[PostCom logo]

Association for Postal Commerce

1901 N. Fort Myer Dr., Ste 401 * Arlington, VA 22209-1609 * USA * Ph.: +1 703 524 0096 * Fax: +1 703 524 1871

Postal News from January 2009:

January 31, 2009

The Citizens Voice has reported that "Nearly 1,000 people have signed a petition to keep mail processing operations in Wilkes-Barre. The petition, led by unionized postal workers, seeks to stop the U.S. Postal Service from consolidating some operations at the mail processing and distribution center in Wilkes-Barre into a Scranton facility on Stafford Avenue — a plan that is being studied. John Kishel, president of the Wilkes-Barre Area Local 175 American Postal Workers Union, and Bill Smith, president of the Wilkes-Barre branch of the National Postal Mail Handlers Union, said Friday they believe the move would be detrimental to the mail service area citizens and businesses receive."

Herbert-Michael Zapf, Chief Executive Officer of the International Post Corporation addressed global business leaders today in Riyadh at the Global Competitiveness Forum 2009 (GCF). Mr. Zapf served on a panel of distinguished speakers as part of this year’s forum Responsible Competitiveness: Competing Responsibly in Our Changing World. The Forum hosted by the National Competitiveness Center and the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority brings together world leaders to discuss core competitiveness issues, including – human resources development, international trade, the environment and the micro-and macroeconomic consequences of becoming globally competitive.

WHIOtv.com has reported that "DHL pulled the plug on its domestic package delivery business Friday, leaving its hub at the Wilmington Air Park with only international operations remaining. The change had been scheduled for weeks. Where DHL leaves off, the United States Postal Service hopes to pick up."

According to Audience Development, "Economic conditions have forced Anderson News Company's hand and the wholesaler, which represents more than 20 percent of mass-market magazine distribution, has announced a program detailing two demands: Publishers must pay a 7-cent per-copy price increase on all copies distributed and they must bear the inventory cost attached to scan-based trading (SBT). The deadline for signed agreements is February 1st. Non-compliers will be refused distribution." [EdNote: As Roseann Roseannadanna used to say: "That just goes to show you. If it isn't one thing it's another.]

January 30, 2009

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

  • Postmaster General Jack Potter told a Senate subcommittee this week that the U.S. Postal Service “is in acute financial crisis.” He said “a revolution in the way people communicate has structurally changed the way America uses the mail.” That coupled with skyrocketing costs for fuel, rising consumer prices that triggered cost-of-living allowances for almost 600,000 bargaining-unit employees, and the congressionally-mandated $5.4 billion annual payment for the USPS’ retiree health benefits are to blame for the Postal Service’s dismal financial health and a “greater-than-expected net loss of $2.8 billion last year.”
  • Lawmakers and labor leaders are unhappy with Postmaster General Jack Potter’s request to Congress to allow the Postal Service cut delivery days. Although Potter says cutting mail deliveries will help the USPS in its battle for black ink, senators and union officials see the request as a last resort.
  • The Postal Service last week published an advance notice of its proposed rules to support its May 2009 pricing changes, as well as a forecast of proposed rule changes it plans to implement in May 2010. This week the USPS said it will eliminate some of the proposed rules based on early customer feedback. The revised version of the proposed rule was published on the Postal Service website. PostCom cautions mailers that the original version was published in the January 29, 2009 Federal Register and must be replaced by the revised version. PostCom urges all members to review the proposed changes and provide feedback to the Postal Service.
  • Energy and economic trends author Jeremy Rifkin says the Postal Service must lead a new industrial revolution based on “distributed energy,” not centralized distribution. Rifkin told a meeting of the International Post Corporation this week that a powerful revolution results when distributed energy connects with distributed communications.
  • PostCom consultant Kathy Siviter looks for the perfect mailstream and finds many things lacking, including the Postal Service’s notion that only “perfect to process” mail is good mail.
  • American Postal Workers Union President William Burrus says the Postal Service soon will implement work-hour reductions that will affect its employees. Burrus warns that the USPS must not single out bargaining unit employees, but spread the work-hour reductions across-the-board, including all craft employees, supervisors, postmasters, managers and contract employees.
  • Corbett named USPS CFO, Plonkey to be sales VP.
  • Donald Brydon to be chairman of Britain’s Royal Mail. Zumwinkel found guilty of tax evasion.
  • AT&T Services is PostCom’s newest member.
  • Postal previews
Hey! You've not been getting the weekly PostCom Bulletin--the best postal newsletter anywhere...bar none?  Send us by email your name, company, company title, postal and email address. Get a chance to see what you've been missing.

The PostCom Bulletin is distributed via NetGram

National Postal Forum Presents Intelligent Mail University Acomprehensive day of Intelligent Mail education. Learn about the Postal Service’s Intelligent Mail May 2009 implementation. Gain a thorough understanding of what you need to do to ensure your organization is ready to make the most of the Intelligent Mail barcodes. Hear how Intelligent Mail barcodes drive improvements in both service and efficiency, and add more value to your mail. The symposiums will provide you with a unique opportunity to hear from the experts, learn about the new requirements and get answers to some of your questions such as: What are the new requirements for using Intelligent Mail barcodes? How can I implement the Intelligent Mail barcode in my operation? Will I need to invest in new equipment or modify my operational processes? Where can I find help in transitioning to this new technology?

Welcome to PostCom Radio
PostCom Postal Podcast 01.28.09

Join PostCom President Gene Del Polito and Experian Vice President of  Solutions Support Mike Yapuncich in a discussion of the value of good data quality and specifically the importance of address hygiene. Today we will review the benefits to mailers in terms of increased response, postage savings, and reduced wasted advertising from the different address hygiene tools that are available.

In comments filed today with the Postal Regulatory Commission regarding the Postal Service's filing of its annual compliance report, the Association for Postal Commerce raised three points: " (1) The commission should further develop the record in this docket on the status of service performance measurement; (2) When the Postal Service makes adjustments to established methods of attributing revenues and costs to subclasses or rate categories, it should do so consistent with the handling of the piece; and (3) Where the Postal Service makes adjustments that change established methodologies for estimating cost avoidances, the Commission should consider whether the change in avoided costs reflect changes in the Postal Service's operations or merely changes in its approach to costing." [EdNote: You can also find the comments submitted by PostCom as well as all others on the PRC web site.]

"Sen. Thomas R. Carper (D-Del.) is expected to assemble legislation shortly to alleviate the U.S. Postal Service's requirements on pre-funding retiree health care benefits, an aide told BNA Jan. 29. Carper would “prefer to see temporary relief” on the health care obligation front, the aide said, adding that cuts to service would be a “lesser choice.” Expanding the Postal Service's marketing ability, which was addressed in a 2006 reform law, also could be considered. Carper plans to hold another Postal Service hearing in about a month, the aide said."

According to Postal Consulting Services Inc President Kathleen Siviter in a postal perspective provided to the PostCom Bulletin, "Like many in the industry, I’ve spent much of the past month responding to phone calls that start with something like “Why is the Postal Service doing this?” or “Doesn’t the USPS realize the impact this will have on our company?”   The focus of these calls has been the recent changes to mailing standards proposed by the USPS, which would wreak havoc on an already struggling mailing industry.   While I commend the USPS for listening to its customers and pulling back some of the proposed requirements earlier this week, industry concern remains over the fact that the USPS published the proposals in the first place.  If the Postal Service truly understood its customers needs, and the likely impact on their businesses and on the mailstream, why do such proposals get published in the first place?"

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

According to the Worcester Telegram, "In the face of ongoing declines in the volume of first-class postage, rising operational costs and a deepening recession, the U.S. Postal Service wants Congress to give it the option of dropping mail delivery one day per week. An independent audit to determine where additional efficiencies might be found would be a good place to start. But five-day delivery, which could yield $3.5 billion in annual savings, also deserves serious consideration."

The Baltic Course has reported that "According to preliminary accounts, Estonian Post ended the financial year of 2008 with a profit of approximately 400,000 kroons, writes the National Broadcasting/LETA."

The Charleston Daily Mail has written that "The U.S. Postal Service is a rare bird; it loses money despite the fact that it has a monopoly on personal mail service. The service lost $2.8 billion last year and expects to lose more than $6 billion this year. Reducing service, though, would reduce demand for the Postal Service, and would not balance its books. Yet there are no plans to increase the health benefit premiums paid by current or even future retirees. When Americans see that kind of indifference to cost, they object to service cuts and price increases."

The Lafayette Journal & Courier has reported that "The possibility of a one-day cut in mail delivery has the potential to hit the Lafayette Utility Billing Office, which relies heavily on the U.S. Postal Service to send out and receive monthly water bills. "Where the difficulty would be is the day they would cut out mail service. The postal service has the privilege to choose which day they would cut," said Roger Detzner, business manager for the Lafayette Utility Billing Office. "Tuesday was indicated as their lightest mail day. We don't really need to have mail delivery on Saturday because we're open Monday through Friday. Not having Tuesday delivery would disrupt our normal work flow in processing bill payments." The cutback also could affect people paying their bill on the last day before a late fee is added or sending a payment to prevent disconnection of water service."

According to The Intelligencer, "Millions of American families are having to make do with less because of the recession. Now the Postal Service, "faced with dwindling mail volume and rising costs," according to one report, is providing a textbook example of how government often reacts to challenges. Postmaster General John Potter on Wednesday asked Congress to lift the requirement that the mail be delivered six days a week. And, oh, by the way, Postal Service officials have noted, stamp prices probably will be going up by 2 cents each in May. It is typical of government to continue expanding the number of services while reducing the level of quality in them - and to charge taxpayers more."

The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle has noted that "Though the U.S. Postal Service has cut costs by $1 billion per year since 2002, it's still hemorrhaging. Last year's deficit of $2.8 billion is expected to soar to at least $6 billion in the current fiscal year. Obviously, things can't go on this way. That's why it's good to see the Postal Service proposing a radical cost-cutting measure. Postmaster General John E. Potter this week asked Congress for authority to cut back mail delivery by one day each week. It makes sense."

The Slovak Spectator has reported that "Slovak Post claims it has had losses of approximately €2 million since October due to the European Commission's decision on October 7 that Slovakia must reopen its market in the field of hybrid post services."

According to the Portland Press Herald, "A proposal by the U.S. Postal Service to cut delivery from six days a week to five is likely to have its biggest impact on businesses, observers say. "We don't know what they will do, but intuitively I think you can look at a proposal like this and say this could be problematic," said Peter Gore, senior government affairs specialist for the Maine State Chamber of Commerce. "This presents less of a problem if they do it on a Saturday, but eliminating delivery on what is widely considered a regular workweek day would be a bigger problem," he said."

The Times Leader has reported that "The U.S. Postal Service has launched a study into whether some mail-sorting operations at the Wilkes-Barre facility can be consolidated into the Scranton facility."

The Washington Post has reported that "The chances that Congress will allow the Postal Service to cut one delivery day each week are growing slim. Postmaster General John E. Potter asked Congress for that flexibility as a last resort to save money in the face of tumbling mail volume and revenue. It wasn't a welcome suggestion when he testified before a Senate subcommittee Wednesday, and now comes word that a key member of Congress will block the request. The chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee on financial services and general government, which controls the federal portion of the U.S. Postal Service budget, says no way. Rep. José E. Serrano (D-N.Y.) said "I will retain the prohibition on service cuts in my bill." Note the lack of any "we" or "the Congress" in his comment. Subcommittee chairmen of the House Appropriations Committee are often called "cardinals" because of their power. Cardinal Serrano has made it clear that he will use that power to maintain six-day deliveries."

The Times of India has reported that "Nearly a year after Project Arrow was conceived by India Post to improve services at postal offices, a review at the Mantralaya showed that the quality of services at post offices designated under the project has improved substantially."

ENCToday has noted that "Reactions varied on plan to cut USPS service by one day."

Fox News has reported that "A day after Postmaster General John Potter threatened to cut mail delivery from six to five days a week, postal experts, direct marketing executives and politicians alike said the outlook for the quasi-governmental U.S. Postal Service is bleak. "It certainly represents a divergence of mail service as we know it," Postal Regulatory Commission Chairman Dan Blair told FOXNews.com of the potential move to five-day service as a cost-cutting measure. Cutting a day of service would have to be approved by Congress and postal officials, but it could save roughly $1.9 billion a year, Blair said. Illinois Rep. Danny Davis, chairman of the Federal Workforce, Postal Service and the District of Columbia subcommittee, said it's a matter of unavoidable truths. Bob Cohen, a former Postal Regulatory Commission official, was even more pessimistic about the agency's future."

AFP has reported that "Every home in Britain will be guaranteed access to broadband Internet under plans unveiled by the government on Thursday, which put the technology on a par with telephones as an essential service. "We are developing plans to move towards an historic universal service commitment for broadband and digital services," Culture Secretary Andy Burnham told lawmakers in the House of Commons. Universal service obligations (USOs) were used in 1840 to guarantee postal services across Britain, and in 1984 to ensure everyone had access to a phone."

From PR Newswire: "The following is a statement by NALC President William H. Young: There are no plans to eliminate six-day mail delivery. NALC is working with the Postal Service and other postal organizations on a common-sense approach to overcoming the economic crisis. Neither the American public, nor the postal industry, nor the key leaders of the U.S. Congress, nor the NALC support any reduction in service. Making the reduction of days of delivery THE answer is a red herring which the media has misleadingly laid at the doorstep of Postmaster General Jack Potter. While PMG Potter asked Congress for the flexibility to temporarily and selectively reduce the frequency of delivery if conditions worsen dramatically, he made it absolutely clear that eliminating a day of delivery was the last thing he wants to do. As NALC has done, Potter called on Congress to enact sensible financial reforms to correct the schedule for pre-funding retiree health benefits. That would protect retiree benefits while freeing up current funds to help the Postal Service overcome the devastating effects the financial meltdown has had on the U.S. economy."

According to 12Fox KEYC, "There's been a lot of talk in the last two days about postal service dropping from 6 days a week to 5. As News 12's Erick Lind tells us...may be just talk right now... but it could become reality unless some action is taken to help out the service."

As the Federal Times has reported, "Senators were concerned about the Postal Service’s troubles, and some were skeptical that Potter’s requests were the answer. Sens. Tom Carper, D-Del., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, support a two-year break in payments into the retiree health benefit fund. But waiving payments for eight years, as Potter requested, “would further delay the management reforms the Postal Service should be making to promote its future viability,” Collins said. Collins accused Potter of using the crisis “to unravel the intricate compromise of provisions, accommodations and protections that made up our landmark [2006] postal reform law. Its fundamental purpose was to look beyond short-term fixes and to implement long-term solutions.” Collins opposes Potter’s proposal to move away from six-day service, which she said would drive more customers away. “It’s disheartening to hear you come forward and advocate the elimination of that requirement,” Collins said."

According to one Washington Post blogger, "It appears that the news media is partially to blame for the continuing decline of the U.S. Postal Service."

January 29, 2009

[PostCom logo

PostCom welcomes its newest member: AT&T Services 3900 Channel Drive West Sacramento, CA 95691-3432 Represented by: Sharon J. Harrison Director, Postal Strategy, AT&T Mailing Solutions (AMS).

From PR Newswire: "With the combined energy needs to operate nearly 1 million post offices and mail processing centers worldwide, plus the fuel for hundreds of thousands of mail delivery vehicles, energy is a critical issue for postal agencies in every nation. Senior postal officials from Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands and the United States are exploring these crucial issues this week at the forum "Energy: The Next 20 Years." Sponsored by the International Post Corporation (IPC), a cooperative association of 24 national postal operators in Europe, North America and Asia Pacific, the forum is an opportunity for postal executives and energy technology experts to share ideas. Jeremy Rifkin, best-selling author and president of The Foundation on Economic Trends, will be keynote speaker. Rifkin has been influential in shaping public policy in the United States and around the world, and currently serves as an advisor to the European Commission, the European Parliament and several European Union heads of state."

The Economic Times has reported that "The government has withdrawn the proposed amendments to the Indian Postal Act, a top government official said on Thursday. The department of posts (DoP) would redraft the Bill once again and send it for the cabinet's consideration, the official said."

The Janauary 29, 2009 issue of the National Association of Postal Supervisors Legislative/Regulatory Update has been posted on this site.

According to Advertising Age, "Reader's Digest Association said today it plans to lay off 280 of its 3,500 employees worldwide as part of a plan to navigate the global economic slowdown. U.S. employees who are losing their jobs will be notified this week. The company also plans to suspend its practice of matching contributions to employees' 401(k) plans and order employees to take five unpaid days off."

From today's Federal Register:

Postal Service
New Standards for Domestic Mailing Services ,
5130–5137 [E9–1862] [TEXT]  [PDF]
Rules of Practice in Proceedings Relative to Mailing Hazardous Materials ,
5137–5141 [E9–1864] [TEXT]  [PDF]

Politiken.dk has reported that "In 2008, Danish postmen and women handed out some 3,000 boxes – or 25 tonnes of biscuits to demanding dogs, in order to let them deliver the mail without having to face scary bared canines."

According to Dead Tree Edition, "U.S. Postal Service leaders were full of surprises today, with perhaps the biggest being that they are able to change course and adapt when necessary....Potter diplomatically reminded Congress members that they often prevent USPS from becoming more efficient by trying to block the consolidation of “duplicative mail-processing operations.” He noted that everyone favors greater efficiency but “that support often weakens considerably when a specific change is proposed for a specific community."

The International Herald Tribune has reported that "French workers fearful about the global economic crisis held a nationwide strike Thursday, shutting down train and subway lines, reducing staff at hospitals and leaving millions of schoolchildren without teachers. In Paris, commuters braved freezing temperatures and biked, walked and even took boats to work. But a 2007 law ensuring minimal transport service meant that some subways, buses and suburban rail lines still had to operate — and those that did were stuffed full of passengers. Thousands of teachers, postal employees, and hospital staff also have stayed off the job. Many banks were shut, and some workers at factories that have been hit by layoffs also joined the strike."

