monday a week before Christmas has traditionally been the busiest day of the year for the U.S. Postal Service and people mailing holiday packages, but officials say the pace is down this year because of the economy."

Postal blog editor Alan Robinson has noted that "In recent days, a number of news articles focused on financial troubles across all media modes that depend on advertisers for most if not all of their revenue. While all advertising media are suffering, the economic downturn plus a switch to Internet-based media has pushed print media, and in particular daily newspapers, toward bankruptcy. As the largest deliverer of print advertising, the question arises: Is the Postal Service facing the same fate, or is there an opportunity in the decline of a direct competitor?"

Rediff has reported that "As the private sector continues to lay off people to cut costs amid economic slowdown, the government too seems to have frozen fresh recruitment at least in the department of posts."

According to Earth911:

  • During the holiday season, you’re probably going to send a great deal of mail, cards, gifts and other packages through the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). In fact, the USPS will handle over 19 billion cards, letters and packages between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Beyond their ability to deliver a card to your favorite aunt or gifts to charitable organizations around the globe, the USPS can deliver another kind of gift: responsible e-cycling for used or obsolete small electronics. The goals of the program: to be free and green.
  • If a USPS Mail Carrier comes to your home or business five to six times per week, why not have them pick up your holiday packages during one of those deliveries? This can help you cut back on the trips you have to make to the post office, saving you time, money and probably a little patience. The USPS green site has a handy calculator to estimate the gallons of gas used, fuel costs and pounds of CO2 emitted from your trips to the post office over an entire year. Carrier pickup is one of the easiest and greenest ways to frugally ship your packages this holiday season. It allows you to ship any number of packages, as long as each weighs less than 70 pounds.

The Daily Mail has reported that "Taxpayers look set to be handed a £7billion bill for the Royal Mail's future pensions, adding to the rising cost of public sector retirements. A plan to restructure the postal service could see its pension fund moved to the public purse, making future generations responsible for unfunded liabilities. Rumours of the proposal, expected to be outlined by Lord Mandelson this week, came as business leaders called for action to limit the increasing burden of public sector pensions. The Confederation of British Industry said the gap between pension promises made to public sector workers and the amount put aside to pay for them had grown to £1trillion." See also the Financial Times.

According to CBS4, "It's The Busiest Mailing Day Of The Year."

The Universal Postal Union's December 2008 DMAB Update has been posted on this site. The Direct Mail Advisory Board (DMAB) is a group of postal and industry organizations whose mission is to "foster the growth of direct mail as a factor of economic and market expansion by increasing market knowledge and developing the expertise of stakeholders at all levels". Included in this report:

  • The Direct Mail Advisory Board held its Assembly meeting on 6 November 2008, with the theme "What is the future for direct mail?".
  • The Assembly also elected its Chairman for the next four years by acclamation: Saudi Post, represented by Mr. Sami Alowedi, Vice-President for Postal Operations.
  • The DMAB Business Plan for 2009–2012 was endorsed by the Assembly. It is posted on the DMAB website at www.upu.int/dmab/en/dmab_development_plan_2009-2012_en.pdf.
  • Swiss Post International has just launched a "Direct Marketing Passport to Eastern Europe". The marketing tool is available in English, French and German, and is an addition to the previously published Passports to Western Europe and Switzerland.
  • Royal Mail has launched a new medium for advertisers called Matter. It is a promotional box containing samples of product items sent to people registered on their website.
  • The next issue of the UPU magazine Union Postale features an article on the financial crisis and its effect on the postal sector.
  • Some designated postal operators have created webpages or websites entirely dedicated to direct mail and direct marketing techniques.
  •  

The Glasgow Daily Record has reported that "Britain's postal services need "radical surgery" to survive, a report out this week will warn. The review, for Business Secretary Peter Mandelson, will call for savage cuts in sorting services and the closure of more offices." See also Public Service Online and the BBC.

According to The Telegraph, "Royal Mail is facing financial disaster and should effectively be part-privatised."

Media Daily News has reported that "As if there isn't enough bad news, 2008 has turned out to be the worst year in decades for magazines, as measured by total ad pages. Through the middle of December, consumer magazines are down 9.4% from last year, according to MIN Online; this compares with a 7.8% drop in 2001. Worse, magazines don't appear to be headed for a quick rebound like the last recession. Much of this decline can be attributed to the recession, which officially began a year ago, according to a recent analysis by the National Bureau of Economic Research. However, the decline is more troubling in light of recent historical context: 2006 and 2007 were also slow years, with an average year-over-year growth rate of just 1.25% per quarter. This was a period when the economy was supposedly healthy, suggesting that magazines were already under attack from Internet advertising and other new media. Now that the two trends are coinciding, with secular media shifts reinforced by the economic downturn, there is no telling where the bottom is, or if there is one."

December 14, 2008

Welcome to PostCom Radio and the PostCom Postal Podcast
Join PostCom President Gene Del Polito and Grayhair Software Vice President Angelo Anagnostopoulos in a discussion of the Postal Service's Centralized Account Payment System (CAPS) and its relationship to Intelligent Mail Barcode services.

The BBC has reported that "The government has announced a review of UK postal services to see whether increased competition in the industry has had an impact on Royal Mail. The Royal Mail's 350-year monopoly ended at the start of 2006 when other licensed operators were given the right to collect and deliver mail. Strike action by postal workers this summer damaged Royal Mail's reputation. Business Secretary John Hutton said retaining the universal postal service remained a "top priority".

The Sunday Standard has reported that "ICT was supposed to spell doom for the postal sector but BotswanaPost has managed to piggyback on technological wonders to adapt to an altered business landscape. “At the close of the year, work was at an advanced stage on an electronic money transfer product that would not only expedite and improve on the security of transactions but also offer customers value added services such as SMS notifications,” says BotswanaPost’s board chairman, Martin Makgatlhe, in the just-released 2007/08 annual report. In partnership with the government, BotswanaPost has also upgraded 24 post offices to become public information centers or Kitsong Centers as they are more commonly known. The centers were set up after a study undertaken by the Botswana Technology Centre established the following: that rural communities needed ICT for agricultural and related services as well as for long-distance education and to access external markets to sell their produce; women in particular needed to access ICT services from their homes while taking care of old-age family members and children; and, communities wanted to access information on government policies on business development initiatives and financial resources. Rural communities have also benefited from what BotswanaPost calls “a newspaper distribution solution” that has enabled The Botswana Daily News to reach most destinations in the country on the day of publication. In her own statement, Ruth Mphathi, who was acting director general at the time the report was put together, says that this development “also allows for extensive distribution of other national publications across the country.”

The Observer has reported that "Royal Mail's pensions 'black hole' has more than doubled to some £7bn, placing a 'ticking timebomb' under the country's most cherished state-owned industry. The implications of the soaring pensions deficit are laid bare in a long-awaited assessment of Royal Mail's operations submitted to ministers in the past few days by Richard Hooper, a former deputy chairman of Ofcom, who is chairing an independent review of postal services. The report is expected to recommend 'radical surgery' and modernisation of Royal Mail's operations - leading almost certainly to widespread job losses - as the condition for maintaining a 'universal service' and letter deliveries across the country six days a week." See also the BBC.

Hellmail has reported that:

Finnish postal operator Posti (part of the Itella group) announced last week that a cooperation agreement between Edita and Itella's NetPosti services, offers Edita's customer companies more diverse ways of utilising electronic communications: they can transfer official consumer messages directly to NetPosti. The service enables Edita's customers to send messages to their own customers both by post and via the NetPosti service.
Swiss Post said that disputes arising between customers and PostFinance can be settled by an independent, neutral conciliation office, which mediates between the parties involved and looks for amicable solutions. The new conciliation office is to be managed by Carol Franklin Engler.

Xinhua has reported that "For the first time since 1949, the Chinese mainland and Taiwan will begin direct air, sea transport and postal services on Monday."

December 13, 2008

The Times has reported that "A row broke out at Royal Mail last week after the postal workers’ union claimed bosses were trying to get postmen and women to double their walking speed to 4mph. British postal workers lag behind their continental counterparts. Everyone else is speeding up, too. Most people in Britain are walking 10% faster than they were 10 years ago, according to researchers. Doctors have even found that it is good for us. People who walk faster tend to live longer, according to the research, unless they step out in front of a bus in their hurry. The slowness of the British postie is said to be one of the reasons for the backlog in Christmas mail."

Canada.com has reported that "The union representing Canada Post support staff currently on strike is urging its members to not accept the latest contract offer by the Crown corporation."

Traffic World has reported that "for many parcel shippers, a major concern once the goods reach their destination is not merely the basic shipping costs but how those costs are handled in the organization. Many shippers are anxious to get that parcel business away from being a mere cost center to one that can actually reap profits and highlight the integral role parcel distribution plays in a company. This past fall, Navigo Consulting Group, Traffic World and PARCEL surveyed more than 660 shippers to find out how shippers are confronting rising shipping costs and to provide benchmarks for readers to measure and evaluate their own chargeback methods."

The Universal Postal Union has reiterated its commitment to helping postal operators worldwide better manage their CO2 emissions at the United Nations climate change conference taking place in Poznan, Poland. Speaking at a side event on green postal projects organized by PostEurop, an association of European public postal operators, the International Bureau's Daniel Legoff said the UPU was gathering information among its 191 member countries about the global impact of their postal operations on the environment. About 30% of countries have already responded to a worldwide UPU survey. The UPU will continue to work closely with the United Nations Environment Programme and postal organizations, such as PostEurop, on this issue. Once an initial assessment has been performed, the organization will then develop an action plan to help postal operators worldwide mitigate green-house gas emissions.

British postal regulator, Postcomm, has noted that "On 20 November 2008 Royal Mail submitted an application to Postcomm to remove the current price controls (Condition 21 of its licence) for a number of packet products and product formats. Royal Mail’s application is based on its belief that that competition is sufficiently developed to protect the interest of users of packet products. This application does not include the universal service products used by customers when sending parcels and packets at Post Offices."

Traffic World has reported that "Ron Carey, the president who led the International Brotherhood of Teamsters through two major strikes before being forced out of his leadership role, died Dec. 11. He was 72. Carey, a long-time UPS employee and son of a UPS driver, was elected Teamsters president in 1991 on a reform platform in the first secret ballot election in the union's history. He frequently clashed with Teamster employers, including UPS."

The Philadelphia Daily News has reported that "U.S. Rep Bob Brady has called for an investigation of the Southwest Philadelphia Postal Service's processing plant by the U.S. Government Accountability Office. In a Dec. 5 letter, Brady asked Gene L. Dodaro, acting U.S. comptroller general, to have the GAO investigate procedures at the plant after reports of chronic late deliveries, missing mail, the undercounting of hundreds of thousands of pieces of mail and serious understaffing at the $300 million plant in his district."

The American Postal Workers Union (APWU) has told its members that "When the Postal Service announced a consolidation study in Manasota, FL, APWU’s Local 7136 swung into action without waiting for the first in “a series of community meetings” that the USPS said it would schedule. Instead, the local launched its own effort to inform the public about the plan, and prompted the area’s largest city government to hold a special meeting. The local has also launched a special Web site (www.keepthemailhere.com), at which local citizens can sign a petition to encourage the Postal Service to keep the 375-worker facility in full operation. In late November, the USPS announced [PDF] that it had initiated an “efficiency study” of the Manasota Processing and Distribution Center, and said the study would be completed by the end of the year."

The Victoria Times Colonist has reported that "A judge has granted Canada Post an injunction to stop striking inside workers from impeding the flow of mail to postal depots across B.C. About 2,100 inside postal workers began their strike Nov. 17 to back contract demands. The mail has been flowing, since carriers, truck drivers and sorters are not on strike, but there have been delays caused by striking workers walking slowly across entrances, delaying trucks arriving and leaving."

The St. Cloud Times has reported that "A Sartell woman and former employee of the U.S. Postal Service faces up to five years in prison when she’s sentenced for stealing mail."

"Postal officials shifted from denial to apology Friday as KRQE News 13 continued its series of reports on a growing backlog of undelivered mail in Albuquerque. Service Manager Matt Lopez now concedes the post office is having delivery problems after all. He told News 13 that last month the service cut staff by 5 percent which had the remaining carriers adding new stops without overtime."

