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Postal News from August 2009

August 31, 2009

The Detroit News has reported that "postal officials investigated a letter carrier suspected of shirking his duties and found more than 20,000 pieces of undelivered mail in his home, according to documents filed today in federal court."

Engadget has reported that "Techno-wizards at the RIKEN center in Japan have concoted a new way to fashion OLEDs that eschews the standard spin-coated films for something called electrospray-deposited polymer films, incorporating "a novel dual-solvent concept" that makes the 'em "smoother than before, thereby enabling superior devices." Yutaka Yamagata, the guy who developed this technique, says it will lead to displays "manufactured as inexpensively as printing newspapers."

The Postal Service has updated a number of guides related to its Intelligent Mail program.  All guides are accessible on USPS' RIBBS site, or by clicking on the links below:

  • A Guide to Intelligent Mail for Letters and Flats - Version 6.3
  • Postal service Mail.dat Technical Specification - Version 6.7
  • Postal Service Mail.XML Technical Specification:

Reuters has reported that "Talks aimed at resuming direct postal service between the United States and Cuba, which has been suspended for decades, are set to be held in mid-September in another sign of thawing U.S.-Cuba relations, Western diplomats said. Officials from the U.S. State Department and U.S. Postal Service were expected to attend the discussions in Havana."

The latest entry on the postal 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 http://blog.uspsoig.gov/. Nationwide Wage Uniformity. The Postal Reorganization Act of 1970 included the goal of matching postal employees’ compensation with that of private sector workers. Such a comparison is difficult, however, given that postal wages are uniform across the country. Does it still make sense today to attempt to match private sector compensation? You can visit Office of Inspector General’s public website at: www.uspsoig.gov. You can also follow us on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/OIGUSPS. If you have additional questions, please contact Communication and Work Life Director Agapi Doulaveris at 703.248.2286. Also from the OIG is its reported on the Electrification of Postal Delivery Vehicles.

Target Marketing has published its fourth annual listing of top mailers (excluding catalogers) as measured by volume.

From DM News:

  • Whether your marketing campaigns employ traditional direct mail or take a multimedia approach, the foundation for any successful campaign is the best-targeted marketing list. That is a crucial starting point toward ensuring that your messaging is both effective and cost-efficient. List accuracy is dependent on several factors, including sourcing. Lists compiled from multiple sources — such as directories, public records and self-reported data - offer the most comprehensive view of consumers. Multiple data points offer valuable insight to your target audience as the various views of the consumer come together to provide a complete and accurate picture of that consumer. With additional information about prospects, you will be better positioned to effectively target your offer and messaging to better match their needs.
  • "Q: Where does Rutgers Business School spend most of its direct marketing budget? A: We made a decision about a year ago not to do any postal direct mail, aside from mailing current students about announcements. Primarily, it was a cost decision, but we also wanted a more modern way to communicate with prospective students. Q: Is direct mail broken? A: Both channels can work, but online is the better channel for us. Our slogan is "Business, science and technology," and we find that this method has a better correlation to where we excel. Online advertising is really efficient. If universities are efficient with their marketing, they can spend money in other areas and improve the value of their education offering."

The Camden Courier Post has reported that "The number of post offices being considered for possible closure to save money seems to be growing. The Postal Service faces a potential deficit of $7 billion this fiscal year and has been looking for ways to save, including buyouts, spending cuts and closing offices. In August, the service said 677 local branch offices were being studied for closing. But Friday, in a letter to the Postal Regulatory Commission, the agency revised that number to "fewer than 750 stations and branches." The letter contained no details on which offices may have been added, though it said the commission would be receiving more information next week."

According to Practical eCommerce, "U.S. Postal Service flat rate envelopes and boxes can be a big money saver under the right circumstances. But you have to be careful. That's because there are now seven domestic USPS flat rate size and rate combinations, and potential cost savings depend on a fairly complicated comparison of package volume, weight and distance."

Reuters has reported that "there are reasons for optimism that the DPJ’s softer and more nurturing policies are just what the economy needs. The DPJ seems reluctant to privatize the government’s giant postal savings and insurance businesses."

The Los Angeles Examiner has asked: "What's wrong with an end to Saturday service? Can anyone tell me why we need residential mail service six days a week? Is there anything you receive by U-S mail that is so important that you couldn't wait to get it every other day? Retirement checks? Annuity checks? Social Security checks? Direct deposit eliminates that concern. In fact, Social Security encourages you to have your Social Security check direct deposited into your bank. It's faster and less likely to be lost in transmission."

The Connecticut LawTribune has reported that "Church, Post Office Are Package Deal In Manchester."

From Business Wire: "MailExpress, Inc., the leading provider of performance mail solutions for corporate customers nationwide, today announced the opening of two new Strategic Distribution Centers (SDC) in Kansas City, MO and New Orleans, LA, adding capacity in key metropolitan areas. MailExpress` operational agility has enabled the company to continue scaling its nationwide processing and distribution network to support the rapid growth of its customer base and volume of shipments. The company currently processes over a million light parcels and flats a week for an expanding list of leading companies."

USPS FACILITY CLOSURES

The Postal Service link noted above provides optional destinating mail entry information where available. Please note: This information is updated daily. Click here for information on Area Mail Processing - Network Distribution Centers (The U.S. Postal Service is continually improving its efficiency by making better use of space, staffing, equipment and transportation to process the nation's mail). Click here for the Postal Service's Bulk Mail Center (BMC) Information.

Scheduled Closures:

MAILCOM Las Vegas Annual Fall Conference September 13-15, 2010 Riviera Hotel Las Vegas Complete details are at www.mailcom.org. Over 90 seminars, numerous certificate programs including the IMB Certificate, and other educational offerings will be featured.

The Courier, Express, and Postal Observer has noted that "The Postal Service is in the midst of a major restructuring of the smallest of its operating networks, the one that handles sortation and transportation of bulk mail. The implementation of the new National Distribution Center network in the northeast both reduced costs and improved service quality. The positive results has caused the Postal Service to accelerate the program's completion. The Postal Service could implement the restructuring with minimal if any loss of jobs by transferring employees to the larger network handling single-piece mail and mail drop shipped at processing plants. Clearly a similar restructuring of the entire processing network would give the Postal Service few if any opportunities to transfer employees. Without the ability to transfer employees, the Postal Service faces significant civil-service related procedural challenges, labor negotiation challenges, and substantial costs if it needs to reduce its workforce that must be incurred before the savings can be received."

JoongAng Daily has explained to its readers that "Korea has one of the highest rates of broadband access and Internet users in the world. Combine that with the fact that almost everything can be accomplished on the Web, and you pretty much never have to leave home. So when you find yourself trekking outside to send a letter or package, it might be a bit difficult to remember exactly what you’re supposed to do. To send a letter or postcard domestically, you can simply affix postage and drop it in one of the red mailboxes that you see on the streets. For a package, just visit the nearest post office or other private mail carrier company. Now let’s take a closer look at how to best use postal services in Korea."

Hellmail has reported that "The DX, the only independent mail operator in the UK which doesn’t rely on Royal Mail for any part of its service, is gearing up for a boost to sales as the postal dispute looks set to intensify over the coming months."

August 30, 2009

The Mail has reported that "Thousands more jobs in Royal Mail sorting offices are at risk with the planned introduction of high-tech sorting machinery that should dramatically improve productivity. Their introduction comes at a sensitive time for Royal Mail, which is facing a series of strikes over cuts and modernisation."

The Kalamazoo Gazette has reported that "It doesn't seem to matter which political party is in power. Federal officials can and will be capricious and vindictive when it comes to releasing basic information about local federal activities, especially when they're irked. Such now seems to be the case with the United States Postal Service as it looks at whether it could save money by closing Kalamazoo's mail-processing plant in Oshtemo, laying off or transferring about 300 workers and consolidating the work into facilities in Grand Rapids. The Gazette's requests for simple, basic information -- numbers of pieces of mail delivered locally, precise number of local employees, even the number of local post office branches -- have been met with federal stonewalling."

The Fayetteville Observer has reported that "With chants of "Save your post office" and "Don't kill Haymount Hill," more than two dozen sign-wielding picketers marched outside the Haymount Post Office on a muggy Friday morning to protest its potential closing. Most of the protesters were postal employees. Their signs read "SOS" for "save our service."

KeysNet.com has reported that "The Key Largo post office will be the second retail mail branch in the Keys to have employees forced to stay in a designated room and not wait on customers for part of their shifts. Customers should expect to see fewer clerks at the counter in the branch starting Sept. 3. The employees will still earn their hourly wages while in the room. The U.S. Postal Service initially called the policy the "stand-by room initiative," but is now calling the rooms "resource rooms," Postal Service spokeswoman Debbie Fetterly said in an e-mail. Regardless of semantics, the policy has local postal employees and union officials angry. Jack Baldwin, the Keys president of the American Postal Workers Union, said the program is an attempt to show work at the affected branches could be done with fewer people."

August 29, 2009


We note with great sadness the passing of a long-time postal colleague, John J. Daly. John served as the first head of the Washington office of the Direct Marketing Association, and started DMA's Mail Preference Service. He was an active member of the Direct Marketing Association of Washington for many years. He was a good friend. He'll be missed.
The Washington Post has a wonderful piece on him.

The American Postal Workers Union has told its members to "Wake up, postal workers! We have a class war on our hands whether we like it or not!" [EdNote: Silly me. And I thought Marxist rhetoric had gone out of style.]

NBC4i has reported that "The American Postal Workers Union held a protest because of cost-cutting measures being implemented by the US Postal Service. Union leaders say the workers are angry about the plans to close the Busch, Linden and Olde Town Post Offices. They also say the postal service is breaking their contract by moving forward with the plan to privatize dozens of jobs in Columbus."

From the Federal Register:

Postal Regulatory Commission
RULES
Priority Mail Contract ,
44757–44760 [E9–20907] [TEXT]  [PDF]
NOTICES
New Competitive Postal Product ,
44880–44881 [E9–20955] [TEXT]  [PDF]
Parcel Select and Parcel Return Service ,
44881–44882 [E9–20934] [TEXT]  [PDF]
Postal Service
NOTICES
Meetings; Sunshine Act ,
44882 [E9–20952] [TEXT]  [PDF

According to Hellmail, there is no end in sight to the U.K. postal strike. It noted that "The Communication Workers Union said today that further disruption to mail services will begin next week as thousands of postal workers take strike action over what the union described as "panic-driven cuts by increasingly aggressive managers at Royal Mail". See also the BBC.

The Kalamazoo Gazette has reported that "Congressman Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, says a U.S. Postal Service processing plant in Oshtemo Township and downtown Kalamazoo's Arcadia post office will not be closed. Fred Upton Upton said he received the assurances from postal service managers Friday following a one-hour meeting at the Oshtemo Township facility that currently handles mail from 92 southwestern Michigan cities and villages."

The Washington Post has reported that "The Postal Service will provide on Wednesday an updated list of facilities to be considered for possible closure, according to a letter sent Friday to the Postal Regulatory Commission. The list is sure to be scrutinized by impacted communities and lawmakers who have already criticized the Postal Service for its handling of the closure process. The list will identify the final collection of postal stations and branches to be considered for closure or consolidation. Earlier this summer, the Postal Service provided lawmakers with a list of 677 possible sites for closure. That number has since grown to 750 after further evaluation of eligible sites, according to Friday's letter. Despite that high number, Postal officials privately suggest the final list will likely number around 200."

At the Postal Regulatory Commission:

Reuters has reported that "A U.S. government agency has sued United Parcel Service Inc, the world's largest package delivery company, for allegedly violating federal law by limiting workers' ability to take medical leave. In a lawsuit filed Thursday with the federal court in Chicago, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said UPS has since at least 2002 had an "inflexible" 12-month leave policy that does not provide for "reasonable accommodation" of disabled employees, and instead calls for their termination. The EEOC accused Atlanta-based UPS of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act and federal civil rights law."

The New York Times has reported that "Amid unrelenting bad news, the Postal Service is striving to make the case that mail is here to stay. “We’re very optimistic about the future of mail because mail has great value,” said Susan Plonkey, vice president for sales. “Mail works.” Top postal officials say the recession is to blame for the agency’s $7 billion deficit and a steep drop in the volume of mail, and they express confidence that mail, particularly advertising, will rebound. But even the Postal Service acknowledges that some mail is gone for good. Companies’ campaigns to push consumers online are likely to continue that trend. Verizon Communications has begun a “Get Your Green On” campaign, giving customers a chance to win a 2010 Toyota Prius Hybrid in a sweepstakes if they go paperless. While several phone companies charge for detailed paper bills, in September T-Mobile will begin charging $1.50 for a basic printed bill each month. “It’s cheaper for us to process,” said Angeline Depauw, director of remittance processing for Verizon, about online bill paying. “You have less risk of fraud. It’s just more efficient.” Javelin Strategy and Research, a research and consulting company for the financial services industry, says that 70 percent of households that have computers pay bills online each month, up from 64 percent last year. Brian Wieser, head forecaster at the media agency Magna, says that advertising mail will grow but not get back to where it was before the recession within the next five years."


Posted on the website of the U.S. Postal Service Office of the Inspector General is a report on the "Postal Service’s Relocation Policy."
 

Posted here is the statement for the new MTAC WG # 132 "Six-Sigma Approach to Intelligent Mail® Barcode Quality." If you have an interest in participating in this WG please contact Industry WG Leaders Susan Pinter and/or Don Landis and/or USPS WG Leader Tim O’Reilly.

The Courier, Express, and Postal Observer has reported that "The Postal Service created a major political storm by proposing to close less than 700 retail locations. In addition to forcing every member of Congress to deal with irate citizens and Postal employees, the Postal Service must go though a laborious regulatory and public outreach process to make a rather small tweak in its retail network. Deutsche Post, the German post office has just proposed closing its remaining company owned post offices. Does this mean that there is no retail access to postal services? No, in fact Deutsche Post guarantees that every town with greater than 2,000 population have a postal retail facility and in urban areas, no customer would be more than 2 kilometers (1.24 miles) from a retail facility. How does Deutsche Post do this?"

August 28, 2009

The Telegraph has reported that "Britain’s postal network will be hit by a fresh wave of walkouts next week when thousands more Royal Mail workers go on strike."

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

  • In the wake of mounting financial losses, the U.S. Postal Service has offered 30,000 employees financial incentive to retire by the end of this fiscal year. The USPS has targeted two of its major unions, the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) and the National Postal Mail Handlers Union (NPMHU) to accelerate reduction of employees. The majority of employees eligible for the incentive work in mail processing facilities.
  • The U.S. Postal Service has finally released its Facilities Plan that it submitted to Congress on June 19, 2008 in accordance with the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA) section 302. The 51-page document lays out what the Postal Service is looking to do in the near future to continue cost cutting and matching its resources to revenue.
  • American Postal Workers Union President William Burrus talks with his members about the challenges and the future of the U.S. Postal Service.
  • In his thought provoking piece, APWU President William Burrus summarized the challenge facing the Postal Service and its employees succinctly. I would like to focus on two quotes from his piece that highlight the challenge that he and his membership as well as all postal stakeholders will have to struggle with as Congress rethinks the business model for the Postal Service. Both of these quotes will like be central to one question that Congress will likely to debate: "Is the Postal Service's business still a governmental function?"
  • The U.S. Postal Service in conjunction with the Mailer's Technical Advisory Committee (MTAC) has issued an industry survey regarding 5-day delivery. The survey is through an online tool called SurveyMonkey and according to the USPS should only take five minutes to complete. All responses will be kept confidential.
  • The U.S. Postal Service has released the latest edition of its Household Diary Study survey, a multi-year market research study of mail that is received by and sent from American households. The recently released study covers household-mail trends during the Postal Service’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2008 which ran from October 1, 2007, through September 30, 2008. PostCom presents highlights from the 2008 study.
  • USPS awards Troux for strategic IT software. PRC issues proposed rulemaking. PRC to hold technical conference. United Shipping Solutions partners with USPS. USPS delays IMb requirements for QBRM AND PRM.
  • A quick update on postal notices published in the Federal Register.
  • Updates on dockets at the Postal Regulatory Commission.
  • An update on DMM Advisory notices issued by the U.S. Postal Service.
  • A review of postal news from around the world.
  • 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.

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The President of the American Postal Workers Union has told his members that "Conventional wisdom suggests that if a lie is repeated often enough, it will be accepted as fact, and actions based on the fabrication will be considered justified. A myth circulating in the postal community — that the collective bargaining process is in need of major repair because arbitrators require the Postal Service to pay unreasonable wages — is a good example. This fabrication has been repeated over and over with no supporting analysis."

At the Postal Regulatory Commission:

According to Raymond J. Keating is chief economist for the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council, "Congress is considering legislation that would provide the Postal Service with temporary relief from making full payments to cover future retiree health benefits, and expanded borrowing ability. The post office wants to cut delivery service back to five days (eliminating Saturdays), close some offices and branch out into other business. But much of this would be nothing more than a Band-Aid while placing future finances in added peril. And why should anyone expect the Postal Service to make any money in nonmail businesses? It’s time to find out if claims of competitiveness are true by privatizing the Postal Service. A government-run post office might have been justified during the early days of the country. But especially given the dramatic changes in the marketplace in recent times – including the Internet, UPS and Fedex, not to mention mobile communications devices – no reason exists for government to be in the mail business."

Australia Post Chairman David Mortimer has announced that Managing Director Graeme John will retire in December, after 20 years with the corporation and over 16 years as its chief executive.

Tune in at 11 a.m. EST to Federal News Radio to hear Roger Blacklow (Mail Handlers Union) and Bob Levi (NAPUS) discuss postal.

Press Release: "DHL Express has announced a new global packaging range in a move to simplify its shipping services for customers and reduce its environmental impact. With this initiative, DHL Express is launching a more environmentally friendly packaging range made from 100 percent recyclable material, thereby supporting DHL Express' GoGreen environmental protection strategy. The DHL branded packaging range will extend from an envelope to a pallet box, and include a set of seven boxes of different sizes, two triangular tubes and four wine boxes. The new range will be available to customers in most countries around the world by late 2009, as a phased deployment plan progressively replaces current branded packaging items."

Yahoo! News has reported that "Electronic coupons, arriving by cell phone, Twitter, e-mail and Facebook, are helping generate an old standby's comeback and bringing in new, younger customers. Many shoppers, especially young consumers like 30-year-old April Englebert, used to reject coupons printed in newspapers and direct-mail booklets as passe or cumbersome."

According to Advertising Age, "For a majority of women, the glass is still half empty -- and for marketers that could be tough to swallow."

The Wall Street Journal has reported that "Government revisions to second-quarter data Thursday, as well as strong growth in corporate profits, reinforced perceptions that the U.S. economy is rebounding from the deep recession." [EdNote: Has anyone told consumers?]

The Columbus Dispatch has reported that "Postal workers plan to picket the main post office on Twin Rivers Drive today to protest cuts at area post offices proposed by the federal government. The cutbacks will include contracting out 54 truck-driver jobs and closing three Columbus-area post offices as ways to reduce operating costs, according to American Postal Workers Union Local 232. Michael Schmid, president of the local, said the moves are unnecessary."

KTAR has reported that "A Tucson man was indicted Wednesday on federal theft charges, accused of stealing almost $29,000 worth of postal service equipment last year. According to the indictment filed in U.S. District Court in Tucson, 31-year-old Salvador Edgardo Sanchez was arrested July 27 after a U.S. Postal Inspection Service investigation determined he stole 1,200 plastic Postal pallets that are used to hold and carry mail."

The Connexion has reported that "five major unions are calling on postal workers to strike on Tuesday September 22 against the “privatisation” of La Poste. The CGT, SUD, CFDT, Force Ouvrière and CFTC want a "big day of strikes and protests” on that day in opposition to plans which parliament is to debate in October. A new law is to be created aimed at making La Poste, now officially a public body, into a société anonyme (PLC) by the start of next year. Although the government says the state would remain the only shareholder, the unions think that might not continue to be the case. They also believe the new status could lead to changes in their contracts, staff cuts, changes to distribution and the price of stamps."

The BBC has reported that "Postal workers in Edinburgh and Stirling are staging the latest in a series of strikes in a row over working terms. Royal Mail said about 160 processing staff at the Edinburgh mail centre and 26 of the capital's delivery drivers were taking part in the action."

The Times Leader has reported that "Saying its intent is to “improve productivity and increase efficiency,” the U.S. Postal Service will move mail processing and distribution operations from the Wilkes-Barre Processing and Distribution Facility to its Scranton and Lehigh Valley facilities beginning in October. The news of the final decision brought criticism from the Local 175 American Postal Workers Union and from U.S. Rep. Paul Kanjorski."

Hellmail has reported that:

Steve Lawson, editor for the UK-based postal news site, Hellmail, has warned that a prolonged period of national strike action would not only be a disaster for UK businesses trying to find their way through a difficult recession, it could also cause 'irreparable" damage to the state-owned postal operator as well as companies that rely on it. His comments follow announcements from several European postal operators of sharp falls in revenue due to a growing decline in mail volume.
Latvian Post announced this week that mail volume in Latvia had fallen by 41% and parcels by 20% and that the company's board has decided to introduce urgent measures to reduce operating costs. The savings will be implemented in phase, the first step taken immediately - a revised salary for the company's employees based on far more on performance.

The Kalamazoo Gazette has reported that "U.S. Rep. Fred Upton will tour the U.S. Postal Service processing plant in Oshtemo Township today in an effort to stop officials from studying the consolidation of the plant to Grand Rapids."

Hellmail has reported that "Spanish postal operator Correos has reported an increase in online sales of 18% for the first half of 2009. The number of transactions also increased, from 154,584 last year in 2008, to 180,502 this year - a growth of 16.8%. Proportionally, 89.3% used a credit card to pay and 10.7% used Paypal. Correos has invested heavily in technology in recent years, including a computer-linked post office network and in making as many of its services available online through its virtual post office."

August 27, 2009


AT&T has some Alpharetta/Birmingham Bill Print Surplus Equipment it would like to sell. If you're interested, check it out.
 

According to Rag Content, "The Disney version of the classic Three Little Pigs can be likened a bit to what's going on today within postal circles." [EdNote: It's an interesting analogy. I wonder how the Postal Service would respond.]

Hellmail has reported that "With sporadic postal strikes set to continue and the results of a ballot for national industrial action to be announced early next month, the UK could be facing major disruption to mail services in the run up to Christmas 2009. The Royal Mail which is experiencing a similar decline to that of the United States Postal Service, is having to execute change rapidly but Royal Mail is also doing battle with a trade union that still sees postal services as wholly the remit of the state. With the vast majority of Royal Mail employees members of the Communication Workers Union, there is a real conviction amongst hardliners that determination and strength in numbers will be enough to force the British government to rethink the future of Royal Mail, abandon its search for a commercial partner and ensure that any future plans are fully discussed with the union. They may well be alone in that conviction."

Keys News has reported that "The U.S. Postal Service is paying employees to do nothing. Employees clock in and are paid their regular hourly wage of between $17 and $23 an hour, even when their supervisor instructs them to sit in a "standby room," where they can do nothing but read Postal Service instructional materials -- they cannot eat, drink, smoke, read books or talk on the phone. "The post office is trying to prove they can lay off workers" in the three Key West stations, said Kathryn dePoo, vice president of the Florida Keys Area American Postal Workers union, which opposes the practice....A Postal Service spokeswoman acknowledged the practice of standby operations, which media reports show has occurred in other places, such as Dallas, where postal facilities were consolidated. "When work is not available, the Postal Service has a contractual obligation to carry [union] employees in a pay status," Debbie Fetterly wrote in an e-mail to The Citizen. "In these situations we initiate standby operations. Affected employees are placed in standby operations while we take action as quickly as contractually possible to realign complement to meet workload needs." [EdNote: For heaven's sake, don't put excess employees to work on operations that should be handled by automation. Postal costs and rates are high enough as it is. You've got excess....Get rid of it.]