"A lot of people look for the postman every day," said A. Lee Fritschler, a former chairman of the Postal Regulatory Commission and a public policy professor at George Mason University to the Washington Post. "The Postal Service will tell you that they are a community service. . . . I think a lot of people will wonder what happened to their mail on Tuesday or Saturday if it doesn't come anymore." Robert Cohen, a former Postal Regulatory Commission official who oversaw the technical analysis for the GMU study, said that "the bottom line is that the future of the Postal Service is in doubt. How long it will be able to meet all of its obligations is uncertain." 

Canada.com has reported that "A Toronto man suspected of reaping more than $7 million by mailing thousands of phoney invoices to companies around the world has been sentenced to almost four years in a United States prison. The key to success for Emanuel Medeiros, 48, was corporate America's clumsy attention to accounts payable; he simply mailed fake "renewal notices" in the amount of $297.83 and waited as some 25,000 businesses dutifully cut cheques and mailed them to him, prosecutors said."

The Contra Costa Times has reported that "The U.S. economy is mired in a "global, synchronized recession" and will shed 6 million jobs before things get better, according to New York University Professor Nouriel Roubini. Roubini, known to many as "Dr. Doom," offered that dire prediction this week on Bloomberg.com. And by one Southland economist's calculations, his number may not be far off."

According to the Daily Mail, "The Royal Mail's new chairman will be paid £200,000 for working two days a week."

The comments filed by the Association for Postal Commerce in conjunction with the Direct Marketing Association, the Mail Fulfillment & Service Association, and the Alliance of Nonprofit Mailers concerning a Postal Service proposed rule on tabbed booklets and folded self-mailers has been posted on this site.

January 28, 2009

U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal Services, and International Security. "The Impact of the Economic Crisis on the U.S. Postal Service" Witnesses:

Key points made by each of the witnesses have been posted on this site.

The Federal Times has reported that "Top U.S. Postal Service officials Wednesday afternoon are expected to ask legislators to remove the Saturday delivery requirement. Sources say Postmaster General John Potter will make that request in his opening statement to a Senate subcommittee. The Postal Service isn’t looking to immediately drop Saturday delivery; it will likely study the issue first. And it could take a lesser action, such as temporarily suspending Saturday delivery during periods of low mail volume."

Information about the INTELLIGENT MAIL University which is being presented this coming February and March by the National Postal Forum has been posted on this site..  The locations include Addison, IL, Los Angeles, CA, Atlanta, GA and New York, NY.  Each full day session will feature expert Intelligent Mail speakers from the United States Postal Service®. 

DMM Advisory: Proposed Standards for Domestic Mailing Services. We are revising our proposed New Standards for Domestic Mailing Services that were published on pe.usps.com January 22, 2009. Several changes are being made now so that customers need not address these features of the original proposal in their comments.   

The changes include elimination of the new window placement standards. This change is in response to the early comments received from customers. Instead, we will work with envelope manufacturers and mailers to achieve the objective of the proposed standard through gradual modification to mailpiece designs. 

Also, we are changing the proposed static charge and coefficient of friction standards for automation and machinable letters from a requirement to a recommendation. We will continue to explore the development of testing methods and mailpiece design factors that impact static charge and coefficient of friction.  

According to MarketWatch, "More people paying their bills online and hard times for high-mailing industries have led to the removal of hundreds of Seattle mailboxes, officials say. Seventy mailboxes were taken away in the city last week, part of a move that has seen the U.S. Postal Service cut the number of mailboxes from roughly 800 five years ago to the current level of below 600, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported Tuesday."

Trade Arabia has reported that "Bahrain Post has announced the launch a new service to track letters and parcels online as part of the range of services Bahrain Post will offer through the Bahraini eGovernment Authority (eGA) national portal."

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

For the first time in almost twenty years Royal Mail has achieved a profit in a quarter in all of its four business segments (Royal Mail Letters, Post Office, Parcelforce Worldwide and GLS).
Private postal service providers in France are demanding that the opening of the market be brought forward.
Ulrich Gygi, CEO of Switzerland’s Schweizerische Post, has spoken out against the foreign alliance advocated by the new chairman of the post’s administrative board. In an interview with daily »Handelszeitung« (20.01), Mr Gygi said that he did "not consider mutual holdings in national post companies a good idea. Denmark and Sweden have done it, but I can’t see that it would bring us any advantages."
Are prospects darkening for Post Danmark? "I expect the current downturn to continue", said CEO Helge Israelsen in an interview with business daily »Børsen« (26.01). The decline appears to be most noticeable for advertising mail, where Post Danmark suffers not only from the dire economic situation but also from fierce competition by Bring Citymail, a subsidiary of the Norwegian post in Denmark.
Wolf-Dieter von Trotha, managing director of Germany’s P2 Brief + Paket, the "second post", said 2008 had been a successful business year. He told trade journal »OnetoOne« (26.01) that P2 had launched operations at the beginning of 2008 together with eleven partners linked to the publishing industry (CEP News 36/07) with the aim of increasing that number to 20 by the end of 2008.
Itella iPost, the Finnish post’s division for document and information logistics, noted a positive result for the last financial year.
The French La Poste has bought five Spanish direct marketing firms via its subsidiary Mediapost.
Representatives of the Cuban ministry for IT and telecommunications have met with agents from the Russian post to discuss the basis of a partnership agreement. Last week’s talks centered on future co-operation between the Russian post and Correos de Cuba. The final agreement is due to be signed this week.
Despite a difficult financial climate, British CEP operator Business Post managed to achieve a satisfactory result during the fourth quarter 2008.
FedEx has found a new airline partner for cargo operations in China. Last week it was announced that the integrator would co-operate with Yangtze River Express (YRE) in future.
A difficult year lies ahead of the Polish truck transport industry. At least a fifth of transport companies could be on the brink of financial ruin, according to business paper »Gazeta Prawna«. The paper quotes experts as giving the same cause time and time again: a decline in orders as a result of the economic and financial crisis.
British B2C parcel specialist Home Delivery Network (HDN), which claims to be the country’s biggest service provider in the segment, is axing nearly 700 jobs. The firm is also closing 8 of its 58 depots as part of a major network restructuring operation, moving production to other locations.
French cargo airline Air France Cargo has stopped all cargo flights between Europe and the Chinese city of Guangzhou with immediate effect. The company said the dramatic decline in Chinese imports and exports had lead to a low degree of capacity utilisation.
Faced with a general strike in France, La Poste will not be able to carry out any business this Friday.
GO! Express & Logistics, one of Germany’s biggest private over-night operators, intends to expand into Europe via Poland and the Czech Republic.
DHL Global Mail has equipped its Chicago and New York City locations with a new state-of-the-art sorters.
The Brazilian government has appointed a committee to draw up suggestions for the modernisation of the post.
GLS Denmark recently introduced the option for customers to collect goods that were ordered online from a parcel shop.
Brad Mitchell has been appointed president of UPS Global Logistics and Distribution.
Calling his tax evasion "the biggest mistake of my life", he says he has drunk "the bitter cup of atonement". "I wish to get a clean slate", said former Deutsche Post CEO Klaus Zumwinkel on the occasion of his hearing before the Bochum County Court. The money he had put aside in a Liechtenstein fund had been intended for his family and "nobody else", Mr Zumwinkel claimed. 

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 Philadelphia Daily News has reported that "If the U.S. Postal Service cuts workers' hours, customer service will suffer and the mail will be delayed, says the president of a national postal workers union. Not so, says the USPS in response to William Burris, president of the American Postal Workers Union. "Our continuing effort to reduce cost has not hurt customer service," said Gerald McKiernan, manager of USPS media relations. They are the two sides of a debate about the deficit-ridden postal service, and its recent problems in delivering mail service to the public in a timely fashion. Today, postal officials will spell out their financial troubles before a Senate subcommittee on federal financial management, an oversight committee of the USPS, headed by Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del."

The Whittier Daily News has reported that "The U.S. Postal Service is studying a massive reduction in services at the Industry post office, which could result in up to 700 jobs leaving the San Gabriel Valley."

The International News has reported that "Minister for Postal Services Mir Israr Ullah Zehri has taken stern notice on the negligence of two postal employees and suspended them for not supervising the work process efficiently and delivering a registered letter to an unconcerned. A complaint was lodged in the Minister’s Office Monday for the late delivery of a registered letter. The minister ordered a thorough inquiry into the matter and asked the concerned to submit a report within 24 hours. He said, “Our mandate is to facilitate the common people and I will ensure that each and every employee of Pakistan Post works with complete dedication and a passion to serve the nation.” He said those not willing to deliver the people have no place in the department."

The Environmental Leader has reported that "The U.S. Postal Service says it saved more than $2.25 million in the last fiscal year due to greener computing initiatives such as server consolidation and recycling ink cartridges. Over the past three years, USPS eliminated some 1,600 servers and reduced hardware maintenance costs by $2 million. The postal service has also converted 40 percent of its workstations to power-saving monitors and energy-efficient units. The move has earned it back more than $250,000 from the power companies, according to the USPS."

January 27, 2009

The Postal Regulatory Commission's "Public Representative intends to file comments that analyze the relationship between attributable costs and revenues for individual products, as well as trends in those relationships over time. Its comments would involve all products—market dominant and competitive—that are subject to the PAEA’s positive contribution requirements. The information presented is derived from the nonpublic version of the Postal Service’s “core costing materials,” and would be presented at the same level of detail as the summary table on page 24 of the Commission’s FY 2007 Annual Compliance Determination (ACD). Because the comments primarily address broad policy concerns, their value would be greatly diminished if only a handful of “insiders” who have signed non-disclose/non-use agreements for the Postal Service’s core costing materials were allowed to see and respond to them."

According to the socialist publication Morning Star, "one hundred Labour MPs showed their anger on Tuesday at plans by arch-privatiser Lord Mandelson to smash up the Royal Mail."

According to the BBC, "When you're shopping at home from catalogues, or replying to adverts in the newspapers, you are often asked to fill in a form and pay by post. But often those forms ask for a lot of information about your bank accounts and credit cards. Information that could be very useful if it fell into the wrong hands."

Online Media Daily has reported that "Former Yahoo executive Bettina Cisneros has been named vice president of marketing and sales development at Time Inc. Digital. As director of marketing at Yahoo, Cisneros developed brand marketing and communications programs for the business-to-business marketplace. She also created strategies and programs to provide cross-network media solutions for some of Yahoo's largest advertisers."

As the Courier Post has noted, "With the help of a local merchant, families and friends of military personnel serving overseas can send Valentine's Day cards and letters for free. The owner of a UPS Store at Columbia Centre on the White Horse Pike has launched "Operation: Sealed with a Kiss" and is providing free first-class postage -- 42 cents -- for one-ounce valentines and letters to U.S. military personnel stationed overseas or to veterans in Veterans Affairs hospitals."

UPS will announce its fourth quarter results on Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2009, at approximately 7:45 a.m. Eastern Standard Time. At 8:30 a.m. EST, UPS Chairman and CEO Scott Davis and Chief Financial Officer Kurt Kuehn will conduct an investor conference call. This call will be open to reporters and the public, on a listen-only basis, via a live Webcast. To listen to the live Webcast: Go to http://investor.shareholder.com/ups/index.cfm.

Realdeal.hu has reported that "One of many ongoing corruption scandals involving government money rages on at Magyar Posta, albeit to a lesser degree. After the previous tender for bicycles was terminated due to widespread accusations of corruption, the Hungarian postal service announced a new tender last Tuesday. The budget has been reduced to Ft 500 million (€1.7 million) for the 4,800 bikes, which still works out at around Ft 100,000 (€350) per bike."

Postal Regulatory Commission Job Vacancy Notice Vacancy Number: Prc 06-03 Open: January 7, 2009 Close: January 30, 2009 Position Title: Media Relations Specialist Grade: Prc-4 Salary Range: $72,929 - $116,688 Location: Postal Regulatory Commission 901 New York Avenue, Nw, Suite 200 Washington, Dc 20268-0001

From the National Association of Postal Supervisors Legislative and Regulatory Update January 26, 2009: "PMG Potter to Address Worsening USPS Finances Wednesday." 

Engadget has reported that "Analysts were already anticipating a killer Q4 for Netflix, and unlike practically every other company on the face of the planet, it delivered. The movie rental firm somehow managed to see net income rise to $22.7 million in the quarter, up from $15.7 million in Q4 2007. Revenue was also up by 19 percent, and subscriber growth was pegged at an amazing 26 percent. All told, the firm ended the quarter with 9.4 million subscribers, decimating its own forecast of ending Q4 with 9.15 million customers."

The Louisville Courier-Journal has reported that "UPS Airlines is laying off about 60 mechanics throughout the United States next month and an unkown number could come from the Louisville work force."

Communication Workers Union (CWU) general secretary Billy Hayes hailed the growing Parliamentary fight against plans to part privatise Royal Mail as the numbers of MPs registering their opposition to Business Secretary Peter Mandelson's proposals topped the 100 mark yesterday.

Air Cargo World has reported that "A German court on Monday convicted Klaus Zumwinkel of tax evasion. The court suspended a two-year prison sentence and imposed a $1.3 million fine on the former Deutsche Post CEO."

According to the American Postal Workers Union (APWU), "Many postal districts, if not all, are increasingly under pressure to slash costs, reduce their complement, and make budget, all while giving quality service to the American public. Far too often, managers make cuts at the expense of postal workers, and this means a lot of disruption, confusion, and uncertainty for them and their families. Yet, it is the postal worker who provides the service that helps the USPS rank as the federal agency most trusted by the public. USPS plans are so obvious! It’s a mantra: Reduce the workforce. Reduce transportation costs. Reduce window service. Reduce standards. Two years ago it was the so-called competition that prompted management to make cuts. Last year it was the impact of the Internet. This year it is the economy. Next year? Perhaps it will be a combination of all three. Yes, we have to be realistic about the economic conditions we face. And yes, there has been shrinkage in mail volume. But it is the manner in which management implements change that brings about pressure, pain, and punishment."

"We think moving mail processing to Stamford is going to delay delivery," said Michael Dennehy, president of the American Postal Workers Bridgeport local, reported the Connecticut Post. "The mail will have to come back from Stamford and as a result it will get to the carriers later. In general that means important pieces like checks, cards and gifts will be delivered later." So the union has filed suit in federal court seeking to block the transfer of three pieces of sorting equipment from Bridgeport to Stamford and a fourth piece to Syracuse. Additionally, they claim this move, plus the job duty changes of 18 employees, violates their contract which does not expire until Nov. 20, 2010."

The Guardian has reported that "Nicolas Sarkozy this week faces the first mass-protests over his handling of the financial crisis as unions prepare to paralyse France in a general strike uniting train-drivers, air traffic controllers, journalists, bank staff and even ski-lift operators. The strike will unite private and public sector workers from schools, hospitals national TV and radio to postal services, bank clerks and supermarket employees. Even helicopter pilots and staff from the company that operates the French stock exchange are taking part."

Press Release: The Board of Governors of the U.S. Postal Service will meet in Washington, DC, at Postal Service Headquarters, 475 L’Enfant Plaza, SW, on Feb. 3-4, 2009. The public is welcome to observe the Board’s open session, scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m. on Feb. 4 in the Ben Franklin Room on the 11th floor. The Board is expected to discuss the following items: Wednesday, Feb. 4 at 10:30 a.m. Minutes of the previous meetings, Nov. 12-13, Dec. 2, 2008, and Jan. 22, 2009. Remarks of the Chairman of the Board. Remarks of the Postmaster General and CEO. Committee reports. Quarterly report on service performance. Update on financial performance. Tentative agenda for the March 31-April 1, 2009, meeting in Washington, DC. Election of Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Board of Governors.

January 26, 2009

Welcome to PostCom Radio
A PostCom Postal Podcast

Join PostCom President Gene Del Polito in a discussion with Everette Mills, Director, Analytical Services, GrayHair Software, Adam Collinson, Mailstream Consultant, Pitney Bowes Management Services, and Mark Shada, President, UAA Clearinghouse on aspects of address hygiene and the Intelligent Mail service.

The latest blog has been posted on the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General’s Internet site “Pushing the Envelope.” The public, mailers, postal employees, and other stakeholders are invited to weigh in on the online discussions taking place.  To view the site, visit http://blog.uspsoig.gov/.  The following new topic was just posted:   Voting by mail.  Voting by mail has expanded as more states offer “no excuses” absentee ballots or conduct elections through the mail. You are invited to comment on how the Postal Service can provide the best service for Election Mail. Also, you can tell the OIG, via voting, how often new blogs should be posted and whether you voted by mail yourself.   You can visit Office of Inspector General’s public website at:  www.uspsoig.gov.  If you have additional questions, please contact Agapi Doulaveris at 703.248.2322.

Postmaster General Jack Potter has announced that Joseph Corbett will be the new U.S. Postal Service Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President, Postmaster General/CEO John E. Potter announced today. Corbett, who has more than 25 years of accounting, finance and consulting experience, replaces H. Glen Walker who will be moving on to a new role in the Postal Service. Susan Plonkey will take over as the Vice President of Sales. Plonkey will report to Bob Bernstock, president, Mailing and Shipping Services. Jerry Whalen will move over as the Executive Director of International Sales. Stephen Kearney will replace Plonkey as the Postal Service's co-chair of the Mailers Technical Adv

Gibraltar Focus has said that "Following government’s accusation that we the postal workers are in breach of contract because of an agreement signed in 2004 which states that “differences between management and staff would be put to mediation before a state of dispute was declared. We would like to state that government too have been in breach of the New Collective Agreement signed in March 2003."

From 24-7 Press Release: "B2C eBilling has failed. In its many guises (Electronic Billing, EBPP, EIPP, Paperless Billing), ebilling has been around for many years now, yet adoption rates continue to fall dismally short of expectations. The replacement of environmentally damaging paper bills with convenient electronic bills, has achieved adoption rates of no more than 10% to 15% across industries, despite the claimed benefits for the environment, business and consumers. Why is something so obviously beneficial so problematic? What is it going to take to get consumers to engage in an electronic billing relationship that turns off paper, saves costs and improves service delivery? How do we get consumers to "Go Green"? Globally, high-volume billers have spent millions implementing online billing portals, as an evolutionary way in which consumers and corporates can view and pay their recurring bills and invoices. There have been very few success stories, however. In the UK, almost 13 billion items of B2C paper mail items are still mailed every year, at a postage cost of 1.8bn - that's 270 million items every single week. Clearly ebilling has not met its promises and this lack of expected results has harmed the perception of the concept for many."