According to Burnaby Now, "This week, a judge granted Canada Post an injunction to stop striking inside workers from impeding the flow of mail to postal depots across B.C. That isn't terribly newsworthy. Companies often get injunctions when striking union members get a little too eager to slow down the work flow. Picketers often walk slowly in front of delivery entrances - and on rare occasions, actually stop work. So, injunctions during strikes are pretty run-of-the-mill. What is interesting about this event, is that hardly anyone has noticed that there's a Canada Post strike happening. For the average Canadian who has become accustomed to the semi-regular pre-Christmas extortion postal strike, this year it barely registers on the irritation scale. It seems apparent that Canadians have become much less reliant on the Crown corporation as their communication conduit."

As the New York Times put it: "To the ever-growing list of signs of a teetering economy, add this unexpected entry: Postal workers worried about jobs they always believed came with the nearest thing this country offered to a lifetime guarantee."

The Liverpool Echo has reported that "postal unions will try to re-start talks with Royal Mail next week ahead of Friday’s planned one-day strike."

The editor of Hellmail has noted that "Workers at several Royal Mail sorting offices across the UK are to go on strike just days before final posting dates.

"Its a nonsense to suggest this isn't a deliberate attempt to disrupt Christmas post. Clearly through the timing of this, the whole point of these strikes is to maximise the disruption to postal collections and deliveries for customers at minimum loss to postal workers in an attempt to try and get Royal Mail to reconsider its plans.

"The public weathered weeks of disruption last year and patience has worn rather thin. The public as well as business don't like being held to ransom as part of an industrial dispute at the best of times, and even more so when their own jobs are under threat. So many families are split these days and we're hearing from many customers who are angry that presents to relatives and friends may not arrive because of yet another Christmas postal strike. Its fair to say that the population do understand the crisis faced my many postal workers but the timing of this industrial action has angered many. The mood is not the same this time around. "The danger now is that further industrial action will just convince the government that privatisation is the best course of action and any gains in terms of wages as well as terms and conditions, will vanish if that were to happen."

[EdNote: I mean....You gotta wonder....Are there days they actually go to work instead of strike?]

The Memphis Commercial Appeal has reported that "FedEx officials said Friday they are trimming 540 jobs at trucking businesses FedEx Freight and National LTL because of economic conditions."

United Press International has reported that "Postal workers in Britain say they are unfairly being forced to move at speeds made popular by the British military during World War II. One postman, whose identity was not revealed, said postal workers have been ordered by Royal Mail managers to increase their speeds from 2.4 mph to 4 mph, the speed army general Lucian Truscott had British troops move during the historic conflict, The Scotsman said Friday." See also the Northampton Chronicle & Echo.

Advertising Age has reported that "The Detroit dilemma has hit Interpublic Group of Cos.-owned Campbell-Ewald (the Postal Service's ad agency), which is slashing up to 100 employees, executives familiar with the matter said. The move, which would reduce staff by less than 10%, is due to drastic budget cuts at key client Chevrolet and the departure of other accounts, they said. Campbell-Ewald, which had revenues of nearly $240 million in 2007, per Advertising Age statistics, is one of several ad agencies that will be dealt a blow if the U.S. government decides not to bail out automakers."

Yahoo! Tech has reported that "Parliament has approved a law making Estonia the first country to allow voting by mobile phone. Lawmakers approved a measure Thursday allowing citizens to vote by mobile phone in the next parliamentary elections in 2011." [EdNote: Seems to do voting by mail one better.]

Air Cargo World has reported that "Cargo traffic for U.S. airlines fell 6.2 percent in October compared to the same month a year ago, but carriers got some rare relatively good news in the beleaguered transportation market as shipping grew from September to October. The overall decline in October compared to the same month a year ago was an improvement over the 7.1 percent the carriers reported in September and cargo ton miles actually advanced 5.4 percent from September to October, according to the Air Transport Association."

The Associated Press has reported that "The number of governors' offices receiving letters containing suspicious powder has topped 30. The letters, all postmarked in Texas, began arriving at governors' offices across the country on Monday. So far field tests have indicated the powders to be harmless, though the FBI said Friday that further testing is under way."

The Daily Mail has reported that "Millions of cards and presents could arrive too late for Christmas because of plans by postal workers to strike next Friday. The cynical decision to walk out at the peak of the festive postal rush was condemned by Royal Mail and consumer groups yesterday. Around 120million letters and parcels are sent every day in December. The strike organisers, the Communication Workers' Union, could not have chosen a more damaging date in the entire calendar. December 19 is the day after the deadline for posting second- class letters in time for Christmas and the day before the first-class post deadline."

From MarketWire: "Canada Post and the Union of Postal Communication Employees (UPCE) have reached a new tentative agreement. The contract is subject to ratification by the 2,140 members of the Union, a process expected to be completed by Tuesday, December 16. Picket activity may continue until the results of the vote are known. Members of the UPCE, represented by the Public Service Alliance of Canada, have been on strike since November 17."

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

  • The Postal Service posted its latest version of the Guide on Intelligent Mail for Letters and Flats this week. The Guide provides a framework for implementing the suite of Intelligent Mail barcodes. In addition, it also describes what will be available in the first release of the “Intelligent Mail Program” in May 2009, and what is still to come in later releases.

  • The Postal Regulatory Commission’s public representative seems to have highlighted an incongruence in certain sections of PAEA and the Commission’s administration of the new postal law. He has called for a docket in which these issues can be more fully explored.

  • USPS employees at some local Philadelphia post offices say they have issues similar – fraudulent time-keeping, late or lost mail and chronic understaffing – to those published by the Philadelphia Daily News last week.

  • Postal Service Philadelphia District Manager Frank Neri tried to reassure residents of Philadelphia about their substandard mail service in this letter to the Daily News.

  • PostCom President Gene Del Polito sets the record straight about advertising mail in a letter to Time Magazine.

  • PostCom Vice President Jessica Lowrance has put together a list of thoughts and ideas about mailers and mail volume for Bob Bernstock, USPS’ President of Mailing and Shipping Services, in this postal perspective.

  • In this postal perspective, Kate Muth, president of Muth Communications, says the Postal Service must operate in the sunshine by sharing its plans and data with its stakeholders in a timely fashion, especially in this atmosphere of financial mismanagement and mistrust.

  • Finding the news on the PostCom website. Shipping, manufacturing volumes continue to drop, Con-Way says. Fall in express demand to hurt shippers. Scrap markets blasted by downturn.

  • TNT cuts express division forecast again. Legal loophole opens in Zumwinkel tax case. Czech Post to raise prices for parcel delivery. An Post Delivery quality gains stand. DHL, eBay strike Asia Pacific deal.

  • Postal Previews

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December 12, 2008

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

From the U.S. Postal Service: "Online services available on usps.com have been restored. Working with our external partners, we have corrected problems that caused the interruptions in service and taken proactive measures to ensure these problems do not occur in the future."

DMM Advisory : "We (the U.S. Postal Service) have tools to help you prepare for the January 18th shipping services pricing change at usps.com/prices. You will find many helpful materials, including price lists, downloadable price files, Federal Register notices, and more. The Postal Regulatory Commission verified yesterday that the new prices for shipping services are consistent with the Postal Act of 2006. We’ll use the DMM Advisory to keep you updated."

The Mailers Council has reported that "Postal employee reductions will continue next month. USPS EVP Tony Vegliante has notified area and district employees that staffing changes will be made beginning early 2009. Effective immediately he has frozen all area and district job postings until further notice, including laterals and downgrades. Exceptions will require approval by Vegliante’s office. Current postings will be allowed, but the last date for processing changes will be January 16."

According to Media Daily News, the "Bottom Falls Out Of The Ad Market, Literally."

AllAfrica.com has reported that "Kenya: New Media Law Provokes Protest, Arrests."

The DM Bulletin has reported that "Direct marketing agency Entire has set up a website called 'What is DM?', which invites the direct marketing industry to discuss and develop a definition of what it does."

Online Media Daily has reported that "Web sites cluttered with ads hurt the publisher, the consumer, and the advertiser, according to a study from online media and technology firm Burst Media. Put another way, ad clutter not only annoys audiences, but diminishes ad effectiveness, found the study of over 4,000 Web users administered to better understand how clutter impacts Web users' Web experience, as well as its impact on the perception of advertisers who place ads on cluttered sites."

The BBC has reported that "postal workers from seven sorting offices are to take part in a 24-hour strike over the merger of some depots."

According to Advertising Age, "Magazines' print editions will continue this way for a while, it seems increasingly certain, particularly as the recession amplifies the abundant challenges already posed by digital media and splintering audiences. There may never be a stable "new normal" for magazine. But their print editions are being slowly distilled into cheap, mass titles on one hand and luxurious niche books on the other -- with the web in between."


The Postal Regulatory Commission:

  • Regarding Docket No. CP-2009-8: Has issued its review of price adjustments sought by the U.S. Postal Service for competitive postal products. Chairman Dan G. Blair announced the Commissions’ unanimous decision that the increases sought for competitive products were not unlawful. Price adjustments sought by the Postal Service for its competitive products in the domestic arena will affect rates for Express Mail, Priority Mail, Parcel Select and Parcel Return Service. In the international arena, products affected are Global Express Guaranteed, Express Mail International, Priority Mail International and International Direct Sacks—M-Bags. The Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (Public Law 109-435) requires that rates for competitive products must produce sufficient revenues to ensure competitive products are not subsidized by market dominant products. Each competitive product must cover its attributable costs. In addition, competitive products, as a group, must pay their share of institutional costs, which currently is 5.5 percent. The Commission determined that the proposed domestic and international competitive product price increases appear to satisfy these requirements.
  • Has issued a "Notice And Order Concerning Filing Of Additional Global Expedited Package Services 1 Negotiated Service Agreement." The Commission has established Docket No. CP2009-16 for consideration of matters related to the contract identified in the Postal Service’s Notice. 

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has recommended that "Next time you travel, consider sending your own photos as postcards. HazelMail.com allows you to upload your pictures and mail them anywhere in the world, with a personalized message, for $1.50."

InsideBayArea has reported that "Neopost USA will eliminate 240 jobs in the East Bay and close its local operations, a move that deals a fresh blow to a regional economy already staggered by job losses, a mortgage meltdown and a retail slump. The staff reductions have materialized because a series of acquisitions in recent years caused the Hayward operations to duplicate other Neopost USA organizations."

WWLP has reported that "The backlog of undelivered packages results from more than the usual crush of holiday mail, U.S. Postal Service employees have been telling KRE News 13. Yet the Postal Service, which says it, too, has taken hits from the sagging economy, reports that shouldn't affect service to its customers. However snail mail is getting even more sluggish, according to two USPS employees in Albuquerque. They didn't want to go on camera but said overtime was recently cut, causing mail and packages to pile up in at least two metro post offices just weeks before the holidays."

According to one PC Magazine commentator, "print publishing is hugely flawed. It's slow, with reviews of products appearing in print months after they have been tested. Opinion pieces, weeks after the debate has moved on. You're reading this column today online, but under the kindest of schedules, print subscribers wouldn't get the same chance until January. Print media is simply behind the times by design."

The Austrian Times has reported that "Postal workers’ union chief Gerhard Fritz has warned that yesterday’s (Weds) warning strikes were only "a taste of things to come."

The Japan Times has reported that "The House of Representatives on Thursday voted down a bill to freeze the planned sale of state-owned shares in Japan Post Holdings Co."

The Daily Nation has reported that "The new communications law gives postal staff powers to open your letters. People whose letters would be considered offensive or to contain obscene pictures will be liable to a Sh100,000 fine and two years imprisonment or both. People will also not be allowed to use words such as “letter box” anywhere in their private buildings as that would imply such places are legitimate post offices. People who defy the section will be liable to a fine of up to Sh5,000. According to the Bill, “any person who affixes any placard, advertisement, notice, document or in any way disfigures any post office will be liable to payment of Sh50,000 or one year imprisonment or both”. The law will also restrict you from transmitting certain messages through your mobile phone and other electronic gadgets. The source of the messages will always be traced to senders."

December 11, 2008

According to The Gallup Independent,"In just about any town in America, the long lines at the post office have been the source of frustration for millions of postal customers. And now that the holidays are here, they’re worse than ever. But many Gallup postal customers are saying that the problems at the local post office go way beyond long lines."

The Northampton Chronicle & Echo has reported that "Postal workers have called off a strike over plans to concentrate mail services in Northamptonshire to avoid delaying post during the Christmas rush. Members of the Milton Keynes branch of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) have decided to delay industrial action until after the Christmas period. [EdNote: Isn't that thoughtful....]