The American Red Cross has recognized UPS for its support of Red Cross disaster response work through the Annual Disaster Giving Program. The UPS Foundation is making a $250,000 cash donation and $250,000 in-kind donation to facilitate the transportation of supplies to sites in need of disaster preparation.

B2B has reported that "While the volume of advertising mail continues to fall, advertisers are retaining their commitment to the channel, according to a newly released U.S. Postal Service report. The 410-page report, “Household Diary Study for FY 2008,” features a 20-year analysis of mail flows and marketplace changes. It found that advertising mail volume declined to 99.6 billion pieces in 2008, down 5.2% from 105.1 billion pieces in 2006. However, advertising spending on direct mail in that period fell just 1%, compared with a 7.9% falloff in TV ad dollars, a 6% ad drop for magazines and a 15.1% ad decline for newspapers. Direct mail commanded a 22% share of total advertising expenditures in 2008, rising almost continuously from an 18% share in 1990."

Press Release: "Northrop Grumman Corporation's Security Systems LLC unit today announced that its automated Biohazard Detection System (BDS), in use nationwide with the U.S. Postal Service, recently performed its eight millionth test without a false positive test result."

And...from the U.K.:

ABC.az has reported that "The Financial Sector Development Project (FSDP), financed by the World Bank (WB) experiences a lack of space in Azerbaijan to conduct automation of the national postal operator. The Azerbaijani Ministry of Communication and Information Technologies reports that HP company, which is a contractor on creation of corporate automated information system of the Azerpoct OJSC, was offered to conduct a meeting of the managing committee of the project in Greece on 28-29 August. Following its results, the Azerpoct will start rendering financial and bank services."

The Villager has reported that "Village neighbors, postal union representatives and elected officials rallied in front of the West Village post office last week to protest the U.S. Postal Service’s plan to close the station in October."

Fast Company has reported that "Chevron Energy Solutions--one of sixteen companies picked by the DOE to work on federal and state energy efficiency projects--sunk $15 million into a retrofit of the USPS San Francisco Processing Center, installing energy-efficient lighting, heating and air conditioning, a fuel cell, and solar panels. It's a worthwhile investment for the 1.2 million-square-foot building, which is saving $1.2 million each year on electric bills and cutting heat use by 69%. A larger 400-building, $108 million USPS retrofit in the Pacific region will also pay itself off in approximately 10 years."

IOL has reported that "Brandishing posters calling for the scrapping of "apartheid salaries", striking South African Post Office (SAPO) workers marched down Dr Pixley KaSeme (West) Street to the Durban Post Office on Wednesday to hand their employers a memorandum of demands. The workers downed tools last Wednesday. Prominent among their demands is that salary anomalies between black and white employees, which they say have existed since the apartheid administration, be addressed. According to Communication Workers' Union (CWU) spokesperson Thami Mzileni, 96 percent of all post offices in the province had not been in operation since the strike began."

Bloomberg has reported that "Australia Postal Corp. will invest A$700 million ($580 million) the next three years to expand fast-growing revenue sources such as identity verification and logistics, the Australian Financial Review said. Australia Post will spend about A$600 million on information technology and communications development to boost the efficiency of its parcel and letter networks. It will also allow applications for some security- sensitive documents to be made on line at its 4,450 retail outlets."

The Scotsman has reported that "the government has been accused of letting the postal service "rot" as thousands of staff prepared to launch a fresh wave of strikes in the bitter row over jobs, pay and conditions. Members of the Communication Workers Union in areas including Edinburgh, Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, London and Middlesbrough will take industrial action over the next few days as preparations are made for a national ballot." See also ePolitix.com

According to Dead Tree Edition, "The U.S. Postal Service took a small step toward intelligent downsizing yesterday with a buy-out package for up to 30,000 employees, but it needs to do two more things -- quickly: 1) Reveal as much as possible about the planned consolidation of its 400 or so processing and distribution centers. 2) Overhaul the process of communicating projected retirement benefits for those who take early retirement."

August 26, 2009

At the Postal Regulatory Commission:

  • Postal Accountability And Enhancement Act § 302 Network Plan (2:14 p.m.)
  • CP2009-61 Order No. 288 - Notice and Order Concerning Parcel Select & Parcel Return Service Contract 2 Negotiated Service Agreement
    Link: http://www.prc.gov/docs/64/64411/Order288.doc
    http://www.prc.gov/docs/64/64411/Order288.pdf
  • CP2009-62 Order No. 289 - Notice and Order Concerning Filing of Functionally Equivalent Inbound Direct Entry Contract Negotiated Service Agreement
    Link: http://www.prc.gov/docs/64/64414/Order289.docx
    http://www.prc.gov/docs/64/64414/Order289.pdf
  • MC2009-40 Order No. 288 - Notice and Order Concerning Parcel Select & Parcel Return Service Contract 2 Negotiated Service Agreement
    Link: http://www.prc.gov/docs/64/64411/Order288.doc
    http://www.prc.gov/docs/64/64411/Order288.pdf
  • RM2009-5: The Commission received Responses of the United States Postal Service to Chairman’s Information Request No.1 on August 13, 2009. On August 20, 2009, it received Responses of the United States Postal Service to Chairman’s Information Request No. 2. While helpful, these responses left several significant issues unresolved. Due to the relatively short window that remains for evaluating this proposal, the Commission is scheduling a technical conference on September 2, 2009, at 10 a.m., in the Commission’s hearing room. In addition to an expert on the RPW/ODIS data collection system, the Postal Service is requested to arrange for the attendance of experts on the role that RPW/ODIS volume data plays in the modeling of the costs of the Universal Service Obligation, the LogicNet Plus Optimization and Area Simulation, Transportation Optimization Planning and Scheduling model (TOPS), and the External First-Class Mail Measurement System (EXFC). The conference will inquire further into statistical sample design criteria, and the effect that losing sample observations supporting volume estimates for 3-digit ZIP Codes may have on the precision of subnational volume inputs that are used in the above-referenced models.
    http://www.prc.gov/Docs/64/64407/Notice_of_Tech_Conf_Final.pdf

CNET News has reported that:

  • Mobile phone maker Nokia on Wednesday announced the launch of a financial service called Nokia Money, designed to let consumers pay bills and merchants and send money to friends and family using their cell phones. Nokia believes the service will help people in the U.S. and in emerging markets who are not served by banks or other traditional financial outlets.
  • Electronic paper is stacking up to be a high-growth market, according to a new report. Sales of e-paper displays are projected to soar from $431 million this year to $9.6 billion in 2018, market researcher DisplaySearch said Wednesday. The number of units sold is forecast to grow 22 million this year to 1.8 billion in 2018.

From PR Newswire: "Azure Dynamics Corporation - ("Azure") or (the "Company"), a leading developer of state-of-the-art green technologies that address environmental and cost issues for the commercial transportation industry, today announced that its Balance(TM) Hybrid Electric vehicle is the newest addition to the United States Postal Service fleet (USPS). USPS operates the largest civilian vehicle fleet in the world with over 220,000 vehicles traveling more than 1.2 billion miles a year. USPS consistently looks for opportunities to reduce the environmental impact of its fleet while also lowering operating cost, and is testing the Azure product to advance both efforts."

And...again...about the postal system in the U.K. Read it and weep:

The President of the National Association of Postmasters of the United States has written to the Postmaster General asking him for the Postal Service to offer a similar early retirement buy-out for postmasters as has already been done for clerks and mailhandlers.

EyewitnessNews has reported that "The South African Post Office says race has nothing to do with what it pays its employees. It has struck back at comments made by the Communication Workers Union that the South African Post Office pays its employees according to their race."

From PR Minds: "Bharatbook.com has launched a new report on "Express Benchmarking UK" which elucidates about the competitive environment in the Express market, and analyse your competitors' strengths and weaknesses."

World Radio Switzerland has reported that "The Swiss postal service is reporting a 16 percent drop in profits for the first half of this year, compared with the same period last year."

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

The British government is sticking to its plans for a partial privatisation of Royal Mail.
Newcomer Quickmail wants to gain market shares from Schweizerische Post through additional services. Last week the new mail service provider announced a ’Track & Trace’ facility for mailings.
Following the principal confirmation by the Brazilian Supreme Court of the post ECT’s monopolistic status (CEP News 33/09) and even before the publication of a government committee’s official report, more and more details are emerging regarding the restructuring of the post. Turning the post into a closed plc is at the core of the changes.
It sounded like a good idea: civil servants made redundant by Österreichische Post were going to be working as admin support staff for the police force. Severe criticism is now being voiced from within the Social Democratic Party (SPÖ) and the trade union.
Russia is currently discussing an amendment to its Postal Act. Telecommunications holding company Svjasinvest, of which the government controls 75%, has proposed to include telegram services in the catalogue of universal services. Svjasinvest claims the telegram service generated a deficit of almost 48m euros last year.
Posten Norge is increasingly troubled by faulty addresses. Norwegian daily »Aftenposten« (24.08) reported that nowadays one in ten letters carries an incorrect address.
The Russian post needs to invest more than 21m euros in the modernisation of its internet accesses.
Russia’s latest ’Miss Post’ is called S.V. Yukovskaya and works for Potschta Rossii in the autonomous district Chanten and Mansen. Ms Yukovskaya specialises in the sale of non-postal services and will be the Russian post’s face for the next two years.
Last week Correos de Chile and United States Postal Service signed a cooperation agreement. The Chilean post stated that the agreement involved the intensification of security measures around mail items shipped between the two countries. The two post companies also intend to consult on the communication and integration of postal services in future.
Thailand Post handled a total of 1.3 billion letters last year. The bulk of this volume - 95% - was attributable to business mail and direct mail. Merely 5% represented private letters.
UPS has confirmed the closure of a big call centre in Dublin.
The certificates used by Schweizerische Post subsidiary SwissSign (CEP News 18/09) are supported by the latest version of the Adobe Acrobat software. At the end of July the post announced its status as one of the world’s first and the only provider in Switzerland to meet the advanced requirements of the Adobe Approved Trust List (AATL).
Deutsche Post is going to abolish the restrictions on its Monday deliveries from the end of August.
Mail volumes have declined in South Korea during this year’s first half. Last week Korea Post announced a 2.8% decrease in volumes, which follows a 1.2% decline last year.
Last week the Swiss Federal Council elected two new members to the post’s administrative board. Andreas Schläpfer and Marco Durrer will replace Anton Menth and Thomas Sany with immediate effect for the rest of the term of office, which expires in May 2010.
Johan Vinckier resigned from the board of Belgium’s La Poste.
Dr. Annegret Groebel has been appointed new head of the Postal Markets division at Germany’s Federal Network Agency.

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.)

And from the Associated Press: "You can find a bright spot in the recession as close as your mailbox: There are far fewer hefty catalogs, bulging coupon packets, unwanted credit card offers and glossy fliers clogging it up. Thanks to the economic downturn and rising shipping costs, junk mail volume was down 16 percent in the nine months ending in June compared with the same period a year earlier, on pace for the steepest annual decline in decades. Businesses that are still sending junk mail are sending less of it — shrinking their catalogs and using thinner paper to save money. It's a sign stores are still struggling, but it also means less paper to toss in the garbage or lug to the recycling bin." [EdNote: "Junk" mail, eh? Sure hope that AP writer has a really good plan for figuring out how to underwrite the cost of running the nation's universal mail service.]

According to the News Times, "Five-day delivery and an annual 2-cent increase in postage rates will not save the post office. Costs will continue to escalate. Mail volume will continue to fall.The Postal Service will only continue to function if its products and services generate enough revenue to cover costs. To that end, the Postal Service needs to raise the price of postage to cover the actual cost of mail delivery, eliminating nonprofit discounts. Annually raising stamp prices 2 cents will not cover costs, but it will, once again, result in a reduction of mail volume. Simultaneously, the Postal Service needs to take steps to reduce the cost of delivery. The various unions should sit down with management, tear up the existing contracts and start over. Many contract items that benefit employees have a negative impact on the post office. Employee unions, which have in large part sought self-serving resolutions to personnel issues and pursued strictly focused union agendas, need to make concessions that will benefit the whole organization. Grievance settlements cost the post office millions of dollars annually."

The Associated Press of Pakistan has reported that "Newly formed Postal Action Committee for Anti-Privatization of the employees of Pakistan Post has vowed to launch a comprehensive campaign to oppose the privatization of Pakistan Post."

The Washington Post has more on the USPS employee buy-out offer. The offer is available to post office retail clerks, distribution center mail handlers and clerks, and vehicle technicians. Letter carriers are not eligible, since the Postal Service is targeting only areas where it has an excess of workers, and the number of addresses grows, on average, by 1.5 million each year, according to the agency. The Postal Service negotiated the buyout deal with the American Postal Workers Union and the National Postal Mail Handlers Union. "We have to have a balance between work hours and volume. We had more people than we have mail, and there had to be an adjustment," said APWU President William Burrus."

Hellmail has reported that:

Montreal-based GIRO Inc has announced that Unipost S.A. has acquired its GeoRoute™ software solution to help improve mail delivery operations by creating more efficient routes and standardized delivery operations. Unipost selected the GeoRoute solution based on the recommendation of its European partner, Deutsche Post AG, whose long-standing implementation of GeoRoute has produced significant gains in efficiency. Unipost plans to maximize the software’s optimization capabilities to increase productivity, decrease transit times, and reduce variability of service between its mail delivery routes.
Pitney Bowes has announced a partnership with colour management specialist CMI to drive accurate and flexible colour output through its Pitney Bowes VIP output management server.
The Slovakian postal service has seen a drop in profits of 90% in the first half year, falling to 1.55 million euros.  

The Federal Times has noted that it has been "getting e-mails for at least a year from postal workers who said they would consider retiring early if the Postal Service offered an incentive. That incentive is here now, in the form of a $15,000 payout over 12 months. Is it enough? Will you take it?"

At the Postal Regulatory Commission:

  • CP2009-61 Order No. 288 - Notice and Order Concerning Parcel Select & Parcel Return Service Contract 2 Negotiated Service Agreement
    Link: http://www.prc.gov/docs/64/64411/Order288.doc
    http://www.prc.gov/docs/64/64411/Order288.pdf
  • CP2009-62 Order No. 289 - Notice and Order Concerning Filing of Functionally Equivalent Inbound Direct Entry Contract Negotiated Service Agreement
    Link: http://www.prc.gov/docs/64/64414/Order289.docx
    http://www.prc.gov/docs/64/64414/Order289.pdf
  • MC2009-40 Order No. 288 - Notice and Order Concerning Parcel Select & Parcel Return Service Contract 2 Negotiated Service Agreement
    Link: http://www.prc.gov/docs/64/64411/Order288.doc
    http://www.prc.gov/docs/64/64411/Order288.pdf
  • RM2009-5: The Commission received Responses of the United States Postal Service to Chairman’s Information Request No.1 on August 13, 2009. On August 20, 2009, it received Responses of the United States Postal Service to Chairman’s Information Request No. 2. While helpful, these responses left several significant issues unresolved. Due to the relatively short window that remains for evaluating this proposal, the Commission is scheduling a technical conference on September 2, 2009, at 10 a.m., in the Commission’s hearing room. In addition to an expert on the RPW/ODIS data collection system, the Postal Service is requested to arrange for the attendance of experts on the role that RPW/ODIS volume data plays in the modeling of the costs of the Universal Service Obligation, the LogicNet Plus Optimization and Area Simulation, Transportation Optimization Planning and Scheduling model (TOPS), and the External First-Class Mail Measurement System (EXFC). The conference will inquire further into statistical sample design criteria, and the effect that losing sample observations supporting volume estimates for 3-digit ZIP Codes may have on the precision of subnational volume inputs that are used in the above-referenced models.
    http://www.prc.gov/Docs/64/64407/Notice_of_Tech_Conf_Final.pdf

August 25, 2009

As the Postalnews blog has noted, "Gamefly seeks to force USPS to disclose details of Netflix deal."

From Seeking Alpha: "Line by line, newspapers’ businesses are falling apart as they shrink and become less efficient for advertisers against the competition and reach of online media. Coupon giant Valassis abandons newspaper distribution for the postal service in three more markets. Says Crains: “The move represents the acknowledgement that newspaper circulation is on the decline and advertising clients want to continue to reach as many people they can in markets with shrinking newspaper coverage.” Next, newspapers are starting to lose movie listing ads. That advertising used to be content with value – like, say, home and job ads – but now that value can be delivered online, for free – next to a ticket sales opportunity – online."

From PR Web: "Troux™ Technologies, Inc., the leader in Strategic IT Planning and Control software, today announced that the U.S. Postal Service® (USPS®), the largest postal delivery service in the world, has awarded a contract for Troux strategic IT planning software including the Troux Transformation Platform™, Troux Alignment™, Troux Standards™ and Troux Optimization™. "

Flash! From the U.K.! British postal workers are still on strike. Somebody let us know when this nonsense is over.

Logistics Manager has reported that "Zetes has completed implementation of a project for TNT Post Pakketservice, which forms part of TNT’s master project, driver goes digital. The project involves the tracking and tracing of postal packages during the delivery process for all 37 distribution units in Holland, from loading into the vehicle to delivery at the door, including digital proof of delivery. All 2,500 delivery drivers use Motorola MC70 hand-held terminals for delivering and registering packages with businesses and consumers, of which 400,000 are processed each day."

The Nation has reported that "Thailand Post, under the jurisdiction of the Information and Communications Technology Ministry, has so far granted franchising licenses to 27 shops nationwide, under which individuals offer postal services instead of the state agency. And these shops, based in convenient locations, which along with the business acumen of entrepreneurs help guarantee returning customers, only increase revenues for Thailand Post."

In a decision to save hundreds of millions dollars in labor-related costs, the USPS has negotiated an agreement with two of its employee unions (American Postal Workers Union and National Postal Mail Handlers Union) to offer select employees a financial incentive to retire or resign before the end of the fiscal year. The incentive is the latest in a series of cost reductions the Postal Service has made to address losses due to unprecedented mail volume declines and the ongoing effect of the economic recession. The incentive provides eligible employees $10,000 to be paid during the first three months of Fiscal Year 2010, creating salary and benefit savings for the next nine months. The same employees will receive a second payment of $5,000 in Fiscal Year 2011. Fiscal Year 2010 starts Oct. 1, 2009. This decision reflects our desire to provide a fair and equitable opportunity for some of our longest-serving employees. It is important to the Postal Service that we take appropriate measures to address our current financial situation, without compromising customer service. Cost savings to the Postal Service are estimated to be as much as $500 million to $1 billion over three years. See also the Washington Post and MarketWatch.

The Courier, Express, and Postal Observer has told its readers that "In his thought provoking piece, APWU President William Burris summarized the challenge facing the Postal Service and its employees succinctly. I would like to focus on two quotes from his piece that highlight the challenge that he and his membership as well as all postal stakeholders will have to struggle with as Congress rethinks the business model for the Postal Service. Both of these quotes will like be central to one question that Congress will likely to debate: "Is the Postal Service's business still a governmental function?..."The Postal Service could do so much more to actively encourage citizens and business owners to use the USPS Web site to create customized messages for delivery by the Postal Service. Invitations to weddings or birthday parties; announcements of new business ventures; promotions of products and services — the possibilities are endless, constrained only by the imagination. Why isn’t the USPS advancing this concept rather than relying so heavily on messages developed by others?"


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

  • PostCom’s IMb Update
  • What’s Coming in the November Release?
  • Full-Service IMb Mailings Update
  • Mail Quality Reports to be Available in November
  • IMb Full-Service Release 3 Planned for March 2010
  • IMb Full-Service Release 4?
  • Navigating IMb Releases
  • IMb Implementation Workgroups Keep on Meeting
  • USPS Stresses that Mailers are Using IMb Full-Service, and Getting ACS Data
  • Reply Mail IMb Workgroup Recommendations
  • USPS Looking for Express Mail Users to Test eVS
  • Move Update Assessment Policy To Take Effect January 2010
  • More Move Update Q&A
  • FSS Workgroup Focuses On Presort Changes
  • Folded Self-Mailer Testing About Half-Way Complete
  • Eliminating Obstacles To Mail Growth
  • USPS Embarks On New Customer Service Measurement
  • National PCC Day Sept 16
  • Calendar For Upcoming Rule Changes

The Patriot-News has said that "There should be a law that says that if your address is changed by the U.S. Postal Service, then you cannot be charged a "change of address" fee from any institution, public or private."

American Postal Workers Union President William Burrus has told his members that "The Postal Service recently reported that for each reduction of 1 billion pieces, revenue declines by $360 million. This means that for every loss of 6 billion pieces, the USPS loses revenue approximately equal to cost of one biweekly payroll. The dissection of these numbers may seem to be at odds with my criticism of the large mailers and their influence on postal decisions, especially on excessive postage discounts. Even when criticizing the unhealthy relationship between mailers and USPS management, I am mindful of our reliance on large mailers to generate volume sufficient to maintain a national network that supports universal service: Without their mailings, neither the Postal Service as we know it nor the union would exist; postal employees most certainly would not earn $50,000 or more per year....Postal management believes that the U.S. Postal Service is in the hard-copy mail business: Wrong. Mail is what we process, transport, and deliver, but as the dominance of business mail demonstrates, the Postal Service is in the advertising business. Television, newspapers, radio and other competitors concluded years ago that their principal product was advertising. TV programs, radio shows, and newspapers are all vehicles for ad sales. It is time for postal executives to recognize that their business is advertising, through the use of mail. This realization should lead to a shift — from acting as a passive recipient of mail to becoming an engine that generates mail through advertising initiatives."

The APWU has told its members that "The USPS announcement in May that more than 3,200 stations and branches in Level 24-and-above post offices would be evaluated for possible consolidation or closure has sparked great concern across the country. This retail store is offering PO Box service: The operation exceeds the authority of a CPU. Retail employees are understandably fearful that their jobs will be eliminated, and many union activists are convinced that management plans to replace the stations and branches with Contract Postal Units (CPUs), which are owned and run by non-postal employees. To protect the retail jobs, we need a coordinated plan of attack."

The National Association of Major Mail Users has told its members to "Mark your calendars now and reserve your place – the NAMMU annual rate package review will take place in the Courtyard meeting room. All major mail classifications - Transaction Mail, Publications Mail, Direct Mail – will be workshopped, followed by a special update and review of the new RVU processes and induction issues. The 2010 RATE PACKAGE REVIEW Wednesday – September 16, 2009 8:45a.m. – 3:30 p.m. Courtyard Marriott 5050-5070 Creekbank Road Mississauga Continental Breakfast: 8:15 a.m. Program: 8:45 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. Registration required by September 9. For registration information, go to: http://www.thekmrgroup.com/enews/2009/2010 Rate Package Workshop Registration.doc

The Economic Times has reported that "India’s department of posts (DoP) is set to spend up to $1 billion on its IT-led business revamp over the next five years with top tech IT industry firms like IBM, TCS, Infosys and Wipro pursuing several outsourcing contracts for helping the postal department automate and integrate its business processes with a standard software solution. DoP, which has already short-listed Accenture, Ernst &Young , KPMG, McKinsey and PwC as potential consultants for this project, will be announcing one of them as partner for selecting a tech vendor and also defining the scope of 3-5 year IT revamp by end of this month. DoP will select different vendors for system integration, software , data centres and network management. "

From the Federal Register:

NOTICES
International Mail ,
42947–42948 [E9–20401] [TEXT]  [PDF]

Postal Technology International has noted that "Users of Microsoft Outlook can now send registered e-mails. This is possible thanks to the new IncaMail Outlook add-on from Swiss Post, which is available as a free download. Outlook has been updated to include additional buttons that are compatible with IncaMail. In addition to sending conventional e-mails, users now have the option of sending confidential or even registered emails. Both additional mailing alternatives are subject to a fee, which is booked to a separate IncaMail account that must be set up by the user. IncaMail, Swiss Post’s platform for sending emails securely and verifiably, is now even more user-friendly. This Swiss Post add-on to the most frequently used e-mail software – Microsoft Outlook – can be easily downloaded and installed at no extra cost."