TMCNet has reported that "Posten, the Swedish Postal Service, is investing ambitiously to develop ways of using geographical information in its operations and has chosen Sweco as its partner in this effort, awarding Sweco a contract worth nearly EUR 710,000. In the future postal operations will be increasingly supported by an advanced geographic IT environment that is used in everything from marketing and production to delivery and follow-up."

Wide-Format Imaging has noted that "Printing Industries of America is adding a special segment on the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) to its January 27 webinar: What an Obama Administration & 111th Congress Means for Printers. Attendees will learn more about the legislation, the potential costs to printers, and what Printing Industries has done to date. Printing Industries has been active in communicating with the Consumer Product Safety Commission and Capitol Hill Legislators in an effort to advocate for the industry including providing proof as to why ordinary books do not pose lead safety issues and should therefore be exempt from the legislation. The cost of compliance of this legislation for printers is estimated to be potentially astronomical."

As one Seattle Post-Intelligencer blogger put it: "I'm in the advertising business and some of my clients use direct mail on a regular basis. The other day I was asked how I could support the use of direct mail given the "environment impact". Like almost every environmental issue, this one has strong opinions on both sides. So, what's the answer? In my view as an ad person, it's using the media responsibly."

"The Detroit News will be available for same-day delivery via the U.S. Postal Service beginning March 30 -- the day home delivery stops on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays."

The Nigerian Tribune has reported that "The Nigeria Postal Service (NIPOST) has reiterated its readiness to cooperate with other government agencies to fight money laundering."

The Sunday Standard has reported that "In an attempt to position itself in the fast changing market, BotswanaPost launched Kitsong Center at Sikwane Post Office in Kwatleng District in a bid to be relevant to the technology dependent market. The Center, the latest in a series BotswanaPost intends to rollout across the country targeting particularly the disadvantaged rural folks, is replete with electronic items, such as Internet and fax machines. The move is aimed at shrugging off suggestions that the traditional post office, as an institution, is nearing extinction."

As The Times has noted, "What used to be a local monopoly or duopoly for selling a house or car has been overturned by the onslaught of the internet. News aggregators such as the Huffington Post, which invest little in their own journalism but collate articles written elsewhere, are grabbing eyeballs that would otherwise be reading a newspaper’s own website. Where previously press barons owned newspapers for prestige and profit, today many have to make do with prestige alone. Newspapers are preparing for an era of sharply lower profit margins."

According to ReadItHere, "like any business the newspaper industry is trying to survive and creating an online presence is the main way that papers are trying to survive and prosper. An article in the Wall Street Journal and USA Today ranked the top 25 newspaper websites and one thing that was constant was that the online audience was at least double their circulation rates and in many cases three or four times higher. In some opinions it is only a matter of time before we see free major newspapers that would be solely supported on their advertising revenue or to a strictly online version which the Christian Science Monitor has already moved to."

According to Hellmail, "it's difficult to guage the strength of any revolt to plans by Lord Mandelson to sell a share of Royal Mail to possibly another postal operator, but Mandelson will be determined to push them through and resistance merely move from boil to simmer. However, recent concerns raised by the Business and Enterprise Committee that Royal Mail's costs were far from transparent, a long-running disagreement between Postcomm and Royal Mail over the true financial state of the company, and Royal Mail's announcement that last nine months of 2008 had seen profits of £255 million, have done little to clarify the situation. Confused? So are most of us."

The Herald has reported that "top union boss has warned of possible postal strikes in Plymouth if the Government proceeds with selling off part of Royal Mail. Billy Hayes, the Communications Workers Union's general secretary, said Labour should stick to its manifesto commitment of keeping the service wholly publicly owned rather than allowing a private firm to take a stake." 

January 25, 2009

In a recent report to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, it was noted that Inspectors General (IGs) play a vital role in reducing waste, fraud, and abuse in the federal government. They conduct independent audits and investigations and make recommendations to protect the interests of taxpayers and improve the effectiveness of government. But their work produces few results if federal agencies ignore or reject their findings and recommendations. This report — the first governmentwide compilation of its kind — finds that thousands of IG recommendations, representing billions of dollars in waste and abuse, remain unimplemented. It was estimated that the Postal Service could save some $656,189,857 by implementing IG recommendations.

As the Washington Post has noted, "A $250 million loan that the New York Times took last week trained a fresh spotlight on the woes in newspaperland. The devastation to the industry is apparent in the steep declines in market capitalization of major newspaper publishers in the past year. Worst hit was E.W. Scripps, operator of community newspapers and TV stations, which lost 98 percent of its value. Lee Enterprises, publisher of daily and weekly papers, was next with a 97 percent decline. McClatchy, the nation's third-largest newspaper company, lost 93 percent of its market cap." [EdNote: Oh, how the mighty have fallen. I still remember the days when newspaper publishers were tripping all over themselves for the chance to disparage advertising mail as a newspaper revenue thief and a worthless commodity. Apparently, they never thought of the possibility of a Craigslist.]

Direct has reported that "The U.S. Postal Service is expected to say next month how much standard mail rates are increasing but there’s growing doubt among some observers that the hike—or hikes—won’t be as small as expected. They fear that the USPS could file an “exigent” rate case that would drive the rates up even more. Under the 2006 postal reform law, the USPS can only raise rates every year based on increases in the Consumer Price Index, now pegged at 3.8%. Those increases would take effect sometime in May, according to the USPS. But the postal service, which lost more than $2.8 billion last year and has been steadily losing mail volume for many years, is also saddled with a $5.8 billion-a-year obligation to pay the pensions and health benefits of former postal workers and may have to file for a separate additional “exigent rate case” to meet that obligation."

According to The Telegraph, "While other businesses shiver, shrink and keel over in the icy wind of the recession, one appears to be in boisterous health: the Royal Mail, which last week confirmed that for the first time in nearly 20 years all of its four businesses, including the Post Office, was in profit. Royal Mail announced profits of £255 million in the nine month period to December. Meanwhile it embarked upon a ferociously unpopular plan to shut down 2,500 post offices. It would be easier to take wholehearted pleasure in the Royal Mail's bonanza if it didn't so often appear to treat its customers with such disdain."

January 24, 2009

BruDirect has reported that "Never mind sleet or snow, rain alone has been enough to bring Brunei's postal service to a near standstill. Mass power outages that have befallen parts of the Sultanate have also affected the automated mail processing system for delivery of mail within and outside the country, the Postal Services Department said yesterday."

American Postal Workers Union President William Burrus has told his members: "Over the past several months I have attempted to alert APWU members to the financial crisis that is confronting the Postal Service, and the substantial impact it will have upon postal employees. Although some in the postal community dismissed my warnings as alarmist, it was my intent to prepare APWU members that — unless there was a sudden and dramatic improvement in the economy — significant changes were inevitable. Well, change is upon us: In the near future, the Postal Service will implement modifications to postal operations that are unprecedented in the 230-year history of this great institution. Change will take place, and the changes will affect employees."

The African Press Agency has reported that "As from next Monday, the postage rates for mail and parcels will be increased, the Seychelles Post Office (SPO) announced here Saturday. In a communiqué issued in the Seychellois capital Victoria, the SPO indicates that since 2003 when it had last reviewed its rates, the cost of collecting, processing, sending and delivering mail has increased significantly. The rates for parcels saw an increase only in 1995 and for the express mail service in 1991, points out the SPO. The communiqué further adds that the charge for lock deposits will also be increased, but that the rent for letter boxes will remain unchanged."

According to the Dead Tree Edition, "Postal officials want to outlaw the ubiquitous window envelope as we know it. The U.S. Postal Service announced yesterday that it wants to change the allowable size and positioning of envelope windows on letter-sized mail. The new regulations would not allow the window to be within three quarters of an inch of the bottom. The common sizes of window envelopes leave only half an inch between the window and the bottom. The proposed regulation would ban every window envelope “any mailer has in inventory and that is currently in production,” writes Lisa Bowes on the Postal Affairs Blog of Intelisent, a company that helps organizations mail more effectively." Here’s a better idea for the Postal Service: Figure out how to harness some of that static electricity and use it to power a few gray cells in the brain-dead bureaucrats who drafted this proposal without considering the impact on postal customers."

The Financial Times has reported that "Donald Brydon, the chairman of engineering company Smiths Group, is poised to become the new chairman of Royal Mail."

The Evening Post has reported that "South Gloucestershire householders in the Wotton-under-Edge postal area are signing a petition to try to stop Royal Mail moving their nearest sorting office."

Pakistan Post Office (PPO) has struck an agreement for the Mobile Money Order (MMO) service with a leading cellular service operator with a customer base of over 30 million, sources told The News.

AFP has reported that "France will offer all 18-year-olds a free daily copy of the newspaper of their choice, President Nicolas Sarkozy said Friday, announcing a package of measures to help the beleaguered press. French newspapers were already struggling to compete for readers with the Internet and broadcast journalism even before the economic downturn took a bite out of advertising revenue, and several are close to collapse. In response to the crisis, which some commentators have branded a threat to French democratic debate, the government organised a national conference on the future of the newspaper industry. In addition to the free paper scheme, Sarkozy announced plans to double the government's budget for buying advertising in the press, a freeze on the cost of postal distribution and a reduction in payroll taxes for newsagents."

Press Release: "From server consolidation to ink cartridge recycling, the U.S. Postal Service is using leading-edge technologies to support energy conservation, recycling and waste reduction. These initiatives also resulted in more than $2.25 million in cost avoidance last fiscal year."

The Bridgeport News has reported that "The local postal workers union is heading to court to try to block moving 18 jobs from Bridgeport to Stamford. Michael Dennehy, president of American Postal Workers Union’s Bridgeport Local, said the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) decision to move the destinating processing operations positions — and the equipment they work on — out of Bridgeport violates the union contract and post office regulations."

Texas Cable News has reported that "United Parcel Service is eliminating 250 positions at its overnight sorting facility in North Texas, and another 250 jobs will be cut at a similar facility in Columbia, South Carolina. In December, UPS announced it would eliminate 72 jobs at the UPS Air Cargo Distribution Center at the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. But the Atlanta-based package delivery service told News 8 Thursday it now plans to slash 250 jobs in Dallas. The reduction in shipping volume is the main reason for the job cuts. Next day air packages have taken the hardest hit, said Norman Black, UPS spokesman. It was down 10 percent in the third quarter."

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

  • PostCom has joined with several organizations and companies in petitioning Congress to move swiftly on a proposed bill known as H.R. 22 to provide the U.S. Postal Service with some relief in payments for postal retiree health care costs over the next few years.
  • The Postal Regulatory Commission has prepared and released the 12-month average change in the Consumer Price Index-Urban. The December value for the annual mid-May price adjustment is 3.8 percent.
  • PostCom’s comparison of 2007 Workshare Discounts to 2008 Workshare Discounts provide the foundation for the coming Postal Service price change, expected to be announced next month. The percentage changes in PostCom’s Comparison USPS Workshare Discounts show the change in USPS avoided cost from 2007 to 2008.
  • Comments on the Postal Service’s proposed “New Standards for Letter-Size Booklets and Folded Self-Mailers” rules are due to the USPS by January 28, 2009. The “New Standards” contain numerous proposed changes in design and mailpiece characteristics for booklets and folded self-mailers sent at automation letter prices, but the proposed rule also contains new requirements that would apply to all automation and machinable letters and cards, as well as pieces sent as Standard Mail Enhanced Carrier Route letters.
  • What a busy year 2008 was for the Postal Regulatory Commission. It released several major reports and findings required by the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA), which governs operations from how prices are set to how service performance is measured. The PRC now has more than 11 open dockets, ranging from confidentiality and compliance rules to Negotiated Service Agreements to review of nonpostal services.
  • USPS Form 6014 discontinued. Postal Service provides resources on Move Update verification process. Postal Service introduces new MTAC workgroup.
  • Royal Mail profits up for 2008. Deutsche Post operating profit exceeds goal. Canada Post increases prices, but doing well. DHL opens new gateway in Mexico, customer service center.
  • Netflix joins PostCom.
  • Postal previews
Hey! You've not been getting the weekly PostCom Bulletin--the best postal newsletter anywhere...bar none?  Send us by email your name, company, company title, postal and email address. Get a chance to see what you've been missing.

The PostCom Bulletin is distributed via NetGram

January 23, 2009

The Financial Times has reported that "More than one million German workers are set to receive a minimum wage after parliament on Thursday voted to extend legally binding basic pay to six sectors, including security guards, carers and waste management workers. Subject to the agreement of parliament’s upper chamber these employees will join around 1.8m postal, construction and cleaning workers who are already guaranteed a minimum wage.

From Business Wire: "Amid a steady stream of grim economic news, a large majority of small-business owners are optimistic about their company's financial future, according to two nationwide surveys sponsored by UPS. In the first UPS Business Monitor United States, conducted between September and October last year, 91 percent of small-business owners or managers said they expect their company to be in the same or better financial shape in a year than it is today. A follow-up survey, conducted in mid-December after economic conditions worsened, showed only a small decline in the first survey's optimism, with 86 percent of small-businesses owners expecting their company to be in the same or better financial shape in one year.

The Daily Press has reported that "It was a tradition for more than 25 years for some Cornwall mail carriers to repeat a farewell phrase as they left the office to begin their routes. "Merci Seigneur pour la belle journee," the Canada Post carriers exclaimed, to which others would often respond with the same well-wishing words. But the phrase, which translates to "Thank you Lord for the beautiful day," has now been banned at the Cornwall office by Canada Post management after a mail carrier filed an internal human rights complaint last December. Employees were told it was injecting religion into the workplace." See also the Toronto Sun.

Online Media Daily has reported that "A new program aimed at expanding broadband availability advanced in Congress Thursday when the House Energy and Commerce Committee approved the measure. And in a victory for broadband advocacy groups, the measure incorporates net neutrality principles. The program, part of a proposed $6 billion broadband package, calls for the U.S. National Telecommunications and Information Administration to make up to $2.85 billion in grants to companies that will build out broadband and wireless networks. That measure is just one component of a far-reaching $825 billion economic stimulus proposal." [EdNote: And yet there's hesitance to move on H.R. 22.]

The Evening Standard has reported that "Royal Mail has picked Smiths Group chairman Donald Brydon as its top choice to lead the company through its part-privatisation." See also Brand Republic and The Telegraph.

Transport Intelligence has reported that:

DHL Express has significantly expanded its infrastructure/capacity in Mexico with the official inauguration yesterday (January 22) of two new facilities – a gateway at Mexico City's International Airport designed to increase its shipping handling capacity by 300% and a customer service call centre.
UK postal and parcel service provider Royal Mail Group this week reported that "for the first time in almost 20 years", all its business units were making an operating profit. Those units, it pointed out, were Royal Mail Letters, the Post Office, Parcelforce Worldwide and European parcels business GLS. 

According to Marketing Daily, "With increasing consumer familiarity and growing ease of use, mobile applications for financial services companies--particularly banks--could become the new "killer app" for telecommunications. The number of people banking through a mobile device could hit half a billion worldwide by 2013, according to ABI Research."

As one writer for Hellmail noted, "So, a publicly owned Royal Mail is proven capable of making a healthy profit. Revenues are up despite a reported fall in volumes. In spite of today's announcement, we have been informed that further cost-cutting plans will be implemented, with yet fewer people to do all that needs to be done. Just in my section, it is proposed we lose another 120 hours from our staff budget each week, the equivalent of three full-time redundancies. Goodwill is in short supply. Morale is low. Our rewards are fewer and fewer. The pension problem has seen employees looking forward to a reduced pension from that promised, and we will have to work till later in life to get it. The situation is under negotiation and there is a possibility of a ballot for more strikes--a prospect no one enjoys the thought of."

Posted on this site is the Issue Statement for the new MTAC WG # 128 "Intelligent Mail Barcodes for Reply Mail (Business and Courtesy)." If you have an interest in participating in this WG please contact Industry WG Leader Jody Berenblatt or USPS WG Leader Linda Stewart. 

The Punch has reported that "The Post Master-General of the Federation, Mallam Mori Baba, has charged area postal managers to improve on quality of service being offered by their territories to ensure that customers have a satisfying experience.

January 22, 2009

DMM Advisory: New Standards for Domestic Mailing Services. An advance copy of the Federal Register notice proposing new mailing standards to support the upcoming May 2009 Mailing Services price change is available on Postal Explorer at pe.usps.com. The proposed standards include:

  • Several mail classification changes
  • Modifications to mailpiece characteristics
  • Changes in classification terminology

To share proposed modifications to mailing standards as far in advance as possible, additional proposed revisions scheduled for 2010 are also included. We invite comments on our proposal. We will use the DMM Advisory to let you know when the notice appears in the Federal Register. The Domestic Mail Manual (DMM) is available on Postal Explorer (pe.usps.com).

Euronews has reported that "One of Germany’s fallen business stars has gone on trial charged with tax-dodging in Liechtenstein. Klaus Zumwinkel, the former boss of Deutsche Post, is accused of spiriting funds into a secret trust, and failing to pay tax on the income. Zumwinkel admitted the charges in the hope of avoiding jail. He has now paid around a million euros in back-taxes, and is expected to get a suspended sentence and a fine after the two-day trial. Many postal workers feel he is getting off lightly. Some outside the court in Cologne accused Zumwinkel of closing post offices and cutting services at home, while stashing money abroad."

In a letter to the editor of Forbes, the U.S. Postal Service's Mitzi Betman wrote:

"In his recent commentary on Forbes. corn ("Don't Bail Out the Mail''), Robert Schrum once again advocates for the privatization of the U.S. Postal Service, an old idea that has been rejected many times by those with a better understanding of postal issues and one which has never been accepted by Congress.

"In laying a very thin foundation for his current argument, Mr Schrum asserts that the Postal Service is seeking a "taxpayer bailout." This is completely untrue. What we are seeking from Congress is a small word change to amend a 2006 law to allow the Postal Service to use its own monies to pay its retiree health premiums out of an already established retiree health benefit trust fund created through Postal Service funding, rather than make a separate payment to the Office of Personnel Management.