The Tipton Conservative and Advertiser has reported that "U.S. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Rep. Dave Loebsack (D-IA) have sent a letter to Mark Allen, the Manager of Post Office Operations in Cedar Rapids calling for increased communication with postal customers who are affected by the temporary closure of the post office in West Branch. Harkin and Loebsack called for a clear timetable for the reopening of the facility and for the Postal Service to address the potential need for the establishment of a temporary facility within city limits. The West Branch Post Office was closed on Nov. 29 to install a new heating and air conditioning system. [EdNote: Do you think anyone on the Hill actually thinks the PMG knows how to run his business?]

Postal commentator Kate Muth has said "I’m beginning to worry that the Postal Service is backsliding on transparency. While it might be living up to the letter of the new law, it is not living up to the spirit. It’s now mid December, and stakeholders still have not seen the Postal Service’s integrated financial plan for fiscal year 2009. We are now almost a quarter of the way through the fiscal year and the Postal Service’s Board of Governors still has not voted on the plan. Pretty soon it will no longer be a plan. It will be results, which should make the vote a lot easier." 

From MarketWire: "Quebecor World Inc. has announced it is deploying variable trim and unique hybrid co-mail technologies that will increase its extensive co-mail offering and generate greater postal savings for its Catalog and Periodical customers."

The Sophia News Agency has reported that "Bulgaria's Parliament voted Thursday to extend the monopoly of the state-owned company Bulgarian Posts JSC until December 31, 2010. The present Postal Services Act envisaged that the state monopoly over the transfer of internal and international correspondence would end on December 31, 2008."

In a recent piece that appeard in an APWU publication, it was said that: "Unable to come up with a way to justify the plan to reward corporate mailers at the expense of local business owners and citizens, the USPS decided to allow the Sioux City Processing & Distribution Facility to continue with its normal operations." [EdNote: Reward corporate mailers? Where does the APWU come up with this stuff? If you're looking for a boggey man for the present state of the Postal Service's network realignment distress, look in the mirror. The people within our industry are getting sick and tired of being the APWU's and environmentalists' scapegoat for all that ails America.]

The Bradenton Herald has reported that "With more than 40 postal workers in attendance, the City Council instructed Mayor Wayne Poston to send a letter outlining the city’s concern about possible loss of jobs at the U.S. Postal Service Manasota Processing and Distribution Center." [EdNote: Perhaps, then, the City Council should volunteer to cover the cost of postal employee salaries and benefits.]

The Prague Daily Monitor has reported that "Postal service provider Ceska posta will raise the price of parcel delivery by up to Kc10 next year when sending an ordinary package weighing less than 2 kilogrammes will cost Kc43 instead of the current Kc38, the company announced in a press release Wednesday. The price of delivery of letters will not change.

Bloomberg has reported that "Deutsche Post AG will continue to buy “small” companies in Asia as the financial crisis cuts their market value, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, citing an interview with Chief Executive Officer Frank Appel. The Bonn-based postal service will grow by a percentage in the “higher single digits” in Asia this year, Appel told the newspaper. The share of Deutsche Post’s sales in Asia will gain to 20 percent or more by 2012, the newspaper said, citing Appel. Deutsche Post expects to meet its full-year target for earnings before interest and tax of 2.4 billion euros ($3.16 billion) and is “confident” it will be able to pay a dividend for 2008, Appel told the newspaper."

The Philadelphia Daily News has reported that "Nine days ago, Megan Brennan, the Postal Service's regional vice president, wanted to see for herself the hundreds of overflowing mail bins, rerouted mail trailers and allegedly falsified mail-volume reports at the Southwest Philadelphia mail-processing plant. When Brennan arrived - in response to the Daily News story on Dec. 1 - the processing plant was ready for her visit, according to a postal-union official. A trucking firm had just hauled away 19 tons of so-called "waste" mail to be destroyed, said Gwen Ivey, president of the American Postal Workers Union Local 89 in Philadelphia. "This was workable mail," she said. Yesterday, Ivey told investigators from the Office of Inspector General about the 38,000 pounds of mail in 36 cardboard 5-foot-cubes, called gaylords, headed for destruction." [EdNote: If this is true, this is PROFOUNDLY disturbing. Heads should roll.]

The Schenectady Daily Gazette has reported that while "FedEx and UPS have refused to say how business is this holiday season, the U.S. Postal Service has announced that its deliveries of packages and letters are below average. According to The Associated Press, in cutting its profit forecast, the delivery company acknowledged that the beleaguered economy has trumped lower fuel prices and even the elimination of a competitor. The Postal Service is predicting that packages and other mail volume will be down this season, as it has been all year, according to spokesman Gerry Kreienkamp."

At the same time, Smart Money has reported that "FedEx Corp.'s (FDX) latest delivery to Wall Street included a pessimistic outlook for coming months, as waning demand for shipping continues to vex the parcel-delivery industry amid the broad economic slump. The Memphis, Tenn., company said late Monday that earnings for its fiscal second-quarter ended Nov. 30 will come in toward the high end of its prior guidance. However, it followed the announcement with a stark warning that the full fiscal year will be disappointing, with the low end of the projected earnings range 26% below previous guidance. "Demand for our services weakened sequentially throughout the quarter and global economic trends continue to worsen, substantially reducing our second-half outlook," Chief Financial Officer Alan B. Graf Jr. said in a prepared statement."

As the Sacramento Bee has noted, "Problems with the U.S. Postal Service's Web site continued through Wednesday, disrupting holiday shipping for businesses and consumers."

From PRWeb: "The US Postal Service is changing the Postage Rates for shippers on January 18, 2009. Window Book is giving away a subscription to its Postal Business Companion™ software that allows shippers to get the current and future postage rates and compare. This new software includes the Priority Mail rates, Commercial rates and new Commercial Plus rates. The Postal Business Companion includes an easy-to-use postal mailing and shipping rate calculator that lets you compare current rates vs. the new postage rates. Shippers can quickly calculate the rate changes in dollar amount and percentage ahead of the actual rate change and determine budget allotments. It is a handy tool that does not require using the internet to use from their PC or laptop."

The Slovak Spectator has reported that "The average nominal monthly salary rose year-on-year in all monitored sectors in October, with the biggest increase recorded in the category of postal services and telecommunications - 10.6 percent, the Statistics Office reported on Wednesday."

The Economic Times has reported that "In response to a call by All India Dak Karamchari Sangh, the postal employees across the country will go on an indefinite strike from December 17 in protest against non-acceptance of their "just and legitimate" demands by the Central government."

According to The Sentinel, "a dispute is building up between union leaders and Royal Mail over claims postal workers are being pressured into walking faster. The Communication Workers' Union (CWU) said delivery staff were being told to walk at a speed of 4mph, an increase over a previous target of 2.4mph. The union said delivery workers were being pressed to complete "unrealistic" rounds to gain financial savings. But Royal Mail said nobody was being pressured." See also The Guardian.

Online Media Daily has reported that "Marketers taking part in MediaPost's Email Insider Summit this week wrestled with the question of how aggressively to employ text messaging--either as a way to obtain email addresses or as part of an integrated campaign. SMS, of course, offers huge potential in that people have their cell phones with them most of the time. But marketers suggested it's a very private arena and they run the risk of appearing overly intrusive when they use it."

Docket No. CP2009-15: This document announces a recently-filed Postal Service notice of a new international mail contract. It addresses procedural steps associated with this filing. Comments due December 12, 2008. Submit comments electronically via the Commission's Filing Online system at http://www.prc.gov. Further information, contact: Stephen L. Sharfman, General Counsel, 202-789-6820 and stephen.sharfman@prc.gov.

The National Association of Major Mail Users (NAMMU) actively promotes and endorses the implementation of sound environmental principles and practices. These include using 100 per cent of post consumer content paper collected curbside, much of which is currently having trouble finding downstream markets; and a highly targeted delivery approach by which members can reduce their current Stewardship Ontario dues allocation by contributing less material than is covered by dues. The NAMMU Environmental Awareness Program includes the annual NAMMU Environmental Awards that salute exceptional achievement and set an example for the mailing industry; amendment of the Code of Ethics to more formally include and reflect members’ environmental practices; and a consumer awareness campaign that states the facts correctly.

December 10, 2008

Japan Times has reported that "A bill to freeze the planned sale of government-owned shares in Japan Post Holdings Co. was headed Wednesday for defeat. The bill was rejected Tuesday by a Lower House committee and faces another rejection in the chamber's plenary session Thursday."

Fedex Press Release: "FedEx Express, the world’s largest express transportation company and a subsidiary of FedEx Corp., and Modec today unveiled a state-of-the-art electric commercial vehicle, the first of 10 to be added to the FedEx Express fleet for use in the United Kingdom over the next few months."

The RFID Journal has reported that "three Middle Eastern countries—Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates—joined together in a three-month pilot earlier this year to test the suitability of employing radio frequency identification as a tool for measuring the performance of mail delivery services. The pilot, led by Qatar's General Postal Corp. (Q-Post) and also including Saudi Post and Emirates Post, leveraged both passive EPC Gen 2 tags and active tags placed on approximately 3,120 test letters that circulated among the three nations. Overseen by the Universal Postal Union (UPU)— a United Nations agency that serves as the primary forum for cooperation between postal organizations around the world—the pilot was designed to determine whether RFID is a viable technology for measuring quality of service as part of the agency's development of an affordable global monitoring system (GMS) covering all UPU members. The GMS will be used to provide precise diagnostic quality-of-service performance results for inbound mail. The UPU's Quality of Service Project Group Steering Committee, of which Q-Post is a member, is spearheading the initiative."

Mmegi Online has reported that "BotswanaPost had to put major capital developments that would have stimulated revenue growth on ice due to unavailability of funds, the parastatal's 2008 Annual Report has revealed."

Uni Global Union has told its members that "On December 3, one of UNI Post & Logistic's Canadian affiliates, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW), asked a national arbitrator to issue an interim order demanding that the employer stop imposing disciplinary sanctions on members who wear the button and rescind its directive prohibiting the button. On December 5, 2008, the national arbitrator rendered a decision ordering the employer to stop prohibiting bargaining unit employees from wearing buttons or stickers and to stop imposing disciplinary sanctions on workers who wear the protest button."

From the USPS: "The Postal Service website, usps.com, is experiencing intermittent interruptions to some services. We apologize for the inconvenience this is causing, especially at what is one of the busiest times of the year for families and business owners. While we expect the service to be completely restored quickly, we wanted you to be aware of options to assist you and your customers as we continue to work around the clock to resolve the situation."

Postmaster General John Potter has appointed Jean Picker Firstenberg, former director and chief executive officer of the American Film Institute, chairman of the Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee (CSAC), beginning in January 2009.

  Congressman John McHugh (R-NY), the father of modern American postal reform, has introduced a bill (H.R. 7313) to allow the United States Postal Service to pay its share of contributions for annuitants’ health benefits out of the Postal Service Retiree Health Benefits Fund.

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

Japan Post Holdings Co., Ltd. achieved a net profit of 1.87bn euros during the first half of the current financial year.
In addition to presenting an ambitious cost-cutting programme, the TNT board again had to take back its forecast for the express segment in front of the 25 analysts present last Friday. Currently, TNT is expecting a medium one-digit organic turnover growth rate, after the previous forecast had mentioned a high one-digit growth rate.
Switzerland’s Schweizerische Post is not entitled to protect the wordmark "Post" for its main operations, i.e. the handling of letters, parcels and valuables.
Despite declarations from Österreichische Post’s CEO Anton Wais that he remained "unimpressed" by the union’s threat to take industrial action, he was obviously anxious to calm troubled waters at an event hosted by the Club of Business Publishers.
Deutsche Post intends to continue to deliver mail on six days a week in Germany.
The profit warning issued by TNT has given rise to speculation as to whether Deutsche Post is likely to issue another profit warning, too.
Deutsche Post has acquired all shares in Dutch mail delivery operator SelektMail. Deutsche Post and Wegener founded the joint venture, which specialises in addressed mail delivery, six years ago. Deutsche Post is also represented in the Dutch mail market by Interlanden, a delivery service for advertising mail. Originally also a joint venture with Wegener, the post took over Interlanden completely in 2004
From now on, British citizens of more than 50 years of age can go to the post office and take out a life insurance policy without any hassle. All 2,500 Royal Mail post offices started offering the insurance policy - no medical questions asked or checkups required - at the beginning of this month.
GeoPost, the French post’s express parcel holding, intends to stick to its strategy of internationalisation based on co-operation, investment and partnership.
In the US speculation that DHL is looking at alternative solutions to the planned agreement with UPS is rife.
DHL Aviation, a Miami-based subsidiary of the integrator, is installing new scanners that are able to automatically measure entire pallets and containers in addition to individual parcels and boxes.
Almost half of the firms currently operating global logistics chains are not prepared for a crisis. This is the outcome of a study sponsored and published by UPS.
La Poste will benefit considerably from the economic programme announced by French president Sarkozy.
The Ukrainian post Ukrposhta has enjoyed a clearly positive development during the first 10 months of the current financial year.
German trade union ver.di and employers have reached a wage agreement for the employees of Deutsche Post subsidiaries DHL Vertriebs GmbH und Co. OHG and DHL Verwaltungs GmbH.
DHL wants to gain more ground in Asia with the help of eBay.
German politician Monika Wulf-Mathies, who has been at the helm of Deutsche Post’s department for "Politics and the Environment, National and International" is retiring at the end of this year.
Klaus Schauer has been appointed new chairman of the executive board of Austria’s redmail, a TNT subsidiary.
A serious legal mishap has been revealed in connection with the tax evasion investigation concerning former Deutsche Post CEO Klaus Zumwinkel. The fact that the responsible judge was one day late in issuing a search order means that any possible wrongdoings dating back to 2001 are statute-barred. Thus, the amount of tax evasion that Mr Zumwinkel is accused of has dropped by around 214,000 euros to 966,000 euros, i.e. below the 1m euros limit above which a custodial sentence without probation is usually given, according to a decision by the Federal Supreme Court.