At the Postal Regulatory Commission:

August 24, 2009

Online News has reported that "The federal minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Babar Awan has assured all support for review on salaries of postal staff and also a review on establishing courier regulatory authority."

As the folks at Hellmail have noted, "Even amongst union hardliners with the most miniscule attention span, it must be blatantly obvious by now that any open doors there may have been to further discussion have slammed firmly shut. The motto for the moment seems to be: "If you want to strike, feel free" and that should come as little surprise given the clear message put out by both Mandelson and Royal Mail over the last few months that further negotiation on a restructuring of Royal Mail simply isn't on the menu."

Today the PMG announced that George Wright, VP of IT Operations, will be retiring in September. In his 26-year career, George has been instrumental in identifying, developing, implementing and managing state-of-the-art information systems that support the needs of Postal Service customers, employees and business partners, including the transit-time measurement systems and the improved functionality of usps.com.

At the Postal Regulatory Commission:

The Postal Service has published its 2008 Household Mail Diary Study.

FedEx Express, the world’s largest express transportation company and a subsidiary of FedEx Corp., and Modec recently rolled out ten new state-of-the-art electric commercial vehicles for use in the United Kingdom.

The latest blog entry 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/
 
  • Envisioning the Future.  What will the world look like in 2020?  Deutsche Post attempted to answer these questions in its global Delphi study published in June.  Vote for the two predictions you think are most likely to happen.
 
You can visit Office of Inspector General’s public website at:  www.uspsoig.govYou can also follow us on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/OIGUSPS.  If you have additional questions, please contact Communication and Work Life Director Agapi Doulaveris at 703.248.2286.

Is4profit has reported that "Postal workers must reach a rapid agreement with Royal Mail to end strike action across the UK, as the strikes may cause small firms to lose customers, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has warned."

From Business Wire: "SkyPostal Networks, Inc., the largest private postal network in Latin America, today announced that it has entered into a co-marketing agreement for its PuntoMio online shopping facilitator, with the Brazilian Bank; Banco Itaucard, controlled by Itaú Unibanco, one of the largest financial conglomerates in the Southern Hemisphere and one of the 15 largest in the world in terms of market capitalization. PuntoMio provides Itaucard customers with the easiest and most secure way to shop from the U.S., by merging the convenience of comparison shopping through a searchable online shopping portal with a virtual U.S. address which they use to receive their online purchases. PuntoMio bridges the gap between the online international shopper and U.S. based Internet merchants from the time of purchase through final international delivery to the customer’s home or office. Itaucard, will provide SkyPostal with marketing aimed at promoting PuntoMio’s service, using a combination of marketing channels including web promotion, newsletters, among others."

The Star has reported that "The Communication Workers' Union (CWU) rejected an attempt by the SA Post Office (Sapo) to end the labour impasse which saw between 11 000 and 12 000 workers down tools, the union said today. Talks between Sapo and the union ended early this morning. Sapo placed a proposal, amounting to R120 million, on the table. This amount would cover salary increases as well as correct the salary anomalies that caused a dispute between the company and workers."

What a headline from Federal Times: "Unions oppose 5-day delivery, other proposals to cut USPS costs." It went on to say that "The leaders of the nation’s two largest postal unions say they will fight a switch to five-day mail delivery and any effort to slash their members’ lucrative benefits, and they’re concerned about possible post office closures."

From Business Wire: has reported that "Zumbox, a developer of a system for sending electronic mail to postal addresses, announced today that it has raised $8M in a funding. The firm said the funding came from Art Bilger of Shelter Capital Partners; Rick Braddock of Fresh Direct; Micahel Eisner of the Tornante Company/formerly of Walt Disney; Bill Guth of Guthy-Renker, and Donn Rappaport, the firm's CEO and founder. Zumbox develops a service--aimed at marketers and businesses--to target individuals with electronic mailings, based on their street address, rather than their email inbox. The firm said it will start a national roll out of the service in Q4 of this year. Zumbox does not digitize or convert postal mail, instead, it allows marketers to target specific postal addresses with their materials, and then looks to have customers at those addresses to create an account to view those materials. "

Treehugger has a poll on Saturday mail delivery.

From PR-Inside: "Global Logistics - Couriers - a new market research report on companiesandmarkets.com. This is the replacement for the August 2008 edition of Global Logistics - Couriers report. Industry Market Research Synopsis This Industry Market Research report provides a detailed analysis of the Global Logistics - Couriers industry, including key growth trends, statistics, forecasts, the competitive environment including market shares and the key issues facing the industry. Industry Definition This industry comprises establishments primarily engaged in providing air, surface, or combined express courier delivery services of parcels, documents and packages generally between metropolitan areas or urban centers. The establishments of this industry form a network including courier local pick-up and delivery to serve their customers needs. It excludes services provided by the National Postal Service and commercial airlines (H4832 - Global Logistics - Air Freight)."

Hellmail has reported that:

  • The UK government today dismissed a petition started by by John Colbert, Communications & Campaigns Manager of Communication Workers Union, calling for the abandonment of partial privatisation of the Royal Mail. The government announced earlier that it had temporarily suspended its search for a strategic partner for the state-owned operator after failing to attract suitable bids, but Lord Mandelson maintained that the partnership was still on the agenda.
  • The Communication Workers Union has launched a fresh offensive on central government after General secretary Billy Hayes wrote to every member of the Cabinet, urging the government to discuss the present postal dispute and forthcoming ballot for national strike action.  [EdNote: A real cry for help. Sort of . . . "Stop us! Stop us! Before we go out on strike again!]

As Advertising Age has reported, "The recession also may be starting to bottom out, Reader's Digest Mary Berner said, which would make it easier for the company to concentrate on the simultaneously changing media business. "The way we're looking at that is: We are channel-agnostic, and we have organized the company that way," she said. "We look at Reader's Digest, not Reader's Digest the magazine, including digital, single-issue, single-topic magazines -- anything that a customer will want in any platform. Unless media companies get organized that way, you're doomed to fail."[EdNote: Channel agnostic = whatever makes money; Channel agnostic = multimedia; Channel agnostic = not print and post alone.]

The Akron Beacon Journal wrote about "Netflix's sorting operation is maze of speed, efficiency DVDs go through dozens of steps before landing in home mailboxes."

The Associated Press of Pakistan has reported that "Federal Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Dr. Babar Awan Monday lauded the efforts of Ministry of Postal Services for disbursing BISP assistance to the vulnerable segments of society.“With its existing manpower and resources, Pakistan Post role in disbursement of billions of rupees under BISP and Punjab Government’s Food Support Programme is commendable”, Babar Awan said."

Thomsons has reported that "Another week of strikes will go ahead this week, which could add further strain to the relationship between the Communication Workers Union (CWU) and Royal Mail."

The Telegraph has reported that "Postal workers are expected to go on strike at the same time as the Labour conference, causing potential embarrassment to the Government."

The Los Angeles Times has reported that "Sapped by declining volume and revenue, the Postal Service is considering closing nearly 1,000 of its smaller offices nationwide....But one thing is for sure: Soon to be gone are the days when nearly everyone has to -- or will even be able to -- walk into his local post office and have a clerk send a parcel. "That's not the case anymore," Maher said. "You don't have to go to the neighborhood post office to get stamps or even mail a package." The potential cuts are of particular concern to the elderly and isolated, who may be unaccustomed to corresponding online or uncomfortable driving far to mail a package."

According to one CNN pundit, "the question is not whether the days of mail delivery will be curtailed. It's whether we will be happy about it. Many people on various message boards said that the days of expecting anything delightful in the mail are long gone. Bills, catalogs, promotional fliers -- that's what the mail carrier usually brings, so who needs to deal with that on Saturdays?"

Dead Tree Edition has reported that "To cope with declining volumes of catalogs and periodicals, the U.S. Postal Service is adding nearly 300 ZIP codes to the list of areas that will be served by the Flats Sequencing System....Concerned that there would be insufficient volume for some of the huge machines, postal officials now have 2,288 ZIP codes in the plan and are redeploying some machines from the original Phase I sites to the new locations. USPS has not revealed what proportion of flats mail will be served by the Phase I machines, but it appears to be close to 25%....FSS is supposed to revolutionize the labor-intensive process of sorting and delivering flat mail, cutting millions of work hours (and hundreds of millions of dollars) for USPS and supposedly bringing the Periodicals class closer to break-even. As more machines are rolled out (five are in operation), mailers will eventually be faced with FSS-specific packaging regulations and rate structures."

August 23, 2009

The Mail has noted that "Royal Mail is to phase out nearly all of the 25,000 British-made bikes used by postmen and women across the country because they can’t carry enough mail or travel far enough. Instead, postmen and women will be expected to travel to their patches in vans – and deliver their letters and parcels from trolleys made in China."

Earthtimes has reported that "Workers too heavy for the motorbikes that Australia Post uses to deliver letters will be taken off the road until they get below 100 kilograms, the company said Sunday. "It's about how to ensure we have got a consistent approach, how riders can be safe and continue riding the bikes," Australia Post spokesman Alex Twomey told the Daily Telegraph. The too-heavy riders will be redeployed to the sorting office or on walking routes."

According to Enterprise News, "Federal bureaucrats blame the growth of e-mails, texting, cell phones and Internet access for the decrease in mail volume. The postal system must also compete with well-run private companies like Fed-Ex and UPS for the package shipping market. The officials who are running the Postal Service into the ground are pitching a number of solutions. These include cutting back mail delivery from six days to five, closing a number of post offices, eliminating routes, selling off post office property and encouraging early retirements in the system. These are all unimaginative, conventional and ineffective solutions. The Postal Service needs to take the following bold steps to revive its once vibrant operation."

The News and Tribune has reported that "The current economic slump is causing many newspapers to look, again, at delivery methods and efficiency. A growing number of newspapers are partnering with the United States Postal Service. Yes, they are mailing the daily newspaper."

The Miami Herald has told its readers that "Pushed to brink, U.S. mail continues cutbacks The U.S. Postal Service is currently a `disaster' and is fighting to stay afloat with cost-saving measures."

According to the Daily Breeze, "the U.S. Postal Service [is] do[ing] what all smart businesses do when they need to save money. They will cut the services that make them money, thus further maiming their competitiveness and pushing more loyal postal customers toward online bill-paying and private carriers....The number of closures might not exceed 200....Still, the thing is slowly dying, this passing of words between places that probably began with the invention of writing....We e-mail and text and then we delete every word. A century hence, historians and biographers trying to piece together this time in our lives will have no bundles of ribbon-bound love letters, no boxes full of messages from war, no ideas great and small preserved beyond what we print in books. Or print in books that appear on book-like screens. For nearly 20 years we have deleted the life moments that granted earlier generations a kind of immortality. Or as Abraham Lincoln once wrote in a letter, "Writing is the great invention of the world enabling us to converse with the dead, the absent, and the unborn, at all distances of time and space."

According to Hellmail, "Royal Mail's claim that 90% of its distribution network is unaffected by strike action would seem to be about right. Shortly, CWU members are to decide on whether national strike action is for them or not. Localised industrial action, whilst inconvenient for some customers, isn't much of a bargaining tool for a union keen to force Royal Mail to think it's way, although there is little evidence at the moment to suggest that extending strike action will change the minds of either government or Royal Mail." See also The Mirror.

The Times of India has reported that "To reduce pressure on railway booking counters and to generate new sources of income through the sale of tickets, the authorities have tied up with the postal department for the same. This will definitely shorten long queues outside booking counters at railway stations."

August 22, 2009

The Wall Street Journal has told its readers that "Here's a secret Washington doesn't want to admit: That 14 cent per letter cost hike after inflation over the past 60 years imposes a $20 billion a year toll on the U.S. economy. The government mail system is essentially a $20 billion annual income transfer from businesses and households to the postal unions. About 80 cents of every postal dollar pays for employee salaries and benefits (compared to less than 50 cents for Fed Ex and UPS). What that means is that if you want to cut costs at the post office, you have to slash labor expenses. Mr. Potter has reduced Postal Service employment to 650,000 from 800,000 the past four years, largely through attrition. But he still employs 650,000 workers who have among the best wages and benefits in all of American life. Most employees have no-layoff clauses, the starting salaries are about 25% to 30% higher than for comparably skilled private workers, and the fringe benefits are so expensive that the Government Accountability Office says $500 million a year could be saved merely by bringing health benefits into line with those of other federal workers. The most overdue reform is to strip away the Post Service's monopoly on first-class mail and bulk mail. Competition is the key ingredient to innovation, low prices and good service."

The Miami Herald has reported that "A central Florida postal worker has pleaded guilty to federal charges of destroying mail. Court records show that Rose Conklin, who entered a plea Friday, failed to deliver an estimated 125,000 pieces of mail from October 2003 through May 2009. She faces up to five years in prison and $250,000 in fines. She is scheduled to be sentenced in November."

The International Business Times has reported that "The Communication Workers Union (CWU) representing the postal workers of Royal Mail has announced a week long massive postal strike that will start on Friday August 21 and end on Saturday August 29."

Hellmail has reported that "The Communication Workers Union announced today that the coming week would see further strike action at Royal Mail from various mail centres across the UK. 20,000 employees are expected to take part in industrial action affecting transportation, collections and deliveries in a series of 24 hour strikes over what the union described as "cuts and non-negotiation".

August 21, 2009

The New York Times has reported that "Ben S. Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, offered his most hopeful assessment in more than a year on Friday, asserting that “the prospects for a return to growth in the near term appear good.”

The BBC has reported that "More postal strikes will hit England and Northern Ireland this weekend, as a part of a continuing dispute over job cuts and modernisation."

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

  • Recently appointed USPS senior vice president of operations Steve Forte this week gave the MTAC audience an update on the USPS’ Network Distribution Center (NDC) initiative. Forte reported that the USPS has completed Phase 1of its NDC implementation and so far is achieving its two main goals: keep operations costs down and improve service. Based on positive results seen from Phase 1, the USPS has accelerated its nationwide NDC implementation to be completed by November 20, 2009.
  • USPS vice president of pricing Maura Robinson last week told Mailers Technical Advisory Committee (MTAC) meeting attendees that the USPS is moving forward with a revised move update assessment pricing plan to take effect in January 2010. The new policy allows a 30 percent error tolerance, meaning that the assessment would only be made on failed pieces above the tolerance. The USPS will also leave in place its earlier proposal that mailings with 5 or fewer failed change of address records would not be assessed additional postage for move update.
  • USPS Intelligent Mail and Address Quality Senior Vice President Tom Day clarifies some information that had been reported in last week's Bulletin concerning IMb Service Performance Functionality.
  • The Postal Service today announced a revised plan for deploying its Flats Sequencing System (FSS) equipment, redirecting 19 of the machines to new locations where the technology will better contribute to improved service and reduced costs. Originally, 100 FSS machines were to be deployed in 32 locations; the new plan spreads the deployment of the 100 Phase 1 FSS machines over 42 locations.
  • The USPS last week at the Mailers Technical Advisory Committee (MTAC) meeting shared the results of its recent mail volume projections survey. According to the survey results, overall mail volume decline will continue through FY 2011, but will slow to a one percent decrease by FY 2011. Standard Mail will decline significantly for FY 2009, according to the survey responses, but will decline only one percent in FY 2010, and both Standard Mail and Periodicals mailers project their volumes will increase in FY 2011.
  • President Barack Obama didn't do himself any favors with postal unions and postal management reps with his off-the-cuff remark regarding the Postal Service during a town-hall meeting on his proposed national health care plan. Postal employees were displeased.
  • The Postmaster General has told his employees not to become disheartened with the White House's analogy between a failed postal service and a failed health care system.
  • According to the Courier, Express, and Postal Observer, "more than anything else, the greatest political obstacle to a new business model for the Postal Service is the Federal budget deficit. Every legislative action to maintain postal services in light of current financial losses, and fund the transition that will create a new business model will have budgetary implications. Thee budgetary implications will likely become the primary arguments of postal competitors and other opponents of reform for delaying necessary changes that would make the Postal Service a viable and customer-focused provider of delivery and delivery related services."
  • USPS 5-day delivery survey to come. USPS postpones new flats deflection requirements until January 2010. Some banks increase credit card mailings. USPS consolidates transportation contracting offices. USPS continues to test RFID. Newspaper association reports encouraging news. USPS reports Priority Mail Revenue continues to rise. USPS, FedEx renew global alliance.
  • A quick update on postal notices published in the Federal Register.
  • Updates on dockets at the Postal Regulatory Commission.
  • An update on DMM Advisory notices issued by the U.S. Postal Service.
  • A review of postal news from around the world.
  • 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.

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

The Press Association has reported that "Fresh strikes by postal workers will be held on Saturday in a continuing dispute over jobs, pay and services as the threat of a national walkout comes closer."

According to Courier, Express, and Postal Observer, "more than anything else, the greatest political obstacle to a new business model for the Postal Service is the Federal budget deficit. Every legislative action to maintain postal services in light of current financial losses, and fund the transition that will create a new business model will have budgetary implications. Thee budgetary implications will likely become the primary arguments of postal competitors and other opponents of reform for delaying necessary changes that would make the Postal Service a viable and customer-focused provider of delivery and delivery related services."

 The latest issue of Postal Technology International is now available online.

Publishing Executive has told its readers to "Plan for Another Postal Increase, Cautions Expert."

The Chicago Tribune has reported that "A federal appeals court has reversed a federal judge's order that religious displays be removed from a Manchesterstore that offers postal services. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in a decision released Thursday, says Sincerely Yours Inc., a contract postal unit operated by the Full Gospel Interdenominational Church, is not a classified post office and doesn't need to be regulated like one. The judges say only the postal counter, boxes and shelving units must be cleared of religious material and there should be "a visual cue" distinguishing the postal facility from the private ministry space."

The Orlando Sentinel has reported that "With the federal government already running record deficits, the idea of a taxpayer subsidy for the Postal Service should be a nonstarter in Congress. The agency needs to get its house in order without a bailout. Congress and the Postal Service need to strive together to make sure that any new cost-cutting measures make the agency more efficient, not more obsolete. There is still plenty of room for its daily, door-to-door delivery model. Additionally, or alternatively, the Postal Service could save serious money by further reducing its employee costs, which make up 80 percent of its expenses, according to the GAO. Its workers get much more generous health and life insurance benefits than those at other federal agencies."

Viet Nam News has reported that "Viet Nam Post (VNPost) has become a member of Eurogiro, a global network of financial institutions, providing a payment gateway into the country. Membership provided an opportunity for the company to expand co-operation with postal companies, banks and financial services providers in 50 countries."

Mybroadband News has reported that "SA Post Office (Sapo) management and union representatives were scheduled to meet for talks in Johannesburg on Friday as the strike by postal workers entered its second day." See also Sowetan and iAfrica.

Hellmail has reported that "According to insiders, it is hoped that some progress could be been made towards ending the current wave of strike action at Royal Mail although a ballot for national strike action would appear to be going ahead as planned next week."

From the Federal Register:

NOTICES
Global Expedited Package Services Contract ,
42338–42339 [E9–20143] [TEXT]  [PDF]

As the New York Times has reported that "The United States Postal Service announced this month that 14 of the city’s roughly 250 post offices are in danger of being closed as part of an attempt to stem its $7 billion deficit. “As far as I can tell, these cuts and closures are akin to moving around furniture on the deck of the Titanic,” said Representative Jerrold L. Nadler, a Democrat who represents parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn. “There is no excuse for the Postal Service to give short shrift to customers and cut services that every person and business depends on.” Mr. Nadler hailed legislation he is sponsoring that would require the Postal Service to hold public hearings before closings or consolidations."

The Epoch Times has reported that "Fourteen New York City post offices could close in Manhattan, the Bronx, and Queens according to U.S Post Office (USPS) reports, leaving many community members without their local post office. In response, local officials assembled on Thursday in front of the West Village Post Office, which is one of the five Manhattan post offices in danger of closure. Members of the community and postal union were also there to voice their concerns. “Small businesses would be devastated. The elderly, poor people, the disabled, they don’t have the options,” said Chuck Zlatkin, the legislative and political director for APWU, the New York Metro Area Postal Union."

The Suburban has reported that "The Township Council is expected to take a stand against possible changes in mail delivery that they believe could negatively affect residents. Councilman Patrick Gillespie on Monday proposed that the council pass a resolution in response to potential processing changes that may delay mail in ZIP codes that begin with 088 and 089. Many towns in Middlesex County have an 088 ZIP code, including Old Bridge, Sayreville and South Amboy. The possible change was brought to the council's attention by Hank Anderson, president of the American Postal Workers Union, Central New Jersey Local 149, who appeared at Monday's meeting in order to explain the details and his view on the effects of the change. "I'm here to urge you to oppose a processing change that will no doubt have a serious affect on Old Bridge businesses and important deliveries," Anderson said. "

AllBusiness has reported that "After six long years, one of the most contentious lawsuits in the history of franchising has finally gone to trial in California. It pits thousands of small franchise owners against shipping giant United Parcel Service, which sparked the row after acquiring Mail Box Etc. After closing the deal in 2001, UPS began a major effort to convince the 3,400 franchise owners to rename their outlets “The UPS Store” and to sign an amended franchise agreement. At first, both sides seemed to be on the same page. But the franchisees charge that the company’s effort to convert them, known as the Gold Shield campaign, after UPS’s ubiquitous logo, was intentionally deceptive and materially changed the ground rules for their operations. In effect, they claim, it broke their franchise agreement and dismantled the existing franchise structure."

According to one writer from the Shreveport Times, "Every time I hear in the news now about the enormous deficit the U.S. Postal Service is expected to run this year, I wonder who is in charge of this inefficient bureaucracy. Is it the same folks who ran General Motors and Chrysler into the ground?...The Postal Service is clearly heading toward insolvency....For too long the Postal Service has been inefficient, and it has failed to adapt to the changing times....In order for the Postal Service to succeed, it needs to be leaner and better organized to adapt to our rapidly changing electronic world. The Postal Service needs to reconsider further increases in the price of stamps, as this just sends even more people away from using the mail. The Postal Service should be adjusting its staffing needs now and not waiting for further developments. Our government cannot afford to bail out yet another poorly run organization."

The Berkshire Eagle has reported that "The U.S. Postal Service will relocate several letter-sorting machines from the Pittsfield Post Office on Fenn Street to Springfield on Saturday -- a move that will designate 19 local employees for reassignment. This move will not result in layoffs, and will not affect the mail carriers or delivery schedules for postal customers. The affected employees are postal clerks"

The Star Ledger has reported that "The U.S. Postal Service says it's only a study. But postal workers fear it's the first step toward a massive consolidation at mail processing plants that would cut the afternoon shift in Edison and possibly shut down Whippany and Newark. There are 500 postal workers at the Kilmer Processing and Distribution Center in Edison; 800 at the Newark plant, and 400 at the West Jersey plant in Whippany. Employees from the Edison plant have been traveling across Central Jersey -- from New Brunswick to Clinton, Old Bridge to Flemington -- warning that potential job losses could delay mail delivery. Members of the Central Jersey postal union have spoken at town council meetings. They're lobbying local officials to oppose cutbacks at the Edison plant, which processes mail for zip codes beginning in 088 and 089."

Prairie Post has noted that "Although officials with the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) are pleased to see an independent advisory panel has not recommended the deregulation of public postal services, they are still concerned about the future of rural post offices."

At the Postal Regulatory Commission:

Electric Light & Power has told its readers that "No one wants to pay more for postage, but since the rate increase is unavoidable, a more positive approach is to seek ways to make your mailings work harder to pay their own freight. One way to do this is to develop a TransPromo program, which means combining your regular monthly mailings of bills and statements with revenue-generating marketing and customer relationship management (CRM) materials. Telecommunications companies, health care providers, and many of the larger utilities have been utilizing this tactic for a while by bundling marketing and other types of information in the same envelope with the monthly bill. Because customers open and carefully read their bills, you can be assured they will see your promotional offer in a timely way. And with First Class mail, you can also deploy USPS tools to track delivery times so that you can coordinate telemarketing efforts—or even collection procedures—with the arrival of the mailed piece."