"This option would accelerate a provision of the 2006 law which states that after 2016, premium payments would no longer be paid separately, but would be drawn from the trust fund. This change would help the Postal Service weather the broad economic storm affecting the entire country and reduce the need for the Postal Service to borrow money from the Treasury for the sole purpose of depositing that money into the trust fund. The Postal Service would continue pre- funding its retiree health benefits obligations — the only Federal entity to do so. The Postal Service does not have the options available that are available to private sector firms, such as reducing or eliminating contributions to retirement plans, which have been invoked by many firms since this financial crisis began." 

From Canada NewsWire: "Ontario's Chief Energy Conservation Officer today recognizes Canada Post as a champion in energy conservation for its voltage optimization initiatives at postal facilities in Greater Toronto. Voltage optimization reduces energy consumption by up to 10 per cent and cuts electricity bills by up to 12 per cent while reducing greenhouse gas emissions."

As Hellmail's Steve Lawson has noted, "It doesn't take a rocket scientist to work out that if retailers are reporting a slump and manufacturers are seeing a decline in orders, things are not moving around and thats bad for anyone in the mail business. Somewhere in all of that comes job losses." he said."

Expect an announcement from the USPS regarding the PS 6014 form. In sum, it will be eliminated.

FedEx Corp. has once again been named to FORTUNE magazine’s list of the “100 Best Companies to Work For” in the United States in 2009. The company is ranked 90th overall and was recognized specifically for the way, “CEO Fred Smith announced sweeping cost reductions in December. 401(k) matches were frozen, exec pay was cut 10% and his own pay was docked 20%. But he didn't cut hourly wages or announce layoffs.”

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

Private postal service providers may be exempt from VAT, even if they only perform parts of the universal service. This recommendation has been presented to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg by Advocate General Juliane Kokott in her legal opinion (Case No. C-357/07) concerning TNT ’s action against Royal Mail’s exemption from VAT but her advice would gain principal relevance within the EU if there was a corresponding ruling.
The merger between Sweden’s Posten AB and Post Danmark is encountering more and more problems.
Deutsche Post may have attained its announced profit target for 2008, but the group is operating in the red for the first time since going public.
In Switzerland criticism of the post’s intended takeover of early newspaper deliveries from Tamedia and the NZZ Group is mounting.
British business secretary Peter Mandelson intends to realise part privatisation of Royal Mail despite ongoing public discussion and against inner-party opposition.
The Chinese postal market grew by 15.9% last year.
France’s La Poste has yet again been ordered to pay compensation for having abused temporary work contracts.
Azkar, one of Spain’s leading CEP operators (2007 turnover: 378.1m euros; 12.5 million consignments) is taking over the entire parcel and distribution operations in Spain and Portugal from Geodis Calberson.
Beijing Post is one of the first regional post companies in China to bundle its express and logistics activities in an independent company.
The Lithuanian post Lietuvos Pastas says it introduced a new system that manages customer queues in post office branches this month.
Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, president of Empresa Brasileira de Correios e Telégrafos, fired two of his postal directors at the beginning of the year. The two had allegedly abused their positions by carrying out fraudulent activities.
Deutsche Post is testing a collection service for private customers as part of a trial, which began in Düsseldorf and Munich late in 2007. Delivery staff collect customers’ stamped letters, small packages and parcels up to 2 kilos from their home at a charge of 4.99 euros per month.
Royal Mail intends to generate more income through logistics services.
José Casco Flores has been appointed new general director of the Mexican post. Last week Servicio Postal Mexicano officially announced that Mr Flores holds a doctorate in business administration and had been the post’s marketing director before his appointment.
Meat deliveries are now on the menu of TNT Post in the Netherlands. Customers how order meat online from beefensteak.nl receive their goods in an insulated package the next day.

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.)

CNET News has reported that "The Washington Post today is launching Who Runs Gov, a site primarily made up of a database of personalities in the United States government. If you're looking for info on your state's senator or representative, or details about a cabinet or high-ranking military official, it looks like the site could be a valuable resource."

"SNP Business and Enterprise spokesperson, Mike Weir MP, has expressed dismay at Scottish Labour’s use of a private postal company to deliver party material – at a time when Royal Mail is threatened with privatisation by Labour Business Secretary Lord Mandelson."

Marketing Daily has reported that "direct mail offers from financial services companies in pursuit of new customers fell by at least 25% in 2008, according to estimates from Mintel Comperemedia."

Hellmail has reported that "Neopost the European leader and number two worldwide supplier of mailroom solutions, today announced the acquisition of Renaddress Ltd and Target Addressing and Business Systems. Both companies will be integrated into Neopost UK in the coming months. Renaddress Ltd markets a wide range of addressing systems into the direct mail and print finishing industry and has been the sole UK distributor of Rena GmbH addressing systems since 1969. Their range of inkjet address printers includes low volume desk top machines through to high volume floor standing production systems. In 2008, Neopost acquired Rena GmBH and the acquisition of these two companies will now reinforce its position as a supplier of addressing systems in the UK."

According to Reuters, "U.S. transport companies and their investors are wondering how long they will have to wait for better days. Package delivery companies -- especially bellwethers United Parcel Service Inc and FedEx Corp -- are also hurting. UPS and FedEx have also suffered as a result of the weakening economy, with more customers choosing slower, cheaper services provided by the two package giants rather than the higher-margin express products."

The Scotsman has reported that "Business Post yesterday said it was on track to meet expectations after the Royal Mail rival grabbed a bigger slice of the collection market. The Slough-based company said its mail operation – which picks up and sorts post ahead of delivery by Royal Mail – said its market share had reached 15 per cent in the final three months of last year."

January 21, 2009

[PostCom logo PostCom has joined with several other organizations and companies in a letter petitioning Congress to move swiftly on a measure (H.R. 22) to provide the U.S. Postal Service with some measure of relief in its next few years' payments for postal retiree health care costs: "The U.S. Postal Service confronts a severe economic challenge that, if not addressed in an effective way, could cause serious and adverse changes to its structure and services.  Because the Service remains an essential and fundamental part of the nation’s communications and commerce infrastructure, we believe the Congress must act, and swiftly.  Therefore, the undersigned organizations strongly support the provisions of HR 22, and thank Congressmen Davis and McHugh for their leadership on this important legislation.  We urge as expeditious consideration of it as possible."

[PostCom logo

PostCom welcomes its newest member: Netflix, Inc. 100 Winchester Circle Los Gatos, CA 95032-1815 represented by Bill McComb Senior Director, Postal Operations.

IPE has reported that "the UK government will not be able to find a "strategic partner" to help modernise Royal Mail unless something is done about the pension deficit which is now estimated to stand at around £8bn."

Reuters has reported that:

  • British state-owned postal firm Royal Mail on Wednesday said it was on track to almost double its full-year profits after it reported a surge in operating profits n the nine months to December. See also the BBC.
  • One of Germany's business stars will answer charges of tax dodging when he appears in court on Thursday in a case the government hopes will increase pressure on havens such as Liechtenstein and Switzerland. Klaus Zumwinkel, whose Liechtenstein trust was uncovered when the government paid an informant for a bank disk containing the name of the former Deutsche Post chief and others, will also be confronted with files found during dawn raids on his home. The case has sparked a heated discussion about tax dodging in a country where many hold Swiss bank accounts or have set up secret trusts in Liechtenstein. 

The Postal Service has filed an appeal to the DC Circuit Court from the PRC Decision in the Nonpostal Rulemaking. The essence of the appeal is this: the PRC ruled that all postal services must fall either into postal products or nonpostal services and that there is no middle ground; as we have reported throughout this proceeding, the Postal Service  takes the position that certain of its functions are neither postal products nor nonpostal services and are unreviewable.

DM News has reported that "In a move intended to broaden its range of print and interactive communications offerings to retailers, printer Transcontinental Inc. has acquired print-to-Web provider Conversys Inc.   Conversys specializes in the transformation of print marketing materials, such as flyers and catalogs, into rich, interactive Web content. The company provides content conversion and hosting services to large scale retailers, enabling them to more effectively interact with customers by delivering a continuous flow of digital content through various media, including Web sites, e-mail and mobile devices."

Press Release: "Window Book launches a complimentary website, http://www.mailersid.com to help mailers get their Mailer IDs easily in preparation for Intelligent Mail Full Service. "www.Mailersid.com" is a very simple to use website that explains what you need to know about getting Mailer IDs and automatically fills in the application forms electronically so mailers can submit it to the USPS. Many mailers still do not have the Mailer ID (MID) they need and now is the time to get them."

Press Release: "Amid a steady stream of grim economic news, a large majority of small-business owners are optimistic about their company's financial future, according to two nationwide surveys sponsored by UPS (NYSE: UPS). In the first UPS Business Monitor United States, conducted between September and October last year, 91 percent of small-business owners or managers said they expect their company to be in the same or better financial shape in a year than it is today. A follow-up survey, conducted in mid-December after economic conditions worsened, showed only a small decline in the first survey's optimism, with 86 percent of small-businesses owners expecting their company to be in the same or better financial shape in one year."

Press Release: "Greylock Associates LLC is dedicated to providing consulting support to mail service providers, and organizations that utilize the United States Postal Service to communicate with their customers. Over 30 years of technical, operating, and mailing experience in the graphic arts industry. Services offered include: Developing strategic plans for providing mailing services; Application of technology to mail preparation; Developing and managing relationships with the USPS; Implementing new rules for mail preparation; Training for mail preparation; Distribution and logistics; Customer support and seminars. Greylock is well positioned to guide your organization through this dynamic and demanding environment." 

Information Week has reported that "When it comes to business technology strategy, UPS is everything that companies are tempted to abandon in an economic downturn. UPS is an early adopter of emerging technology, working closely with vendors, sometimes for years, to influence development. It makes big, long-term bets on tech-enabled business projects. And with a $1 billion IT budget, it's planning to spend about the same this year as in 2008. It's not that UPS is impervious to tough economic times. The entire express shipping industry has been hit hard, prompting JPMorgan Securities analysts to downgrade the stock of UPS to neutral in early December. But UPS is sticking to its long-term approach to tech investment. "We firmly believe the strong companies will come out of this downturn stronger," UPS CIO Dave Barnes says. "This is an opportunity to get your company positioned to grow on the upturn."

The Daily Mail has reported that "Customers who find ‘the dreaded piece of paper’ on the doormat saying the postman has failed to deliver a parcel deserve better service, MPs were told yesterday. Richard Hooper, the former civil servant who led a review into the postal service, said senders of mail tend to get a better deal than its recipients."

CNET News has reported that "As the publishing industry gradually moves online, Google has discovered that it's hard to shift some of its initiatives in the other direction--specifically, advertisements. "While we hoped that Print Ads would create a new revenue stream for newspapers and produce more relevant advertising for consumers, the product has not created the impact that we--or our partners--wanted," Spencer Spinnell, director of Google print ads, wrote in a blog post Tuesday. "As a result, we will stop offering print ads on February 28."

The Herald has reported that "The Government was accused today of planning to nationalise the Royal Mail's debts and privatise its profits under controversial plans to allow a firm to take a minority stake in the business. Leaders of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) urged Business Secretary Lord Mandelson to "think again" before pressing ahead with the part-privatisation, arguing that letters could be collected and delivered on the same day if there was proper investment in the Royal Mail." See also The Guardian.

Macleans has noted that "a recent report from the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses that showed Canada Post workers earn on average 16.9 per cent more annually than comparable private sector employees, even though they work 10 hours less per week. “With better control over spending on wages and salaries,” the report read, “the organization has the potential to reduce prices, improve service and give taxpayers a higher return on their dollar.” But reducing prices couldn’t be more at odds with Canada Post’s agenda lately. As soon as the calendar flipped to 2009, a slew of postal rate hikes took effect, many government-approved. On Jan. 12, the cost of sending a basic letter across Canada went up two pennies, to 54 cents. Delivering one to the States now costs 98 cents, also up two pennies. A letter mailed overseas comes to $1.65, a five-cent jump. And that’s just the beginning. Rates for domestic and international business reply mail (customer surveys, subscription renewals, payments, voting ballots) are going up. In late February, prices will rise for standard, non-standard and oversize letter mail by two to 10 cents depending on weight. Canada Post stands to make up to $100 million just from the basic letter increase, estimates Catherine Swift, president of CFIB."

The Associated Press has reported that "Some of those who are supposed to endure snow, rain and gloom of night to deliver the mail have resorted to hiding tons of it in garages, a self-storage unit and the dark of their basements." See also the Chicago Sun-Times.

Logistics Management has asked: "So now that the euphoria over the inauguration of the first African-American president has begun to wear off in the Nation’s Capital, what can transportation expect in the early days of the Obama administration? Well, lots more attention for one thing. After years of inattention, transportation and the nation’s infrastructure are at the center of President Obama’s economic stimulus package. This new emphasis on the essentiality of transportation and its underlying infrastructure may be biggest aspect of the change taking hold in Washington."

The latest blog has been posted on the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General’s Internet site “Pushing the Envelope.” The public, mailers, postal employees, and other stakeholders are invited to weigh in on the online discussions taking place.  To view the site, visit blog.uspsoig.gov/.  The following new topic was just posted: A recent presentation by Deutsche Post describes their self-service Packstations that provide 24-hour access for parcel pickup. You can comment on the concept.  Also, you are invited to tell the OIG, via voting, “Where you pick up your Postal Service package.”   You can visit Office of Inspector General’s public website at:  www.uspsoig.gov.  If you have additional questions, please contact Agapi Doulaveris at 703.248.2322.

According to the Associated Press, "UPS Inc.'s talks with DHL about carrying some of its air packages have gone into overtime, raising questions about whether a deal will ultimately be struck."

January 20, 2009

Folio has told its readers that "Postal rates for Periodicals, Standard, and First Class are expected to increase about 4 percent this year. And the rate could be considerably higher for some mailers. David Straus, partner at Thompson Coburn LLP and postal counsel to American Business Media, said that his advice to ABM members “has been that USPS will almost certainly make rate design changes in order to more accurately follow cost incurrence.” As a result, he expects publications co-mailing in decent-sized co-mail pools will probably see increases at or even below average, as will very large circulation publications that can build and drop ship heavy pallets with finely-sorted mail without co-mailing. On the other hand, Straus told FOLIO: that publications mailed at origin (without drop shipping), and especially those mailed in sacks, will probably see above-average increases." 

The Telegraph has reported that "Richard Hooper, the former deputy chairman of Ofcom, who conducted a review into the future of the postal service, said one-price letter delivery to the whole of the UK was "the social and economic glue of this country" in a strong endorsement of the value of Royal Mail and the post office network. Mr Hooper, who was appearing in front of MPs on the Business and Enterprise Committee after the publication of the review last month, criticised the organisation for not paying sufficient attention to basic deliveries."

According to ePolitix.com, "The government has been attacked over plans that critics say would nationalise the Royal Mail's debts and privatise their profits. Union bosses made the claims ove controversial government proposals to allow a private company to take a stake in Royal Mail. Leaders of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) called on business secretary Lord Mandelson to "think again" before going ahead with part-privatisation of the company. CWU general secretary Billy Hayes claimed that the Royal Mail did not need privatisation but just proper investment to deliver better efficiency." [EdNote: But other than that it's been a great day.]

The Los Angeles Times has rightly noted that "Newspapers are for sale across the country. National Public Radio and television news shows are laying off staff. The Tribune Co. (which owns this and other newspapers) is in bankruptcy. It's clear that journalism is in crisis, and in the current recession, things are likely to get much worse. What's broken is the economic model. For decades, publishers and broadcasters operated as an indispensable source of news and advertising, with the advertisers paying most of the freight. Today, much of the classified advertising market has fled to sites such as Craigslist, and the Web gives other advertisers more targeted and less expensive options. Subscriptions too are down, as readers who used to pay for newspapers and magazines increasingly access them online for free. As a result, journalism -- like music, cinema and other creative industries -- is confronted with the question: Who will pay for creating content?" [EdNote: Kinda makes you wish the media barons had given this more than passing thought during their salad days when the ability to print the news was almost as good as printing money.]

According to Hellmail, "Over the next 10-15 years, Royal Mail's distribution network will be radically transformed and if the part-privatisation of Royal Mail goes ahead, postal services in the UK will enter a completely new phase of commercialisation altogether and at a rate that even the CWU will find difficult if not impossible to deal with. The old Royal Mail has already gone as it comes to terms with a liberalised postal system across Europe and Mandelson's plans for Royal Mail are likely to be just the tip of the iceberg."

Materials Handling magazine has reported that "With a prime focus on growing its end-to-end business TNT Post hasn't just adopted one OCR package but two. As well as the MMT Sabre™ address recognition system option with its chosen Böwe Bell +Howell Criterion letter sorter platform, it has also equipped all of its UK sorting centres with Prime Vision's Address Reader."

January 19, 2009

According to the Lexington Institute's Robert R. Schrum writing in Forbes, "As the economy continues its downward slide, the U.S. Postal Service just made it even more difficult for businesses already struggling to survive. On Jan. 18, USPS raised prices between 3% and 8% for both Priority and Express Mail. To make matters worse, USPS is now lining up at Congress' financial soup kitchen--seeking what amounts to a taxpayer bailout. But the rescue plans under consideration--like postponing USPS' benefit-funding obligations--won't suddenly make the agency profitable. Perhaps it's time to face the hard truth: To survive in the 21st century, the Postal Service will need to undergo a full-scale restructuring, including privatization. Neither a short-term cash injection nor an exemption from benefit-funding obligations can solve the agency's problems."

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

Hellmail has reported that "Pitney Bowes, the mail and messaging technology specialist has formed a strategic alliance with Swedish company 21 Grams to bring cost-saving postal optimisation technology to the UK market."

"Time Inc. leads the big magazine publishers in building a digital business, but the industry as a whole still has a lot of work to do if it's prepping for a post-print universe, according to new analysis and estimates by Advertising Age. Last year Time Inc.'s digital ad revenue totaled an estimated $245 million, a full 10% of the company's total ad revenue."

According to BeyondChron, "While a private mailbox is something apartment tenants take for granted, residential hotel (SRO) tenants have had to organize to win this right. But the U.S. Postal Service (claiming federal preemption) now says they will cease delivering to individual mailboxes in SRO’s – except in hotels that installed them more than three months ago. This effectively shuts out tenants in the private-run SRO’s whose landlords have not complied with the law – ironically the same hotels with the worst habitability problems, the highest rates of vandalism and the most complaints of desk clerks stealing the mail."