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.)

According to the Daily Item, "The U.S. Postal Service wants to start delivering mail in New Berlin, but rather than welcome the development, residents are up in arms. Those who live in this small Union County borough worry the move could undermine the community's sense of identity and may be leading up to a move to completely shutter the local post office. Those were just some of the many concerns expressed by an extremely vocal and highly emotional crowd of about 90 residents who confronted postmasters from New Berlin and Selinsgrove in a 90-minute town meeting Tuesday night at the New Berlin Community Center." [EdNote: Some days you just can't win.]

Frank Neri, Philadelphia District Manager for the U.S. Postal Service has written a piece for the Philadelphia Daily News about the mail service situation in Philadelphia.

The Greenville News has told its readers that "At least 2,550 Social Security recipients in the Upstate have a new reason to sign up for direct deposit of their monthly checks. They've learned the hard way that on a rare occasion the check is not in the mailbox when it's supposed to be. And for many people on Social Security, going an extra few days without that check can really hurt. There's a much better way for Social Security beneficiaries to get their checks. Social Security officials are using this matter of delayed checks to remind people of the benefits of direct deposit."

MarketWatch has reported that "Demand for express shipping is deteriorating rapidly with the economic downturn, overwhelming the benefits from DHL's withdrawal from the U.S. market and from lower fuel prices, according to a Tuesday note from J.P. Morgan. Shipping is viewed as a benchmark for the economy, reflecting overall gross-domestic-production growth or contraction. Earlier, the International Air Transport Association forecast a 5% drop in cargo shipping for 2009, the first in decline in growth in eight years."

The Philadelphia Daily News has reported that "Postal inspectors, who are investigating delayed and missing mail and allegedly phony daily mail counts, have discovered "a lot" of late, unprocessed mail at the Southwest Philly processing plant, a postal-union president said yesterday."

The Sarasota Herald Tribune has noted that "About 25 percent less mail is leaving Sarasota and Manatee counties this year, and the processing center on Tallevast Road where Michael Sears works has none of its usual December bustle. "One of my buddies in the staging area said, 'There is no mail,'" said Sears, who has worked for the postal service for 27 years. "Usually it is stacked up. This time of year, there ought to be mail everywhere. There is nothing here. The economy is drying everything up." About 400 postal workers such as Sears who thought they had secure government jobs may have an anxious holiday season as they await the results of a study due Dec. 31. The U.S. Postal Service is conducting the study to determine if the agency can save money by moving some operations from the Tallevast Road plant to a larger one in Tampa."

The Earth Times has reported that "Austria's post offices were partially closed Wednesday, as postal workers protested plans to downsize the mail service. Employees at around 80 branches were on strike, but mail delivery went on uninterrupted, Oesterreichische Post AG said in a statement. The protests came one day before the post's management meets to discuss possible restructuring plans for 2009."

Hellmail has reported that "Steve Lawson, editor for Hellmail, the postal industry news site has condemned calls for pre-Christmas strike action by Royal Mail workers. "Striking before Christmas won't make a jot of difference to Royal Mail's need to modernise, but it will, as last year, impact on customers more than anyone, and whilst I can see why they are considering doing this, it will just lose them any remaining support and respect they had from the public." he said."

TMCNet has reported that "The Angolan minister of Telecommunications and Information Technologies, Jose Carvalho da Rocha, announced this Tuesday in Luanda, the modernisation of 163 post offices countrywide, in the framework of the modernisation of the services in the sector."

The U.S. Postal Service has announced the launch of the new RIBBS™ website. RIBBS has long been the primary technical resource for the mailing industry, but the new site was enhanced with the business mailer in mind. The same information that mailers have relied on for years is now available with site indexes that are searchable from A-Z or by topic. Improved print capabilities and drop-down menu navigation provide easy access to our many products and services. Links to Intelligent Mail® services and the Flat Sequencing System are also available. Visit the new and improved RIBBS site today at ribbs.usps.gov.

ComputerworldUK has reported that "Royal Mail is looking for a services contractor to deliver a human resources IT platform based on SAP enterprise resource planning."

Yahoo! Tech has noted that "The Pulitzer Prizes, the most prestigious US journalism awards, announced Monday they were expanding to include online-only publications." [EdNote: A sign of the times.]

Advertising Age has reported that "Cablevision may have laid off 100 employees at Newsday, the recently acquired Long Island, N.Y.-based daily newspaper, just last week. But Tom Rutledge, the media company's chief operating officer, laid out an ambitious digital strategy designed to reinvent the newspaper's coverage and distribution model. "Our goal is to do something nobody else is doing, which is turn around [a print product]," he said. "We have the ability to replace direct mail with targeted advertising, with technology that's just being deployed."

CNET News has reported that "Google has announced a partnership with several publishers to bring complete catalogs of old magazines online. By using the same scanning process that has been implemented for Google's Book Search product, these titles undergo optical character recognition and are indexed into Google's search engine."

December 9, 2008

In recently filed comments, the Postal Service and the Postal Regulatory Commission's Public Representative share different points of view over the classification of several international postal services as "competitive."

Postal commentator Cary Baer believes that relative to the nomination of Robert McGowan to the Postal Services Board of Governors,"[t]he best the industry can hope for is that the nomination is not acted on by the current Congress. Then perhaps we’ll have an opportunity to see what President Obama means by change."

Internet Retailer has reported that "The U.S. Postal Service said today it was working with external technology partners to fix an intermittent problem that has made several of its online shipping tools unavailable to shippers."

DMM Advisory : The Postal Service has updated three technical guides and added a new guide for customers who are implementing the Intelligent Mail® full-service solution for their businesses. The guides indicate what functions will be supported in Intelligent Mail Release 1 on May 11 and support Mail.dat version 09.1. The USPS encourage customers to use these guides at http://ribbs.usps.gov/files/fullserviceguides/ as they prepare for the transition.

Monsters and Critics has reported that "Austria's postal workers announced Tuesday they would hold a warning strike Wednesday to protest planned personnel cutbacks and post office closures. To prepare the partly state-owned Oesterreichische Post AG for the end of the state monopoly on letter services in 2011, its management is reportedly planning to reduce the 25,800-strong workforce by 9,000 by 2015 and to close 77 per cent of post offices."

The BBC has reported that "Members of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) plan to walkout at Christmas in protest at full-time jobs being replaced with part-time roles. The dates of the strikes have yet to be announced by the union."

The DM Bulletin has noted that:

  • Marketing Direct, the DM industry's leading monthly magazine, is to become online-only from early next year, with a redesigned website and a range of new email bulletins. The brand's successful programme of live events, including the Connect Awards, the Marketing Direct Forum and bespoke online and offline seminars, will continue as demand for content-driven live events grows.
  • The BSI standard for sustainable direct marketing, to be published later this month, has backed away from its initial recommendation of using recycled paper and instead will advocate use of FSC-certified paper, on the grounds that recycled paper is less eco-friendly.

One of our correspondents has noted that American Profile has an interesting piece on "extreme" mail deliveries.

According to Ben Cooper, the exec who administers Mail Moves America, "New Jersey bill A3419 -- the do not mail bill -- has been withdrawn."

According to DM News, "While many companies consider e-mail or digital marketing as a cheaper way to reach consumers, experts say they shouldn't eschew traditional direct marketing at its expense, because smart companies who continue a dialogue with their customers through a recession – using the tactile, personal direct mail channel -- usually come out the better for it."

WYFF4.com has reported that "Postal Service officials said Monday that human error was to blame for the mishandling of more than 2,500 Social Security checks that were delayed by several days last week. "In each case, the reason for the delay was human error," he said. "Check distribution problems can include mislabeling or mis-sending on our part, computer or distribution error on the part of the issuing agency or addressing problems on the part of the recipient." Individual pieces of first-class mail are not tracked, Spradlin said, meaning that the Postal Service only knows there's a problem when a customer calls." [EdNote: Hmmm. Seems like a job for Super IMb Man!"

The Vanguard has reported that "ABIA State Territory of Nigeria Postal Services (NIPOST) has intensified awareness educa-tion on the Stamp Duties Act, otherwise known as Postal Stamp Duty, which makes it mandatory for all transactions involving receipts, bills, payments, agreements and other financial documents from N1000 and above to affix a N50 stamp on such documents."

Asahi Shimbun has reported that "Japan's privatization of postal services is being imperiled by a compound crisis of political confusion and failing management at the newly created postal companies. At the heart of the political turmoil surrounding postal reform is a bill to freeze the planned sale of government-held shares in Japan Post companies."

UPS has placed in service a new international hub here, improving access to China and speeding the movement of express packages and heavy freight around the world.

From PRWeb: "Aloha Forwarding (http://www.AlohaForwarding.com), a Denver-based company specializing in package forwarding services for residents of Hawaii and Alaska, is getting noticed in Washington, D.C. What is so unique about Aloha Forwarding? "Our business model is very simple," says Aloha Forwarding President, Darrell Houghton. All you have to do is have your package shipped to Aloha Forwarding in Denver, and we'll forward your package to you using Priority Mail."

From PR Newswire:

  • SectorWatch.biz announces therelease of an article regarding the advent of innovations in shipping andtrucking document management. The article titled, "Better Mousetrap Solutions:The Next Generation of Shipping Document Management" has been posted at FiSpace.net. The commentary is of interest to related companies DocumentCapture Technologies, Inc., FedEx Corporation, United Parcel Service, Inc., Air Transport ServicesGroup Inc., UTi Worldwide Inc. , and Hub Group,Inc.. Investors can navigate directly to the commentary by going to http://www.SectorWatch.biz. To view a recent webcast related to DCMT and to receive regular updatesplease visit: http://www.trilogy-capital.com/autoir/dcmt_autoir.html.
  • With DHL leaving the U.S. domestic shipping market, Endicia, a U.S. Postal Service-approved online postage vendor, is supporting former DHL customers and showcasing the advantages of shipping with the Postal Service and Endicia.

The Philadelphia Daily News has reported that:

  • The newly appointed regional postal manager has two goals: to serve customers better and improve working conditions at the U.S. Postal Service's troubled processing plant in Southwest Philadelphia. Yesterday, Jim Gallagher, the new regional postal manager, told union leaders that he had an "open-door policy" and wanted to work with the unions to carry out the two goals.
  • Last week, after five days of Daily News stories about the plant, its manager was reassigned. The problems reported by the Daily News aren't just the result of a few worker or customer complaints, although there have been plenty. An independent audit conducted by the Postal Service's Office of Inspector General claims that the distribution center is not following all the procedures it's supposed to, causing significant delayed mail.

The Nation has reported that "DHL, the world's leading express and logistics company announced a new strategic partnership with eBay, the world's largest online marketplace. Through the partnership, DHL offers eBay sellers in Asia Pacific the option of sending goods sold online through the region's premier express services. With DHL express services, eBay sellers in Asia Pacific can expect faster delivery times and competitive costs for their international shipments. Compared to traditional mail, these services are at least 50 per cent faster. From now till 31 January 2009, eBay sellers will enjoy further promotional shipping rates• of up to 35 percent discount compared to standard DHL rates for their shipment, while eBay PowerSellers will enjoy an additional 10 percent discount. This promotion is available for eBay sellers in 12 countries including Australia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Japan and Vietnam."