August 20, 2009

Yahoo! Finance has reported that "Shipping giant UPS is being accused of not paying overtime to account managers who go door-to-door making sales pitches to businesses."

Panhandle Parade has reported that "The Bay Area Drug Gang Enforcement Squad, also known as BADGES, removed 6.5 pounds of Marijuana from hitting the streets of Bay County. BADGES along with the U.S. Postal Inspector’s office were made aware of an arrest of two individuals in Arizona. The arresting agency notified the Postal Inspectors Office about a package that may be enroute to Panama City via the U.S. Mail service. With the help of the Panama City Police Department’s K-9 Turk the package was located."

The Hour has reported that "U.S. postal workers were among 10 people charged with operating a "Lotto"-style gambling business out of offices at the U.S. Postal Service and an agency that operates trains and buses. Federal authorities arrested nine of the defendants Thursday, including some current U.S. Postal Service workers. A 10th person was already arrested in a related case." See also Fox44News and New York Post.

The Mercury News has reported that "The U.S. Postal Service is investigating its own staff at the main post office in West Oakland, but officials declined to say what the investigation is about." See also the Oakland Tribune.

President Barack Obama on Aug. 6 named Commissioner Ruth Y. Goldway chairman of the Postal Regulatory Commission. Goldway, the former mayor of Santa Monica, succeeds Dan G. Blair. MultiChannelMerchant senior writer Jim Tierney caught up with Goldway to discuss her plans for her new role.

The following reports have been posted on the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General website (http://www.uspsoig.gov/) today.  If you have additional questions concerning the report, please contact Wally Olihovik at 703.248. 2201, or Agapi Doulaveris at 703.248.2286.
  • The Office of Inspector General’s Office of Audit reviewed the Postal Service’s custodial maintenance operations nationwide.  In fiscal year (FY) 2008, the audit found the Postal Service used 3.4 million cleaning hours more than necessary for the 436 sites reviewed.  If postal management reduced cleaning frequencies and eliminated the duplication of cleaning and policing activities, these sites could save $848 million over 10 years, while maintaining an acceptable standard of cleanliness and safety.  For more details of this report, click on the link: DA-AR-09-011(R) - Custodial Maintenance – Nationwide
 
Additional audits posted today:

Press Release: "BCC Software has launched a new electronic version of their bimonthly print newsletter, the BCC Bulletin. This new weekly newsletter – sent via e-mail to BCC customers, and to non-customer subscribers – will discuss industry news and important company developments in a convenient and timely format. The BCC eBulletin (available at www.bccsoftware.com/whybcc/pressroom.aspx), will feature postal and mailing topics, the most up-to-date product release information, updates about appearances at industry events and tradeshows, and other topics of interest to the professional mailing industry.

From Marketwire: "Stamps.com, the leading provider of postage online and shipping software solutions, today announced that customers can now test its PC Postage® software through the HP Creative Studio for Business."

The Washington Post has reported that "Postmaster General John Potter weighed in on President Obama's recent comments about the Postal Service on Wednesday afternoon, doing his best to boost morale amid the mail service's worsening financial condition. In his message to employees, Potter recounted that Obama and lawmakers have invoked the Postal Service's financial woes as an example of the possible perils of government intervention with the nation's health care system." See the Potter letter posted on this site.

CNSNews has reported that "U.S. Postal Service managers are upset with President Barack Obama for denigrating the Postal Service as part of his argument defending the idea of creating a government-run health insurance plan to compete with private insurers."

According to the IndyChannel, "USPS is considering consolidating the operations of part of Bloomington's sorting facility with Indianapolis, citing a dramatic decline in mail the facility handles and the organization's need to trim its budget, 6News' Sarah Cornell reported. The move has angered some residents who rely on quick service from the USPS and are concerned the change will slow things down, and employees who don't want things to change."

The BBC has reported that "Postal workers have walked out in the Midlands, Bristol, Yorkshire and south- east England. The Communication Workers Union says it aims to stop deliveries in and out of London for 24 hours. The bad feeling between the union and ministers has continued, with the CWU calling yesterday's comments by Lord Mandelson "a disgrace".

The U.S. Postal Service and FedEx Express have renewed their alliance for Global Express Guaranteed (GXG), the Postal Service's premier, date-certain international delivery service to more than 190 countries and territories.

August 19, 2009

MortgageOrb has reported that "Fiserv Inc. has introduced its new eMessaging Service that enables mortgage companies to communicate legal disclosures, regulatory updates and service-related information via e-mail directly to customers who have elected to go paperless and receive bills electronically. Michelle Flint, vice president and general manager of Fiserv’s Biller Solutions division, says that more than 64 million U.S. households opt to pay bills online. However, “because billing organizations typically send service or regulatory messages to their customers through traditional postal mail, they may not be achieving their paperless cost saving goals."

At the Postal Regulatory Commission:

Dow Jones has reported that "As many as 14,000 postal workers in South Africa are set to walk off the job to protest against what their union Wednesday said is an "apartheid" wage gap."

Marketing Daily has reported that "Add Unilever and Kroger to the growing ranks of digital coupon partnerships, as consumers become more and more willing to seek out high-tech sources for old-fashioned deals. Increasingly, Americans aren't just willing to get coupons from such new sources -- they're happy about it. A new study from Scarborough Research reports that 8.6 million - or 8% -- of U.S. households currently get at least some coupons via text message and/or email. And while the Sunday newspaper is still the primary source of coupons (with 51% of households relying on them), followed by in-store coupons (35%), loyalty cards like Kroger's are a huge draw, with 21% of households drawing on them for savings." [EdNote: Remember when these things could be found in the mail?]

The Wall Street Journal has reported that "Major retailers reported that American consumers are continuing to hunker down, casting a cloud over the durability of the U.S. recovery and underscoring the importance of overseas demand in restoring the world economy to health."

The Courier, Express, and Postal Observer has noted that "Business Week has just posted a review of a new book by Darryl Rigby, the former head of Bain & Co.'s retail practice. Entitled, "Winning in Turbulance," the book looks at what strategies work in surviving a downturn....The review states that a key to Mr. Rigby's view on surving turbulance is the company's position prior to economic challenges. A company's ability to survive economic turbulance depends on their financial position going into the turbulence. If the firm is financially sound going in, it is more likely to come out of the turbulence a survivor. The article identities three traps, that Mr. Rigby identified, that management has to avoid if possible as it works through turbulance Going after new customers through price cutting as these customers may abandon you once the recover occurs and pricing becomes more rational. Cutting costs in ways that core customers notice. Curtailing customer focused innovation."

According to the Daily Democrat, "There are two proposals being floated to help put the post office in the black. One is to cut delivery to five days a week. That should be avoided. Losing service on either of those days would mean that every time a Monday holiday comes up, the nation would be without mail for three days in a row. A better idea is to look at ways to expand. In other countries, postal offices also offer such things as cell phone and banking services. There also are some interesting ideas being floated for bringing the Postal Service into the Internet age, such as having it provide spam-free e-mail boxes or servers where sensitive information could be securely exchanged. All such ideas should be explored."

The Logan Banner has asked: "The nation faces a question: Is universal postal delivery a privilege or a right? Business factors will make the answer easier. The advent of technology and competition means there is a new ‘‘normal’’ in the daily postal business. Determinations of just what that ‘‘normal’’ is now and will be in the future will provide the answer to the question of universal postal delivery, six days a week."

CBS has reported that "In the letter, National Association of Postal Supervisors President Ted Keating reportedly said there was "collective disappointment that you chose the Postal Service as a scapegoat and an example of inefficiency....White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said at his daily press briefing Tuesday that Mr. Obama has probably not seen Keating's letter. "I doubt he's seen that letter, and I don't have any reason to believe he regrets (what he said), since he repeated it," Gibbs said. Gibbs also made the comparison on Sunday when speaking about health care reform on CBS' "Face the Nation.". "I don't think (President Obama) was saying that what we were going to do is create the postal service for health care," he said. "

According to Wellington Scoop, "Negotiations at New Zealand Post’s largest subsidiary, ECL, have broken down and workers have voted for industrial action says the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union. The industrial action, which has begun with a work-to-rule in Wellington and Christchurch, follows the company’s refusal to negotiate a fair pay claim."

DM News has reported that "The US Postal Service has announced it will begin attaching additional postage charges to any commercial Standard Mail that does not meet its acceptance rate for Move Update standards in January 2010. Move Update compliance has been mandatory for commercial mail since November 23, 2008. This decision requires that mailers select one of the postal-approved methods to regularly update mailing list addresses against customer-filed change-of-address notifications in order to reduce the forwarding or return-to-sender charges. Under the new decision, mailers for which more than 30% of addresses fail an update check will be assessed for additional fees. This assessment will apply to a portion of the mailing based on the percentage by which the measured error rate exceeds the 30% tolerance. Mailers will have the option to pay the additional postage or withdraw the mailing. The US Postal Service has scheduled webinars on the Move Update Standard and the January changes for September 3 and 15."

Hellmail has reported that "The Communication Workers Union today said it was pushing ahead with further strike action across the country as the deadlock between the union and Royal Mail continues. The CWU said action is over cuts to jobs and services and Royal Mail's lack of willingness to negotiate on modernisation, accusing Royal Mail of abusing work measurement systems to increase workloads to breaking point. Dave Ward, Communication Workers Union deputy general secretary, said: “Postal workers are more productive than ever handling more mail with a diminishing workforce. Stress is now reaching breaking point while morale is at an all-time low."

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

The upcoming potential change of government in Japan has tilted the schedule for the privatisation of Japan Post. According to current polls, the Democratic Party of Japan, a proclaimed opponent to the privatisation planned for next year, will win the parliament elections taking place on 30 August.
Significant decreases in volume have triggered a heavy profit collapse for Post Danmark in the first half of the year.
The persistent difficult market environment has brought Österreichische Post decreasing sales and a lower profit in the first half of the year. Just how much the economic crisis is affecting the post’s results can be seen in the parcel segment.
An increasing parcel volume and decreasing mail volumes shaped the development of the Norwegian postal market last year.
Deutsche Post plans to pay new employees in the mail segment only the minimum wage in the future. As already announced, the post also plans to raise the weekly working hours from 38.5 hours to 40 hours without wage adjustment.
Despite public criticism, Lars G. Nordström, CEO of the new Posten Norden AB, plans to hold on to his six other board of directors mandates.
French trade unions are complaining about lousy working conditions for postmen, bullying, stress, excessive demands and exploitation of trainees at La Poste.
The new postal act in China, which comes into effect as of this October, gives the post the right to open letters and parcels "for security reasons".
The Chinese EMS service has opened a direct route to South Korea.
Five thousand express services were active in China last year.
Posten Norge is getting a better grip on its service quality. The latest delivery time measurement shows that 89.6 per cent of A post was delivered the day after dispatch.
The Ministry for State Enterprises has replaced almost the whole of the top management team at Pos Indonesia.
The revolving door is turning again in the top management at DHL Global Mail. Thomas Kipp was appointed as CEO at the beginning of August. Kipp has been advising Deutsche Post since 1999 and has been a member of the divisional board of the mail sector since 2006. He was most recently responsible for the European mail business on the executive board at Global Mail Europe. Furthermore, he has been responsible for the operational Global Mail business at the corporate headquarters. He will retain both responsibilities in addition to his new position. He is thereby the successor of Joe Phelan, who assumed the role of CEO in October 2008 and left the company of his own accord.
 

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

According to a Postal Service spokesman in a letter to the Chicago Tribune: "The Aug. 8 editorial "Red letter year" accurately lays out the current state of the U.S. Postal Service. Mailing habits have changed, volume has left the system and revenue has declined. But identifying our employees and our obligations to them as "the heart of the problem" mischaracterizes the nature and extent of our crisis." [EdNote: Maybe he hasn't read the GAO report.]

From the Federal Register:

RULES
International Mail ,
41791–41794 [E9–19855] [TEXT]  [PDF]
NOTICES
Postal Service Price Changes ,
41947–41948 [E9–19854] [TEXT]  [PDF

If you check the Postal Regulatory Commission web site on a regular basis, you might notice the new section that's there on international postal affairs. It says in part:

The Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) plays an active international role in postal regulation. The Commission takes very seriously our statutory responsibility under the 2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act to provide our views to the U.S. Department of State with respect to international agreements on rates and classifications for market dominant products and their consistency with our modern regulations for rate setting. We work closely with the U.S. Department of State, which is responsible for the overall formulation of international postal policy, to develop and promote U.S. interests in such international organizations as the Universal Postal Union. We also work closely with the Postal Service, the Department of Commerce, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and are a member of the Federal Advisory Committee on International Postal and Delivery Services. The Commission also fosters direct engagement with other postal regulators in order to share valuable information, experiences and best practices.

The Indy Channel has reported that "Bloomington postal workers protested Tuesday against a proposed cost-saving plan they said will delay the mail. The United States Postal Service's plan would shut down the sorting operation in Bloomington, instead trucking mail overnight to Indianapolis to be sorted, processed and then shipped back for delivery."

The BBC has reported that the British "postal strike hits parcel depot. Next week, the union is planning to ballot its members on holding a national strike."

At the Postal Regulatory Commission:

August 18, 2009

The Courier, Express, and Postal Observer has noted that "The headline says it all, "The U.S. Postal Service: Our Next Bankruptcy?" While the stark headline is startling, the potential impact is even more so. The article by Delia Lloyd was published on the website Politics Daily, a new politics website that now attracts 3.6 million unique users every month. It is not clear whether the article and the millions that will read it will sufficiently raise awareness of the Postal Service's difficulties to move postal policy higher on the agenda of Congress and the White House....An examination of the mailing industry worldwide clearly shows that the industry is suffering and that entities that plan to survive and continue to serve their customers and meet universal service obligations are making significant changes quickly. "

From Canada NewsWire: "The Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) has launched a campaign to organize drivers at Dynamex Inc. in Edmonton."

According to one USNews blogger, "President Barack Obama's not-so-subtle dig at the U.S. Postal Service—"UPS and FedEx are doing just fine. ... It's the Post Office that's always having problems"—has sent his cheerful relations with America's postal unions to the dead letter office. The remark, a reminder of how Obama tends to stumble when he gets off script, was made during an August 11 town hall on healthcare in Portsmouth, N.H., as the president tried in vain to defend the inclusion of a "public option" alternative in his reform package. Ted Keating, the president of the powerful and politically well-connected National Association of Postal Supervisors, was one of those who took offense, taking the president to task in an August 14 letter for using the post office as a "scapegoat" and for failing to account for the overtime, management, and work-hour reductions the USPS has made over the last year. The paper went on to note that Obama's comparison of the private companies with the post office did not take into account the lack of a level playing field between the entities. "The Postal Service has to contend with unions, lawmakers and the Postal Regulatory Commission and as a result, can't raise prices or close facilities on a whim the way its private-sector counterparts can when mail volume plunges," the paper said—which, while a robust defense of the post office, is not exactly helpful in the context of the president's vision for healthcare reform."

Hellmail has reported that "Despite calls by CWU leader Billy Hayes for the government to intervene in the present industrial dispute between the Communication Workers Union and Royal Mail, Lord Mandelson gave the clearest sign yet that the government has no intention of becoming embrolied in the row over the modernisation of the state-owned postal service. "Time and again in the past, the CWU has asked ministers to intervene in their disputes and their strikes to frustrate Royal Mail modernisation. I have instructed this will not happen. It is time for the union to wake up to the need for change to stop the Mail's further decline."

The Environmental Leader has reported that "Pitney Bowes Inc. has reduced its overall carbon emissions by 4.5 percent and increased its waste recycling/prevention by 45.5 percent, according to the company’s Corporate Responsibility Report for 2008."

CNN Money has reported that "The credit card industry, among the most prolific of the direct-mailers, sent out 5.4 billion pieces of direct mail in 2008, down from 7.3 billion in 2007, according to Mintel. The decline became even steeper this year, with less than 900 million pieces mailed in the first six months. The mortgage industry has also slowed down its direct mail offers of secured loans, from a peak of nearly 4 billion pieces in 2005, to about 1.1 billion pieces in 2008, according to Mintel. Only 220 million pieces have been mailed in the first six months of this year. About the only industries still sending offers are insurers and telecommunications companies, said Davidson of Mintel. He said that "bundle" deals that include telephone, cable and Internet service remain popular, as are life and automobile insurance, which are some of the last things cash-strapped consumers will give up. Dr. Ramesh Lakshmi-Ratan, chief operating officer of the Direct Marketing Association, an industry trade group, expects direct mail to make a comeback over the next few years, once the economy as a whole recovers. "Do I see a good future for the Postal Service and direct mail?" he said. "Absolutely, but I think it's going to be different." Going forward, he projects that the direct mail industry will have less emphasis on credit and more on savings-driven spending, as consumer habits shift towards cash over credit."

At the Postal Regulatory Commission:


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


The following has been posted on the 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 http://blog.uspsoig.gov/
 
  • Periodicals.  Rate increases for Periodicals (magazines and newspapers) are capped at inflation under current law, but the law also says products should cover their costs.  Periodicals revenue covered only 84 percent of attributable costs in FY 2008.  However, there is a longstanding public policy goal to disseminate information by mail throughout the country using low Periodicals rates.   So what do you think about Periodicals prices and the role of Periodicals in today’s mailstream?
 
You can visit Office of Inspector General’s public website at:  www.uspsoig.govYou can also follow us on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/OIGUSPS.  If you have additional questions, please contact Communication and Work Life Director Agapi Doulaveris at 703.248.2286.

International Business Times has reported that:

  • Lord Mandelson has told the Communcation Workers Union to "wake up" and help revitalise the Royal Mail instead of blocking modernisation.
  • The UK government has been urged by the Communication Workers Union general secretary Billy Hayes to intervene in the bitter dispute between the postal workers and Royal Mail. Hayes urged the government to step in and urge Royal Mail managers to enter into talks with the union to break the deadlock." [EdNote: In short, "make them see things our way."]

DMM Advisory:  The August 18, 2009 DMM Advisory has been posted on this site. Also . . . .

New Deflection Standards Postponed until January 2010. We are extending implementation of the new deflection standards for flat-size mailpieces from September 8, 2009 to January 4, 2010. Mailers are encouraged to take this opportunity and ensure their flats meet the new deflection standards in January. Current deflection standards will continue to apply only for automation flats during the extension period. For additional information on deflection and allowable droop, please go to our final rule Federal Register (74 FR 15380-15484), New Standards for Domestic Services published on April 6, 2009. You can also access this document on Postal Explorer at pe.usps.com by clicking on Federal Register Notices in the left frame. Please note that we are retaining the September 8, 2009 implementation date for polywrap standards applying to nonautomation flats.  

Move Update Standard. The Move Update standard requires that mailers select one of the postal-approved methods to periodically update the addresses contained within a mailing list by comparing the address records on the mailing list against customer-filed change-of-address (COA) orders and making the necessary updates before mailing. Compliance with the Move Update standard reduces the number of mailpieces that require forwarding or return-to-sender services. On November 23, 2008 we expanded the Move Update requirement to include all commercial Standard Mail®. Commercial First-Class Mail® has been subject to the Move Update requirement since July 1, 1997. We also changed the minimum frequency of Move Update processing from 185 days to 95 days prior to mailing. Customers must certify on their postage statements which Move Update method they used. Customers who do not use a USPS®-approved Move Update method are subject to single-piece prices.

In April 2009, we began providing feedback to mailers on the quality of their Move Update process based on a verification process using live samples from the mailing. Business Mail Acceptance personnel share the results of the verifications and work with customers to improve addressing quality. These reports are also available online via the Business Customer Gateway. Refer to the Guide to Accessing Move Update reports at http://ribbs.usps.gov/index.cfm?page=moveupdate to understand how to access and use these reports. These reports are available at any site that uses the Mail Evaluation Readability Lookup Instrument (MERLIN) to perform verifications. A list of Business Mail Entry Units that use MERLIN is also posted on the RIBBS Move Update page. If you are not receiving reports or if you have questions about accessing reports you can send an email to moveupdatereports@usps.gov.

Beginning in January, we will use this information to assess additional postage on noncompliant mailings. Effective January 2010, a Move Update postage assessment will be calculated at acceptance if more than 30 percent of the addresses that should have been updated were not updated. This assessment will apply to a portion of the mailing based on the percentage by which the measured error rate exceeds the 30 percent tolerance. Mailers have the option to pay the additional postage or withdraw the mailing. For additional information regarding this, please refer to the Move Update Advisement Policy document at:  http://ribbs.usps.gov/move_update/documents/tech_guides/Move_Update_Advisement_Policy.pdf.

We will conduct educational Webinars on the Move Update Standard and the January changes. The Webinars are scheduled for September 3 and 15, 2009. The links and phone numbers to connect to the sessions will be published on RIBBS and in a future DMM Advisory.

The London Free Press has reported that "Canada’s smaller municipalities are again urging the federal government to protect rural post offices against closure or privatization. Hundreds of town councils are sending petitions to Ottawa asking the junior minister in charge of Canada Post, Rob Merrifield, to protect a decade-long moratorium on post office closures."

According to Bloomberg, "No institution has been the butt of more government- inefficiency jokes than the U.S. Postal Service. Maybe the Department of Motor Vehicles. When Obama compared the post office to UPS and FedEx, he was clearly hoping to assuage voter concerns about a public health-care option undercutting and eliminating private insurance. What he did instead was conjure up visions of long lines and interminable waits. Why do we need or want a health-care system that works like the post office?"

The York Press has reported that "a union leader has warned that industrial action by postal workers will hit York unless Royal Mail agrees to negotiate over proposed changes in working practices."

Hellmail has reported that "Industrial action at Royal Mail is set to continue next week, threatening online retailers who have already seen a decrease in orders due to the economic crisis. One retailer in the north-east that supplies sporting equipment and did not wish to be named said: "This will be the death knell for many e-tailers. Its hard enough bringing in new orders in this recession without this on top. For us it will be a case of switching to services such as City-Link. If we can't deliver, customers think will just its us and then they go elsewhere, but thats not an option for some sellers, particularly those that have already lost their jobs and are making ends meet by selling small items on Ebay." he said."

The Local has reported that "Germany’s main mail carrier Deutsche Post has its customers hot under the collar this summer as it uses the seasonal slowdown to cut back on their letter delivery service."

From the Federal Register:

International Mail ,
41633–41637 [E9–19757] [TEXT]  [PDF]
NOTICES
New Competitive Postal Product ,
41758–41759 [E9–19808] [TEXT]  [PDF]
41759–41760 [E9–19809] [TEXT]  [PDF]

UPS has announced that all U.S.-based eBay sellers using eBay Selling Manager Applications now have a direct, free connection from within eBay to the shipping system UPS WorldShip®. Integration of WorldShip by eBay allows sellers to import their eBay order information into WorldShip and eliminate manual key entry. Then, sellers can easily export shipping data from WorldShip and automatically update their eBay orders with UPS tracking numbers.

The Bangkok Post has reported that "Snail mail, for centuries the main form of communication between people separated by distance, refuses to go the way of the dodo. Letters are not fading out in the high-speed communications era as many people think. Thailand Post statistics show the number of letters being posted annually has risen from 1.05 billion in 2005 to 1.13 in 2006 and further to 1.3 billion in 2008. Most are business and direct-sales letters. Very few are personal letters, said Wiboon Sereechaiporn, assistant vice president of Thailand Post's corporate and marketing communications department. "The number of letters has increased over the past four years, but most of them are business letters," Mr Wiboon said."

August 17, 2009

There's an EXCELLENT article in this week's Economist titled "Unwired." I'd recommend you read it, and let your mind run a little freely to discern that the challenge facing telecom landlines closely parallel the challenge facing the post.