The Tide has reported that "NIGCOMSAT and the Nigerian Postal Services (NIPOST) have entered a partnership through which 1,500 post offices across the country would be connected with internet facilities for easy operations."

Bloomberg has reported that "Deutsche Post AG, Europe’s biggest mail carrier, said operating profit before one-time items exceeded its 2.4 billion-euro ($3.2 billion) goal for 2008 as the company scaled back spending to confront the global recession."

Thomson Merger News has reported that "Press reports have reignited speculation from late last year that CVC Capital Partners is in early stage talks with the UK Government regarding the acquisition of a minority stake in postal service, Royal Mail. CVC has made two significant inroads into the European mail delivery sector in the past, buying a 22% stake in state-owned post office group Post Danmark for approximately US$209m in June 2005. That enabled CVC to make a Post Danmark-fronted tilt at Belgium’s De Post-La Poste, giving it a 50% minus one share stake for €300m. The Belgian government retained the remainder. Post Danmark has since merged with Sweden’s Posten for approximately US$7.5bn. CVC was also expected to make a bid early last year for Axel Springer’s German mail delivery business PIN Group, but Axel Springer denied any interest and appears to have cooled on any further strategic reviews."

Media Daily News has reported that "2008 was a blighted year for the nation's leading magazine publishers. While the magazine industry saw total ad pages decline 11.7% in 2008 compared to 2007, according to the latest figures from the Publishers Information Bureau, some of the top publishers suffered even bigger drop-offs, according to TNS Media Intelligence."

The Press Association has reported that "Currys and PC World parent DSG International is to appoint the financial chief of Deutsche Post as its new chairman, a report said. John Allan, chief financial officer of the German postal service and the former boss of distribution giant Exel, is set to take on the role when incumbent DSG chairman Sir John Collins retires later this year, according to The Sunday Telegraph."

DMM Advisory: The January 2009 DMM Advisory announcing the price changes for competitive postal products and services has been posted on this site.

January 18, 2009

The Sunday Standard has reported that "At a time when telecommunications liberalisation has unsettled many companies, the recently appointed Director General of BotswanaPost sees the development as a two pointed sword. Gone are the days when lovers would communicate through letters since now, at their finger tips, they can just send a short message, commonly known as SMS. However, Pele Moleta, the man who has in the recent past made his name in the banking sector, says liberalisation is both a ‘challenge and opportunity’ as he qualifies the point that post offices are still relevant."

Media For Freedom reported that "Unsatisfactory budget, unforgiving landscape and unsteady government. As if Nepal didn't already have enough on its share of hardships, a recent news article in Kavre Times, a local Nepali newspaper, outlines another major problem that has been hindering the functioning of aid organizations in Nepal- its inefficient and unreliable postal system."

The Telegraph has reported that "CVC's interest is at an early stage and the firm is believed to be worried about the reputational risk of any deal because the part-privatisation of Royal Mail is so politically sensitive."

The Daily Mail has reported that "Peter Mandelson was last night accused of a smear against British bosses after saying they were incapable of running a successful business. He was denounced by business leaders and Labour MPs over his claim that there is a defect in the 'gene pool of British management'. The remark - condemned as an 'insult to British business' - came at a stormy private meeting with Labour MPs at Westminster last week when Lord Mandelson set out his controversial plans for Royal Mail."

January 17, 2009

As Dead Tree Edition has noted, "With last year’s rate increases, all mailers in the market-dominant classes got virtually identical increases in costs. But don’t count on that happening this time around." [EdNote: Whoever writes this thing is a real hoot. Here's how he describes himself in his own blog: "By day, this writer (who wishes to remain anonymous) is a not-so-mild-mannered magazine manager dealing with such oh-so-20th Century concerns as printing, paper, and postage as he tries to make ink-on-paper publications more economically and environmentally sustainable. By night, he becomes D. Eadward Tree, Chief Arborist of Dead Tree Edition, who ventures boldly into the blogosphere despite not knowing his RSS from a hole in the ground. Please send tips, feedback, comments, criticisms, etc. to dead.tree.edition@gmail.com."

American Postal Workers Union President William Burrus told his members that "Until mail volume returns to previous levels, postal employees should anticipate that many, many changes will be imposed. The union will apply the contractual standards to each change, but many will be beyond the contractual limitations. The success of the Obama administration in addressing the economic malaise besetting our nation and the world is the key to the future of the Postal Service. Under the best of circumstances, and no matter how successful the incoming administration is, the economic recovery will not happen quickly. So, in the short term, postal employees and all other employees who work for a living can expect disruption and inconvenience for months to come."

Yahoo! Tech has reported that "Wireless carriers appear poised to deliver on what the mobile industry has long seen as its holy grail -- location-based services. Today's mobile phones can provide remarkably specific location data to their users through a combination of embedded GPS chips and network-based cell-tower data. It's a feature that holds great promise for commercial applications by providing the ability to deliver to mobile phone users information, entertainment and advertising tailored to their location." [EdNote: So why can't we unify electronic and physical addressing to facilitate the physical delivery of those goods that can't be transported electronically?]

As Information Week has noted, "There are more than one billion Internet users around the globe, but a new study from ReportLinker said that number could be dwarfed by the amount of mobile Web surfers in a few years. The report, titled "Mobile Internet 2010," said there are more than 4 billion wireless subscribers globally and many of these will be using their handset as the main Internet terminal."

Multichannel Merchant has reported that "Members of the American Catalog Mailers Association have launched a letter-writing campaign that they hope will convince the U.S. Postal Service to roll back catalog postage to its pre-2007 rates."

January 16, 2009

The Postal Regulatory Commission has posted on its web site the 2008 12 month average change in CPI-U. What this means is that the inflation cap for all market dominant services is set at 3.8%. When the USPS announces its price changes, this will mean that the class-wide average increases in market dominant services cannot exceed 3.8%.

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

  • The Postal Service recently published its 2008 Comprehensive Statement on Postal Operations. PostCom’s review of the publication provides highlights.
  • Additional workshare comparison charts can be found at the back of this issue of the Bulletin. Pay special attention to the USPS chart on Workshare Discounts when comparing the 2007 Annual Compliance Report to the 2008 report. PostCom compares 2007 to 2008 for workshare discounts and cost avoidances in those charts.
  • BMEU facilities, operations to be upgraded. View carrier route adjustment dates by ZIP Code. Obama picks Wilson for legislative affairs staff. GAO says USPS career executives getting older, not staying longer. PRC Public Representative weighs in on International BRM. UPS increasing its presence in foreign domestic markets.
  • E.U. report pushes open postal markets. Former Deutsche Post chief to confess, avoid jail sentence. French firm’s new idea breaks La Poste’s monopoly. European Court backs Royal Mail’s VAT-free status. Britain to offer special rate for green mail. Kazmin resigns as chief of Russia Post.
  • PostCom welcomes First Data as new member.
  • Postal previews
Hey! You've not been getting the weekly PostCom Bulletin--the best postal newsletter anywhere...bar none?  Send us by email your name, company, company title, postal and email address. Get a chance to see what you've been missing.

The PostCom Bulletin is distributed via NetGram

Awareness Times has reported that "The Sierra Leone Postal Service (SALPOST) has hiked the price for the acquiring and maintenance of a postal box from its usual Le 62,500.00 (sixty-two five hundred leones) in 2008 to Le 120,000,00 (one hundred and twenty thousand leones) effective January 2009. This unprecedented move has angered a whole lot of customers who view the increment as unreasonable and untimely."

Quebecor World Logistics has told its customers that "Magazine publishers will have more than just an economic recession to deal with as Anderson News ­- a large magazine distributor responsible for 20-25% of North America’s magazine dispersion to retailers - has stated that they will impose a 7-cent charge per copy on each magazine that they deliver as well as deferring all costs incurred with scan-based trading (SBT) back to the publisher.  Anderson News has stated that their magazine distribution services have not produced a profit in years and have created these changes in an effort to combat this trend.  All Anderson News’ customers must provide a signed agreement by February 1 or their business will be refused."

The National Postal Forum is hosting four full-day "INTELLIGENT MAIL University" training sessions during the last week of February and first week of March.  The locations/dates are as follows:

  • February 24, 2009, Addison, IL, Medinah Banquets, 550 Shriners Dr, Addison, IL  60101
  • February 26, 2009, Los Angeles, CA Hilton Los Angeles Airport, 5711 West Century Blvd, Los Angeles, CA  90045
  • March 3, 2009, Atlanta, GA, Hilton Atlanta Airport, 1031 Virginia Ave, Atlanta, GA  30354
  • March 5, 2009, New York, NY, Pier Sixty, 60 Chelsea Piers, New York, NY  10011

Press Release: "Commercial shippers can take advantage of new volume price incentives when shipping through the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) starting next week.   Commercial Plus pricing launches Jan. 18, with up-front price incentives for qualifying shippers using USPS overnight and 2- to 3-day expedited services.   The incentives will be available for domestic Express Mail and Priority Mail users who meet established volume requirements. On average, Commercial Plus prices for Express Mail will be 14.5 percent less than USPS retail prices; Priority Mail Commercial Plus prices will average 7 percent less."

DMM Advisory  Pricing and Classification:  "Today the Federal Register [HTML] | [PDF] published our new mailing standards requiring detached address labels (DALs) to be automation-compatible and use a delivery point POSTNET or Intelligent Mail barcode when they accompany saturation mailings of Periodicals or Standard Mail flats. These standards do not apply to DALs with simplified addresses. The new standards are effective March 2."

According to PostalReporter.com, "Rumors are flying about a “Big Announcement” from the United States Postal Service to be announced today. On several blogs covering Postal Service issues, the topic is hot. Local postal workers near our offices know about the announcement and all have their own theories."   

The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) has released the first-ever “Future of Direct Marketing” qualitative report.   

Traffic World has reported that "Production cuts by some top paper and cardboard companies, and the possible bankruptcy of one, is further sapping demand for rail and other types of freight service. Richmond, Va.-based MeadWestvaco [also a leading manufacturer of envelopes used for mailing] said it is "closing or restructuring 12-14 manufacturing locations" in the United States and overseas, and laying off 2,000 or 10 percent of its global workforce to save about $125 million in pre-tax costs this year. The company makes paperboard and other packaging for a range of consumer products."

From  LIVE-PR: "Express Logistics in the United States - a new market research report on www.companiesandmarkets.com"

Online Media Daily has reported that "In hopes of boosting broadband access, the House Appropriations Committee approved awarding $6 billion to build out networks in rural America."

Press Release: "Pitney Bowes Inc. has announced the opening of a new facility in Corona, California that offers both domestic mail presort and international mail services. The new site expands Pitney Bowes’s mail services capabilities on the West Coast and will offer customers opportunities to help increase efficiency, optimize deliverability and reduce postage costs. As the nation’s leading mail presorter, Pitney Bowes enables customers to receive significant postage discounts on First-Class™ letters and flats, and Standard Mail®. Pitney Bowes currently handles 14 billion pieces of mail per year through its 37 facilities across the United States."

President-elect Barack Obama has named Denise Wilson as a member of his legislative affairs staff. Wilson served for over 10 years as a Professional Staff Member for the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee under the leadership of former Chairman and Ranking Member Henry A. Waxman (D-CA). Wilson's areas of expertise included postal reform and federal workforce issues. She has also worked in various capacities for former Representatives Cardiss Collins (D-IL) on the House Government Operations Committee; William "Bill" Clay Sr. (D-MO) on the House Post Office and Civil Service Committee; Herman Badillo (D-NY); and James Symington (D-MO). Wilson also worked as manager of Government Relations for Motorola, Inc., in Washington. Wilson holds a B.A. in Political Science from Howard University.

The International News has reported that "All Pakistan Postal Circle Offices Employees Union (CBA) has appealed the federal minister for Postal Services and director general Pakistan Post, to notify establishment of postal circle of Rawalpindi, Hyderabad, and Multan for the welfare of the employees."

Women in Logistics and Delivery Services (WILDS) will be sponsoring a mini-seminar on financial planning during difficult economic conditions and how to achieve long-term financial goals with a specific focus on women and financial planning. The meeting will be held Thursday, February 19, 2009, The Piedmont Room, Clyde’s of Gallery Place, 707 7th Street, NW, 12:15 PM – 2:00 PM. For more information, contact kathryn.kobe@economic-consulting.com.

January 15, 2009

Purchasing.com has reported that "While the remaining carriers are competing hard for DHL's business, most market watchers expect rates to firm as a result of DHL's exit. In a recent report, analysts at Stifel Nicolaous said small parcel express rates would go up as a result of DHL's exiting the market. Stifel estimates that DHL's domestic pricing was 17% below FedEx and UPS on air business and 5% below, on average, on ground business. "In our opinion, UPS and FedEx are not likely to lower their prices much to get the DHL business but rather let the prices come up to the new market rate," the analysts said."

Check out "Redefining the Universal Service Obligation to Meet the Needs of the Modern-Day Postal Customer" on the EarthClass Mail blog.

[PostCom logo

PostCom welcomes its newest member: First Data 7302 Pacific Street Omaha, NE 68114-5452 represented by Dan O'Brien, Director, Postal Relations

Daily News has reported that "[Tanzania] Posts Corporation (TPC) has introduced a system whereby letters and parcels are now delivered at addressees' residences. Known as 'physical addressing and postal system,' the new method is expected to ease the exercise of handling mails."

According to Market Watch, "The Internal Revenue Service does not send you emails and it does not call you on the phone. It relies on the good old U.S. Postal Service to deliver its missives. Nothing has ever changed in that regard. So you have to wonder how it is that people still get sucked into scams that start with an email or phone call from "the IRS."

As Federal Daily has noted, "the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) pool of senior managers in its Postal Career Executive Service (PCES) is getting older upon appointment, serving less time and retiring at an older age, according to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report released Jan. 12. GAO looked at age and tenure differences in the PCES from Fiscal Year (FY) 2000 and FY 2007. The PCES has shrunk, from 959 employees during 2000 to just 867 in 2007, a 9.6 percent decrease. PCES employees during 2000 were, on average, nearly 44 years old when they first entered the PCES, while those who were on board during 2007 were, on average, about 1 year older at their original appointment. The average tenure in the PCES dropped from about 8.2 years in 2000 to about 6.4 years in 2007. Those leaving the PCES were also older, from 54.5 years old in 2000 to about 55.6 years old in 2007, the report said. Retirement made up about 74.5 percent of the 47 PCES separations tracked by GAO. The average age, at retirement, increased from about 55.9 years in 2000 to about 56.6 years in 2007—an increase of about 0.7 years. To see more, go to: www.gao.gov/new.items/d09255r.pdf. "

Masthead Online has reported that "Citing rising postal and paper costs, decreasing financial subsidies and threats to Canadian culture and magazine grants, the publishers of Ascent, a Montreal-based yoga magazine, will cease operations on March 31. The not-for-profit title was published for 10 years."

EdNote: Without getting into a lot of detail here, it is recommended that you look at the Postal Regulatory Commission Public Representative's comments on a USPS proposed contract on International Business Reply Mail. FINALLY, the thought that BRM is a "bulk" mail service rather than in "individual" mail piece service and should be rated accordingly is sinking in. Now, if only the same kind of thinking could be applied to domestic BRM pricing.

Here's another electronic alternative to hard-copy message delivery: Zumbox.

Regular readers of this site probably have noted that the Postal Service is in the process of reconfiguring carrier routes to comport more closely with mail volume changes. As we noted in last week's Bulletin, you can find a complete list of pending route adjustments and effective dates on the Postal Service's web site for its National Customer Support Center.

[PostCom logo

PostCom Chairman Jim O'Brien has announced the appointments of Quad Transportations Services' Manager Distribution Business Resources Phil Thompson as chairman of its PostCom's Postal Operations Committee and Pitney Bowes Software Solutions Director of Address Quality  David Robinson as PostCom representative to the Postmaster General's Mailers Technical Advisory Committee.


From today's Federal Register:

Postal Regulatory Commission
Review of Nonpostal Services ,
2636–2637 [E9–771] [TEXT]  [PDF]
Postal Service
Meetings; Sunshine Act ,
2638 [E9–831] [TEXT]  [PDF]

The Financial Times has reported that "Lord Mandelson signalled his willingness to review the regulatory caps on the prices that Royal Mail can charge its competitors, as the government on Wednesday faced a mounting rebellion over its plans to part-privatise the postal operator. More than 70 Labour MPs have signed a motion criticising the part-privatisation, and that is expected to rise to 100 in the coming days."

According to the Yorkshire Post, "Now that the Government is advertising for a new chairman for Royal Mail, many Labour backbenchers would argue that it is time to have a boss who genuinely wants to make the Royal Mail work as a public enterprise, and is prepared to enter tough and constructive negotiations with the postal unions to achieve this. Many would also believe that it is time to ask some of the private mail companies to pay a charge towards the costs of the universal service obligation, particularly as they currently use Royal Mail to deliver over the "last mile" from sorting office to doorstep."

The Press Association has reported that "Royal Mail's VAT-free status has been backed by an advocate-general at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg. The legal "opinion" came in a case brought by rival UK mail delivery service TNT, which has to pay VAT, challenging Royal Mail's right not to pay the tax. Under EU VAT rules, providers of "public postal services" are exempt from VAT. But TNT argued the UK's liberalised postal market no longer has a public postal service. Therefore, TNT should not be subject to VAT for providing a service which is VAT-free when provided by Royal Mail. But advocate-general Juliane Kokott said that, even though there is no longer a state postal monopoly in the UK, Royal Mail remains, for the moment, the country's only "universal service provider". And as the EU also has rules to ensure the general provision of postal services of specified quality at affordable prices, "the operators of the public postal network who provide the universal service can be regarded as public postal services". See also Reuters.

Press Release: "To help organizations achieve their new 2009 initiatives to slash operating costs and drive more revenue, DocuSign Inc. is extending its “When Overnight Is Absolutely Positively Far Too Expensive and Not Nearly Fast Enough” customer assurance program through March 31, 2009. DocuSign, the industry leading provider of on-demand electronic signature and electronic contract execution solutions, enables companies to replace slow and expensive mail and express shipping services by automating the entire contract execution process online. By eliminating the paper-based “print-ship-sign-copy-return-scan” process, industry leaders are using DocuSign to dramatically save on printing and express shipping operations costs, closing more deals at a faster rate, and quickly delivering on new ‘paperless office’ initiatives."