The Bradenton Herald has noted that a "Postal official answers concerns regarding the Area Mail Processing study currently under way at the United States Postal Service Manasota Processing and Distribution Center (P&DC)."

Hellmail has reported that "A new study has claimed 95 per cent of businesses who have moved mail service provider since the Postal Market opened in 2006 are only achieving a small element of the cost savings that are actually available to them. The research, from Altus, the UK’s leading Independent Postal Estate™ management company, quizzed 200 businesses and found the majority do not have the expertise, experience or know how needed to take full advantage of an open Postal Market."

Bloomberg has reported that "FedEx Corp. fell 12 percent in late trading after the second-biggest U.S. package-shipping company said annual profit may be as much as one-third lower than analysts expected because of a “significantly weaker” economy."

The Toronto Star has reported that "A B.C. court has granted Canada Post an injunction to stop striking workers from disrupting mail service in the province." See also the Financial Post.

ABC News has reported that "When a federal court in Raleigh, N.C., sentenced Padgett on Nov. 18 to three years of probation, a $3,000 fine, and 500 hours of community service for delaying and destroying mail, the judge nearly commended him. Locals thanked him and some out-of-towners went online to beg him to take over their routes. "He was our spam filter," says Tom Glembocki of Apex. That outpouring suggests that Americans are eager to junk junk mail, which would explain the efforts now under way to create the equivalent of the five-year-old "Do Not Call Registry" for the 100 billion pieces of printed ads jammed into mailboxes each year."

December 8, 2008

Think things are bad enough economically for postal? Take a gander at some of the stories in today's Newspapers & Technology:

  • Tribune Co. today filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware.
  • AbitibiBowater Inc. last week said it would cut newsprint production by 830,000 metric tons over the next several months as the company adjusts to falling demand. Newsprint demand is falling at double-digit rates as newspapers take steps to reduce their consumption.
  • E.W. Scripps Co. last week put the (Denver) Rocky Mountain News on the sales block, saying it would evaluate offers for the newspaper only through January before examining other options.
  • Gannett closing 4 more plants. Gannett eliminated more than 1,800 jobs last week as part of a previously announced plan to reduce expenses.
  • Clarity Media Group last week said it would shut its Washington, D.C., area printing facility and transfer printing of The (Washington) Examiner to the Frederick (Md.) News-Post and Vertis Co. The move will be completed by February.
  • The New York Times said that its parent company will attempt to borrow more than $200 million against its headquarters building in a bid to avoid a cash flow squeeze.

You might get lost if you go trying to find them on the Postal Service's web site, so here they are:

So....Mail's deader than a door nail as a marketing tool, right? According to DM News and Pitney Bowes, you'd better examine that one again.

DM News has a piece on USPS Mailing and Package Services President Robert Bernstock.

Still don't know much at the Flat Sequencing System? Then check out the Postal Service's Flats Sequencing Strategy--"All Things FSS" posted on the Postal Service's RIBBS web site. Look also at the recently posted YouTube video on FSS.

In a letter written to the editor of Time magazine, PostCom President Gene Del Polito wrote:

I'm counting to ten, still trying to contain my anger (and my profound disbelief) over the article written by
Jeremy Caplan on "De-Cluttering Your Mailbox." The anger and disbelief stems from the knowledge that Time
Inc. is one of the largest users of advertising mail as a means for prospecting for new mail order business and
for communicating with its customers. Did Mr. Caplan realize that he was biting the very hand that feeds him
with his characterization of such advertising mail as "junk?"

I'm also somewhat stunned that Time would have published such a poorly researched piece without
substantial editorial comment and correction. Mr. Caplan obviously didn't even bother googling "junk mail" to
learn that there is a wealth of information on the web showing that his prejudices about the environmental
impact of advertising mail is totally wrong. Here are a few of the URLs he could have consulted:

And there are many, many more sources of responsible and well documented information.
I would hope in the future we will be able to see a higher level of journalistic integrity from the editors of Time
magazine, before it took evaporates from print into some computing cloud way out in the ethersphere.

What can you get a postal geek for Christmas? Here's a thought recommended by one of our correspondents. "Morality and the Mail in Nineteenth-Century America" Author: Wayne E. Fuller.

The New York Times has reported that "The economic downturn has decimated the market for recycled materials like cardboard, plastic, newspaper and metals. Across the country, this junk is accumulating by the ton in the yards and warehouses of recycling contractors, which are unable to find buyers or are unwilling to sell at rock-bottom prices. Ordinarily the material would be turned into products like car parts, book covers and boxes for electronics. But with the slump in the scrap market, a trickle is starting to head for landfills instead of a second life."

Warehouse & Logistics News has reported that "DHL is using Vitronic’s camera-based recognition system, VIPAC, to identify barcodes and address information on parcel labels at its new €300m distribution centre in Leipzig, Germany. It makes for swift, automatic parcel sorting and dispatch, and allows the hub to process up to 60,000 items per hour. Owned by Deutsche Post World Net, DHL is a leading global supply chain and express logistics carrier. It operates in 220 countries, has over 300,000 employees, and ships over 1.5 billion items each year. DHL handles a wide range of goods from over 4,000 suppliers, and offers unparalleled expertise in express, air and ocean freight, overland transport, contract logistics solutions, and international mail services."

According to Earth911, "The United States Postal Service makes it easy to order supplies online so you can prepare your shipments at home. The added benefits of greening your shipping practices this holiday season is easier than you might think."

The Pocono Record has reported that "Family and friends sending holiday cards to Minisink Hills residents will have to check the ZIP code after this Christmas. As part of government downsizing, the post office branch will be closing its doors for good in January, and all who use the ZIP code for their addresses will switch to East Stroudsburg's or Shawnee-on-Delaware's numbers."

Media Daily News has reported that "The global advertising economy will recede in 2009 for the first time since the industry's last recession in 2001, two of Madison Avenue's leading forecasters predicted in reports released early this morning. Both WPP's GroupM and Publicis' ZenithOptimedia Group predicted the global ad marketplace will decline 0.2% during 2009, but differed on the degree to which the U.S. advertising economy - still nearly half of all global ad spending - would decline." See also the Wall Street Journal.

Online Media Daily has reported that "Online will be the one bright spot in what will otherwise be the worst advertising recession since 2001, two of the industry's leading forecasters predicted in new reports released early this morning. While online ad spending growth will have its slowest year of growth yet since it climbed out of the last ad recession, it will still grow at rates that would seem healthy for the other major media."

The Philadelphia Daily News has reported that "The U.S. Postal Service apparently is taking complaints of postal workers and customers seriously, after five days of Daily News stories about lost and missing mail and chaos at the processing plant in Southwest Philadelphia. On Friday, Jim Gallagher was appointed the new Philadelphia regional manager, replacing Frank Neri, considered by many postal workers and the American Postal Workers Union to be the architect of the chaos at the plant since it opened in 2006. Today, Gallagher is to meet with Gwen Ivey, president of APWU Local 89, which filed a complaint on Oct. 24 about senior managers allegedly ordering clerks to undercount the mail by millions of pieces each week and about chronic understaffing at the plant on Lindbergh Boulevard near Island Avenue."

According to the Peoria Journal Star, "Consolidation efforts by some of the largest worldwide express carriers may be a blessing in disguise for Peoria."

According to the Houston Chronicle, "When postal inspectors want to catch a thief in the ranks, the bait may be a little plastic gift card in a greeting card envelope, just like the holiday cheer you may be about to stamp and mail."

The Sacramento Business Journal has reported that "Financially strapped McClatchy Co. is attempting to shed The Miami Herald, one of its largest and most-respected newspapers, according to news reports. The Sacramento-based company – owner of The Sacramento Bee and 29 other daily newspapers – acquired the Herald as part of its $4.5 billion purchase of Knight Ridder Newspapers Inc. in 2006. Now, the company, because of declining advertising and heavy debt, is shopping the newspaper to potential buyers, according to a New York Times report Saturday. The newspaper cited anonymous sources."

As CNET News has noted, "It's not hard to find examples of how the Web and blogging have changed traditional journalism. Most of the country's major daily newspapers have asked reporters to blog at the same time they write for their print editions. InfoWorld, a stalwart tech magazine for three decades, dropped its paper edition and went Web-only last April."

The New York Times has reported that "The Tribune Company, the newspaper chain that owns The Chicago Tribune and The Los Angeles Times, is trying to negotiate new terms with its creditors and has hired advisers for a possible bankruptcy filing, according to people briefed on the matter. Tribune is in danger of falling below the cash flow required under its agreement with its bondholders, but it is not clear how seriously Tribune is thinking about seeking bankruptcy protection. Analysts and bankruptcy experts say that the hiring of advisers, including Lazard and Sidley Austin, one of the company’s longtime law firms, could be a just-in-case move, or a bargaining tactic." See also Media Daily News.

As CNET News has noted, "In a sagging economy, one of the first cuts U.S. companies make is to their advertising budgets. Anybody who has ever worked in media knows that when ad money dries up at newspapers or trade publications, pink slips start to fly. And now heap on more bad news: at the same time traditional print publications face an ad-revenue downturn they also are seeing unprecedented competition."

So, what does all this mean for the postal business? Well, according to long-time postal watcher Alan Robinson, "One of the problems in the past few years is that some print media companies were bought with lots of debt and an assumption that advertising would not disappear. However, a combination of the recession and a switch to the electronic media have overwhelmed these print media companies and they are now at the brink of bankruptcy. As the mailing industry does not have as public a profile as newspapers and magazines, not much is known about the financial health of the major players that produce the mail. If they are in as much financial trouble as the newspaper and magazine industries then it may be a long time before the Postal Service returns to delivering the volumes of advertising and periodicals that it did before the recession began."

The Sentinel has reported that "customers in the ST postcode area are suffering from the worst postal service in mainland Britain. Latest Royal Mail figures show just 89.5 per cent of first-class letters were delivered on time in the ST postcode area between March and September. That contrasts with the national average of 92.8 per cent and 93 per cent in South Cheshire between those dates. But Royal Mail can no longer link the poor service to a series of strikes, which meant postal workers in Burslem spent last Christmas on picket lines. Instead, union leaders are blaming Royal Mail for transferring 80 overnight sorting office staff from Stoke's Leek Road depot to Wolverhampton this summer." 

A copy of the report of the Postal Regulatory Commission Inspector General has been posted on the PRC web site.


According to the folks at Hellmail, "It seems barely a week goes by when I don't hear of a postal theft which results in community service for the person found guilty. Whilst I accept that such incidents also make it difficult for that person to find alternative employment, these cases often cost thousands of pounds to bring to court and do little in the way of providing a deterrant to would-be thieves. Unfortunately UK prisons are overcrowded and there has in more recent years been a drive to reserve custodial sentences to only the most serious cases. Postal workers themselves, are on the whole, an honest bunch and they are often the first to report a colleague that they feel isn't as honest as he or she appears. To have cases hanging over the heads of a team of workers is uncomfortable to say the least and the vast majority take pride in their honesty and integrity so are quick to pounce on anyone not playing the game. Its not in their interests to let such misdemeanours go by unchallenged."

The BBC has reported that "Royal Mail staff in Coventry have voted in favour of taking strike action. The workers were balloted after a decision in July to close the Bishop Street central sorting office in the city centre and axe up to 500 jobs. The sorting office was closed in favour of building a hub in Northamptonshire. Of those balloted 60% were in favour of action. Mick Kavanagh, of the Communication Workers' Union, said the strikes could be held before Christmas."

December 7, 2008

Yahoo! Finance has reported that "newly released figures on paper shipments confirm the sector's rapid contraction as producers accelerate capacity cuts in to retain pricing power."

One Time magazine writer has asked: "Remember when going through the mail was a thrill? These days Americans get an average of 18 pieces of junk mail for every personal letter. From catalogs to credit-card solicitations, our mailboxes are increasingly clogged with clutter. Dealing with unwanted mail not only wastes our time (eight months over the average lifespan) but also bears environmental costs. Paper spam eats up an estimated 100 million trees each year, with 44% of junk mail ending up--unopened--in landfills." [EdNote: Someone should have talked with this guy about not biting the hand that feeds you.]