At the Postal Regulatory Commission:

The BBC has reported that "Workers at Royal Mail have started strikes following a disagreement over cuts to jobs and services. The strikes will run on selected days between 17 and 24 August."

The New York Times has reported that "AOL, often derided as the original gated community, is now manufacturing a broad array of digital media that is free for the grabbing. There are 300 working content producers in its New York headquarters, backed by hundreds of other freelancers and programmers in Bangalore, Dublin and Dulles, cranking out copy and editing photos for more than 80 Web sites. Ten are ranked in Technorati’s top 100. Politics Daily, which began in April, already has 3.6 million unique users a month, while Politico, a much more established name, has 1.1 million, according to comScore, a digital audience measurement company. In the aggregate, the media properties at AOL have about 76 million unique visitors."

MediaDailyNews has reported that "The Direct Marketing Association says direct mail volume will probably drop as much as 10%, reports Adweek. The blame is placed on the consumer credit crisis, ongoing mortgage crisis and overall recession. Hard-hit by the lack of direct mail has been the U.S. Postal Service, which lost $2.4 billion for the quarter. USPS is currently pushing Congress to limit mail delivery days to five."

Folio has reported that "The Reader’s Digest Association today said it has reached an agreement in principle with a majority of its senior secured lenders on terms of a restructuring plan to reduce the company’s debt from $2.2 billion to $550 million. As part of the agreement, RDA expects to implement the restructuring under a voluntary pre-packaged Chapter 11 filing in U.S. bankruptcy court."

According to UTalkMarketing.com, "Companies that fail to target 16 to 24 year-olds through the post could be missing out on valuable sales, according to new research from the Mail Media Centre (www.mmc.co.uk). The majority of 16 to 24 year-olds receives less than one piece of branded direct mail through the post a week. However, research shows that 90% open all their post and the age group is the most responsive with 71% having acted on the direct mail they have received."

From PR-Inside: "As students prepare to head back to school, AIS Media, an award-winning Interactive marketing and web services company, sees more retailers utilize their services to reach customers online. Instead of heading to brick-and-mortar stores, more parents are letting their fingers do the walking and shopping online for their back-to-school purchases. To reach this growing number of online shoppers, retailers are shifting more of their marketing budgets from newspaper ads and direct mail to search engine marketing and email marketing."

Hellmail has reported that "Lithuanian Post (Lietuvos Pastas) may be partially privatised or sold off completely after 2010. Although no formal plans have been put forward, the Lithuanian Pastas president, Arturas Staras, said the need to modernise the postal service to meet European demands for a fully liberalised postal market, may mean either a partial or complete sell-off."

DMIOnline has reported that "A proposal by Australia Post to increase the basic postage rate by 5c next year will result in a significant drop in business demand for mail services, the Australian Direct Marketing Association (ADMA) has warned the postal operator."

From the Federal Register:

Postal Regulatory Commission
 
RULES
Global Plus 1 Contracts ,
41336–41340 [E9–19440]

[TEXT]  [PDF]

Dead Tree Edition has noted that "Unless inflation suddenly rears its head in the next few months, any increases in U.S. postal rates next year would have to be by emergency request rather than being based on inflation. Inflation would have to rise at an annualized rate of 5% during the final five months of the year for the Postal Service to have even the tiniest of price caps for rate increases in May. The inflation rate would have to spike to 15% for the rest of this year for the price cap to rise by just 1%."

Wales Online has reported that "the Royal Mail paid South Wales households more than £100,000 in compensation for missing, stolen and delayed items of mail, figures revealed today. Lost parcels included CDs, DVDs and cheques sent as gifts. Customers need to show proof of ordering or of posting to claim compensation, with about two in every three claims succeeding."

The Yorkshire Post has reported that "Royal Mail paid almost £1m in compensation to customers in Yorkshire last year, new figures reveal. The postal service, which is being riven by industrial action, coughed up £976,451 for complaints including loss, damage and delay in 2008-09 –up on about £960,000 a year earlier."

According to FreshBusinessThinking, "Dave Ward, Communication Workers Union deputy general secretary, said: "Royal Mail management is trying to crush the British postal service.” That might well be the case but, quite frankly, his members are like turkeys voting for Xmas."

NBC4i has reported that "Central Ohio postal workers are up in arms about proposed cuts that the federal government plans to impose in the near future. The American Postal Workers Union claims the United States Postal Service will contract out 54 local truck driver jobs and close three Central Ohio post offices to help reduce costs. “These are permanent dangers for a temporary problem. They’re doing it in the name of reducing costs. They will not return,“ Michael Schmid, president of the APWU Columbus chapter, said."

Hellmail has reported that "industrial action at Royal Mail continues this week at various locations across the UK. The Communication Workers Union said the action is in direct response to what it described as Royal Mail's failure to meet all the terms of the 2007 pay & modernisation agreement and lack of clarity over modernisation plans."

The India Press Information Bureau has reported that "The Department of Posts has subscribed to the Global Monitoring System(GSM) of the Universal Postal Union (UPU). This is a quality monitoring system for International mails. India Post delivers about 2100 tonnes of International Letter Mail received from different countries. This translates into 31 million articles per year, which are deliverable in every corner of the country. India Post aims to achieve better service quality in delivery of International letter mail to its customers and has therefore made a substantial investment in this project. At present the Global Monitoring System (GMS) is being tested in ten countries including India. The testing will continue up to December, 2009."

"Here we go again," TechCrunch warned its readers. "The newspaper industry is blaming online news aggregators for its dwindling profits and inability to adapt to a world of links and truly-free flowing information. (They like it when information flows freely into their pages, but not so much when it flows out)."

Howard Kurtz at the Washington Post went on record saying that "Dan Rather is wrong. Barack Obama should stay out of it. We don't need no stinkin' presidential commission. It's not that the former CBS anchor has delivered a flawed diagnosis. The news business, as Rather wrote in a Washington Post op-ed, is in deep trouble, particularly the print side. But his prescription -- that only high-level White House involvement can draw sufficient attention to the media's plight -- badly misses the mark."

The Sun-Sentinel has told its readers that "Any smart CEO will tell you no business can cut its way to success, so raising new revenue will be critical to USPS' long-term sustainability. Postmaster General John Potter has urged Congress to follow the lead of other similarly situated countries by allowing post offices to host other non-traditional services, like banking transactions or driver's license renewal. It's a smart idea, especially in this one-stop-shopping era. Like many businesses, the postal service is being transformed in the Information Age. It can still play a vital role for generations to come, but whether it does depends on how well it adapts today."

10TV.com has reported that "Postal workers took to the picket line on Sunday to protest proposed cuts to their services."

Business Week has told its readers that "The deficit-burdened agency asks Congress to consider new jobs for carriers, such as drug delivery, that utilize their 'last mile' advantage. Fred Rolando, the new president of the National Association of Letter Carriers, the union that represents 300,000 active and retired letter carriers...believes Postal Service carriers could perform such services as helping with Neighborhood Watch efforts and checking on older people who might need assistance. The extra revenue would come from businesses and governmental and community organizations who would pay the Postal Service for performing services at their behest....The proposal with perhaps the best odds of materializing in the near term is that of the Postal Service's making special, express deliveries of vaccines and other pharmaceuticals to hospitals or doctors' offices."

The Kansas City Star has reported that "The Postal Service may request a rise above the Consumer Price Index in “extraordinary or exceptional circumstances,” but many warn that an attempt to close the revenue gap with rate increases would only drive mail volume and revenue further down."

According to Newsday, "The nation's second largest employer is beset by dwindling mail and management restrictions that have it slogging through red ink toward an uncertain future - unless Congress delivers some relief. Congress needs to cut some strings. In 2006, the postal service was ostensibly freed to operate as a profit-making business. Congress should let it. Then postal officials must use any financial breathing room and management freedom they can get to restructure operations. And to secure its future in the digital age, officials need to be creative in reimagining what the postal service does and ways to modernize and expand."

According to the Bangor Daily News, "Eighty percent of the service’s budget is devoted to personnel costs. Clearly, this is where cost-cutting efforts must be focused."

CBS News has reported that "White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said on Face the Nation Sunday that President Obama is still in favor a government-sponsored health insurance plan -- but does not intend to replicate the beleaguered U.S. Postal Service."

The New York Post has told its readers that if "Obamacare Will Be Run As Well As The Post Office. Fear For Your Lives!"

August 16, 2009

As Bob Greene of CNN put it: "The romance of the mail has never been about logic. The little daily thrill of seeing the mail carrier approaching is not because we know for a fact that he, or she, has something good for us in that bag. These days, he probably doesn't."

The Press Association has reported that "Thousands of postal workers will launch fresh strikes this week as industrial relations continue to worsen ahead of a national ballot for action. The CWU is planning to ballot all its postal members next month for a national strike following several weeks of localised action." See also the BBC.

USNews has noted that "The U.S. Postal Service is in serious financial trouble. Last year, it had a $2 billion deficit. This year, it is on track to lose $7 billion, and future predictions are equally dire as the economy, rising healthcare costs, and the shift to electronic communication take their toll on the bottom line. The sea of red ink has lawmakers and postal officials struggling to find a way to keep the mail system operating while slashing unsustainably high costs. Salaries represent 80 percent of postal costs, so facility closures will have only a modest impact, officials say. Contracts for the four major postal unions will be up for negotiation in 2010 and 2011."

TheLocal.de has reported that "Deutsche Post, Germany’s privatised mail service, said this weekend that it plans to exit the retail business and close all of the post offices it operates alone. Branches operated jointly with Postbank will continue to stay open. The move is part of a long-announced cost saving measure and will affect just 500 of the company’s 14,000 locations in Germany, according to a Deutsche Post spokesman. most of the post offices facing closure have just one or two windows for customers. The closures will be complete by the end of 2011, by which time all of the post offices in Germany will be run only as partnerships with other businesses, such as most outlets in large cities, which are operated jointly with Postbank, which used to be owned by Deutsche Post."

According to Fredericksburg.com, "imagine going to your local post office to buy stamps and as you reach for the door, you see a big red sign that says "Sorry, Closed--Gone Out of Business." This sounds pretty strange, but if a private firm were bleeding money the way the U.S Postal Service is, it would most likely have shut its doors long ago."

August 15, 2009

From Business Wire: "The UPS Board of Directors has declared a regular quarterly dividend of $0.45 per share on all outstanding Class A and Class B shares. The dividend is payable Sept. 9, 2009, to shareholders of record on Aug. 24, 2009. UPS has either increased or maintained its dividend every year for four decades." [EdNote: Gee, could Obama be right?]

The Atlanta Business Chronicle has reported that "Teamsters Local 2727, the Kentucky union that represents airline mechanics at United Parcel Service Inc., has called on its members to conduct a strike vote. The vote is expected to be taken by Sept. 14."

WINK has reported that "The fight is on to keep the downtown Naples post office open. It is one of three Collier locations on a list the U.S. Postal Service says may be closed. The downtown office is on list of hundreds around the county the U.S. Postal Service may close, but Naples Mayor Bill Barnett wants to stop that. This week, he sent a letter to the Postmaster General, pleading for him to keep the downtown branch open." [EdNote: Sure hope his letter includes a promise for local town funding for the office to keep it open.]

According to Morgan Stanley, "Changes at USPS a Mixed Bag for Parcel."

August 14, 2009

DMM Advisory: Good Addresses are Good Business!  The new Move Update advisement policy for First-Class Mail and Standard Mail has been posted to the RIBBS Web site at http://ribbs.usps.gov/. Working with industry representatives over the past several months, we developed a new Move Update verification procedure and enhanced Change of Address reports.  Effective January 2010, a Move Update postage assessment will be applied at acceptance if more than 30 percent of the addresses that should have been updated were not updated. This assessment will apply to a portion of the mailing calculated based on the percentage by which the measured error rate exceeds the 30 percent tolerance. 

At the Postal Regulatory Commission:

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

  • The U.S. Postal Service has announced it first-ever First-Class Mail sale that will take effect on October 1, 2009 until December 31, 2009. First-Class Mail presort letter, flat, and card prices are all apart of the sale. In meeting its regulatory requirements, the Postal Service has submitted its price adjustment to the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) 45 days prior to the planned implementation date.
  • The Postal Service released its third quarter financials last week for Fiscal Year 2009. This article expands on the USPS revenue and volume decline of over twenty billion pieces for the year resulting in a $4,823 million or 8.4% decrease in revenue, compared to the same period in 2008.
  • The Postal Service published its unaudited June results with the Postal Regulatory Commission. USPS lost over $1.3 billion dollars in June 2009. This year-to-date loss equals $4.7 billion for the first nine months of 2009.
  • During the USPS’ presentations on Full Service IMb implementation at the MTAC meetings this week, the USPS noted that service performance measurement functionality – which had been scheduled to be included in Release 2 on November 29, 2009 – now is planned for Release 3 (currently planned for March 2010). Until that functionality is successfully working in Full Service IMb, the data cannot be used for the hybrid measurement system the USPS has developed, and which was approved by the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC).
  • The USPS this week posted its third quarter service performance reports for all market-dominant products, which covers the period from April 1, 2009, to June 30, 2009. Sharing the Quarter 3 results with the Mailers Technical Advisory Committee (MTAC) earlier this week, USPS Deputy Postmaster General and Chief Operating Officer Pat Donahoe said that the Quarter 3 results included “some bright spots and some things [the USPS] still needs to work on.”
  • USPS vice president of sustainability Sam Pulcrano this week provided the MTAC audience with an update on the Postal Service’s 5-day delivery study, which he said will be the product of a cross-functional USPS team comprised of 30-40 managers tasked with studying the concept. The project includes review of previous assessments and studies, developing a concept of operations, preparing a business case, and drafting implementation plans
  • Steve Masse, Vice President Finance and Planning described the USPS' current financial state. Marie Therese Dominguez, Vice President Government Relations and Public Policy provided MTAC an update on congressional developments on both legislative bills currently being discussed in both the Senate and the House.
  • According to Courier, Express, and Postal Observer, It is clear now that there will be legislation within the next year that will change the business model within which the Postal Service now operates. The fact that new legislation is needed so soon after the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA) was enacted raises questions two critical questions. Did the act cause the crisis that is now focusing policy-maker's attention on the new legislation? Does the current crisis change the political environment sufficiently to allow policymakers to choose options that stakeholders were then unwilling to accept?
  • According to Dead Tree Edition, "Amidst all the facts and figures flying around Capitol Hill this week describing the Postal Service's dire straits, one important -- and troubling -- statistic has been largely ignored: Three percent. It's a number that demonstrates what could be the fly in the ointment for the Postal Service's aggressive cost-saving efforts, such as five-day delivery, route consolidation, and facility closings.
  • Rag Content wants to know: "Why during this troubled times are employees still getting increases in pay? Short answer: it is in their collective bargaining agreement. COLA or cost of living allowances has been a standard part of most of the Postal Service's collective bargaining agreements. By the end of the year, the Postal Service will have paid over $1 billion in COLA. Not only are postal union employees paid more than the average government worker, they now have made compensation gains no other federal employee can match. By the end of the year, postal employees will have gained over $2,000 in pay increases."
  • 2010 MTAC meeting dates. More FCM growth ideas in the hopper. Winter sale in the works? Even more news from MTAC. New York Times offers comments on state of USPS. The Richmond Times-Dispatch chimes in too. UPSFedEx fight escalates. Credit card offers back on the rise? MTAC adds two more workgroups. The latest USPS headquarters officer organizational chart. (appended)
  • A quick update on postal notices published in the Federal Register.
  • Updates on dockets at the Postal Regulatory Commission.
  • An update on DMM Advisory notices issued by the U.S. Postal Service.
  • A review of postal news from around the world.
  • 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 Watertown Daily Times has reported that "Two Kansas senators are sticking by their decision to hold up Rep. John M. McHugh's confirmation as secretary of the Army, pending answers from the Obama administration about the fate of terrorism suspects being detained at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. A spokeswoman for Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., said he still is seeking answers to more than a dozen questions about the administration's plans to move the detainees, possibly to a high-security facility near Fort Leavenworth, Kan. Mr. Roberts and Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., are objecting to Mr. McHugh's confirmation despite pleas from Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates to drop their complaint. The senators have not objected to the selection of Mr. McHugh, R-Pierrepont Manor, but to the Senate's attempt to confirm him and several other defense-related nominees by unanimous consent, without voting." [EdNote: He deserves better than that.]

The Courier, Express and Postal Observer has noted, "At yesterday's MTAC meeting, a mailer asked if mailers could have access to the mailbox for delivering periodicals, newspapers, and advertising on Saturday if the Postal Service stopped delivering on that day. While the hypothetical question was dismissed, it illustrates the risks that reducing delivering on that day could have for the Postal Service. Currently, access to the mailbox is restricted but reductions in the service that the Postal Service offers could create real demand for access that was just theoretical in the past."

As the Washington Post has reported:

  • Retail sales dipped last month, while foreclosure filings soared, signaling that the economic pressures facing households have not let up even as the recession appears to be easing. Consumer spending accounts for about 70 percent of the nation's economic output and in the past has helped bring the country out of recession. But rising unemployment could constrain spending and slow growth.
  • Personal bankruptcy filings reached 1.25 million in the year ending June 30, up 34 percent from the year before, as Americans continued to grapple with debt, unemployment and devalued homes, according to figures released Thursday by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts.
  • USAA, a bank which caters to the military, said that $1.5 million in checks have already been deposited via an iPhone app, which launched just three days ago. Users, who download the app can make deposits by taking photos of both sides of a check. The slips of paper can then be thrown away.

Pulp and paper mills in the United States earned more than $3 billion in controversial "black liquor" credits during the first half of this year, a Dead Tree Edition analysis shows.

The Royal Gazette has reported that "The Bermuda Post Office will no longer deliver incorrectly addressed mail at the end of the month. Minister of Energy, Telecommunications and E-Commerce Michael Scott warned the public has only three weeks left to become compliant with the new postal rules."

The Edmonton Sun has rpeorted that "Austrian authorities aren’t about to give these pranks their stamp of approval. Frustrated officials say rescuers have been deployed twice this week to break open large mailboxes after two children locked themselves inside in separate incidents."

ITPro has reported that "UPS, the parcel service and global transportation business, has encrypted all of its British laptops and smartphones after it breached the Data Protection Act last year. It has also signed an ‘undertaking’ with the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), promising that it will keep personal information more securely. It comes less than a year after an incident where an unencrypted password-protected laptop was stolen from a UPS employee while abroad. It was never recovered."

The Star-Ledger has told its readers that "The U.S. Postal Service's ballooning deficit illuminates one of the classic contradictions in American public life -- the complaint that government spends too much and the unwillingness to give up services that drive up public costs. The post office has seen revenue decline for several years now as technology steadily erodes dependence on the mail. That's not likely to change in the years ahead. The post office simply isn't doing the business it once did. The need just isn't there anymore."

The Washington Post has reported that "A Howard County postal clerk pilfered more than $600,000 worth of stamps, many of which were sold on eBay at a reduced price."

From the Bureau of Labor Statistics: "The Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) decreased 0.2 percent in July before seasonal adjustment, the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor reported today. Over the last 12 months the index has fallen 2.1 percent, as a 28.1 percent decline in the energy index since its July 2008 peak has more than offset increases of 0.9 percent in the food index and 1.5 percent in the index for all items less food and energy. On a seasonally adjusted basis, the CPI-U was unchanged in July following a 0.7 percent increase in June. Small declines in the food and energy indexes offset a small increase in the index for all items less food and energy. The food index declined 0.3 percent in July with all six major grocery store food groups posting declines. The energy index, which rose 7.4 percent in June, fell 0.4 percent in July. Decreases in the indexes for gasoline, fuel oil, and electricity more than offset an increase in the index for natural gas. The index for all items less food and energy rose 0.1 percent in July following a 0.2 percent increase in June. The indexes for new vehicles, tobacco, medical care and apparel all continued to increase in July, and the index for airline fares turned up after a long series of declines. In contrast to these increases, the shelter index decreased in July as the index for lodging away from home fell and the indexes for rent and owners’ equivalent rent were unchanged." See also the New York Times.

The Miami Herald has told its readers that "Sooner or later, six-day mail delivery will go the way of 10-cent candy bars, movie double-features and penny postcards. Given the state of the Postal Service's finances, sooner is probably better. There is no joy in saying that. Most Americans take all-except-Sunday delivery for granted and would just as soon keep it -- but not at the cost of having to pay more for postage, wait in longer lines for service or drive farther to the closest Post Office."

According to the Yakima Herald, "Politicians often will make a solemn pledge while campaigning that if elected they will run government as they would a business. Somehow that pledge of treating public agencies with an eye toward productivity and a robust bottom line gets sidetracked after they take office. Right now the U.S. Postal Service demands that kind of business acumen from lawmakers in Congress."

From the Federal Register:

Postal Regulatory Commission
 
RULES
Global Plus 1 Contract ,
41047–41051 [E9–19504] [TEXT]  [PDF]
International Mail Products and Special Services ,
41051–41056 [E9–19366] [TEXT]  [PDF]

Posted on this site is the latest USPS headquarters officer organizational chart.

St. Louis Today has told its readers: "For the past four decades, letter carriers and other postal employees have had no more loyal friends than Lacy Clay and his father, former Rep. Bill Clay, two St. Louis Democrats who have represented Missouri's First Congressional District since 1969. The senior Mr. Clay even was chairman of the House Post Office and Civil Service committee for his last four years in Congress. So when the time comes that a Clay says the Postal Service must "transform itself to survive as a viable entity," things must be serious, indeed. They are."

The Suburban has reported that "Employees of the U.S. Postal Service are spreading the word about major changes that they said could negatively affect mail delivery for local residents."

August 13, 2009

At the Postal Regulatory Commission: The Postal Regulatory Commission today issued Order no. 276 establishing Docket R2009-5 to receive comments on a First-Class Mail Incentive Program filed by the U.S. Postal Service.


PostCom Members!! The slides associated with presentations given at the Mailers Technical Advisory Committee on August 12-13 have been posted on this site.

DMM Advisory: PostalOne!® and FAST® Outages (August 15-16). PostalOne! Release 21.0.0 will be implemented on Sunday, August 16, 2009. A system-wide outage for PostalOne! is planned for Saturday, August 15 from 9:00 p.m. CT through Sunday, August 16  8:30 a.m. CT.  During this outage, mailers cannot access PostalOne! or submit electronic mailing documentation. Mailers should review their file submission processes and make arrangements for these outages.

In conjunction with the PostalOne! outage, FAST WebServices will not be accessible. Mailers will not be able to schedule appointments electronically using Mail.XML®. FAST online scheduling will be unavailable during the normally scheduled maintenance window of 4:00 a.m. CT through 8:00 a.m. CT. Mailers who wish to schedule appointments online outside of the maintenance window must log into FAST through the Business Customer Gateway. Please call the PostalOne! Help Desk at 1-800-522-9085 or your local FAST facility coordinator if you have questions.

PostalOne! Release 21.0.0 will be migrated to the PostalOne! Test Environment for Mailers (TEM) on Sunday, August 16. The outage for PostalOne! TEM will occur on Sunday, August 16 from 8:30 a.m. CT through 3:30 p.m. CT. During this time, the PostalOne! TEM will be unavailable for testing.

According to the National Association of Letter Carriers, "The Republican House Conference (RHC) on August 12 issued a grossly inaccurate and misleading brief insulting the Postal Service and its 700,000 employees in a transparently partisan attack aimed at derailing health reform. The smear piece, An Ominous Model for Government Takeover of Health Care, makes at least seven false and/or misleading claims that tarnish the Postal Service and its hard-working employees."

Computerworld Kenya has reported that "Players in Uganda's communications sector should brace themselves for a cut in their profit margins as the industry regulator looks to further boost the Rural Communications Development Fund (RCDF). The draft policy has proposed the modernization and expansion of postal services by effectively supporting at least one initiative that aims to either modernize or expand coverage of postal services in Uganda. The new RCDF will support the establishment of at least one community information center per underserved local area, as a profitable business providing essential ICT and related services (postal services, public pay phone, e-mail and Internet and financial services) aiming at a minimum of 150 community information centers per year.