According to Adweek, "The outlook for newspaper publishers in the U.S. is grim; their business model is broken and advertisers are bailing, according to eMarketer. Circulation for newspapers continues to deteriorate because consumers increasingly go online for news that is timelier and -- in many cases - free of charge. And the relatively high fixed costs of paper, printing and distribution show no signs of waning."

The Akron Beacon Journal has reported that "The U.S. Postal Service is moving its first-class mail-sorting operation out of Canton to save money. Effective April 1, the sorting work will be done in Akron, the postal service said."

January 14, 2009

Advertising Age has reported that "Magazine ad pages fell last year by 11.7%, a bigger decline than even the body blow of 2001, new statistics show. In the difficult fourth quarter alone, magazine ad pages fell 17.1%."

According to Bloomberg, "At least 71 lawmakers from Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s Labour Party called for the U.K. government to reject plans to sell a minority stake in the state-owned postal service Royal Mail Group Plc."

Hellmail has reported that "At a Business and Enterprise Committe meeting today, Lord Mandelson reaffirmed the governments intention to make further reforms to the Royal Mail based on the recommendations set out in the recent Hooper report: 1) To transfer regulation of Royal Mail from Postcomm to Offcom to place it in the wider context of communications developments 2) That a measure of responsibility for the burgeoning pension deficit be taken on by the government which in principle the government has already accepted. 3) To attract a minority stakeholder from a postal operator with a track record with the experience required to turn around a postal operator." See also The Telegraph.

Wales Online has reported that "Business Secretary Peter Mandelson has sought to head off a revolt by Labour MPs over the part-privatisation of the Royal Mail with a hint of a new light-touch regulatory regime. Appearing before the Commons Business and Enterprise Committee ahead of a crunch meeting with Labour rebels, Lord Mandelson expressed "regret" at the way the postal market had been opened up to competition in 2006."

CNET News has reported that "In an effort to keep pace with rival Netflix, Blockbuster announced a partnership Wednesday to offer instant access to its video library through various home and portable devices."

The Postal Service has reported that "this year will dramatically revamp its Business Mail Entry Unit (BMEU) operations to improve customer service, standardize processes and improve efficiencies, according to Pritha Mehra, vice president, Business Mail Entry and Payment Technologies."

According to The Daily Item, "The U.S. Postal Service came under fire Tuesday night as more than 70 residents crowded into the fire department social hall to protest a plan that will change how mail is delivered in the borough."

According to The Guardian, "Peter Mandelson today insisted that the government would press ahead with plans to part-privatise the Royal Mail despite the prospect of the biggest backbench rebellion since Gordon Brown became prime minister."

The Evening Standard has reported that "Lord Mandelson has agreed to meet Labour MPs amid a growing rebellion against part-privatisation of the Royal Mail. The Business Secretary has promised a series of meetings as rebel leaders claimed the Government faced the biggest revolt since Gordon Brown took over."

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

With the help of an unconventional idea, a French private postal service has managed to break into the monopoly of La Poste. Lyon-based Alternative Post replaces the address on envelopes by a geo code, which features the longitude and latitude of the letterbox in encrypted form. Delivery staff carry a PDA equipped with a GPS receiver that shows the way to each individual letterbox. This technology allows the operator to deliver letters weighing less than 50 grams."
In addition to the reserved area, European postal markets still have other - legal and strategic - obstacles to market access. In order to realise the vision of a EU-wide market with lasting and efficient postal service providers, such obstacles must be removed. The "Report submitted to the Council and the European Parliament by the Commission" could hardly be more explicit. Although the reform was progressing according to schedule within the EU, some member states needed to make more progress, the Commission concludes.
The general director of the Russian post, Andrej Kasmin is resigning. Meanwhile, his deputy Andrej Manojlo will take over the general director’s job for the time being. According to the Russian post’s constitution, a general director can only be appointed after the position has been advertised. A favourite for the job is Alexander Kiselew, who in his turn is leaving his post as general director of the Swjazinvestbank.Mr Kiselew worked for DHL International between 1991 and 1995 and became deputy minister for telecommunications at the turn of the century, overseeing postal operations.
According to media reports, Banque Postale - a subsidiary of French La Poste - is involved in participation talks with two banks.
Royal Mail is planning to introduce a new reduced rate bulk mail service for items that meet new ecological requirements. The Sustainable Mail Service costs up to 4.7% less than the conventional Mailsort Service. The new service complies with the British "PAS 2020" new ecological standard, which is promoted by the post, among other organisations.
French La Poste has been able to record an extraordinary income of 128.7m euros due to a sale-and-lease-back deal.
Some experts were only asking who would grab the lion’s share of DHL’s domestic business in the USA - UPS or FedEx? It now appears that one - or better several - other operators that could come out top. Media reports claim that regionally wellestablished express services are well able to acquire some of the former DHL volumes. More importantly: evidently the U.S. Postal Service is able to attract DHL customers. This is due to the post’s new discount scale, which applies irrespective of volume.
Japan Post Holdings Co. has found a buyer for the 72 hotels run by the post.
UPS is increasingly moving into domestic markets. The integrator announced that new national networks would be launched in 16 countries in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Africa at the beginning of the year.
According to German daily »Die Welt« (08.01) Dr Alan Hippe is the candidate favoured by chairman Frank Appel as CEO of Deutsche Post. Mr Hippe is currently deputy chairman, CFO and head of the so-called ’Rubber Group’ at Continental AG. 

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.)

Marketing Daily has reported that "With retailing executives desperate for economic tea-leaves, Lee Scott, Wal-Mart Stores' outgoing chairman, made it short and not-so-sweet: The world's largest company isn't looking for a retail rebound any time soon." 

Reuters has reported that "The Printing Industries of America has released a legislative advocacy agenda for the 111th Congress that highlights the issues that matter most to the printing and graphic communications industry. The member-driven agenda was crafted in response to the recent elections and highlights legislative issues in the areas of healthcare reform, labor and employee benefits, tax, postal, and environmental and energy policy."

Package Printing has reported that "The Printing Industries of America has released a legislative advocacy agenda for the 111th Congress that highlights the issues that matter most to the printing and graphic communications industry. The member-driven agenda was crafted in response to the recent elections and highlights legislative issues in the areas of healthcare reform, labor and employee benefits, tax, postal, and environmental and energy policy."

The Atlanta Business Chronicle has reported that "United Parcel Service Inc.’s charitable arm, The UPS Foundation, has granted Special Olympics Georgia $80,000 for state competitions and program growth."

According to The Telegraph, "Colette Bowe's £200,000 salary, whose appointment was made last month, was criticised by a group of MPs at a Department for Culture, Media and Sport select committee meeting. One questioned why the former economist, who will be working for three days a week, needed to earn more than the Prime Minister to do a part-time public sector job. Ms Bowe insisted Ofcom needed to pay high salaries to ensure it attracts the highest calibre recruits. Ms Bowe has told MPs she would be keen to see Ofcom's remit expanded to oversee Royal Mail, as recommended by last year's review of postal services by Richard Hooper.

The Daily News has reported that "The post office network will be modernised and given facelift with the introduction of electronic technology, Posts and Telecommunication Minister Mahinda Wijesekera said yesterday. He was speaking after opening the new office of the 'E-Post' project at the Posts and Telecommunications Ministry, Colombo. This new scheme is a direct outcome of the agreement between the Ministry and iTopia Malaysia in 2007. Under this agreement, traditional postal services at 4,700 post offices islandwide will be streamlined to keep abreast with the 21st Century, the Minister said."

According to Practical Ecommerce, "the decision to offer free shipping or not ought to be a financial one. Like any marketing tactic, you need a way to measure return on investment."

Hellmail has reported that "The Belgian postal operator, La Poste has launched an information campaign for small to medium sized companies concerning the E-Certificate. From April 2009, the small companies will be required to make their statement of VAT electronicly. La Poste say that 'Certipost', a subsiduary of La Poste which specialises in the protected exchange of electronic documents as well as digital certificates would provide a complete service."

The BBC has reported that "A rebellion by Labour MPs opposed to the part-privatisation of Royal Mail is growing with more than 60 now urging the government to rethink its plans. The MPs have signed a motion calling on ministers to abandon plans to sell a minority stake in Royal Mail." See also Reuters and The Telegraph.

According to the Connecticut Post, "Mail theft is nothing new as a crime. In fact, it's quite low tech. But with the economy worsening, the Connecticut Better Business Bureau fears that the mailbox at the bottom of your driveway will become a more popular target for stealing more than money, but your very identity."

Valpak Direct Marketing Systems, Inc., and Valpak Dealers’ Association, Inc., has petitioned the Postal Regulatory Commission to issue a Commission Information Request, seeking additional clarifying data and explanation from the Postal Service with respect to two issues relating to detached address labels (“DALs”).

January 13, 2009

Welcome to PostCom Radio
Join U.S. Postal Service Ground Services Vice President Jim Cochrane for a virtual seminar on “Can You Save $$$ On Shipping—Rethink Your Options.” The webinar was jointly sponsored by the Association for Postal Commerce, the Direct Marketing Association, and the Parcel Shippers Association. The slides that accompany this webinar can be found on this site.

From the U.S. Postal Service: "The following Zip Codes may experience partial or non-delivery on Inauguration Day in Washington, DC: 20001, 20002, 20003, 20005, 20024, and 20037.  There will be no delivery to the following ZIP Codes on Inauguration Day: 20004 and 20006.

Traffic World has reported that "FedEx Freight is increasing the pressure to perform in the LTL market by adding a higher level of service designed to boost market share. The new service, FedEx Freight A.M., provides a money-back guaranteed delivery by 10:30 a.m. for a flat rate of $75. The service is targeted at shippers requiring last minute changes to delivery schedules for a particular shipment or as part of a planned strategy to reach a market or customer earlier in the day."

The Guardian has reported that "Colette Bowe, the incoming chair of Ofcom, has told MPs she would welcome expanding the communications regulator's remit to oversee Royal Mail, as recommended by last year's review of postal services by Richard Hooper. Royal Mail's current regulator, Postcomm, could cease to exist if the government adopts the recommendations in the report by Hooper, published in December, and gives responsibility to Ofcom.

Deutsche Welle has reported that "The former head of Deutsche Post, Klaus Zumwinkel, is reportedly ready to confess to tax evasion in return for a suspended sentence. Many ordinary taxpayers are, predictably, not amused."

Wirtualna Polska has reported that "the national postal service, Poczta Polska, is entering a critical year as it prepares to be incorporated. Costs are rocketing, technological transformation is sorely needed and the competition is getting fiercer. Within a few years, the whole European postal sector will be liberalized - can the Polish icon survive? The challenges for Polish national postal services operator Poczta Polska (PP) will mount this year. Preparations for the complete liberalization of the postal market, the process of commercialization of the institution by the end of the year and the drive for a technological upgrade are only a few of the hurdles to be faced. These tasks are all the more difficult given PP's financial struggles in recent months."

AFP has reported that "Gabon's post office has printed 6,000 stamps in 22-carat gold in honour of President Omar Bongo Ondimba, a former postal worker."

Express Buzz has asked: "Do you know that the Postal Department has facilities to transport your household goods, medicines etc? Logistics Post is a facility unknown to many. While the local transport companies are charging a hefty amount for the transportation, this affordable postal scheme comes as a relief."

STV has reported that "The Post Office has removed hundreds of homes from the postcode database in the last year. It is believed that Royal Mail removed the properties, many of them holiday homes in the Highlands, as the addresses had only received junk mail for a long period of time. Highland Council has raised concerns that the error would cause future problems in the remote locations affected."

Dr. Richard Kielbowicz has published an index to several papers he has written over the years on the Postal Service.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has released its report on the "U.S. Postal Service: Age and Disability Diversity in the Executive Service."

Press Release: "The courier, express, and parcel (CEP) market reflects the global industrial state and the growth therein. CEP is a high potential market, the growth of which is directly related to the global GDP. The rising level of global trade coupled with industrialization has made CEP services of greater importance to the majority of industries. In addition to the factors mentioned, reduced product life cycles, growing quality awareness among consumers and the need for companies to maintain the quality standards across their global operations have proved to be the main drivers for CEP market growth."

January 12, 2009

Be sure to check the latest blog posted on the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General’s Internet site “Pushing the Envelope.” The public, mailers, postal employees, and other stakeholders are invited to weigh in on the online discussions taking place.  To view the site, visit blog.uspsoig.gov/.  The following new topic was just posted:   Keeping the mail safe.  Even though the holiday season is behind us, as the old saying goes, “crime takes no holiday.” The blog explains what to do if you suspect your mail has been stolen or have any information about a mail theft.  Second, it asks for suggestions about how the Postal Service, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, or the Office of Inspector General can better ensure the security of the mail.   You can visit Office of Inspector General’s public website at:  www.uspsoig.gov.  If you have additional questions, please contact Agapi Doulaveris at 703.248.2322.

From Canada NewsWire: "Canada Post is being blasted by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) for its wide-ranging postal increases that went into effect today. "These price increases are unnecessary, unfair and come at a terrible time when the economy is weakening and so many small businesses are struggling to stay alive," said CFIB executive vice president, Garth Whyte."

Guam Pacific Daily News has reported that "The U.S. Postal Service confirmed yesterday that mail delivery was suspended to the PostNet mailbox service in Tamuning due to alleged violations of commercial mail receiving guidelines."

Press Release: "Quad/Graphics – the nation's third largest commercial printer – announces that it will reduce its production capacity to better match print demand, which has softened due to changes in the economy. Specifically, the company will shut down the equivalent of one plant's worth of capacity immediately. This move will result in the elimination of approximately 550 jobs in 5 states, or approximately 5.6% of its domestic workforce."

The Postal Service this year will dramatically revamp its Business Mail Entry Unit (BMEU) operations to improve customer service, standardize processes and improve efficiencies, according to Pritha Mehra, vice president, Business Mail Entry and Payment Technologies. “A decades-old system of doing business must be propelled into the 21st century to meet evolving customer needs,” said Mehra, who presented USPS plans last week during the latest in a series of weekly webinars. “We need a new model, and we will roll it out this year.”

According to the Louisville Courier-Journal, "FedEx and UPS are vying to pick up business left behind by DHL, but some note the success the U.S. Postal Service has had with abandoned customers and new volume-based discounts. The discounts are worth up to 15 percent and its package-tracking services are getting close to its competitors' offerings, Doug Caldwell, vice president of ParcelPool, said during a conference put on by brokerage Stifel Nicolaus. "All in all, the Postal Service is starting to look very entrepreneurial, at least when it comes to packages," he said. "I guess you could say that it's not your father's post office anymore."

The Nation has reported that "Thailand Post plans to form alliances with postal authorities in a number of countries in an effort to broaden its focus from mail and parcels to include more international services. Hong Kong and China are the company's top priorities, as the two markets produce goods that are in demand in Thailand."

Tempo Interactive has reported that "In the run-up to the election, the state-owned postal company PT Pos Indonesia for the Bandung Region is offering postal cards and stamps with picture of legislative candidates."

From PR Web: "KoamTac, Inc. announced today the release of the KDC300, their new two dimensional barcode data collector. The KDC300 is an ultra compact, lightweight design supporting Honeywell's Adaptus® Imaging Technology 5.0, V2.0+EDR Class 2 Bluetooth technology, 1" OLED display, rechargeable Li-Ion battery, and 200 KB of memory for storing 10,000+ barcodes. Included with the KDC300 is KTSync® synchronization and keyboard emulation software supporting Microsoft Windows XP, Vista, and Mobile 5.0+."

From today's Federal Register:

Postal Regulatory Commission
Domestic Mail Contracts,
1262–1263 [E9–289] [TEXT]  [PDF]
International Mail Contracts,
1263–1264 [E9–290] [TEXT]  [PDF]

Hellmail has reported that "Slovakian Post says it has successfully introduced the euro and said the changeover had been without any significant problems or complications. On the 2nd January this year, Slovenska Posta switched almost all of its services including the payment of pensions, to the Euro currency. Slovenska Posta said that although there had been minor problems as postal staff adapted to new systems, customers had not been greatly inconvenienced."

January 11, 2009

The Wall Street Journal has reported that "Hearst Corp. put Seattle's oldest newspaper, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, up for sale Friday, saying that if it can't find a buyer in the next 60 days, the paper will close or continue to exist only on the Internet. Hearst, the Post-Intelligencer's parent company, said in a statement. "In no case will Hearst continue to publish the P-I in printed form following the conclusion of this process."

As the Chronicle Herald has noted, "Canada Post is raising its mailing rates on Monday. The cost of mailing a first-class letter within Canada will increase to 54 cents from 52. Letters to the United States increase by two cents to 98 cents, while letters to all other foreign countries rise by a nickel to $1.65."

January 10, 2009

The National Post has reported that "The Ontario branch of the Canadian Union of Public Employees describes itself on its Web site as a "powerful political voice." The voice quavered this week when a call to bar Israeli academics from Ontario schools drew condemnation from a number of sides -- including some of the union's own members. The public outrage surprised no one; similar anger erupted in 2006 when CUPE Ontario passed a resolution calling for an international boycott of Israel and again last spring, when the Canadian Union of Postal Workers approved a similar motion. Labour groups asserting themselves politically is not novel, but even ardent supporters are now questioning whether unions should save their voices for the bargaining table."

[USPS OIG] The 2009 Audit Plan for the U.S. Postal Service Office of the Inspector General has been posted on the USPSOIG web site.

Insurance Times has reported that "Zurich has appointed Swiss Post to manage Zurich’s document processing services for six European countries. Swiss Post will be responsible for Zurich’s incoming and outgoing post, international intra-company mail and the scanning, processing and archiving of around 400,000 documents daily."

The Hazelton Standard Speaker has reported that "Some operations in the U.S. Postal Service’s processing and distribution center in Wilkes-Barre could be consolidated into a similar facility in Scranton as the system has seen a steepening decline in first-class mail. The decision will be made after a five-month feasibility study."

The Alaska Journal of Commerce has reported that "The U.S. Postal Service plans to offer early retirement for its Alaska workers in an effort to make up for declining mail volumes, according to a USPS spokesperson."