The British postal regulator, Postcomm:

  • Has begun a 36 day consultation on the proposed grant of a postal operator's licence to Securipost Ltd. Under the licensing framework that took effect from 1 January 2006, and was amended in January 2008, the licence would: allow SecuriPost Ltd to provide all types of postal service; be issued for a rolling ten year period; and require the company to comply with codes of practice on mail integrity (safety and security of the mail) and common operational procedures (designed to ensure the multi-operator market works well in practice). The consultation notice and proposed licence can be found on the SecuriPost consultation page.  Printed copies are available from Postcomm at Hercules House, 6 Hercules Road, London, SE1 7DB.  The closing date for responses is 5 January 2009.
  • Has added quarterly market update factsheets to its website. This has been done in response to requests from stakeholders for more regular information about the market and developments. The factsheets cover key areas such as: Royal Mail volumes, access mail volumes, alternative operator licensed and non licensed area volumes, news on different mail applications, updates from licensed operators, UK Market developments, and international updates. The next set of factsheets will be available in February 2009. Click here to access the factsheets.
  • Has modified the licence of FedEx UK Limited. Postcomm made these modifications to further the interests of postal users by promoting effective competition between operators. This was done through removing the requirement from FedEx UK's licence to maintain a guarantee or contractual arrangement on the delivering of mail with another operator. Under the modification, any mail on hand would be delivered, even in the event of another licensee failing. The modification brings the licence of FedEx UK Limited into line with those of other non-USO operators, whose licences were modified in the same manner in March 2008. FedEx licence modification decision final (pdf, 45KB) 
  • Has modified all non USO licences.  The modifications generally remove all references to Postwatch which has now been abolished.  Many references to Postwatch have been replaced with references to Consumer Focus.    In August 2008, Postcomm issued a proposals notice setting out several modifications required to the non USO licences in accordance with the establishment of Consumer Focus, the abolition of Postwatch on 30 September 2008 and the transfer of its functions to Consumer Focus.  Since the August notice was issued, Postcomm has been finalising the final modifications notice and seeking approval from all non USO licence holders.  The modifications take immediate effect.  The modifications notice is available here.  

The Sunday Business Post has reported that "The introduction of a national postcode system could mean benefits of €22 million for public bodies, according to a new report. Ireland is the only country in the EU that does not use national postcodes, and the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Eamon Ryan, plans to bring proposals on the issue to government shortly. A report by PA Consulting, which evaluated the monetary benefits of national postcodes at the request of the minister, estimated that it would save public bodies, including the emergency services, €22 million and would create efficiencies in all areas of social and economic planning."

December 6, 2008

The Sentinel has reported that "more than 80 Royal Mail drivers are are threatening to take strike action over the busy Christmas period. The workers, who ship mail across North Staffordshire, have been balloted over a dispute which broke out after some postal services were switched to Wolverhampton. Andy Plant, branch secretary of the Communication Workers' Union, said members feared their jobs were under threat after Royal Mail started transporting Christmas post from Wolverhampton in articulated lorries. They are worried this will put van drivers' jobs at risk and claim it is leading to mail arriving late at satellite offices across the region."

The Philadelphia Daily News has reported that "The U.S. Postal Service has shaken up its Philadelphia-area management after a week of stories in the Daily News about late and missing mail deliveries. Frank Neri, the Postal Service district manager for the Philadelphia metropolitan district, was replaced yesterday by Jim Gallagher, a veteran USPS manager, spokesman Paul Smith confirmed yesterday. Gallagher "was postmaster here in Philly for six years," Smith said. "He's been in Philly virtually his whole career with extensive operational experience in both mail processing and operations." Neri had held the post for more than three years, and presided over the opening of the Postal Service's high-tech mail-processing center in Southwest Philadelphia, which replaced the city's former sorting operation at 30th and Market streets."

The Wall Street Journal has reported that "FedEx Corp. has agreed to pay $26.8 million to settle a California lawsuit over whether some drivers were independent contractors or employees. The agreement, presented in a hearing Friday, requires court approval."

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

  • A Postal Service report released this week confirmed CFO Glen Walker’s November message to the Board of Governors that USPS revenues had remained flat. The Postal Service’s fourth quarter Revenue, Piece, Weight report showed Mailing Services revenue declined $511 million or 0.8 percent for FY 2008.
  • The Postal Service posted its Move Update Customer Policy and FAQs on its website this week to help customers with the expanded Move Update requirements.
  • Postmaster General Jack Potter was paid a performance bonus of $135,041, and other compensation that more than tripled his $263,575 salary. This information on bonuses for Potter and other officers is contained in the Postal Service’s 10-K Report, filed with the Postal Regulatory Commission last week.
  • In this postal perspective, PostCom President Gene Del Polito says Postmaster General Jack Potter’s pay is a matter for USPS Board of Governors, who must ensure his performance properly reflects his total compensation.
  • Postal commentator Kate Muth says the U.S. Postal Service has been hog-tied by the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act. Despite the dire prognosis, Muth says Congress can help by lengthening the amortization schedule for pre-funding USPS retiree health benefits and allowing the Postal Service to right-size its network.
  • Postal Service introduces new MTAC workgroup. USPS customer supplier agreements. PRC solicits comments on USPS cost, revenues, rates report. USPS posts Move Update policy. Philly paper says mail service in Philadelphia is suffering. FSS should save USPS some dough. Banks fight bad economic news with direct mail. Postal guru opposes McGowan appointment. Post office at your fingertips. UPS can print dispatch data directly on packages. FedEx sets new goals for emission reductions. Puerto Rican pharmaceuticals attractive to haulers. Air transport group reports profits despite DHL departure.
  • German Federal Council wants VAT exemption for private postal providers. Dutch monopoly remains, but liberalization is getting closer. TNT willing to discuss labor conditions. Wastepaper market in a downturn. Royal Mail meets delivery targets? Austrian Post might shed branches; unions protest. Canada Post tech, admin workers strike. Polish Post plans to pare payouts. Protesters strand Thai Mail. Swiss Post, unions reach agreement. Post office card account stays with Royal Mail. Lost packages a new problem for La Poste. Postcomm: Royal Mail should cast off branch network. FedEx postpones hub opening. EU: No illegal subsidies for La Poste pensions. La Poste plans electric fleet. Big Brother reads Polish. DHL opens new Istanbul hub.
  • The passing of Merle Webb.
  • Postal Previews
  • Special: PostCom's charts of Parcel Post prices that will be effective as of January 18, 2009
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Seen the USPS' video clip on Flat Sequencing System (FSS)? Check it out on YouTube. You gotta wonder....Why the blazes did the USPS keep this sort of video under a basket? Incidentally, it looks like a great system. But you gotta wonder if there'll be any flats to sort after the May 2009 price changes.

KCCI has reported that "A declining economy is ultimately responsible for late mail delivery, according to a spokeswoman for the United States Postal Service. Mary Berardi said Friday that people are sending fewer things through the mail. "We have fewer customers at the counter and fewer businesses are mailing," Berardi said. Responding to complaints from Pleasant Hill where residents said their mail is arriving as late as 9 p.m., Berardi said changes were needed to streamline delivery and keep postage down."

December 5, 2008

Lets' Make History at the National Postal Forum! May 17-20, 2009, Washington, DC. NOW OPEN 2009 National Postal Forum registration! We have the keys to your future with 140+ workshops, symposiums, exhibits and networking opportunities in our Nations Capitol!  Visit our website at www.npf.org/reg1 and learn about the latest tools and insights you'll need to succeed from the mailing industry's premier event.    Register now and receive the early bird rate!   See you in the Nation's Capitol! 

The Sun Sentinel has reported that "Many South Florida shippers and air freight companies still are waiting for the annual holiday surge of shipments to the Caribbean. The season typically starts in October and peaks in November and December. This year, the sour regional economy has slowed shipping to a crawl."

UPDATED: The leadership of the Senate's chief postal oversight committee has written to the Postmaster General asking for answers to some rather specific questions regarding the future fiscal direction of the Postal Service. This is in response to requests that the Senate Committee and Homeland Security have received concerning the Postal Service's funding of its postal retiree health obligation under PAEA. Snippets from the Postal Service's responses follow.

Media Daily News has reported that "Like a monotonous drumbeat, this week saw another round of newspaper layoffs, indicating that there will be no relief for anxious newspaper employees this holiday season. As 2008 draws to a close, it may be fitting to look back on the disintegration of the once-proud newspaper titans, which have imploded in spectacular fashion over the course of just a few years." [EdNote: What's going on in today's economy isn't just affecting postal.]

The Financial Times has reported that "The freight forwarding sector faces significant consolidation as smaller companies collapse because clients delay payments or change routes, according to the head of the world's largest freight forwarding business."

The Montrose Press has reported that "It looks official, but a request for "annual minutes disclosure" statements is anything but, state and federal officials say. In recent weeks, Montrose businesses began receiving notices from an entity identifying itself as Colorado Corporate Compliance. For a fee, it offers to assist businesses in filing minutes from annual corporate meetings with governmental agencies. The problem is, Colorado law does not require corporations to file meeting minutes with the secretary of state. Advertisement Only at the bottom does it disclose "this is a solicitation for the order of goods or services, or both, and not a bill, invoice or statement of account due. ... This offer is not being made by an agency of the government." The solicitation directs people to send their fees to a Denver address, which according to the U.S. Postal Inspector's office, is actually a box rented from commercial mail receiving agent."

WXII12 has reported that "Neighborhood post offices are gearing up for what is usually a mad rush during this time of year, with people trying to mail off packages in time for Christmas. But with the struggling economy, local post offices are saying there's no need for their employees to work overtime. Customers said they're cutting back, too."

According to the Danville News, "More than 150 New Berlin residents have signed a petition opposing the U.S. Postal Service's plan to eliminate post office box delivery and replace it with a curbside rural delivery route."

An Post has reported that the Irish postal regulatory "ComReg’s quality of service monitor recorded an 80 per cent next-day delivery rate for the July to September period (3rd quarter), maintaining a  three per cent increase on the overall 2007 figure, and a one per cent improvement on the same quarter last year. ComReg’s quality of service monitor recorded an 80 per cent next-day delivery rate for the July to September period (3rd quarter), maintaining a  three per cent increase on the overall 2007 figure, and a one per cent improvement on the same quarter last year. The 80 per cent next day delivery rate mirrors that of the previous (2nd) quarter of 2008."

Uni Global Union has reported that "The Board of the National Workers’ Union of Empresa de Correos de Chile (SINTECH) has publicly denounced the indiscriminate dismissal of numerous employees from the postal administration on grounds of an alleged business economic crisis that, undoubtedly, will seriously affect the entire Chilean working class. In light of this situation, the union has engaged in a relentless fight in defence of the jobs of its members."

The Philadephia Daily News has reported that "Conditions at some local post offices mirror the problems at the U.S. Postal Service's processing plant in Southwest Philadelphia, according to letter carriers and a supervisor. In some stations in the 191- and 190- ZIP codes in Philadelphia and nearby suburbs, postal employees allege: Overtime records are falsified to reduce the hours of letter carriers. Mail-volume records at the stations are falsified. Daily color codes on mail bins are changed to make it appear as if the mail is not late. Mail is delayed for days, especially bulk-rate mail that includes time-sensitive circulars and other advertisements. Tractor-trailers with mail are sometimes parked at stations to "hide" or not count the mail." [EdNote: If this is true, to paraphrase Shakespeare: "Sometime's rotten in Philadelphia.]

The American Postal Workers Union (APWU) has told its members that "The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia has dismissed an APWU lawsuit against President George W. Bush and Postmaster General John E. Potter that sought to compel the appointment of a Postal Advisory Council. The court’s Nov. 26 ruling [PDF] concluded that the postal council, which was authorized by Congress in 1970 under the terms of the Postal Reorganization Act, was not specifically reauthorized by the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006. The union filed the petition July 16, 2008, seeking the appointment of the 13-member council — including four members nominated by postal labor unions — outlined in the Postal Reorganization Act (PRA), which was amended and supplemented by the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA)."


There are three items in the Federal Register from the Postal Regulatory Commission regarding dockets under consideration:

  • Docket Nos. MC2009-10 and CP2009-12: The Commission is noticing a recently-filed Postal Service request to add Inbound Express Mail International (EMS) Originating from Foreign Posts to the Competitive Product List. The Postal Service
    has also filed one related contract. This notice addresses procedural steps associated with these filings. Comments due December 5, 2008.
  • Docket Nos. MC2009-12 and CP2009-14: The Commission is noticing a recently-filed Postal Service request to add Express Mail & Priority Mail Contract 2 to the Competitive Product List. The Postal Service has also filed one related contract. This notice addresses procedural steps associated with these filings. Comments due December 10, 2008.
  • Docket Nos.MC2009-11 and CP2009-13: The Commission is noticing a recently-filed Postal Service request to add Parcel Select & Parcel Return Service Contract 1 to the Competitive Product List. The Postal Service has also filed one related contract. This notice addresses procedural steps associated with these filings. Comments due December 10, 2008.