Express Buzz has reported that "Electricity bills can soon be remitted in Indian post offices in the State of Tamil Nadu."

The Postalnewsblog has reported that "Reports filed with the Postal regulatory Commission show that as of July 17, the US Postal Service has reduced its field staff by 5.7%, or 37,454 employees from the same period last year. The bad news for the USPS is that the complement reductions so far have not translated to any significant cost reductions. Thanks to salary and benefit increases, the USPS has paid out almost exactly the same amount in base salaries and benefits this year as it did in 2008."

According to Dead Tree Edition, "Better communication, not additional incentives, is all the Postal Service needs to entice more employees to retire early, a union leader says. The USPS is providing incomplete benefit estimates to eligible employees, according to Don Cheney, a long-time leader of the Auburn, Washington APWU local who has worked extensively on early-retirement issues for the past six years. In some cases, USPS is providing eligible employees with early-retirement estimates that are at least $1,000 per month too low, says Cheney, who has written several articles about USPS retirement programs for PostalReporter.com USPS is also failing to counter the common misconception that most eligible employees would be penalized if they take early retirement, according to Cheney....The atrociously low response to early-retirement offers is evidence enough that the Postal Service needs to rethink its efforts....The Postal Service is missing out on a seemingly easy, humane, and cost-effective way to carry out a much-needed thinning of its ranks."

The Wall Street Journal has reported that "Web publishers this week are pointing to a study -- ordered up by their trade group -- that they say presents evidence that ads on their prime pages offer more bang for the buck."

The U.S. Postal Service has released its third quarter service performance results.

MSN Money has reported that "The average household sifts through 41 pounds of junk mail annually, sending most to the circular file, says Sander DeVries, a co-founder of 41 Pounds, a Michigan nonprofit trying to reduce the environmental impact of junk mail."

Congratulations to PostCom Director Phil Thompson for being named Vice Chair, Industry of the USPS' Mailer Technical Advisory Committee. Thompson also serves as chairman of PostCom's Postal Operations Committee.

Advertising Age has reported that "Skeptics who are still not sure about the real potential for building large-scale mobile phone audiences for content and ads would do well to take a look at People.com. The mobile channel of that Time Inc. magazine site is now logging 18 million mobile page views a month. And that horde of on-the-go readers and viewers seeking celebrity news via their mobile phones is just the beginning, says Fran Hauser, president of the digital side of Time Inc.'s Style and Entertainment Group."

According to Go Upstate, "What is called for is a meaningful discussion about what services we need the Postal Service to provide, now and in the foreseeable future, what resources that will call for and what people and businesses are willing to pay for it. There are certainly too many offices, and closing a few is a start, but it's a far cry from the massive changes necessary to keep the Postal Service viable over the long haul."

Brandweek has reported that "Add another to the list of analog media crushed by the Great Recession: direct mail. The Direct Marketing Association originally predicted that direct mail volume would only fall 1 percent this year, but the organization has revised that to as much as 10 percent. “This was mainly driven by the combination of a number of factors including the consumer credit crisis, the mortgage crisis, and the overall economic crisis, as well as marketers exploring new ways of integrating across different channels,” said Ramesh Lakshmi-Ratan, the DMA’s executive vice president and chief operating officer."

According to the Arizona Republic, "The president is right! "UPS and FedEx are doing just fine. It's the post office that's always having problems."

The NA Presseportal has reported that "Austrian Post in the First Half-Year 2009: Revenue down by 3.6%, EBIT decline of 8.0% Ongoing difficult market environment in 2009 makes cost savings the top priority."

The BBC has reported that "Postal workers at the Royal Mail sorting centre in Filton, Bristol are starting strike action this morning. Up to 1,000 workers are expected to take part in the official strike which will disrupt collections in the BS1-10, BS13 & BS14 postcode areas of the city. This latest industrial action is part of a long-running dispute over pay, conditions and cuts to the service. The strike is set to end at 2000 BST on Friday, according to the Communication Workers Union(CWU)."

North Country Public Radio has reported that "The U.S. postal service is cutting 50 jobs at its Watertown sorting center. Spokesperson Maureen Marion says 13 people will be transferred to the postal facility in Syracuse. Those employees will sort the mail delivered to all of northern New York. This work has been done in Watertown for decades. But Marion tells Jonathan Brown that advances in technology, the economy and a decline in the volume of first-class mail is forcing the postal service to make big changes."

As one Baltimore Examiner blogger put it: "Comparing the reform to the workings of the US Postal Services, and then immediately pointing out how dysfunctional it is, might not be the best way to sell the pending legislation to the American people. Of course, this is a false comparison since UPS and FedEx are not allowed to actually compete with USPS, they – unfortunately – are not allowed to deliver first class mail (sigh). That’s “if you think about it.”

By the way, postal workers apparently aren't too pleased with the President for his remarks. Check out the comments on Postalnews.com.

The House Republican Conference has posted a piece playing off Obama's gaff on the Postal Service.

At the Postal Regulatory Commission:

The Congressional Research Service on "Post Office and Retail Postal Facility Closures: Overview and Issues for Congress" has been posted on this site.

August 12, 2009

The Jakarta Post has reported that "The Office of the State Minister for State Enterprises has replaced five of six directors at state postal service provider PT Pos Indonesia, citing a need to improve its accounting system and management."

The Epoch Times has reported that "USPS, like many government agencies, has become an albatross. It has many branches and sub-branches throughout the United States which are no longer needed, as mail traffic has decreased substantially due to the advent of e-mail. “The USPS is a drag on the government, on the economy, on the marketplace it unfairly distorts, and on consumers and taxpayers. It should be privatized without delay,” wrote Sam Ryan, in a blistering article “Privatize This” on the National Review Web site in 2005. He predicted that in the not-too-near future, USPS will go bankrupt. That day may have arrived."

As the Baltimore Examiner has noted, "Remarks by President Obama about the United States Postal Service have energized opponents of the government’s health-care plan. Commentators across the media are talking about the efficiencies of the government run postal service compared to private sector competitors."

As the Associated Press has reported, "Looking for ways to boost business, the Postal Service is planning to offer discounts to some of its best customers. Companies that mailed at least 500,000 first-class letters, cards or large envelopes between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31 in each of the last two years will be eligible for the lower prices, according to papers filed with the Postal Regulatory Commission. Under the plan, the Postal Service would establish a base amount of mail for companies that apply for the discounts, and they would be eligible for 20 percent discounts on mailings over that level in the October-December period. The agency estimated that the program would bring in an additional $43 million, between new mail and mailings that move up from standard to first-class service."

At the Postal Regulatory Commission:

From Media-Newswire: "The Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum has received a donation from the family of the late George W. Brett to create the George W. Brett Philatelic Endowment Fund. This endowment will fund philatelic researchers who use the museum’s collections for publication projects. It will also support the museum’s publishing of exhibition catalogs and curatorial philatelic research.

Bloomberg has reported that "The sale of shares in Japan’s postal group, which includes the world’s biggest bank by deposits, will be delayed, according to officials in opposition parties that polls say will win national elections this month. Legislation pushed through by former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi in 2005 broke the 138-year-old Japan Post into four companies under a holding company and allows for shares sales as soon as next year. The assets of the banking and insurance units in Japan Post Holdings Co. was $3.1 trillion as of the end of March, according to financial statements."

As the Socialist Worker put it: "Solid London post strike ramps up pressure on Royal Mail." [EdNote: Yes, that's right. The Socialist Worker. There still are people who don't subscribe to market economies.]

The Bergen Record publishes an early requiem for the Postal Service: "The handwriting on the wall of the local post office is not hard to read: the United States Postal Service, established at about the same time as our country, 1775, is probably on its way out."

The Santa Monica Daily Press writes about one of its own. 

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

In order to prepare for future challenges, Schweizerische Post plans to expand abroad and to develop new markets.
The majority of the population is critical of the planned opening of the Swiss market.
The Supreme Court in Brazil has reached a decision on the legal dispute around the postal monopoly, which has been going on since 2003. The ruling, which was announced last week, basically confirms the existing postal act of 1978 and grants the post the monopoly on letters and postcards. At the same time, the court opened up the possibility for private companies to offer selected mail services. According to media reports, these services are newspaper, magazine and catalogue delivery, as well as delivery of "orders".
Things are toughening up considerably in the ongoing conflict between Royal Mail and the postal workers’ union CWU.
The draft bill on the French La Poste’s conversion into a public limited company was approved by the council of ministers at the end of July and is now due to pass through the senate in mid-October.
Private mail service providers in Germany have started boycotting VAT on postage.
Latvijas Pasts, the Latvian post, managed to improve its sales by 6.2 per cent to around 69m euros last year. However, the post was unable to achieve breakeven, as originally advised.
The Belgian La Poste plans to close a further 50 branches by the end of the year.
The Servicio Postal Mexicano (Sepomex) plans to lay off more than 2,000 postmen, Julio César García Arámbula, secretary general of the postal union, has been quoted as saying by several media in the country.
The US business is causing problems for DHL Express once more. After the integrator was forced to discontinue its domestic business due to immense losses, it must now pay a penalty of several millions.
Because of the continuing economic crisis, the Russian government has announced plans to cut back on one of the biggest transport investment programs. The Euro Asian Logistic Association (EALA) reported that the originally planned expenditures would be cut by more than two thirds. According to the association, road-based traffic would be the hardest hit by this.
The unionised employees of two of the biggest subsidiary companies of the US forwarding company YRC Worldwide (turnover 2008: 6.4bn euros) will support the financially stricken company. Last Friday, the majority accepted an 18-month, 15- per cent pay cut. They also agreed to suspend payments to the pension fund during the same period. According to media reports, this could save the company more than 800m dollars by the end of 2010.
Schweizerische Post has taken over the Italian logistics company Costanzia.
CitySprint (turnover 2008: 51.5m euros; net profit 1.07m euros), by its own account the biggest private same-day network in Britain, has taken over the Shropshire-based Jaguar Couriers.
The merger of the Danish and Swedish postal organisations is expected to bring about savings of 1 billion Danish Kroner, equivalent to around 134m euros. The business portal »epn« (06.08) reported that there would be lay-offs at the same time, due to the crisis and to decreasing mail volumes.
The executive board and the supervisory board of Österreichische Post are entering a two-day strategy retreat this week.
DHL Global Mail obtained a licence for postal services in Russia last Friday.
Due to the difficult economic situation in Bulgaria, many big companies are increasingly using the post instead of the costly private service operators.
DHL and Deutsche Post are currently targets of a campaign by left-wing extremists. The activists are using flyers, but mainly arson attacks, to denounce what they believe is the company’s involvement in the German wartime economy. In an interview with the »Stattzeitung « (04.08), one of the activists explained that the background of the campaign was that DHL and Deutsche Post had been transporting material for the US military in Iraq and also for the German armed forces in Afghanistan.

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.)

DMM Advisory: First-Class Mail Incentive Program. Last evening we filed a notice with the Postal Regulatory Commission for a First-Class Mail Incentive Program. This program will provide mail owners, of qualifying incremental cards, letters, and flats volume, a 20 percent reduction in postage for First-Class Mail. The First-Class Mail Incentive Program will run from October 1 through December 31, 2009 and is subject to regulatory review for 45 days from August 12. 

From PR Web: "Ventureforth, Inc. today announced that the United States Postal Service (USPS) has chosen Ventureforth's mobile and disconnected solutions for maintenance work order and spare parts management, integrated with Oracle's E-Business Suite eAM and supply chain solutions. Ventureforth's Mi2K Work and Stores applications, powered by Syclo's Agentry mobile platform, were selected for maintaining approximately 260,000 postal vehicles serviced by 220 fleet maintenance centers across the United States."

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) has reported that "The union representing postal workers says it is considering action which would include postage free days as part of a long-running industrial battle with Australia Post. Postage free days are when postal workers will allow envelopes or letters that don't have the right postage on them or no postage on them to go through the system."

From the Federal Register:

Postal Regulatory Commission
 
RULES
Express Mail and Priority Mail Contract (8) ,
40708–40711 [E9–19256] [TEXT]  [PDF]
Express Mail Contract ,
40714–40717 [E9–19342] [TEXT]  [PDF]

Hellmail has reported that "In a letter to union members this week, CWU leaders CWU leaders Billy Hayes and Dave Ward, outlined the reasons why a national ballot for industrial action is to go ahead. Both described a failure by Royal Mail bosses to introduce change by agreement with the CWU, despite explicit commitments made in 2007 and that Royal Mail had reverted to a “we make the decisions, you do as you are told” attitude whilst lacking a coherent plan for modernisation of the business other than "damaging cuts to services and endless attacks on jobs, pay and conditions." The CWU said that it had a very different view of modernisation that included the introduction of new automation and at the same time, taking advantage of the opportunities that exist to grow the business through e-fulfilment and a new range of products. It accused Royal Mail of simply downsizing. It said a national strike would take place unless a new agreement on job security without compulsory redundancies, that would protect terms and conditions is established. Other issues high on the agenda include a solution to the increasing pension deficit, an enhanced pay package, a shorter working week, and a managed workload." [EdNote: Sure hope the British public and businesses are satisfied with this "explanation."]

According to the Washington Post, "President Obama made what his advisers believe were his first public comments on the U.S. Postal Service on Tuesday, basically knocking its performance during his health-care-themed town hall in New Hampshire. "I mean, if you think about it, UPS and FedEx are doing just fine, right? No, they are. It's the post office that's always having problems." That comment provoked laughter from the audience. Asked to clarify, the White House said Obama was pointing out that while core Postal Service services are different from those offered by UPS and FedEx, it has not undermined the competitive spirit of the private shipping industry. "It’s been public for some time that the Postal Service’s fiscal path is unsustainable," spokeswoman Jen Psaki said when asked about the president's generally dismissive remarks."

Newcastle News has reported that "After formally petitioning for its own unique ZIP code, the city of Newcastle has been denied that request by the local district office (Seattle) of the U.S. Postal Service. The decision comes after the city made a formal presentation to postal service managers. This is the third time city officials have requested, and been turned down for, a ZIP code. The city’s official request included results of a survey of residents completed by 400 people showing 98 percent were in favor of a unique ZIP Code, and that more than half have experienced delivery and service issues. (Newcastle currently uses two ZIP Codes assigned to Renton.) The application also included other arguments, such as a loss of sales tax based on improper coding and higher insurance rates. But postal service officials said Newcastle’s population simply wasn’t large enough."

Publishing Executive has noted that "Seventeen magazine has joined the ranks of magazine publishers turning their attention to the iPhone, lauching its first iPhone app."

DirectNews has reported that "a study from the Association of National Advertisers, conducted with BtoB Magazine and marketing services group mktg, found that 66 per cent of marketers have utilised social networking sites in 2009 - an increase of 46 per cent in two years."

According to PrintWeek, "Ongoing strikes at the Royal Mail could lead to customers moving their campaign spend away from direct mail."

Did you know? "McClatchy is the nation’s third-largest newspaper company, with 30 daily newspapers, about 50 nondailies, and direct-marketing and direct-mail operations."

Planadviser has noted that "New York Life said it has just begun using predictive modeling software, allowing it to determine which active 401(k) participants are most likely to roll assets from an outside 401(k) or an outside IRA into their 401(k) administered by New York Life. Some of the predictors of potential roll-in candidates include their tenure, number of loans, and frequency of Web logins, the company said. With help from the modeling software, New York Life can reach out to participants through targeted marketing such as direct mail."

The Sydney Morning Herald has reported that "The owner of a Sydney post office has been charged with committing Australia's biggest ever postal fraud over the allegedly fraudulent sale of $4.2 million worth of stamps and envelopes. The man was allegedly defrauding Australia Post over money paid to him for the alleged sales of postage stamps and envelopes sold through the branch."

Phonescoop has reported that "T-Mobile has decided to charge an extra fee for customers who wish to receive printed, paper bills. This new fee is for anyone wishing to receive a basic "summary" bill, and it will cost $1.50 per month."

August 11, 2009

At the Postal Regulatory Commission:

According to Arandell's Susan Pinter, "Overall, I believe that reducing to a five-day delivery schedule will not have a huge impact on the direct mail catalog industry, but it will greatly impact the marketing campaigns for retailers. I predict by next spring we will have an official decision on the five-day delivery. Until then, we should start adjusting to the idea that we will not have to check our mailboxes on the weekends!"

According to Hellmail: "Despite a rigorous campaign to canvass public support for postal workers, the Communication Workers Union has failed to win the hearts and minds of the British public. With high unemployment and a deep recession, the public are exhasperated by the postal union for calling union members out on strike, an attempt to bully Royal Mail into abandoning its modernisation programme. With the 2007 modernisation agreement now apparently in tatters, one wonders whether the CWU understood it or even bothered to read it. I suspect the former. Now these selfish 1950s luddites want to scrap the agreement and develop the postal service on their OWN terms, regardless of the impact on businesses already struggling in a difficult economic climate, falling mail volume and high unemployment. Sack the lot of them and replace them with people that really do want to work."

The Courier, Express, and Postal Observer noted the following quote from President Obama: ""If you think about it, UPS and FedEx are doing just fine. It's the Post Office that's always having problems." [EdNote: Well....as head of the federal executive branch, he owns it. So fix it!]

Rag Content has asked: "More than 85% of all USPS career employees are covered by collective bargaining agreements. According to the Postal Service, its workforce now totals 633,046 employees. Eighty-five percent or 474,785 are unionized. When COLAs are figured in, the Postal Service, in the third quarter alone, gave these workers an additional $214 million in pay. Year-to-date, the total is over $788 million. Why during this troubled times are employees still getting increases in pay?"

CNET has reported that "USAA on Tuesday updated its iPhone app to allow customers to deposit checks wirelessly. By taking a photo of both sides of the check using the iPhone's built-in camera, customers can send an image of a check directly to USAA where it can be verified and deposited. (Credit: USAA) The new USAA Deposit@Mobile feature expands on the bank's existing iPhone app, which debuted in May and has been downloaded almost 140,000 times, says USAA. The free mobile app already lets customers check their balances, transfer funds, and find ATMs. The mobile check depositing is also the next step from USAA's Deposit@Home service, which lets customers scan and deposit checks using a PC and scanner."

Here's an interesting item from the Wall Street Journal: "Widespread layoffs caused by tight school budgets are forcing thousands of teachers out of the classroom, in some cases, permanently. Many are taking other jobs or considering changing careers, even as they anxiously hope to be recalled. That’s a jolt to people drawn to teaching in part for its recession-proof reputation."

According to WESH, "Technology is not exactly killing the post office, but it has the Postal Service running a high fever."

The Daily Mail has reported that "The political drift of the current Government has meant that the proposed privatisation of Royal Mail has been shelved. But the postal service will have to face up to economic realities sooner or later. Bosses at the Communication Workers Union, in the past a big Labour Party paymaster, are naturally indignant at any private capital being brought into the Royal Mail."

The Press Association has reported that "A series of 24-hour strikes by postal workers is expected to continue in an ongoing dispute over pay, jobs and services. Members of the Communication Workers Union (CWU) in Stoke-on-Trent are due to walk out, with industrial action planned in London on Wednesday, spreading to the South West on Thursday. This follows industrial action in East Anglia on Monday and other locations last Friday and over the weekend."

Swissinfo has reported that "The national postal services faces many challenges at home, but there are also opportunities abroad, Swiss Post's board chairman Claude Béglé tells swissinfo.ch. Béglé believes that it is a time of change for the company, which has to straddle both innovation and tradition.


In the news this week:

The Chicago Tribune has reported that "Rep. Bobby Rush of Chicago is spreading the word that some post offices in his district might be in danger of closing. In a news release, Rush said that at least four post offices are being reviewed for possible closure as part of a major reorganization. He says they should voice concerns they have at their local post offices."

Press Release: "Reva Systems, the leading RFID infrastructure provider, today announced that its Tag Acquisition Processor (TAP) product family was selected as the RFID infrastructure solution for an international RFID rollout by the Universal Postal Union (UPU)."

Twenty-one Posts started using the Universal Postal Union's new Global Monitoring System (GMS) this week to evaluate the quality of their letter-post service using state-of-the-art RFID technology. The GMS is a truly global system using affordable RFID technology that is accessible to every Post, from industrialized countries and developing ones. From now until December 2009, in a first phase of the project, 530 independent panellists from 38 countries will send 24,000 test letters containing RFID tags through 45 postal facilities worldwide. The data collected as the test letters pass through special gates will be transmitted to the UPU and used to help postal operators identify service failures and improve operational efficiency. Posts participating in this first phase of the Global Monitoring System come from the following countries: Aruba, Chile, Greece, India, Korea (Rep), Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands Antilles, Norway, Peru, Qatar, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland, Togo, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Venezuela.

The Guardian has noted that "With a 24-hour strike set to upset mail deliveries in London on Wednesday, the union strife that continues to dog the Royal Mail management could benefit rivals targeting lucrative parts of its business such as internet deliveries. "The reason businesses like mine exist is because of previous Royal Mail stoppages," said Brian Gaunt, chief executive of parcel carrier Home Delivery Network (HDN), which competes with the likes of Parcelnet and Rentokil's City Link for the volume not taken by the Royal Mail or its Parcelforce division. HDN includes the logistics arms of the Littlewoods and GUS home shopping businesses, merged under the ownership of the Barclay brothers."

McClatchey newspapers has asked: "The nation faces a question: Is universal postal delivery a privilege or a right?"

Business Week is running a poll on whether the USPS should cut Saturday mail delivery.

Business Week has asked: "Is It Time for a Postal Service 2.0? Some say the U.S. Postal Service, awash in red ink, needs a tech revamp. Electronic delivery companies like Earth Class Mail and Zumbox are ready to help. But what USPS may need most is a technological revamp. So say two startups that specialize in digital document delivery. Earth Class Mail provides mail-scanning services for consumers and small businesses. The company's CEO, Ron Wiener, says it's cheaper to deliver a document over a computer network than by hand, especially when the recipient lives in a remote area, and so much of what is delivered via mail begins its life as an electronic file."

The APWU has told its members that "The Senate adjourned for its August recess without voting on a bill that would be devastating for postal workers. As a result, union members have several more weeks to voice opposition to legislation that would undermine our wages and benefits in future contract negotiations. The bill, which was approved by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee July 29, contains an amendment that would require arbitrators ruling on contract disputes to “take the financial health of the Postal Service into account.” [EdNote: The APWU has NOT told its members about the jobs that would be lost if and when the USPS puts through an exigency postal rate increase. Nor has it mentioned how that increase will precipitate a further drop in mail volume, endangering even more postal jobs. Oh...I forgot. According to APWU's boss, business mailers are "vermin." This appears to be something some people have forgotten. Check out PostCom Bulletin 42-03 for a reprise of the APWU chief's famous article "Our Struggle." Hey historians. Does that have a familiar ring? No, no, no. I must be confusing that with "My Struggle." Shall I translate that for you?]

From PR-Inside: "Royal Mail Group plc - Strategic Analysis Review - a new market research report on companiesandmarkets.com.

 DMM Advisory: The USPS' Intelligent Mail® Services Weekly Update has been posted on this site.

At the Postal Regulatory Commission:

  • Notice: Live audio broadcast Of The Workshare Discount Methodologies Public Forum (RM2009-3) will air at 1:00 P.M., Tuesday, August 11, 2009. Links will be posted on the PRC web site approximately 10 minutes prior to the broadcast.
  • RM2009-6 Comments of the National Security Archive on the Postal Regulatory Commission's Proposed Freedom of Information Act Regulations., 74 Fed. Reg.
    33388 (July 13, 2009) http://www.prc.gov/docs/64/64119/08102009%20PRC%20FOIA%20Regs%20Comment%20final.pdf

August 10, 2009

The latest blog entry 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/
 
  • How Should the Postal Service Sell Its Products? This OIG blog explores what balance should the Postal Service strike between finding the best value for the customer and maximizing revenue.  Vote for your view.
 