WFSB has reported that "A change in postal delivery routes in Middletown has caused problems for some businesses because deliveries are arriving later than usual."

From the Postal Regulatory Commission:

  • Docket No. CP2009-18. The Postal Regulatory Commisson has determined that "[t]he negotiated service agreement filed in this docket appears consistent with applicable statutory requirements. It also appears functionally equivalent to previously reviewed Global Direct Contracts agreements, and appropriately is included within the Global Direct Contracts product."
  • Docket No. MC2008-1 (Phase II).  "In Order No. 154, the Commission authorized 14 nonpostal services to continue. Finding the record insufficient in certain respects, the Commission deferred ruling on three issues more fully addressed below, involving licensing, the warranty repair program, and sales of music compact discs. This Order establishes procedures to develop a more complete record on these issues beginning with an opportunity for the Postal Service to present its case on these issues and followed by an opportunity for interested persons to respond."

January 9, 2009

flag Traffic World has reported that "FedEx Ground is changing the way it manages its driver operations in New Hampshire as the parcel carrier looks to stave off labor-focused legal challenges to a company business model based on independent contractors." See also Memphis Commercial Appeal.

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

  • Association for Postal Commerce members and the mailing industry are urged to let Congress know they support H.R. 22, a new bill that enables the Postal Service to pay the cost of current employee benefits from the $5.4 billion future retiree payments for the next eight years.
  • In its second Accountability and Enhancement Act report submitted to the Postal Regulatory Commission, the Postal Service tries to meet all PAEA standards by product. However, the USPS notes there still are 13 open issues regarding postal costing proposals that previously were submitted to the PRC for consideration.
  • The PRC's public representative again has encouraged the Commission to initiate a Public Inquiry docket to evaluate two issues associated with international mail suggested by this docket and raised in comments filed in previous international mail products dockets. The public representative made his plea in comments to the PRC regarding Docket No. CP2009-18.
  • Last month the Postal Regulatory Commission issued its findings after reviewing nonpostal services as required by the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act. The PRC found that 25 services were not subject to review, six should be classified as postal services, and the remaining 16 as nonpostal services.
  • American Postal Workers Union President Will Burrus says there are many reasons for the USPS's financial crisis.
  • PostCom Vice President Jessica Lowrance looks at the Postal Service's CPI price cap and its effects on Periodicals and Standard Mail.
  • PostCom consultant Kathy Siviter provides news and commentary on her search for service performance information in the three recently released Postal Service reports including the 2008 USPS Annual Report, its 2008 Annual Compliance Report, and the 2008 Comprehensive Statement on Postal Operations.
  • Postcom's USPS FY 2008 Workshare Discount Charts -- These new charts appear at the back of this week's Bulletin.
  • Rep. McHugh introduces bill to provide USPS funding relief. USPS's Vogel to retire, Shah named to lead international business. Postal Service publishes annual report. USPS to delay requirement for placard labels on outside of containers. Route adjustment info posted on Postal Service website. USPS seeks Next Generation Mail Processing Technologies sources, suppliers. New USPS service standards site. Early registration offered for 2009 National Postal Forum.
  • Postal previews
Hey! You've not been getting the weekly PostCom Bulletin--the best postal newsletter anywhere...bar none?  Send us by email your name, company, company title, postal and email address. Get a chance to see what you've been missing.

The PostCom Bulletin is distributed via NetGram


The minutes of the October 8, 2008 meeting of the Federal Advisory Committee on International Postal and Delivery Services have been posted on the State Department website.  

The DM Bulletin has reported that "Royal Mail is encouraging greener direct mail from April by offering lower prices to mail that follows environmental guidelines."

The Wall Street Journal has reported that "The final employment report for 2008 closed the books on a miserable year for U.S. workers with payrolls plunging last month by more than half a million, pushing the unemployment rate to a 16-year high. The economy lost 2.6 million jobs in 2008, government figures showed, the most since World War II ended in 1945. Nearly two million of those losses were in the last four months alone, a sign that the recession accelerated as the financial crisis intensified, and should drag on well into the new year. Many economists expect U.S. gross domestic product to contract again this quarter, albeit at a softer pace."

The Local has reported that "Prosecutors on Friday indicted 16 people in Gothenburg District Court for their role in the audacious robbery of a postal depot near the city's central train station in January 2008."

As the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has noted, "Postal delivery times might soon change for as many as 50 million addresses on 85,000 urban routes. The U.S. Postal Service is reviewing all its city routes nationwide and changing some of them to cut costs because mail volume is dropping during the recession. Rural routes already get reviewed each year. The route reviews should be completed next month, said Al Eakle, a USPS spokesman for the Indiana District. Nationally, mail volume fell by 9.5 billion pieces, or 4.5 percent, during the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30. The cost of a first-class stamp rose to 42 cents last May and a new increase based on the rate of inflation will occur in May."

Welcome to PostCom Radio
Postal Podcast.01.05.09
Join PostCom President Gene Del Polito and Grayhair Software Vice President Ray Chin and Lubenow and Associates President Joe Lubenow in a discussion of the supply chain issues related to Intelligent Mail Barcode services.

Advice from Yahoo! Finance: "Learning How To Deliver."

Cayman Net News has reported that "The Cayman Islands Postal Service (CIPS) has announced that a new a new addressing guide is available at all post offices to help customers address their mail correctly and in the proper format. A CIPS media release said officials stress that accurate addressing facilitates quicker delivery. Inaccurate addressing means time has to be spent solving problems, which delays the mail. The hope is that with the release of the new addressing guides customers will format their mail correctly by including post office boxes; and by correctly using postcodes."

The Punch has reported that "The Nigerian Postal Service has concluded arrangements with mobile telephone operators to alert its customers as soon as mails arrive in their post office boxes and private mail bags, the Area Postal Manager, Abuja Territory, Mr. Aliyu Mahmoud, has said. Mahmoud, who disclosed this in Abuja on Thursday, in an interview with our correspondent, said the postal organisation had already begun to test run the software that would drive the process."

According to Today.az, "Two more radio stations appear in self-declared "Nagorno Karabakh." The state commission, which has been functioning for already the second year, is dealing with energy systems (electric power, heating and gas supply), water supply, telecommunications (radio, television), and postal services.

The Standard has reported that "Mainland business confidence plunged in the final three months of last year as the mounting effects of the financial crisis weighed on exports and industrial output. The business confidence index fell 29.2 points to a record low of 94.6, the National Bureau of Statistics said. Hardest hit were manufacturers, the subindex for which plummeted 32.1 points to 87.2. The bureau surveys 19,500 enterprises of all types to compile the index. Figures above 100 represents positive sentiment, those below 100 a deteriorating outlook. The transport, storage and postal outlook also worsened sharply, with its subindex falling 28.1 points to 95.6."

From the National Association of Major Mail Users (NAMMU): "ASSET MANAGEMENT CONSULTATION John Ulmer, Project Director, Postal Transformation, seeks your input on the development of an Asset Management Program for Postal Transformation. He is in the process of determining a better way to manage the equipment Canada Post shares with its customers, including monos, containers and skids (plastic or otherwise.) Equipment shortages abound and this is recognized as a major pain point. If you would be willing to contribute ideas and enter discussions concerning asset management, John Ulmer can be reached at the contact points noted. View current state, as well as the three main areas of investigation for management systems: RFID technology, Canada Pallet Council, Third party management click here. john.ulmer@canadapost.ca

From Federal Business Opportunites: "Next Generation Mail Processing Technologies: The United States Postal Service (USPS) is initiating a new acquisition program entitled Next Generation Mail Processing Solution to identify participants and sources of supply, capable of providing research and development, design, and in or out sourced manufacturing for a new state-of-the-art, automated, mail processing design solution. This solution will be deployed to sort and sequence the high volume of letter and flat mail currently processed within USPS facilities nationwide. This market notice and supply chain opportunity is ultimately seeking suppliers who can offer new or not previously fielded concepts or variations of existing equipment, having an achievable maturation path leading to deployable equipment commencing within the next six years. The NGMPS Program Objective is to deploy a system solution which will be capable of efficiently, reliably and accurately delivery point sequencing both letter and flat mail simultaneously within a merged mail stream and within the same system. Through NGMPS, the USPS seeks a system which can be deployed nationally and incrementally to provide maximum flexibility to delivery point sequence letter and flat shaped mail within existing and future Postal Service infrastructure. "

The Detroit News has reported that "The contract postal unit -- essentially a mini retail outlet -- is the newest of nine such stores the U.S. Post Office has opened in Macomb County in its effort to make the postal system more convenient for customers. Another is in the works for this year in Harrison Township, said Donald Dombrow, postmaster at the Mount Clemens Post Office, which oversees services in Clinton, Harrison and Macomb townships. People can buy stamps, send bills and weigh packages, making it especially helpful in areas like Macomb Township, where residents often had to commute to different communities to get to the post office. The only services the contract postal units don't offer are passports and registered mail, Dombrow said. "It's just a more convenient way for our customers to mail what they need to mail," he said. "The really cool part is being able to stop, fill up your tank, go inside to get whatever and purchase stamps at the same time. It's a great time saver."

From today's Federal Register:
Postal Regulatory Commission
International Mail Contracts,
858 862 [E9 177] [TEXT]  [PDF]

Citizens Voice has reported that "Some operations in the U.S. Postal Service's processing and distribution center in Wilkes-Barre could be consolidated into a similar facility in Scranton as the system has seen a steepening decline in first-class mail. The decision will be made after a five-month feasibility study, said U.S. Postal Service spokesman Ray Daiutolo."

As DM News has noted, "An ongoing dispute between the US Post al Service and Capital One regarding a negotiated service agreement (NSA) a contract between the USPS and the mailer that provides customized pricing incentives is still in the discovery phase. A spokesperson for the Postal Regulatory Commission, which is hearing the dispute, said the PRC's general policy is to let the two parties take as long as they need to work through the discovery phase. Capital One filed a complaint with the Postal Regulatory Commission on June 19 claiming that it was denied an NSA under the same terms as one approved to Bank of America Corp. The case has been in the discovery phase since that point."

Congratulations to PostCom Vice President Jessica Lowrance and PostCom associate legal counsel Rita Brickman who have had their paper on "Securing the Future of Universal Postal Service in the United States" accepted for presentation at the 17th Conference on Postal and Delivery Economics, which will be held in Bordeaux, France.

KOMO has reported that "The Post Office says flooding will severely limit [Seattle] regional mail service."

The Atlanta Business Chronicle has reported that "United Parcel Service Inc. rival FedEx Corp. will cut its marketing budget by more than 25 percent for 2009, the company recently disclosed on its blog. FedEx executive vice president of marketing Mike Glenn said the cuts will likely come in non-contractual marketing events." See also Reuters.

January 8, 2009

The Postmaster General has announced that Pranab Shah is the Postal Service's new Vice President and Managing Director for Global Business.

DMM Advisory: January 18 Pricing Change Shipping Services Reminder

 The USPS will adjust prices for the following shipping services on Sunday, January 18:

  • Express Mail
  • Priority Mail
  • Parcel Select
  • Parcel Return Service
  • Global Express Guaranteed (GXG)
  • Express Mail International
  • Priority Mail International
  • M-bags

Tools on usps.com/prices can help you prepare for the pricing change. You will find price lists, downloadable price files, Federal Register notices, and much more. The USPS will announce price changes for mailing services, including the new stamp prices, in February. Mailing services prices will adjust in May 2009. Watch the DMM Advisory to stay informed.

As Time has noted, "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night will keep your mail carrier from making the daily rounds, promises the U.S. Postal Service's unofficial motto but the economy might. With 9.5 billion fewer letters and packages delivered in the 2008 fiscal year compared with 2007, the biggest mail volume decline in history has contributed to the agency's $2.8 billion loss for the year. That partly explains why shipping prices will rise 5% this month (bigger than all of 2008) with a stamp hike to follow in May. It could also put your local letter carrier out of a job, and has even stoked fears that the centuries-old Postal Service could one day go the way of the telegraph. Mail deliveries, like hemlines, always drop in economic downturns. But the current pinch is worse than usual. One reason: The housing and financial sectors have in the past been gold-star postal customers. But now that their cash flows have slowed to a trickle, their direct-mail marketing campaigns have all but dried up."

The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) is launching a new, smaller Priority Mail Flat Rate Box, giving customers another choice in packaging to ship anywhere in the United States for one price, regardless of weight or destination.   The Priority Mail Small Flat Rate Box measures 8-5/8 x 5-3/8 x 1-5/8 inches about the same size and shape as three stacked DVD cases. The smaller sized box is perfect for jewelry, electronics, event tickets, or other small items that need expedited shipping.

According to Europa, the European Commission has reported that "EU reforms in the postal sector are well on track, but some Member States need to speed up their transition towards full market opening and to remove remaining barriers to competition. These are the conclusions of the European Commission's latest periodical application report on the EU postal sector. The creation of an Internal Postal Market is included in the Lisbon Strategy as a crucial element of the EU's single market policy. The full text of the Commission's report can be found at: http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/post/reports_en.htm." 

The Dead Tree Edition has published "The Unofficial Guide to Flats Sequencing." [EdNote: Thanks, by the way, to Postalnews.com for digging this one up.]

The American Postal Workers Union (APWU) president has told his members that "It has been widely reported that the Postal Service has been experiencing serious reductions in mail volume, with corresponding financial deficits. This decline in mail volume is directly related to the nation's economic crisis, and despite the promises of advocates of postal reform, volume will not increase until the economy recovers. Postal management's response to the dismal situation has been in keeping with its historic knee-jerk reaction: Reduce work hours. Service has begun to suffer, and some members of Congress have begun to question whether the USPS is in compliance with its service standards. Recent letters delivered to my residence offer clear evidence that the special relationship between the large mailers and postal management has reached a new level of absurdity. The law specifies that postal rates will be uniform for every letter within a weight band and class, regardless of its destination, and although the First-Class rate is 42 cents, many mailers pay significantly less. With the Postal Service bleeding red ink, management is searching for innovative ways to increase revenue and reduce costs. The solution is obvious: Eliminate this worksharing charade and hold true to the legal standard of uniform rates."

Federal Business Opportunities is carrying a notice that "The United States Postal Service is seeking information regarding secured document destruction. The documents to be destroyed will be First Class mail that, for whatever reason, can not be delivered."

The Calgary Herald has had enough. "What part of Hamas's stated goal to kill every Jewish person in Israel do Canadian union leaders not understand? In the past few days, union leaders dressed up in their favourite playtime costume of romantic revolutionary have denounced Israel for defending itself against terrorist attacks....Put away the faux Che berets, union leaders, and get back to what your true mandate is --dealing with your members' workplace issues and grievances. Stay out of the political arena. You cannot claim to speak on behalf of all your members, among whom there are doubtless thousands who support Israel acting in self-defence. Your public support for terrorists with a predilection for carrying out ethnic cleansing in the only democracy in the Middle East is repulsive. Since this kind of support for terrorism only manifests itself when Israel attempts to defend itself from attack, one could construe an underlying anti-Semitism shoring it up."

GMA News.tv has reported that "The Philippine Postal Corp. (PhilPost) on Thursday said it has quarantined 13 employees and tapped firefighters to ensure there would be no anthrax contamination in its main building in Manila."

PennEnergy has noted that "While adoption rates for electronic bill presentment remain low for utilities as compared to other industries, more customers are exploring methods alternative to mail to pay their bills, the latest edition of Chartwell's Guide to Bill Presentment and Payment reveals. Based on data from a survey of more than 90 North American utilities, Chartwell estimates that utilities will have on average less than 5 percent of their customers viewing their bill only in an electronic format. On the other hand, the average percentage of payments received via postal service continues to decline, suggesting customers are becoming more comfortable with making transactions in an electronic or online format."

January 7, 2009

For those who are interested in the continued sparring between the Postal Service's lawyers and the Postal Regulatory Commission's public representative over the suggestion that an inquiry docket should be initiated to examine what appears to be an incongruence between elements of PAEA and current postal regulatory practice, take a gander at the two newest filings:

[EdNote: It would appear the Postal Service is unwilling to see the forest through the trees.]

New in Congress. H.R.22 : To amend chapter 89 of title 5, United States Code, 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. Sponsor: Rep McHugh, John M. [NY-23] (introduced 1/6/2009)  Cosponsors (1) Committees: House Oversight and Government Reform Latest Major Action: 1/6/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. [EdNote: It's not quite deja vu all over again.]

Press Release: "UPS today began offering domestic express pickup and delivery services inside 16 additional countries across Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America. The nations involved in the expansion are Algeria, Argentina, Chile, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Malta, Pakistan, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, South Africa, Ukraine and UAE. Shippers in these countries now will be able to consolidate all of their package delivery services with one carrier, effectively eliminating multiple shipping processes while potentially saving money." 

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

The part privatisation of Royal Mail announced just before Christmas (CEP News 51/08) has since caused vivid public debate in Britain. In an official statement, the British government welcomed the interest shown by Dutch TNT, while the trade union CWU warned of the consequences of privatisation. CWU believes that the partial sale is just a first step towards complete privatisation of the post.
Postcomm is likely to lose its role as regulator of the British postal market.
The appointment of Lord Currie as member of Royal Mail's supervisory board announced on Monday has raised questions over the independence of regulatory efforts. Currently Lord Currie is Chairman of the regulator Ofcom.
Shortly before Christmas the Higher Administrative Court in Berlin- Brandenburg ruled that the introduction of a minimum wage for postal workers in Germany is illegal.
In a rare show of unity, the Austrian postal workers's union, the Chamber of Labour and the post have demanded a universal wage agreement for the mail industry.
French president Sarkozy has given the go-ahead for the reorganisation of La Poste as a plc. Only government-owned financial investors will be able to acquire shares, however. Media reports claim that state controlled finance holding company Caisse des D p ts (CDC) is set to take over 1.5bn euros worth of shares.
Deutsche Post's competitors appear to have lost part of their market share.
The European Commission has initiated official proceedings against Slovakia in connection with the remonopolisation of so-called hybrid mail.
The Japanese post has suffered higher losses through illegal discounting than previously known.
The Thai post intends to compete with multinational express firms in the international express market.
The current economic situation is affecting the sorting infrastructure at FedEx and UPS in the USA.
The FedEx management is obviously expecting the current financial crisis to continue to cast a long shadow over the express and logistics industry for some time to come.
DHL is sticking to its planned investments in South America. According to media reports, CEO John Mullen has confirmed that a total of around 150m euros has been earmarked for this year and next.
Switzerland's price watchdog Stefan Meierhans has demanded a simplified customs clearance system and a higher VAT exemption limit for goods ordered online.
DHL in Germany intends to equip 450 parcel delivery vehicles with the new NiZA navigation system by this summer.
Royal Mail is putting up its rates for first and second class standard letters by 3 pence from April. Business customers will see their rates go up by 4.2% on average. Customers who use franking machines or dispatch mail that can be handled fully automatically are entitled to discounts.
From 2005 to 2008 the Spanish post Correos has invested over 550m euros in the development of its branch network.
Ireland's An Post is looking to launch its own branded mobile phone service this year.