DI-VE has reported that "Ascent Software have reached an agreement which will see one of their products, currently used by Maltapost, utilised by the postal services of Barbados, Guernsey and the British Virgin Islands."

Bloomberg has reported that "TNT NV, Europe’s second-biggest express-delivery company, lowered its profit forecast for the Express unit for the second time this year as the slowing European economy saps demand."

The Ottawa Citizen has reported that "Canada Post workers are unilaterally leaving the picket lines and returning to their jobs across the country, Canada Post spokesman John Caines said Monday afternoon."

At the Nov 2008 MTAC General Session meeting MTAC Work Group # 120 "Communicating Entry Requirements/ In-Home Delivery Dates Solutions/ Seasonality Impact" reported guidelines were being provided as a tool to better achieve in-home delivery dates by synchronizing transportation and entry to match the guidelines.  The guidelines have been posted on this site.

Advertising Age has reported that "In any economic crisis, reduction in ad spending is inevitable and necessary as companies adapt, Darwin style. Today's environment is no exception. We're keenly aware that in past recessionary periods advertising has taken more than its share of cuts. This time, while the cuts in spending have already begun, the impact will have even more dire and long-term consequences. As the cuts continue, brand managers will begin to realize that "my current advertising level and spend really wasn't helping to build my brand the way it used to, and when I took it away, nothing bad happened." Or at least "it wasn't as bad as I expected. Ouch. This time, the cuts won't be just because advertising is viewed as discretionary or as a non-essential part of running a business; it will be because the current marketing plan isn't working."

The U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General and U.S. Postal Inspection Service consolidated their reports of activities into one new, combined comprehensive statement of audit and law enforcement work.  The newly titled report is called the Semiannual Report on the Audit, Investigative, and Security Activities of the U.S. Postal Service (SAR).  CLICK here http://www.uspsoig.gov/sarcs/fall08.pdf to view the new SAR posted on our website:    Click below to view individual audit reports posted on the OIG’s website (http://www.uspsoig.gov/).  If you have additional questions, please contact Agapi Doulaveris at 703.248.2286.  

DMM Advisory:  "Postal Explorer (pe.usps.com) is your complete source for domestic mailing standards. The electronic Domestic Mail Manual is fully searchable and features fly-out menus, cross-reference links, and an extensive subject index. Today we made the following updates:   Move Update We expanded the Move Update requirement from First-Class Mail automation- and presort-price mailings to include all Standard Mail mailings. We also changed the minimum frequency of Move Update processing from 185 days to 95 days prior to mailing. We made these changes in 233.3.5, 243.3.9, 333.3.5, 343.3.9, 433.3.5, and 443.3.9.   Standard Mail With Mailer’s Postmark Mailers may omit a return address when using a mailer’s postmark to precancel stamps on Standard Mail pieces weighing 13 ounces or less. We added this option in 202.4.2, 302.3.2, 402.3.2, 602.1.5.3, and 604.3.1.8.   Labeling Lists We revised the labeling lists to reflect changes in mail processing operations.   Our next scheduled DMM update is January 18, and it will include all of the new shipping services prices.

December 4, 2008

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

Contrary to expectations, the Dutch government decided at a meeting last Friday to defer the complete opening of the postal market from 1 January 2009. TNT Post will thus retain the monopoly for letters weighing up to 50 grams in the Netherlands. The government said that conditions on the labour market would first require comprehensive clarification.
France’s La Poste has made a clear downward adjustment of its forecast for the current financial year. An official statement said that the turnover would not increase by as much as originally planned because of receding volumes.
Despite earlier denials, Japan’s ruling party LDP has launched into a discussion concerning the possibility of reviewing the privatisation of the post, which began one year ago. Critics of privatisation argue that mail deliveries are delayed and that Japan Post (still wholly owned by the government) shares were issued at a time when share prices are falling. The critics also question whether the division of the post into four plc’s - Japan Post Service Co., Japan Post Insurance Co., Japan Post Bank Co. and Japan Post Network Co. - makes sense.
Austria’s Österreichische Post has been working on a project to introduce a free paper. A spokesperson for the post confirmed the plans during an interview with Austrian daily »Die Presse« (3.12). In a press release the Association of Austrian Newspaper Publishers (VÖZ) described the project as "an assault on the free publishing market and private media industry".
Belgium’s deputy Prime Minister Laurette Onkelinx has demanded that La Poste stop the introduction of the third version of "Georoute", a software aimed at optimising delivery routes. In view of the worldwide financial crisis, the public services must invest toward the creation of more jobs and not contribute to redundancies.
China Post is showing first signs of being affected by the worldwide financial crisis.
From April 2009 Danish citizens who do not wish to receive free papers through their letterbox can announce this publicly by putting a sticker onto their letterbox.
The French La Poste is paying 800,000 euros in compensation to 176 former employees who were working under temporary contracts.
Royal Mail is scoring with the help of surprise parcels. Last weekend the British post delivered 30,000 so-called "Matter Box" parcels to households across the country. These parcels contained samples from companies that were making use of - and paying the post for - a marketing and publicity concept developed by Royal Mail in conjunction with Matter Media Ltd.
The US post intends to sort letters and flat items, e.g. magazines jointly in future. Until now, the consignments have been separated upon entry into the sorting process and brought together again manually during the last sorting step only. Aiming for efficiency and cost saving, USPS wants to use systems in future that handle both streams simultaneously. The post has asked suppliers to present relevant solutions. The US Postal Service currently handles around 550 million letters and flat consignments at 283 sorting centres. The new technology is due to be put into operation within the next six years.The trade unions are following the initiative with some apprehension.
The Swiss regulatory office has compared various parcel services. The authority’s conclusion is that private firms carry parcels at more favourable rates than the post. However, the post has a strategic advantage in its tight network of post offices. The regulator tested performances by sending a mobile phone set, a book weighing just under two kilos and three bottles of wine through Schweizerische Post, DHL Express Schweiz AG and DPD Schweiz AG respectively.
Reliable sources unanimously claim that Banque Postale - a subsidiary of La Poste in France - lost around 60m euros in connection with the bankruptcy of the Lehman Brothers bank.
Canon (Switzerland) AG is selling its logistics infrastructure to Schweizerische Post from 1 January 2009.

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

The Postal Service's FY 2008 Quarter Four RPW report is available on the USPS web site.

The Bradenton Herald has reported that "The city council Wednesday discussed the effects of a possible closing of the U.S. Postal Service Manasota Processing and Distribution Center on Tallevast Road. At a workshop meeting, Councilman Patrick Roff told his fellow council members about an efficiency study the Postal Service is doing at the facility at 850 Tallevast Road. “It’s important for us to have our own facility,” Roff said. He said the postal service was billing the possible moving of some work or closing of the plant entirely as a cost-saving move. “In the end, they’re not saving anything, because the jobs will just be moved to Tampa.” Roff said. “And I understand they own the building outright.”

The Philadelphia Daily News has reported that "The Postal Service's weeks-late and missing-mail problems are causing havoc with the medical diagnosis of some patients - and businesses' livelihoods. Dr. Sow-Yeh Chen, director of Temple University's oral-pathology laboratory, says that because tissue specimens arrive weeks late in the mail - or not at all - his lab is delayed in identifying diseases, and doctors are delayed in treating patients for cancer and other illnesses. "This is unacceptable," said Chen. "Surgeons and patients are concerned about diseases, such as cancer, and are waiting for reports."

Occupational Health Safety has reported that "National discussions for several months between the U.S. Postal Service and the American Postal Workers Union have not made significant progress toward implementing the Modified Work Week known as "10-4" that would allow employees to work 10 hours per day, four days per week, APWU President William Burrus said in a message posted on the union's Web site this week."

According to the Bennington Banner, "The U.S. Postal Service is refusing to comply with a local agreement that it has honored for the past 20 years, town officials said Tuesday. The postal service agreed to maintain a downtown presence when it moved the post office from the now Advanced Eyecare building on Main Street to its current location on Richville Road in 1988."

Sun newspapers has reported that "Members of the American Postal Workers Union, Manasota Local 7136 met with the Sarasota City Commission Wednesday to challenge an ongoing U.S. Postal Service study aimed at potentially consolidating mail delivery throughout Sarasota County.  

Hellmail has reported that:

  • Swiss Post is offering a service to cantons and municipalities to undertake the allocation of the national dwelling identification number ("EWID"). This identifier will be required in the latter part of 2009 ahead of the 2010 census and will be used to assign every citizen to a household.
  • The Ukraine postal service has published its financial results for the first ten months of 2008.

Voxy.co.nz has reported that "New Zealand Post said today it is serious about the safety of the public and its posties in the delivery of mail and fully supports Police messages about the dangers of riding mopeds on footpaths. New Zealand Post General Manager Postal Delivery, Matt Riordan, said the company's comprehensive training programme for motorcycle posties had a sharp focus on compliance with the law. He was responding to a Police Central District statement yesterday that increasing numbers of mopeds appear to be taking to the footpaths to make letterbox deliveries. Police are sending a clear message that this is not only illegal; it is endangering the safety of riders and pedestrians."

Traffic World has reported that "The U.S. Postal Service is taking its closer business focus modeled on the basics of private industry into the international arena."

Air Cargo World has reported that "currently, close to 1,400 Teamsters mechanics are negotiating a new contract with UPS Airlines. They are worried about their jobs being outsourced to other countries."

December 3, 2008

Press Release: "Businesses everywhere are going global. And they don’t have to be a large multi-national corporation to succeed. An entrepreneur with a website can sell products to anyone, anywhere. USPS international shipping services — Global Express Guaranteed (GXG), Express Mail International and Priority Mail International — can help build global relationships. USPS international products and services are priced to help customers take advantage of global marketplace opportunities. Prices for international shipping services will increase an average of 8.5 percent in January. But even with this price change, USPS international shipping services remain the best value in the marketplace, priced significantly below our competitors and with no hidden surcharges."

RFID News has reported that "The global postal and package shipping market has long been projected to be one of the largest potential RFID applications. However, while leading shippers UPS and FexEx were early proponents of RFID, they have backed off on significant RFID projects, due to their sizable investments in bar code based auto-ID systems. In truth, these legacy systems have–thus far–proven good enough for now, meeting both customers’ expectations to be able to track and trace shipments on an almost real-time basis and the firms’ internal needs for business intelligence and visibility."

Comments have been filed by the International Mailers Advisory Group concerning the USPS’s request to add Global Direct Negotiated Service Agreements to the competitive product list. The comments note that “deployment of NSAs of this type offer many business advantages to mailers who may find worthwhile business opportunities across an international border.” The comments also raise questions about the impact of the terminal dues regime on competition, and recommend a study be conducted on this subject."

Dan G. Blair, Chairman of the Postal Regulatory Commission, was inducted formally as a National Academy of Public Administration Fellow on November 20, 2008 during the Academy’s 2008 fall meeting in Washington, D.C. Election to membership in the Academy is based upon sustained exemplary contributions and continuing active commitment to improving public administration in the United States. Founded in 1967, the Academy is an independent, non-partisan organization chartered by Congress. It is composed of more than 550 Fellows who provide trusted advice on issues of governance and public management to government leaders. [EdNote: Congrats, Mr. Chairman.]

According to the Media Daily News, "this year has been bad for radio, but 2009 will be even worse, according to the latest edition of the "Investing in Radio Market Report" from BIA Advisory Services, which has total radio station revenues dropping 7% this year and 10% next year. BIA warns that station revenues could fall as low as $15 billion in 2009."

According to BloggingStocks, "In the Portland metropolitan area, 28 bike delivery employees will be hired -- by United Parcel Service. UPS bike drivers will be given special training to really practice pulling 200 pounds and learn, for instance, "safe following distance in rain." UPS can only deliver 25-50 packages per day by bicycle, compared to up to 150 by truck, but Portland area spokesman Jeff Grant says UPS will save $38,000 in vehicle operation and upkeep costs for every three delivery bicycles used."

The Mainichi Daily News has reported that "Japan Post Service Co. accidentally left a container containing around 120,000 pieces of mail sitting in a railway freight yard in Osaka for about two months, company officials said. The abandoned mail includes approximately 45,000 letters from the Social Insurance Agency, asking public pension scheme members about their pension details, following a massive data loss at the agency."