You can visit Office of Inspector General’s public website at:  www.uspsoig.govYou can also follow us on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/OIGUSPS.  If you have additional questions, please contact Communication and Work Life Director Agapi Doulaveris at 703.248.2286.

At the Postal Regulatory Commission:

Fedex Express has announced the expansion of its international shipping portfolio to provide customers with more choices and reach when shipping packages and freight worldwide.

Advertising Age has reported that "It's not getting a lot better, but at least it's not getting any worse. And it probably won't ever get back to where it once was. That's the marketing forecast for the second half of the year based on a temperature check of players in the media, marketing and agency worlds by Advertising Age. We found that there are pockets of strength: online and PR, for example. Some package-goods players are ramping up spending, but many are doing so to take advantage of lower media pricing. The TV networks continue to struggle."

"Those who actively pursue security lose it."   --- Bayard Rustin

The Guardian has published a q&a for its readers who are trying to make heads or tails of the British postal strike.

Hellmail has reported that:

  • Independent parcel operators are already reporting a rise in business as companies, frustrated by delays through Royal Mail in some areas, switch to alternative services to ensure goods arrive on time. A similar migration of business from Royal Mail to independents happened in 2007 during industrial action.
  • TNT Post is further opening up the benefits of postal competition to organisations which typically do not have the purchasing power to access competitor services to Royal Mail. In alliance with Park Royal Partnership, regeneration agency for Europe’s largest industrial estate in London, TNT Post will trial a collective postal pick-up service for small volume mailers within the estate, as part of a £200 million utilities procurement initiative*. The collective pick-up service will operate in areas of high business density. This allows organisations locally to post their mail regardless of volume, in a TNT Post box from which they are collected and sorted for final mile delivery.

Fast Company has asked: "If the U.S. government isn't willing to sell the Post Office to the popular DVD rental service, it should at least try to learn from how Netflix so efficiently moves so many envelopes through its system every day. Netflix, with its neat little packets of DVDs, is running a national parcel distribution service on a massive scale, aided by the fast-crumbling U.S. Postal Service. So why doesn't Netflix buy-up the U.S.P.S and revolutionize it?"

According to Business Week, "The Postal Service needs to get out a blank sheet of paper and think about a new business model," says Steve Goodrich, president of the Center for Organizational Excellence, a consulting firm in Washington, D.C. Goodrich and other business-practice experts suggest a number of ways for the Postal Service to dig out of its hole, apart from the traditional practice of raising stamp prices to bolster revenues. Ron Wiener, who heads Seattle-based Venture Mechanics, which funds and advises technology startups, agrees that the current mix of retail products at the post office represents a huge lost opportunity. Other companies, such as Microsoft (MSFT) and Earth Class Mail, wonder why mail even needs to be a paper affair with a delivery person in the first place. Both companies are already pitching postal services around the world on Internet-based mail delivery service. The biggest change the U.S. Postal Service needs, say Wiener and Clancy, is opening its mail service to private enterprise delivery as a way to foster competition. "

At the Postal Regulatory Commission:

Postal Regulatory Commission
 
PROPOSED RULES
Periodic Reporting Rules ,
39909–39910 [E9–19025] [TEXT]  [PDF]
NOTICES
International Mail Product ,
39980–39981 [E9–19083] [TEXT]  [PDF]

The Telegraph has reported that there are "More than four million letters a day held up as Royal Mail strikes bite."

The News Tribune has told its readers that "Residents who rely on those offices shouldn’t get complacent, because there’s a good chance that one or more local post offices eventually could be closed. They should be doing whatever they can to immunize their local site from that possibility. Giving it more business is a good first step. Another strategy some communities have used is to buy the post office building and make it available for minimal or no rent. Closing post offices is one of the more cost- effective steps the U.S. Postal Service can take as it looks at how to address an expected $7 billion deficit."

Swissinfo has reported that "The a majority of people do not want to see changes to the Swiss Post's public service mandate, according to the results of a new survey. Some 57 per cent of Swiss believe that the complete deregulation of the letter delivery market as proposed by the cabinet in May makes very little or no sense at all. The survey, carried out by the research institute gfs.berne on behalf of the Swiss Post found that two thirds of those questioned agree with the opinion that deregulation would weaken the financing of the post office network."

UPI has reported that "Strikes by British postal workers will affect more residents as the work stoppages spread to additional parts of the country."

August 9, 2009

The Financial Times has reported that "Up to 25,000 postal workers went on strike yesterday as union leaders ratcheted up the pressure on management over pay, jobs and services. Thousands of people had their deliveries disrupted because of the industrial action, which will continue piecemeal throughout next week. The Communication Workers Union said further strikes would take place each day next week in different locations."

The New York Times has reported that "The agency responsible for creating campaigns for United Parcel Service is deciding to wipe the whiteboard clean. The Martin Agency in Richmond, Va., which has been the creative agency for U.P.S. in the United States since April 2001, is withdrawing from a review for the account. The decision means that Martin, part of the Interpublic Group of Companies, is resigning its assignment, effective at the end of the year."

According to the Kansas City Star, "'Urgent mail!' 'Reply within 5 days!' 'Open immediately!' For most senior citizens, the mail practically screams at them....Everybody gets “junk” mail, but seniors are a special target for the direct-mail industry, and not just fraudulent scams. Charitable causes tug at their heartstrings. Sweepstakes come-ons raise their hopes. Political opportunists prey on their fears."

According to the Bluefield Daily Telegraph, "U.S. Postmaster General John Potter is promising to think outside of the mailbox when it comes to cutting costs and finding new sources of revenue. However, we believe that cutting Saturday delivery service shouldn’t be an option. According to Potter, the U.S. Postal Service would save millions by cutting mail delivery from six to five days. Potter, who testified last week before the Senate federal services subcommittee of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, said post offices would still be kept open on Saturday but mail delivery would be eliminated. We believe Potter is failing to take into consideration rural communities — such as those across southern West Virginia and Southwest Virginia — when proposing such a drastic measure. Many senior citizens across our region depend upon the rural delivery of their mail six days a week for their monthly checks, medicine and other important letters and deliveries. Going one, two or three days without a check that was supposed to arrive at a certain date could have a devastating impact upon senior citizens, and others across our region living on fixed incomes. In many rural communities across the region, a trip to the post office could mean a lengthy drive — particularly for those families and seniors living in mountainous communities far from a major town or city."

The Washington Post has reported that "James H. Duffy, 91, who for 20 years was chief counsel to a Senate subcommittee on elections and who later served on the U.S. Postal Rate Commission, died July 11 at his home in Indian Rocks Beach, Fla."

Gambling911 has reported that "New York Daily News Publisher Mortimer Zuckerman was quoted this week as saying that he believed online gambling can actually save the newspaper industry. How? "(The) federal government ought to ... allow sports betting on newspaper Web sites. That would save every newspaper in America." [EdNote: Sure. And couldn't you also just see slots in every postal lobby? Yeeeehaaaah!]

According to The Southern, "in small, rural communities, like many of those in Southern Illinois, residents and postal workers agree their facilities are more than just a place to pick up the mail each day. "We are the hub of the community, and we are usually the identity of the community," said Barbara Crain, postmaster of the Ullin post office, who has worked in offices all across deep Southern Illinois. "We have a lot of communities out there that that's all they have." In these small communities, residents turn to post offices for many daily functions including purchasing money orders, handling business with governmental agencies and even casual conversation, she said. In addition, residents also develop relationships with the staffs, and in many cases, postal workers keep an eye on residents and learn their trends."

August 8, 2009

As Dead Tree Edition has noted, "With compensation amounting to 80% of USPS costs, any significant cost-cutting program is likely to mean fewer employees. Political opposition and labor-union contracts are likely to stymie such efforts unless most of the downsizing can be accomplished by attrition rather than layoffs."

Courier, Express, and Postal Observer has reported that "It is clear now that there will be legislation within the next year that will change The business model within which the Postal Service now operates. The decline in business exposed why the pricing models and historical price relationships may no longer make sense. The current business model does not allow the Postal Service to react to changes to business conditions in as timely fashion as it must.The business model created by the PAEA underestimated the capital needs of the Postal Service to deal with both modernization, structural changes, and the cost of adjusting plant and equipment to deal with changes in business conditions and market opportunities. The business model created by the PAEA limits the Postal Service in a way that made it increasingly dependent on the success or failure of one product, advertising mail, and one part of the conception to delivery process, the last mile. "

According to the Gainesville Sun, "Ebbing volume at the Postal Service has several causes. The most significant are permanent and destined to increase. The massive migration of communication to e-mail, cell phones, text messages and tweets will not be reversed, and fewer personal messages are likely to be sent on paper via snail mail each year. Overall, the Postal Service is likely to shrink over time....While the transition will be difficult, the change will save resources over the long haul. Technology and our dependence on it is getting more prevalent, not less....The volume of mail sent is going to continue to decrease....The sooner we stop depending on the Postal Service, the better off we will be."

According to The Telegraph, "The postal strike will extend to at least Tuesday of next week, causing disruption to services for millions of households and recession-hit businesses."

The Town Talk has wondered: "McKinney Boyd, a public relations manager for the Postal Service, said, "We have to be realistic about trends, and the trend says the post office has to change the way it does business." Did the Postal Service just begin paying attention? Over the past 20 or 30 years, postal revenues have been repeatedly dropping, and postage rates have been continually rising. Several years ago, lawyers were required to communicate virtually every long-distance transaction by certified or registered mail. In Louisiana, that ended more than a decade ago when the Legislature approved a change in the law to allow faxed documents to serve as official communications in the legal system. The basic legislation has been changed over the years, but the ultimate intent was to decrease expenses for legal communications by cutting postage. And the legal system is just one area in which communications have changed in the last 10 years. Catalog sales no longer have to be "mailed" by the consumer. Just about anything that can be ordered can be purchased via the Internet. Delivery comes from one of the private package handling companies, and the Postal Service loses revenue....As the competition grows, additional financial losses by the Postal Service are likely to occur. With all of the changes that have happened in the mail and parcel exchange business that were not quickly answered, is it too late for the Postal Service to become competitive? Is the question whether the downtown post office should be saved? Or is there any reason to save the Postal Service?"

The New York Times has told its readers that "Mr. Potter isn’t really asking for the tools he needs to turn the Postal Service into a real business. He is asking Congress to relieve it from the health prepayments, which he is likely to get, at least temporarily. He is also asking that the Postal Service be allowed to reduce mail service to five days a week, and to eliminate some postal branches. These aren’t exactly revolutionary ideas — yet they are viewed as highly controversial in Congress, which frets that constituents might get angry if the local postal branch closes. But even if Mr. Potter were to get his way on these two items, they would still be only stop-gap measures that fail to tackle the bigger question. As the Internet continues to erode the use of snail mail, does the Postal Service’s business model still make sense? Do we even still need the government to deliver the mail anymore?...instead of trying to find short-term, piecemeal solutions to the current crisis, those involved in managing and overseeing the Postal Service ought to be thinking harder thoughts about blowing up its business model. Maybe the Postal Service should turn itself into a giant outsourcer, handling some tasks but handing out others, for a fee, to more efficient companies. Maybe the government should allow companies to bid on lucrative urban delivery — with the proviso that they also deliver to rural areas. Maybe some areas should get mail deliveries less frequently than others. Maybe there should be radically different pricing structures. Maybe it should even lose its monopoly on first-class mail."

According to Hellmail, "Royal Mail, as a collective, seems unable to formulate a mutual vision and stand on its own two feet, instead busying its time by arguing with itself rather than trying to get to grips with the horrors of falling mail volume and the recession."

Kent News has noted that "Startling new figures from the Deceased Preference Service reveal that in 2008 alone 1,420,640 items were sent to deceased people in the county."

Advertising Age has told its readers that "Newspapers' slide is going to end. That's the word, at least, from a new forecast projecting that newspapers' print ad revenue will actually rebound 2.4% next year. Any recovery in the economy will return at least some advertising to papers. Newspapers are getting better at selling ads, using improving and still big ad sales staffs to contact local advertisers. And their own web sites, advertising on which Borrell doesn't include in its newspaper numbers, will likely generate more revenue over time."

The Washington Post has reported that "In an increasingly bitter Washington battle between the nation's two largest shipping companies, some unionized UPS workers say they are being forced to write letters to their lawmakers in support of more stringent labor rules for arch rival FedEx. Officials with UPS and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, which represents 240,000 UPS drivers, acknowledge that the company has paid for workers' time to pen many of the letters and has supplied the envelopes, paper and stamps needed to mail thousands of them to Congress. Internet sites dedicated to UPS-related discussions feature dozens of accounts from anonymous employees who in recent weeks have said they were forced to write the letters or felt they would be punished for not doing so. Such tactics could run afoul of both labor laws and lobbying disclosure requirements, according to legal experts."

As one New York Times blogger put it: "More and more businesses have concluded that they are better off figuring out ways to avoid using the Postal Service, whose bureaucratic mindset simply isn’t as customer-friendly as it needs to be. It is hard to see how the Postal Service’s decline will be stemmed anytime soon."

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

August 7, 2009

According to Politico, "The Senate Ethics Committee has dismissed ethics complaints against Sen. Chris Dodd and Sen. Kent Conrad in the Countrywide Financial inquiry, saying it found no credible evidence of a Senate ethics violation." [EdNote: So, when is PMG Jack Potter going to be given a clean slate?]

The Sun-Sentinel has reported that "Congressman Ron Klein took the plea of Boca Raton city leaders to the highest postal official this week. In a letter to Post Master General John Porter, Klein asked that the city's downtown post office be spared from closure. Postal officials recently announced almost 700 post offices nationwide could be closed or consolidated due to financial difficulties. Mayor Susan Whelchel and County Commissioner Steven Abrams convened a news conference on Monday to urge Klein to stand behind the downtown post office at 170 NE 2nd St. The facility is central to downtown redevelopment and serves a large swath of coastal residents and businesses, they said."

As postal commentator Gene Del Polito put it: "There are lies....There are lies....And then there are damn lies! I don't know about you, but I've had my fill of listening to the claptrap peddled on the Hill by the American Postal Workers Union's William Burrus. As has been said, if you tell an untruth often enough, people just might begin to believe it. What really got me was Burrus' baloney about people being paid four times what postal workers are paid to perform the kind of worksharing that has saved the Postal Service billions of dollars since worksharing's inception. Where are his facts? In reality, he has none."

Hellmail has reported that "Dave Ward, CWU deputy general secretary of the Communication Workers Union, attacked Royal Mail management today, saying they were out to "crush" Royal Mail."

The U.S. Postal Regulatory Commission has an exciting employment opportunity for a highly motivated person with experience in Microsoft Server based LAN/network administration.

It's official: "President Barack Obama today designated Commissioner Ruth Y. Goldway Chairman of the Postal Regulatory Commission, succeeding Dan G. Blair."

Advertising Age has noted that "Only 5% of web users in Russia and the Ukraine currently shop or bank online, while Estonia and Poland boast 10 times that percentage. Polls indicate online shopping is being conducted by only 8% of respondents once a month. In Poland and Austria, monthly online shoppers clock in at nearly 30%. Meanwhile, after several years, Molotok.ru (Russia's eBay) has still not become a significant RuNet player. Despite slow online-commerce development, 55% of Russian web users take advantage of e-mail services. Monitoring news online is popular among 48.6% of RuNet users, while 21.5% download music, videos and photos on a daily basis. Thirteen percent of users exchange files over the internet, while 12% play online games. And while the penetration of credit cards into the Russian consumer market has been limited, stunting online payment capabilities, SMS purchasing remains popular, with many Russian consumers making low-price purchases via mobile phone."

Media Daily News has reported that "The list of magazine casualties keeps on growing. That latest victim is Southern Accents, a bimonthly title from Time Inc.'s Southern Progress Corp., which is closing after its September/October issue. Southern Accents was a regional lifestyle title targeting women with a taste for refined elegance associated with classic Southern homes and gardens; it also covered travel, fine arts and antiques. But its high-end appeal couldn't save the magazine from the same recessionary forces that hit other shelter and homemaking titles beginning with the collapse of the housing market in 2006. In the first half of the year, ad pages dropped 37.4% compared to the same period in 2008, from 282 to 176."

According to the Pensacola News Journal, "Given the Postal Service's structure, with 80 percent of costs in salary and benefits, that is obviously where the money is. And right now it is facing a heavy burden to pay for a retiree health-benefit fund. Can it afford it? If not, it's time to cut back. Congress has to decide, too. It can increase subsidies, require drastic cost-cutting that risks making the system even less cost-effective, or even decide that it no longer makes sense to maintain a universal postal system. If it does make sense, then Congress might have to steel itself to providing growing subsidies. The question is whether it is worth it to maintain a government postal system dedicated to universal service, despite the fact it means an unbalanced cost-revenue equation. The alternative is to let private companies handle all mail, which likely means a drop in service to some areas, especially rural communities, or else higher postage rates for service to those areas."

The Richmond Times-Dispatch has noted that "A recent bit of news from Europe caught our attention. The center-right government of France is pushing through a privatization of postal services, following the lead of other countries such as Germany, the Netherlands, and New Zealand, which have opened up their mail delivery systems to competition. Beginning in 2011, mail services throughout the European Union will be deregulated and thus opened to competition. Now, our Western European friends could hardly be considered free-market ideologues. (France's government-mandated 35-hour workweek springs to mind as a classic example of Old Europe's aversion to rough-and-tumble capitalism.) If even they are ending their postal monopolies, why can't we? The nations that have pursued reform have seen postal rates fall and labor productivity rise. The USPS has absorbed billions in taxpayer-funded subsides over the years, so Americans get hit twice in our current system: first through artificially high rates -- and then by getting stuck with the bill when the government monopoly can't turn a profit. So what's stopping U.S. postal reform? FedEx and UPS have both shown how private delivery companies can innovate and compete for consumers. With the federal government running trillion-dollar deficits for the foreseeable future, we should all be on the lookout for ways to cut costs. Postal privatization (or deregulation) would be a small step in the right direction."

As one writer for the Philadelphia Tribune put it: "the U.S. Postal Service is a perfect example of what happens when a fat monopoly is challenged by the influx of hungry competition, but blindly refuses to change the status quo. Back when the USPS was the only game in town, the lines at the local branches of the post office were interminably long; and at the end of the wait, you could look forward to being served, if you want to call it that, by a surly employee who clearly wished you would just go away and leave them alone. Home delivery wasn’t much better. Mail was missing, delivery was inconsistent, credit cards and entire identities were routinely stolen. I personally knew a carrier who dumped entire bags of mail down the sewer. That was yesterday’s postal service. Then, starting about 20 years ago, the USPS found itself facing stiff and increasingly effective competition — first from UPS, FedEx, DHL and the other reliable overnight delivery services, and then later from the Internet, when e-mail and text messaging revolutionized written communications. How did they react? How did today’s postal service respond to this threat to its very existence? One trip to your local post office will tell you. The lines are longer than ever and the employees are surlier than ever. About the only thing that has changed is the price of stamps."

According to the Associated Press, "Postmaster General John Potter is trying to think outside the mailbox."

According to the News-Journal, "We suspect the interests of too many members of Congress also include beating up easy targets and standing in the way of real solutions. Take the U.S. Postal Service. (Please.) For years, members of Congress have beat up the federal agency because of service and cost issues. Congress has demanded solutions in breath one and then railed against proposed solutions in breath two. American voters shouldn't let their representatives have it both ways. The time has come for the closure and consolidation of lesser-used facilities, and the time has come to end Saturday delivery. Yes, those cuts will be painful. The fact is that e-mail, private delivery services and electronic billing and payment services have combined with other factors to reduce the need for a federal postal service. Consolidations, closures and the end of Saturday delivery would at least stem the increases in postal costs so people who continue to depend on the federal service do not continue to face constant price increases."

The Nation has reported that "Thailand Post Co Ltd is offering a 5 per cent discount on shipment services to the small and medium-sized enterprises on the list of the Office for Small and Medium Enterprises Promotion (OSMEP). The discount from Aug 12 to Apr 30, 2010, is to help the SMEs better manage their distribution costs, said Anusara Chittmittrapap, senior executive vice president for marketing and business development. Meanwhile, the company also puts the SMEs' products on its catalogues and offers e-commerce market place for the products on its own website and websites of postal partners in Asean."

Hellmail has reported that "Royal Mail slammed the CWU yesterday for announcing it intended to ballot union members for national strike action, despite both sides having agreed a timetable for further talks on change, just a week ago. Royal Mail said it was stunned that the Communication Workers Union would undermine Royal Mail's attempts to preserve as many jobs as possible, by calling on members to vote for a national strike which would damage customer confidence in the service and undermine the entire UK postal industry at a time when UK mail volume was dropping by almost 10% year on year. Royal Mail said it had last week met with the union and agreed a timetable for a new programme of talks about the final stage, phase 4, of the 2007 Pay and Modernisation agreement but that the CWU was ignoring its requests to engage and was clearly out to block change and modernisation and to absolutely oppose Royal Mail's goal to make Royal Mail a strong and innovative leader in the UK and international postal markets."

The Lewiston Sun Journal has reported that "U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, expressed frustration with the continued financial woes of the U.S. Postal Service during a committee hearing Thursday morning in Washington, D.C.  "The Postal Service is the linchpin of a $900 billion mailing industry that employs 9 million Americans in fields as diverse as direct mail, printing, catalog production, paper manufacturing and financial services," Collins said during her opening statement at the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management hearing."

Missed yesterday's hearing? You can still see it by going to the Senate subcommittee video archive.

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

  • On August 6, 2009, the Senate Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal Services, and International Security held the second in a series of oversight hearings on the U.S. Postal Service. Testimony was presented by Postmaster General John E. Potter, Postal Regulatory Commissioner Ruth Goldway, Postal Service Inspector General David Williams, OPM Associate Director Nancy Kichak, and the Government Accountability Office's Director of Physical Infrastructure Phillip R. Herr, National Association of Letter Carriers President Frederic Rolando. American Postal Workers Union President William Burrus, National Association of Postmasters President Dale Goff, Williams-Sonoma Postal and Legislative Affairs Director James West, and NewPage Corporation Executive Chairman Mark Suwyn.
  • Legislative relief, service performance, and continuing financial losses were the major themes of the USPS Board of Governors open session held this week. The year-to-date adjusted net loss is $4.7 billion for the Postal Service, while it lost $2.4 billion in Quarter Three. The USPS volume was down 14.3% over the same period last year. The Postal Service is well on its way to meeting its 100 million workhour reduction goal, with cutting 88 million year-to-date, the equivalent of a reduction of 57,000 full-time employees.
  • Postmaster General Jack Potter and Chief Financial Officer, Executive Vice President Joe Corbett met with the media this week to discuss the U.S. Postal Service's current financial condition. Potter points to the 2006 federal statute and the recession as the reasons why the USPS is facing such fiscal solvency.
  • The Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) recently released its Review of Retiree Health Benefit Fund Liability as Calculated by Office of Personnel Management and U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General. The PRC estimated an annual payment of $3.4 billion is needed for the USPS to adequately prepay its retiree health liability.
  • In light of the two recent bills being discussed on Capital Hill, it is important to understand the impact on the current fiscal solvency of the USPS. The figure below, presented by PMG Potter at a recent media briefing shows the USPS' financial projections for the end of this fiscal year with and without the Retiree Health Benefit payment.
  • Reading recent news reports about the Postal Service, one would think that it is on its deathbed. While times are dire and a major restructuring is in order, the underlying business may be better than what some of its competitors face even if the Postal Service's ability to remain a sustaining enterprise under the current business model looks increasingly unlikely. The Courier, Express and Postal Observer tell you why it thinks the future of the mail business is positive even though the Postal Service's situation is dire.
  • In testimony presented before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs on August 6, 2009 Williams-Sonoma Postal and Governmental Affairs Director James West said that it is imperative that mail volume be stabilized. Without a doubt, increased postage costs on consumers or commercial mailers will only serve to drive more mail out of the system. Any increase, especially an exigent rate increase to cover expected losses, must be avoided. Processing facilities and retail services likewise must be brought in line with mail volume. Prudent business practices dictate that a company must continually modify its infrastructure to match the volume of its business and the USPS can no longer be an exception. Completing the transformation of the USPS into a modern business enterprise will require more and sometimes difficult support from Congress.
  • Dead Tree Edition has asked: "With the U.S. Postal Service struggling to make ends meet, could it cut its losses by getting rid of the money-losing Periodicals Class or at least by jacking up Periodicals rates?"
  • USPS may close up to 1,000 post offices. Postal Service expands MTAC workgroup. USPS business model under threat. Kucinich wants reassurances. APWU opposed . . . .NO sympathy for usps from newspaper. So where's the growth.
  • A quick update on postal notices published in the Federal Register.
  • Updates on dockets at the Postal Regulatory Commission.
  • An update on DMM Advisory notices issued by the U.S. Postal Service.
  • A review of postal news from around the world.
  • Postal previews.
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At the Postal Regulatory Commission:

As The Hill put it: "The United States Postal Service (USPS) is in financial disarray, with plummeting levels of mail being sent and heathcare costs for retirees increasing."