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 Wilmington News Journal has reported that "Although both DHL and United Parcel Service (UPS) had hoped to reach a deal before the new year, there's no cause to draw a conclusion from the fact the hoped-for time frame has elapsed, a DHL spokesman said Monday. We continue to talk to them. We expect to be able to reach an agreement, said Jonathan Baker, director of corporate communications for the U.S. unit of DHL Express Global."

The American Postal Workers Union (APWU) has reported that "In the most recent legal action in a long-running dispute, a federal appeals court has ruled that a U.S. District Court must reconsider arguments over whether postal supervisory personnel or APWU-represented employees should be performing the work of the Address Management System Specialist position."

AM Online has reported that "The European Court of Justice (ECJ) will review VAT on post charges in 2009. This could mean that some postal services which are currently exempt will then attract VAT. The ECJ is expected to endorse European Commission-backed changes which would lead to higher prices for mailings due the imposition of VAT fees."

The Aberdeen Press and Journal has reported that "The UK Government has been urged to hold an inquiry into claims that courier companies are charging inflated prices for delivering packages across the Highlands and Moray. A Moray-based businessman has launched an online petition to lobby ministers. Terence Watson, 50, wants them to investigate the unscrupulous charges levied by couriers and suppliers. He claims they are ignorant of Scotland's geography and rely on postcodes to determine their fees."

RoadTransport has reported that Communications Workers Union Billy Hayes has said that "It is incredible that the British government, which has led the world in overhauling banks, needs another European postal service to rescue Royal Mail." Dave Ward, deputy general secretary, adds: "There is no need to seek private funding from outside companies in a joint venture. This would open the floodgates for full-blown, damaging privatisation."

From today's Federal Register:

Postal Regulatory Commission
International Mail Contracts,
622 626 [E9 58] [TEXT]  [PDF]

Transport Intelligence has reported that:

  • Royal Mail yesterday (January 6) announced that following a successful year-long pilot with leading UK white goods manufacturer Indesit Company, it was launching a new overnight parts distribution service "to help UK businesses manage their operations more effectively and improve customer satisfaction".
  • DHL Global Forwarding, part of German worldwide logistics group Deutsche Post World Net, this week reported the opening of a new dedicated Life Science Competency Centre in Carolina, Puerto Rico. 

For the students of print-based communication, here's a goodie from Slate: "How Newspapers Tried to Invent the Web--But failed." Check also the Newspapers & Technology story "Papers still searching for online answers Advent of World Wide Web, personal computers forever changed how news would be delivered." And what will be written of the Postal Service?

January 6, 2009

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

  • Postal commentator Gene Del Polito says the turmoil and change within the postal industry during the past quarter-century can't compare with what the future holds for the Postal Service and its customers.
  • Comments due Jan. 28 on booklet/self-mailer proposed rules. Mailers frustrated with Intelligent Mail Barcode. PRC public representative says NSA is competitive product. PRC to issue several final rules in 2009. USPS releases details on retirement offer. NPR: Postal Service sees less mail in slumping economy. Parcel services webinar set for January 12. Mobile banking slow to catch on in U.S. Identity theft still an issue during tax season.
  • Deutsche Post CFO Allan to resign. Ofcom Chairman Currie joins Royal Mail board.
  • Postal previews  
Hey! You've not been getting the weekly PostCom Bulletin--the best postal newsletter anywhere...bar none?  Send us by email your name, company, company title, postal and email address. Get a chance to see what you've been missing.

The PostCom Bulletin is distributed via NetGram

The Postal Service's senior vice president for international postal services, Paul Vogel, has announced that he will retire from the Postal Service in February.

From Business Wire: "GrayHair Software, Inc., the leading provider of innovative solutions for business mailers, has announced the release of its first podcast for the Association of Postal Commerce's ongoing Postal Podcast. This series is designed specifically to engage the leading issues in the Mail Industry. Implementing Intelligence to Intelligent Mail Barcodes is the first in a series of podcasts featuring GrayHair Software which is being offered by the Association of Postal Commerce (PostCom). PostCom is the leading association for postal officials and includes the leading minds in the direct mail industry. The Podcasts will be available on PostCom's website (www.postcom.com) or on GrayHair's corporate site (www.grayhairsoftware), located in the Resources Section."

Press release: "Window Book has successfully completed the USPS Intelligent Mail Label evaluation process and is now a certified vendor for producing Intelligent Mail tray labels for Intelligent Mail full service. This means mailers can utilize Window Book's DAT-MAIL mailing software to produce 10/24 Tray and Sack Transitional Tags for Intelligent Mail testing or live jobs now and the 24 digit only barcode in May of 2009. Mailers can be confident that when they use DAT-MAIL to produce their tray labels now or in the future they are complying with current regulations as well as the new requirements for upcoming USPS Intelligent Mail Full Service."

From the UPS Pressroom: Jim Winestock, a 40-year veteran of UPS who for the past four years has overseen all package operations in the United States, will retire in February. He will be succeeded as the senior vice president of U.S. operations by Myron Gray, currently the head of UPS's regional operations in Canada and all of Latin America.

According to Hellmail, "the future of Royal Mail has more twists and turns than an Agatha Cristie murder plot - only with far too many murder suspects. Just as we'd absorbed the fact that Postwatch was to be wiped from the face of the map (and that was odd), now its Postcomm's turn, all apparently, part of a totally brand new vision for the Royal Mail."

From today's Federal Register:

Postal Regulatory Commission
FY 2008 Annual Compliance Report; Comment Request,
473 474 [E8 31413] [TEXT]  [PDF]

The Press Association has reported that "British postal service Royal Mail is refusing to introduce an all-Irish isle postal tariff. Differences in cost between the two jurisdictions have been blamed, with the Republic's provider charging almost as much for domestic services as Royal Mail does for its current 'international' service from Northern Ireland. A Royal Mail representative said An Post had a uniform rate of 49p, comparable to Royal Mail's 50p international rate meaning cross-border posters may not see any benefit whereas those posting in Northern Ireland for local delivery could see a potentially significant increase for no additional service benefit."

The Tri-Valley Herald has noted that "Due to the economic downturn and advances in technology, the United States Postal Service is undergoing a realignment of mail routes nationwide." See also the San Jose Mercury News and the Santa Cruz Sentinel.

As National Public Radio has noted, "The recession is reaching well beyond the automotive industry or the mall. It's even hitting the U.S. Postal Service, the nation's third largest employer. From holiday cards to credit card offers, mail volume is down. And the Postal Service is losing money."

As the Glenwood Springs Post Independent has noted, "It's not been a kind year for newspapers, locally, nationally or worldwide. Today's trends don'st necessarily mean the end of newspapers altogether, but it does signify a change in the media as we currently know it."

The Telegraph has reported that "The chairman of Ofcom has joined the board of Royal Mail, months before the postal organisation is to be regulated by the watchdog."

Be sure to take a look at Postal Regulatory Commission Chairman Dan Blair's comments on the PRC's work over the past year and what lays ahead.

The PRC's Public Representative has told the Postal Rate Commission that he believes that the PRC has appropriately categorized a USPS international services NSA as a competitive product. He noted, though, that he had recommended "initiating a Public Inquiry docket to evaluate two issues associated with international mail suggested by this docket and raised in comments filed in previous international mail products dockets....Two years ago, U.S. postal law with respect to international mail changed upon the passage of the PAEA, resulting in two (or more) primary areas of potential concern and fundamental inconsistency between the PAEA structure and the reality of the current marketplace. These areas of concern are recurrent and have been mentioned by commenters in several cases."

DCVelocity has reported that "When it comes to environmental initiatives, companies tend to focus on large-scale projects like cardboard recycling. What they often overlook are some areas that may seem insignificant but actually can have a measurable impact on the environment. One of those areas is product and package marking."

January 5, 2009

Yahoo! Tech has reported that "The cash-strapped New York Times on Monday for the first time opened its editorial holy of holies, the front page, to advertising." [EdNote: Ever wonder what the cash-strapped USPS intends to do to users of mail-based advertising?]

The Consumer Postal Council has reported that "Tumultuous 4th quarter puts pressure on reform initiatives. Q4 financial estimates have sent both government and private mail operators into crisis mode. Initially, skyrocketing fuel costs disrupted the plans of fuel-dependent mail operators. Although the price of fuel has since fallen, any relief has been modest, as the evolving credit freeze has led many credit and retail companies to cut back on direct mail advertising."

Here is the latest blog posted on the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General’s Internet site “Pushing the Envelope.” The public, mailers, postal employees, and other stakeholders are invited to weigh in on the online discussions taking place.  To view the site, visit blog.uspsoig.gov/.  The following new topic was just posted:  
Vote on the top 10 Postal Stories of 2008.  The blog asks readers to vote for their pick of the top postal story for 2008.  The blogs also asks readers to take a look at the list and “tell us what you like or don’t like. Tell us about any stories we missed and add whatever comments you think appropriate.” You can visit Office of Inspector General’s public website at:  www.uspsoig.gov.  If you have additional questions, please contact Agapi Doulaveris at 703.248.2322.

Check out Business Week's online debate regarding the print media. "Surpassed in convenience and economy by online content, printed magazines and newspapers will dry up in the next decade. Pro or con?" [EdNote: Be glad you're not a newspaper publisher. PC World has reported that "Craigsphone from Next Mobile Web promises to deliver that service to your iPhone or iPod touch, with a mobile interface for the popular online classifieds service."]

From PR Newswire: "Valassis, one of the nation's leading media and marketing services companies, announced today that it has received triple chain of custody certification. Valassis is now certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC); Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI); and Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC). Certification by these organizations represents a globally accepted sign of environmental sustainability through rigorous forest management standards and chain-of-production monitoring."

eKey Technologies President Todd Butler wants to know: "why has the Postal Service waited twelve years to bring the mailing industry into the loop, finally letting us know that some of the products we produce are not compatible with automated letter processing?"

As the Wall Street Journal has noted, "After more than a decade of disappointment, the goal of marrying television and the Internet seems finally to be picking up steam. A key factor in the push are new TV sets that have networking connections built directly into them, requiring no additional set-top boxes for getting online. Meanwhile, many consumers are finding more attractive entertainment and information choices on the Internet -- and have already set up data networks for their PCs and laptops that can also help move that content to their TV sets. On Monday, Netflix Inc. is expected to announce a deal with Korea's LG Electronics Inc. that will make a Netflix online-video service available on a new line of high-definition TV sets from LG due out this spring. The online service offers 12,000 movie and television titles."

According to postal commentator Gene Del Polito, in an article prepared for Mailing and Systems Technology, "The miseries flowing from today's economy are tough enough, but the Postal Service's fortunes are made all the tougher by: (1) the changes affecting the way we communicate and do business, (2) the resistance of national policy makers to face the postal realities these changes represent, and (3) the seemingly utter insensitivity of postal officials to the challenges and changing realities facing the people with whom they do business."

The Citizen has reported that "The media industry, lawyers, the clergy, some politicians and the public on Saturday responded with anger and disbelief to President Kibaki's decision to assent to a Bill that critics say will strip the media of its independence and plunge the country back to the dark era of restricted freedom of expression. For the ordinary Kenyan, the new law allows Postal Corporation of Kenya staff to open their letters and have them pay fines should the letters contain what are deemed to be offensive details."

Northumberland Today has reported that "Among the things we'll pay more for in the new year is our postal service, with rates due to rise Jan. 15. The first-class stamp on the letter you mail to a Canadian destination, for instance, rises to 54 cents from 52. A standard letter of fewer than 30 grams to the US will now cost 98 cents, up from 96. Other increases are planned for such services as holding mail temporarily for vacationers and change-of-address forwarding -- details are available at the Canada Post website."

From today's Federal Register:

Postal Regulatory Commission
New Competitive Product,
219–220 [E8–31252] [TEXT]  [PDF]
International Mail Contracts,
327 [E8–31318] [TEXT]  [PDF]
327–328 [E8–31374] [TEXT]  [PDF]

From PR-Urgent: "ZIPCodeWorld.com has announced the availability of January 2009 Edition ZIPCodeWorld United States ZIP Codes Database, PostalCodeWorld Canada Postal Code Database and PostalCodeWorld Mexico Postal Code Database subscription service."

January 4, 2009

The Nation has reported that "Thailand Post has taken on a new mission that is perhaps even more daunting than its original goal of becoming a profitable state agency. Having achieved the latter, it now seeks to turn itself into a logistics powerhouse. Lately, it seems that Thailand Post is eager to deliver anything that can be lifted and carried. Besides the old and conventional letters and parcels, its deliveries now include everything from motorcycles to food, prepared in the kitchens of big-name provincial restaurants and carried to diners in Bangkok. And the list keeps on growing."

Traffic World has reported that "International cargo traffic dropped 13.5 percent in November, according to the International Air Transport Association. It was the largest decline since 2001 in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks. Airlines did not anticipate the huge downturn and had cut their international capacity only 1 percent. "The 13.5 percent drop in international cargo is shocking," said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA's director general and CEO. "As air cargo handles 35 percent of the value of goods traded internationally, it clearly shows the rapid fall in global trade and the broadening impact of the economic slowdown."

ChannelOnline has reported that "Guernsey Post has scrapped it's Sunday service - including the dispatch of mail to the UK. To compensate, a new island-wide Saturday morning collection has been introduced. The change has been forced on the island because the Royal Mail has axed its Sunday network in the UK."

January 3, 2009

The Bangor Daily News has reported that "A full-page advertisement in last weekend’s newspaper aimed at customers of the U.S. Postal Service and paid for by the Bangor Area Local 536 of the American Postal Workers Union left no doubt that the union believes the postal service’s decision to send mail from eastern and northern Maine to Scarborough for processing is a clunker."

The Dayton Daily News has reported that "The day cargo sorting operation at DHL's U.S. freight hub at Wilmington closes Sunday, Jan. 4, along with 15 regional hubs that contractor ABX Air operates around the country for DHL. DHL is funding severance pay for workers who lose their jobs, plus an on-campus center to help them find new employment. It is also paying for retention bonuses to keep a core of workers at their Wilmington jobs until the hub is phased out. DHL has said that, after January, it will reduce its U.S. service to cross-border deliveries between U.S. and foreign cities, to cut costs. The German-owned company also has said it is negotiating to hire United Parcel Service to handle all its U.S. cargo sorting and delivery at UPS' Louisville, Ky., hub, which would eliminate the need for DHL's Wilmington operation."

January 2, 2009

The Triad Business Journal has reported that "Buyers are buying fewer goods; consequently, shippers such as FedEx have less to ship. In fact, the company’s average daily package shipping dropped 7 percent, to 3.3 million pounds, from the previous year. And average freight pounds dropped 14 percent, to 11.2 million pounds, the company said in an earnings report released in mid-December. “We had to make a prudent business decision to efficiently run our operations so that we maintain a strong position,” company spokesman Jim McCluskey says. “We are very positive that there will be an economic turn.”

Reuters has reported that "Deutsche Post's Chief Financial Officer John Allan plans to step down from his post at the end of June, the company said on Friday. Europe's biggest postal company said Allan was leaving "of his own volition" and would act as a senior advisor to Chief Executive Frank Appel after he left the board."

Here's one from Business Week: "'Consumer Electronics: Innovate or Die.' Here are four ways the industry can fix what's broken and revamp its business strategies." Has anyone such a prescription for the Postal Service?

January 1, 2009

Waltainfo.com has reported that "The new regulation adopted to re-structure the Ethiopia Postal Service (EPS) Organization would have a significant contribution to improve the organization’s services.   EPS communication and documentation work process officer, Zeyin Gedilu told WIC that the newly adopted regulation aimed at re-structuring the organization will help EPS to expand its services by re-organizing its structure.   She said the regulation has been adopted following the Business Process Re-engineering (BPR) study conducted to identify major bottlenecks in the service delivery of the organization.   The study has also enabled the organization to re-organize its structures as a public development organization."

According to Hellmail, "There is mounting pressure on government to make a change to the law to put an end to scam mail such as bogus lottery win letters."

The Yemen Times has noted that "In 2008, The General Corporation for Post and Postal Saving established sixteen new post offices in 2008 around the republic, while 20 are currently under construction. Additionally, five modern designed offices have recently been opened in the capital Sana’a. The corporation has also increasing the working hours in those five offices to provide uninterrupted service from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm. Today there are 276 offices around the republic. and in 2009 a plan for establishing 60 new offices has been approved. A speed post service, both locally and internationally, has been realized due a 72 percent increase in funding in 2007. This service has been linked with the International Postal Union for tracking sent mail, which is linked to the internet so that citizens can track the progress of mail online. As a result, Yemeni post has been awarded the bronze prize by the Union, out of 196 potentially prize-winning member countries, for its performance in fast mail delivery service. Yemen was the only Arab country to get this prize."

Arutz Sheva has reported that "Bank HaPoalim and Bank Discount announced their refusal on Thursday to transfer Israeli shekels to Gaza. The Bank of Israel has asked the government's Postal Bank to do the job."

Reuters has reported that "Connecticut lawmaker Frank Nicastro sees saving the local newspaper as his duty. But others think he and his colleagues are setting a worrisome precedent for government involvement in the U.S. press. Many media experts predict that 2009 will be the year that newspapers of all sizes will falter and die, a threat long predicted but rarely taken seriously until the credit crunch blossomed into a full-fledged financial meltdown."