From Business Wire: "Research and Markets has announced the addition of the "Express Market Map 2009" report to their offering. An essential overview of the European Express sector, including market sizing of 12 countries, analysis of the key drivers in the industry and forecasts up to 2013."

Docket No. PI2008-1:  The Postal Regulatory Commission has published a document in the Federal Register that "approves most elements of a proposed Postal Service plan for service performance measurement. Both the Postal Service's plan and the Commission's approval respond to requirements in a 2006 federal law that revised and updated the regulatory approach to postal operations. Postal Service response: June 1, 2009." 

The Birmingham Post has reported that "Royal Mail misses its first class targets in West Midlands Royal Mail has missed its delivery targets for first class post across the region. In Birmingham just over 91.8 per cent of first-class mail to homes and businesses was delivered the day after posting in the first half of the year to September. Despite the company reaching its national target of 93 per cent, it failed to meet the figure in Coventry and Warwickshire, Worcester, Wolverhampton, Dudley and Stoke-on-Trent where just 89.5 per cent of first class mail arrived on time in the six months to September."

DC Velocity noted that "The rest of the country may be fixated on volatility in the energy markets, but some logistics pros say the best way to deal with the situation is to ignore it. Traditional tactics like thrusting and parrying over fuel surcharges have produced little in the way of savings (but a lot in the way of ill feeling, as evidenced by shippers' complaints that fuel surcharges were climbing faster than the price of the underlying commodities). One shipper that subscribes to this line of thinking is the U.S. Postal Service."

Radio New Zealand International has reported that "French Polynesia’s press has detailed the pay of the top people in the territory’s postal and telecommunications administration during the period 2000 to 2007. The Nouvelles de Tahiti says according to the accounts office, the head of the OPT board drew a monthly salary of just under 46,000 US dollars." [EdNote: That's some $552,000 a year for being the head postal and telecom honcho for Polynesia.]

Multichannel Merchant has noted that "With the price of postage, paper and raw goods, plus the recessionary economy, multichannel merchants should be very worried about pricing. They are: Increasing price and discount pressure was the top issue for respondents to Multichannel Merchant's Benchmark Report on Critical Issues and Trends. More than half (57%) ranked it a key marketing concern. What else is keeping merchants up at night? The prospect of finding prospects, rated a leading concern by 36%, and rising catalog distribution costs, including postal (26%). The fourth-ranked concern, determining the most effective mix of marketing media and promotional offers (23%), was the top issue in last year's survey."

December 2, 2008

The Passing of Merle Webb
It is with great sadness that we note the passing of Merlyn W. Webb early this morning at his home in Milwaukee, Wisconsin following a long bout with cancer. Merle was a long-time member of PostCom, a former member of the Mailers Technical Advisory Committee, the Immediate Past Chairman of the Board of National Association of Advertising Distributors and a long-time member of MFSA. Merle will be sorely missed.

Docket No. MC2009-9; Docket No. CP2009-10; Docket No. CP2009-11:  In comments filed with the Postal Regulatory Commission in the matter of the international mail dockets noted above, the PRC's designated Public Representative said that while "these Negotiated Service Agreements (NSAs) comport with the PAEA statutory requirements by covering their costs, and appear to be functionally equivalent," there still were "[t]wo closely related concerns arising from the offering of this Global Direct competitive product merit the Commission’s close attention and study following the conclusion of the instant mail classification case." 

9News.com has reported that "The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is looking into a possible case of fraud after several small businesses in Colorado received letters that looked like bills. The form looked almost identical to those from the Secretary of State's office. It requested information on company officers and a $150 filing fee."

The Columbus Dispatch has reported that "The U.S. Postal Service is removing vending machines from lobbies of its 274 locations within the 49 counties served by the Columbus district. The machines that sell single stamps will be gone from the Westerville and Pataskala post offices after Christmas. "They're obsolete, and you can't get parts for them anymore," said Kathy Lucas, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Postal Service."

The Philadelphia Daily News (the hometown paper of the Chairman of the Board of Governors of the U.S. Postal Service) has reported that "Retired public school teachers Joseph and Barbara Downey say they waited weeks to receive mailed prescriptions - long after their critical medications ran out. Kanaya Flowers, 25, an applicant to be a 9-1-1 operator, received a mailed invitation to take Part II of an exam - a month after the exam was given and the job filled. The circulation manager of an Indian newspaper said that he lost 30 percent of his Philadelphia area circulation in the past six months because his mailed newspapers are delivered up to three weeks late. Yesterday, these and dozens of other customer complaints of delayed or missing mail poured into the Daily News in response to a front-page story documenting severe mail backlogs this year at the chronically understaffed U.S. Postal Service processing plant in Southwest Philadelphia. The story described how senior managers allegedly ordered the daily mail count to be falsified by undercounting items by the hundreds of thousands, as overflowing unsorted-mail bins multiplied on the plant floor, and trailers of unsorted mail were routed to other processing plants, only to return for sorting days later. Sometimes mail was destroyed in wake of the severe staffing shortages - which occurred as a result of a yearlong ban on overtime, say employees, put in place by managers who received performance bonuses."

CargonewsAsia has reported that "Dutch postal company TNT has announced that it welcomes the opportunity to discuss decent labour conditions with the Dutch Cabinet and all parties involved, Dow Jones reported. Last week the Dutch Cabinet decided not to liberalise the Dutch postal market since it could not establish yet whether socially acceptable labour conditions for the entire postal sector were reached. TNT emphasizes that the other condition set by the Dutch government for opening the postal market to competition has also not been met and TNT is unable to compete on even terms in Germany and the UK."

From PRWeb: "Window Book's shipping software, Postal Package Partner, now supports USPS® Express Mail Open and Distribute for expedited overnight service. Express Mail Open and Distribute is an alternative solution for business mailers to send other classes of mail to destination postal facilities overnight. It allows you to send trays or sacks of letters, flats and small parcels to BMC, SCF, and DDU. The mail is prepared according to standards for the enclosed class of mail and presented at a postal acceptance unit for speedy delivery. When you have time-sensitive letters or parcels which must be delivered on the next day, Express Mail Open and Distribute service will ensure you from meeting those deadlines on time."

Advertising Age has reported that "Newspaper ad revenue fell almost $2 billion in the third quarter for a record 18.1% decline, according to new statistics from the Newspaper Association of America. What's worse, newspapers' online ad revenue fell for the second quarter in a row. The historic drop resulted from a worsening economy that sharply exacerbated long-term challenges already confronting the newspaper industry, and it affected all kinds of newspaper ads."

The Bangkok Post has reported that "The seizure of Bangkok's two airports has stranded more than 100,000 pieces of inbound and outbound mail and parcels, according to Anusara Jitmitraparp, senior executive vice-president of Thailand Post."

PostCom Members: The following new items have been posted on this web site for you.

According to Kate Muth, president of Muth Communications writing for Mailing and Shipping Technology magazine, "If you’ve seen The Simpsons Movie, you’ll remember the scene where Homer is stuck, literally, between a rock and a hard place. He’s tied to a rope and swinging between a big rock and a saloon called “Hard Place,” slamming up against both. It’s a funny depiction -- if a little obvious -- of the adage we’ve all used or experienced in our lives: “caught between a rock and a hard place.”   The U.S. Postal Service finds itself in just that place. By extension, the Postal Service’s customers share this difficult predicament."

Shipping Digest Exporter has reported that "wastepaper is the top U.S. containerized export. The biggest market is China, which recycles the paper into products that hold most of the consumer goods shipped by Chinese manufacturers to the United States. But China's appetite for wastepaper imports tanked in October as the U.S. fell into a steep downturn."

Posted on this site is an Issue Statement for the new MTAC WG # 127 "Move Update PS 6014 Form Redesign."  If you have an interest in participating in this WG please contact Industry WG Leader Steve Colella or USPS WG Leader Frank Montemayor.


The latest issue of PostCom's PostOps Update has been posted on this site.

December 1, 2008

DMM Advisory: "We’ve posted the Move Update Customer Policy and FAQs on ribbs.usps.gov to help customers with the expanded Move Update requirements. The policy provides additional details about the Standard Mail transition period and verification process for First-Class Mail and Standard Mail."

According to UPS, "Nearly half of companies with global supply chains say they fear major disruptions in their ability to source, produce and ship goods around the world. And they're not doing much to prevent it."

The Philadelphia Daily News has reported that "In interviews with the Daily News, postal service employees and a manager have described chaotic conditions in the chronically understaffed plant, which processes nearly six million pieces of mail a day on Lindbergh Boulevard near Island Avenue. In recent months, a manager and several employees said, unsorted mail sat for weeks in overflowing bins on the plant floor or was stuffed into trailers in the parking lot and - in some cases - even shipped in desperation to other distribution plants, from where it often returned for sorting days later. In some cases, the mail was destroyed, the employees said."

The DeadTreeEdition has reported that "The first phase of the Flats Sequencing System (FSS) will save the U.S. Postal Service hundreds of millions of dollars annually and result in thousands of job eliminations, a recent Postal Service presentation indicates. Based on the presentation, Dead Tree Edition estimates the Postal Service is targeting delivery savings of more than 5 cents for every catalog, magazine, newspaper, and other flat handled by FSS. Most of the savings would come from eliminating roughly 6,000 letter-carrier and other employee positions as all 100 Phase I FSS machines go into operation during the next two years. By automating the sequencing of flats rather than having letter carriers do it by hand, FSS is supposed to enable a letter carrier to handle more deliveries. Still under wraps is how the machines will affect costs and employment levels at processing and distribution centers, where flats are sorted for the delivery units. But postal officials have said that FSS will result in consolidation of some P&DCs."

From Business Wire: "Consumers anywhere in the U.S. or abroad can now have an attention-getting Hollywood area mailing address for their business or personal use and can receive and read their postal mail online, as easy as they do their email. Earth Class Mail, the global leader in delivering postal mail via the Internet, today announced the opening of a Los Angeles retail location to provide its customers with the cachet of a street address in the world's entertainment capital, and the conveniences of online postal mail, onsite package pickup, shipping, and more."

As The Spectator has noted, "Slovakia’s state-owned postal operator is not giving up part of its monopoly without a struggle. With the full backing of the Robert Fico government, Slovenská Pošta has announced it will take the European Commission (EC) to court in order to overturn an October 7 ruling that delivery of hybrid mail consignments in Slovakia must be re-opened to competition."

Federal Register: "Under a new law, the Postal Service must file an annual compliance report on costs, revenues, rates, and quality of service associated with its products. It recently filed documents with the Commission to change some of the methods it uses to compile the fiscal year 2008 report. In the Commission's view, these documents constitute a rulemaking petition. Therefore, this document provides notice of the Service's filing and an opportunity for public comment.Initial comments: December 5, 2008. Reply comments: December 12, 2008. Submit comments electronically via the Commission's Filing Online system at http://www.prc.gov. "

Hellmail has reported that "Latvia is increasing its postal prices by as much as 29% to reflect rising operating costs, salary increases, and a Latvian currency crisis which has held back its plans to adopt the Euro this year."

As The Republican has noted, "Fewer letters and packages mean fewer seasonal workers for delivery services during the Christmas season."

Marketing Daily has reported that "Banks are fighting bad news headlines with messages of their own in the form of direct marketing. According to Mintel Comperemedia, the country's banks sent 42% more direct mail solicitations in the third quarter of the year than they did during the second quarter. Moreover, the 53 million offers sent during the third quarter of 2008 was nearly twice the number sent during the same period in 2007. Much of the increase is from banks looking to assure customers that their money is safe, particularly as ownership of many banks and financial services companies is changing rapidly."

The Reno Gazette-Journal has reported that "Robert McGowan, the former Washoe County assessor, is in line for a post to help steer the financially troubled U.S. Postal Service. But some postal service experts complain that McGowan is not qualified to help the Postal Service, which lost nearly $3 billion this year and faces continued severe losses. Murray Comarow, who headed the presidential commission that established the postal service as an independent federal agency in 1970, called McGowan's nomination "irresponsible." "I don't know Mr. McGowan. He might be a splendid fellow in many respects," Comarow said, but he is "extremely unqualified."

From Business Wire: "SkyPostal Networks, Inc., the largest private postal network in Latin America, today announced that it has entered into a joint venture agreement with E-Commerce Ltd. (Kuwait) to expand the Punto Mio online shopping facilitator services to the Middle East. Punto Mio connects U.S. e-tailers with international online shoppers and provides international transport, customs clearance and cross-border parcel delivery to Internet shoppers."