According to Dow Jones, "The U.S. Postal Service is seeking permission from Congress to enter new lines of business, hoping to boost revenue at a time when traditional mail volumes are posting double-digit losses, putting the Postal Service into a deep financial hole. A green light from lawmakers could allow 30,000 post offices to offer banking and insurance products, renew drivers' licenses or sell pre-paid cellular telephone service, offsetting hits from the recession and a shift to electronic bill payment. "

According to the Charlottesville Daily Progress, "achieving savings to offset declines in mail volume and revenues will not be easy for a creature of government that confronts a host of politically charged issues, from closing rural postal retail stations to eliminating Saturday deliveries. The support and collaboration of Congress, the Postal Regulatory Commission, businesses and other large postal customers are essential if the USPS is to deliver successfully on a mandate to break even. The USPS needs to start afresh on a plan for restructuring, one which it probably should hand-carry — rather than mail — to Congress and the GAO."

GovExec.com has reported that "To stay afloat, the U.S. Postal Service needs immediate relief from a congressional mandate that requires the agency to make advance payments to its retiree health fund, witnesses and lawmakers said during a hearing on Thursday. But union leaders and senators clashed over amendments to a relief bill that would affect contract negotiations set to take place in 2010 and 2011."

According to the AFL-CIO, "we need another round of economic recovery action. At its recent meeting, the AFL-CIO Executive Council called for a second round of recovery, specifically urging Congress to: Bolster the financial stability of independent government agencies such as the U.S. Postal Service."

Free Speech Radio News has reported that "Email and the economic crisis put US Postal Service in the red."

According to Forbes, "The Postal Service has sharply cut costs and staffing, Potter added, but also needs to look to additional sources of income. He said in Australia people can renew driver's licenses in post offices, while Italians can do their banking and other countries' post offices handle insurance. The U.S. post office is not exploring these particular ideas, he said, but "other countries faced with the same dilemma have explored these areas." He suggested that Congress allow the post office to consider some activities that have not traditionally been part of the post office, adding he assumed that would come with limits or regulations."

August 6, 2009

The folks over at Rag Content have asked: "Is privatization the answer?"

Expect an announcement that Ruth Goldway has been named by the President to serve as the newest chairman of the Postal Regulatory Commission.

Advertising Age has published a piece on "A Guide to Magazines That Have Ceased Publication."

From NewsLink: "PMG Jack Potter today testified before a Senate panel responsible for USPS oversight, stressing the need for a “fundamental restructuring” of the Postal Service’s legislative and regulatory framework. He said such changes are “critical to future growth” of the organization."

The Journal of Commerce has reported that "DHL agreed to pay $9.4 million to settle allegations it violated U.S. export controls for shipments to Iran, Sudan and Syria, the government said Thursday. Export regulators alleged the express carrier violated Office of Foreign Asset Controls regulations between August 2002 and March 2007, making more than 300 shipments to Iran and Sudan. Regulations bar shipments for most goods under Iran transaction and Sudan sanction regulations. DHL further violated regulations by failing to maintain records on other shipments to Iran, government officials said. Waybills allegedly lacked required descriptions of the goods."

"The U.S. Postal Service In Crisis" Before the Senate Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal Services, and International Security.

See the running summary recorded from this hearing.

Member Statements Witnesses Panel 1
  • The Honorable John E. Potter [view testimony]
    Postmaster General 
    United States Postal Service
  • The Honorable Ruth Goldway 
    Chairman-Designee
    Postal Regulatory Commision
  • Mr. David Williams [view testimony]
    Inspector General 
    United States Postal Service
  • Ms. Nancy Kichak [view testimony]
    Associate Director, Strategic Human Resource Policy 
    U.S. Office of Personnel Management
  • Phillip R. Herr 
    Director, Physical Infrastructure Issues 
    Government Accountability Office
     
Witnesses Panel 2
  • Mr. Frederic Rolando [view testimony]
    President 
    National Association of Letter Carriers
  • Mr. William Burrus [view testimony]
    President 
    American Postal Workers Union AFL-CIO
  • Dale Goff [view testimony]
    President 
    National Association of Postmasters of the United States
  • James West [view testimony]
    Director of Postal and Legislative Affairs 
    Williams-Sonoma, Inc.
  • Mr. Mark Suwyn [view testimony]
    Executive Chairman 
    NewPage Corporation

Press Release: "U.S. Postal Service Governor Katherine Tobin has been appointed Deputy Assistant Secretary for Performance Improvement in the Department of Education’s Office of Management and will be leaving the postal governing board effective Aug. 30."

The Washington Times has reported that "Some members of Congress have seemed reluctant to agree to close post offices. Mr. Potter said that move remains in the review stages. He said an initial list of about 3,200 facilities considered for consolidation or closure has been narrowed to about 800. There are more than 36,000 post offices nationwide."

The Daily Pennsylvanian has reported that "In a move to increase sustainability efforts at Penn, the University's Mail Services has recently decided to end the distribution of unsolicited mail to the College Houses. The U.S. Postal Service will no longer deliver unsolicited mail - letters sent without a specific campus address, such as general advertisements - for distribution by Penn Mail Services."

Marketing Daily has noted that "Perhaps a sign that the economic doom is lifting, U.S. households are starting to receive more credit card offers from certain banks. Card mailers that ramped up their mail volumes in the second quarter this year included Bank of America (77% more than the first quarter) and Citibank (up 65%), according to Synovate's Mail Monitor, a credit card direct mail tracking service."

The BBC has reported that "Over 25,000 postal workers will stage a series of strikes from Friday to Tuesday over pay and jobs, the Communication Workers Union has said. Services across the UK, including in London, Scotland, the West Country, East Anglia and the Midlands will be affected, the union added. London and Scotland have already witnessed stoppages in recent weeks. Royal Mail said over 90% of staff would keep working and the "vast majority" of services would operate normally." See also Reuters, the Daily Express, and Bloomberg.

From Newsday's quotations of the day: "Every major postal policy, from employee pay, to days of delivery, to the closing of postal facilities must be on the table. Without major change, the day will soon come when the Postal Service will be unable to pay its bills." — Government Accountability Office after adding the Postal Service to its list of troubled agencies, saying serious and significant structural financial challenges face the agency.

Hellmail has reported that "Latvian Post has announced it is introduce extensive cost saving measures in an attempt to put the service on a stronger financial footing. Latvian Post, which has already cut the Board's remuneration by as much as 50%, said that increasing operational efficiency would be essential."

The Guernsey Post has reported that "ending Guernsey Post’s monopoly could be disastrous for the States utility, according to its chief executive."

CNNMoney has reported that "The U.S. Postal Service reported a $2.4 billion loss in its most recent quarter Wednesday, blaming plunging mail volume and rising retiree health care costs. The USPS, which is not a government agency but is exempt from taxes and antitrust law, lost $1.1 billion a year earlier. The service said it expects to suffer a $7 billion loss for its full fiscal year ending in September. Operating revenue fell 8.8% to $16.34 billion. Contributing to that revenue decline was what the service called an "unprecedented" drop in mail volume. In the nine months of the fiscal year, volume has fallen by 20 billion pieces, the USPS said in a regulatory filing. The Postal Service expects mail volume to decline another 10 billion to 15 billion pieces in fiscal 2010."

According to Gigaom, "Sure more business is being done online, but there is no correlation between Internet adoption rates and a drop in mail — both have been generally rising over the past 15 years, at least until mail service fell off a cliff over the past few months. It’s likely that the Internet is playing a role, but I don’t think all the blame can be placed on technology. A look at the history of total mail volumes shows that declines around recession years are not uncommon, with particularly large drops occurring in the 1930s. Additionally, the service’s package delivery competitors, like FedEx and UPS, don’t show a comparable drop in revenue, though it’s not a great comparison as those company’s routes have traditionally been more profitable than the Postal Service’s — plus, as a publicly traded company, FedEx has more of an obligation to be profitable than the government-run USPS. Though, as one of the few legal monopolies, shouldn’t the post office, with no competitors in most of its market (federal law states the USPS is the only organization that can deliver “non-urgent” letters like First Class and bulk mail), be able to make a profit?"

The Economic Times has reported that "The ban on entry load on mutual funds (MFs) has struck its first blow to the asset management industry, with the government-run India Post stopping the distribution of MF schemes through its designated post offices."

Multichannel Merchant has reported that "Despite the financial crisis burdening the U.S. Postal Service, Postmaster General John Potter says there won’t be any exigent rate case. At least not this year. While the USPS expects to lose about $7 billion during its fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, that fiscal reality won’t force an immediate rate case. “We’re reviewing everything as to where we can cut costs,” Potter said during today’s conference call regarding the USPS’s third-quarter financial results. “There are some rumors out there we’re going to raise our rates double digits,” Potter noted. “That would only compound the volume problem.”

GovExec.com has reported that "The U.S. Postal Service on Wednesday announced a loss of $2.4 billion in its third quarter, underscoring the financial woes of an agency already groaning under the weight of the recession. USPS reported a $1.6 billion decrease in revenue between April and June, and a total net loss of $4.7 billion so far for fiscal 2009. It has now suffered net losses for all but one quarter in the last three fiscal years. Some attribute the staggering net losses to a requirement, approved by Congress in 2006, that the Postal Service make advance payments to cover the costs of health benefits for retirees. Sen. Thomas Carper, D-Del., chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Federal Financial Management Subcommittee, wanted Senate leaders to bring to the floor this week legislation that would tweak the timing of those payments and give USPS more flexibility to borrow funds to cover costs. But Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., is not expected to bring up the bill until after the August recess."

At the Postal Regulatory Commission:

FedEx Trade Networks is opening new offices in Asia and Latin America to expand its international freight forwarding capability. The new Asia offices are in Singapore, Taiwan, and in Qingdao, Beijing, Guangzhou and Shenzhen, China. In Latin America, the company opened an air and ocean forwarding office in Sao Paulo, Brazil. FedEx Trade Networks, a subsidiary of Memphis-based FedEx Corp., has additional plans to expand its global freight forwarding operation throughout Asia, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America. These new offices support those plans.

August 5, 2009

The Wall Street Journal has reported that "The Postmaster General suggested that a big increase in postal rates isn't in the cards, saying that would further depress mail volume and worsen the Postal Service's financial problems. But he didn't rule out seeking "a modest adjustment in prices" next spring." [EdNote: In short, a 2.4% across-the-board exigency increase is being planned. Any takers?]


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

  • Focus on Address Correction Service (ACS)
  • “Free” ACS: When May Really Means September
  • Full-Service IMb Mailings Update
  • The different flavors of ACS
  • Address Correction Service (also known as Hard Copy or “Manual” ACS Service)
  • “Traditional” ACS Service (as defined in USPS Publication 8a)
  • OneCode ACS
  • Intelligent Mail barcode (IMb) Full-Service ACS
  • What Happens with ACS when the IMb Is Unreadable?
  • ACS Data Distribution
  • Customer/Supplier Agreements (CSAs) Update
  • IMb ID Code Changes
  • A Few Good IMb FAQs
  • New Barcode Placement Standards for Automation Letters
  • Mark your calendar for these upcoming rule changes

As the Baltimore Sun put it: "Don't be optimistic that the Postal Service will move fast or take the right steps. It's the government. Its five-year plan, titled "Vision 2013," is packed with the cliches corporations use when they want people to mistake talk for action. "Leverage Our Strengths." "Embrace Change." "Collaborate to Grow the Business." General Motors talked the same way. It got embraced by change, not vice versa. And it wasn't cuddly. Telephones and e-mail stole the Post Office's traditional business. E-commerce took away the bills. Online ads are eroding what remains. Growing the business is not part of the picture."

As the New York Times has noted, "As news trickled out this week that some as-yet-unknown number of the city’s roughly 250 post offices are to be closed — after reports that 53 might be shuttered, officials reached by phone amended the list on Tuesday to a more modest 14 — confused and angry residents and politicians from around the city have been rallying in defense of their local branches. The initial list, provided to Congress last week, indicated that 677 urban branches nationwide were being considered for closing. Told of the amended list, politicians and leaders of the local postal union were skeptical. “On station closings they’ve always been very deceptive,” said Clarice Torrence, president of the New York Metro Area Postal Union. “If they amended the list they would let me know.” Representative Anthony D. Weiner said in a statement: “The way the U.S.P.S. has released information in dribs and drabs, it’s no wonder that they have been losing business. If their intention was to raise alarms, what they’ve really done is raise questions about their management.”

Rag Content has noted that "There was been much discussion on the Hill this week about the U.S. Postal Service and how it is in dire straits. Collins said it was the Postal Service's own fault for not using the flexibility given to it by Congress 2.5 years ago with the passage of PAEA. Coburn said that he will not stand in the way of the current legislative relief for the Postal Service, but that a restructuring of the Postal Service is needed. McCain stated that the current legislation does not get the heart of the problem facing the Postal Service. So what is the problem facing the Postal Service? Is it not allowing the arbitrator to look at the financial position of the Postal Service during contract negotiations as one current amendment points out? Is it the proliferation of worksharing discounts as stated by the unions? Or is it the Postal Service itself?"


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

The Financial Times has reported that "The Post Office has launched a new Overseas Property Money Transfer service which allows people to transfer money between UK and overseas bank accounts. The new service enables customers to fix at a favourable rate of exchange for up to a year, giving customers protection against volatile currency fluctuations."

According to the McLeod County Chronicle, "It is difficult to feel much sympathy for the United States Postal Services (USPS) at times like these. The USPS is looking at a $7 billion loss in its current fiscal year. Much of its financial demise is self-inflicted. Anyone, like the newspaper industry, that has to deal with this bloated federal agency on a regular basis knows how frustrating it can be at times. As one of the postal services' biggest customers, newspapers get little respect for that fact. Instead, newspapers have to endure endless red tape regulations that always benefit the USPS rather than the customer. The customer is rarely right under this scenario, and has little recourse."

The Hill has reported that "The United States Postal Service said Wednesday it will continue deliveries and paying its workers without interruption despite the specter of a $7 billion loss and a $700 million cash shortfall this year. Postmaster General John Potter said he has spoken to Obama administration officials and congressional leaders about legislation that will allow it to make up the shortfall, and Potter added he's confident lawmakers will take action. But Potter said that if the USPS can't make up its cash deficit, it will not pay its full obligation to the health benefits trust fund this year. Lawmakers from both parties have criticized USPS proposals to find savings this year, including the possible closure of post offices and an end to Saturday delivery service."

The Washington Post has reported that "Though much of the debate regarding the Postal Service's future focuses on cutting mail service to five days per week, the removal of underused mailboxes and the potential closure of hundreds of Post Offices, the USPS' financial woes can be tied in large measure to roughly $7 billion in payments it must make each year to fund current and future retiree health benefits. Congress mandated the pre-payments in 2006 when it passed a Postal reform bill. "We simply cannot afford these costs," Postmaster General John Potter said during a news conference announcing the financial results. The payments will contribute to a $700 million cash shortfall at the end of its fiscal year in late September, Potter said, unless Congress quickly changes the payment rules. "If we were part of the federal government and treated as an agency, we would not be paying pre-funding to a retirement benefit trust," Potter said. "On the other hand, if we were in the private sector, we would not be pre-funding these retirement payments. So therein lies a bit of a dilemma." See also the Associated Press.

At the Postal Regulatory Commission:

From today's USPS Board of Governors meeting:

  • Katherine Tobin has resigned from the Board to become the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Performance Improvement for the Department of Education, effective August 30.
  • USPS has suffered a $2.4 billion loss for its 3rd quarter this fiscal year.
  • USPS has reduced its workhours by 88 million for the first three quarters of FY2009.
  • USPS volume has declined across the first three postal quarters by a total of 12.6 percent.
  • USPS volume has declined during PQ 3 by 14.3%.
  • USPS's adjusted net loss for the first 9-months of this fiscal year is $4.69 billion.
  • The Governors have affirmed that Jack Potter will remain PMG "for many more years to come."
  • Financial Update August 5, 2009 by Joe Corbett Chief Financial Officer & Executive Vice President
  • Letter to OMB Director from Chairman, Board of Governors and the PMG
  • Letter to Treasury Secretary from Chairman, Board of Governors and the PMG
  • At today's USPS press briefing, Postmaster General Jack Potter spoke about the Postal Service's financial position before and after its Retiree Health Benefit (RHB) expenses. He said that, had it not been for the postal retiree health payments, the USPS would have made over $3.3 billion in FY2007, instead of turning in a $5.1 billion loss. In FY2008, the Postal Service would have made $2.8 billion, instead of losing $2.8 billion.  This fiscal year, the Postal Service is projecting a total $7.3 billion loss including its RHB payment. Without having to make that payment, the Postal Service would lose only $1.9 billion.
  • Slides from the PMG's press briefing
  • USPS Press Release: "Postal Service Ends Third Quarter with $2.4 Billion Loss"

From Business Wire: "ecoEnvelopes (www.ecoEnvelopes.com), the world’s leader in innovative, eco-friendly mailing solutions is pleased to announce the hiring of Kent Dunham as the company’s new Director of Sales. In this new role, Dunham and his team will be responsible for working with licensee manufacturers, resellers, mail shops and end users to develop existing and emerging markets for ecoEnvelopes products. His initial focus will be to expand the company’s internal support group to meet growing market demand and to hire a sales team to increase market expansion and revenue generation."

As the Wichita Examiner has noted, "At issue is a listing of hundreds of post office across the country that are on a suggested closing list recently submitted to the Postal Regulatory Commission. It is common knowledge that the Postal Service has been bleeding billions as e-mail has reduced the number of pieces actually entering the "snail mail" system and the recession has reduced the number of junk mail pieces clogging up mail receptacles the nation over. It is also common knowledge that any time you begin tinkering with long standing institutions, politics will enter the debate faster then a long tailed cat running from a room full of rocking chairs....In the real world, efficiency and customer service drive profits, maybe 234 years after the establishment of the first Post Office the heads of the current system could at least feign an attempt to comprehend that."

Federal News Radio has reported that "Your raise at the Postal Service next year may depend in part on how well you're doing with the environment. That agency's sustainability office tells FederalNewsRadio that they're adding new indicators to management's pay-for-performance scorecard."

The Times of Zambia has reported that "Parliament yesterday heard that the Zambia Postal Services Corporation (Zampost) operated under a three-member board for the past three years, which was an irregularity. Communications and Transport Deputy Minister, Mubika Mubika told the House that the Government would soon appoint a new board for Zampost and explained that there were no intentions to privatise the corporation."

According to the Roanoke Times, "The smaller market needs only a streamlined postal service. Fewer post offices will help, and the closures under consideration seem mostly logical. Perhaps someday postal mail will become obsolete. That day has not yet arrived."

FM World has reported that "Swiss Post Solutions has won a five-year-contract to provide an integrated mailroom and courier management service to the Telegraph Media Group. The Swiss Post Solutions team will assume responsibility for the distribution of the huge volume of reference materials delivered daily to all Telegraph departments. The company will take over management of the courier room and handle the collection, sorting and delivery of the group’s mail and also that of the other tenants in the Telegraph’s head office building in central London."

The Financial Times has reported that "Candover Partners is considering plans to inject fresh funding to support its investment in DX Group, the UK postal services company it bought two years ago for £347m and which now faces declining volumes with the collapse in house sales and credit card issuance."

According to Dead Tree Edition, "With the U.S. Postal Service struggling to make ends meet, could it cut its losses by getting rid of the money-losing Periodicals Class or at least by jacking up Periodicals rates? No. USPS is better off with Periodicals than without. And a radical increase in Periodicals rates to make publishers pay their “fair share” of postal costs would probably deepen the Postal Service's financial losses. With its current structure, the Postal Service’s main problem is not that it doesn’t charge enough for mail pieces but that it doesn’t have enough mail pieces to charge for. With limited prospects for growth, USPS must reduce its cost structure, not jettison customers, to get its financial house in order. "

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

Poste Italiane enjoyed definite growth during the first half 2009. On Monday the Italian post announced an 11.4% turnover increase to 9.4bn euros. The insurance (+ 18.6%; +454m euros) and financial services (+8.6%; +201m euros) segments in particular had contributed to the turnover growth, the post stated.
After more than 18 months of deliberations, it has now been decided that the Brazilian post ECT will be turned into a closed public limited company.
A referendum called "Stop Robbing the Post" initiated by the Austrian Christian PostalWorkers’ Union ended on Monday night (CEP News 13/09). According to preliminary official figures, merely 140,622 signatures were collected, which is the equivalent of 2.23% of the potential votes. Despite this being the poorest turnout of all 28 referendums held in Austria in recent times, the Austrian parliament will now have to discuss the matter of codifying the number of post offices in the country’s constitution.
Competitors of Deutsche Post must not be excluded from a call for tenders because they are not paying their delivery staff the statutory minimum wage. This was established by the Higher Regional Court in Düsseldorf last week.
Österreichische Post has acquired 40% of Vienna based software producer EBPP (Electronic Bill Presentment and Payment), a subsidiary of Raiffeisen Daten Service Centers (RSC).
This year, Germans will be spending more money on the Internet than ever before and are thus helping to increase the turnover in the mail order and online trading segments. This was announced by the German Association of Mail Order Traders (bvh) at its annual press conference on Monday.

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.)

From the Federal Register:

Postal Regulatory Commission
 
RULES
Express Mail and Priority Mail Contract ,
38921–38924 [E9–18737] [TEXT]  [PDF]
NOTICES
Priority Mail ,
39121–39122 [E9–18767] [TEXT]  [PDF]
Priority Mail Contract ,
39122–39123 [E9–18768] [TEXT]  [PDF]
39123–39124 [E9–18769] [TEXT]  [PDF]

According to Learning Markets, "The United States Postal Service yesterday announced that a $7 billion loss may require the shutdown of operation centers and branches across the country. This is good news for public parcel companies who stand poised to gain. United Parcel Service, Inc. (UPS) is the most obvious candidate, and this news will only add to the strength it has seen in the last three weeks as it is holding steady above $50. The Company focuses its operations in the field of transportation services, mainly in domestic and international letter and package delivery. Through subsidiaries, it is a global provider of transportation, logistics and financial services. FedEx Corporation (FDX) is poised to likewise find strength on this news. The Company provides a portfolio of transportation, e-commerce and business services through companies competing collectively, operating independently and managed collaboratively, under the FedEx brand."

Fox News has reported that "The Government Accountability Office has called for the nation's postal system to undergo a drastic overhaul that includes office closures, layoffs and changes to retiree health benefits. Other critics also say overhaul is the only way out. But some lawmakers, like Sen. Susan Collins, who sits on the committee that oversees the Postal Service, argue that slamming the door on 667 post offices around the country is no way to fix the agency. "It seems to me that cutting back on service will only cause the Postal Service to lose more business and more customers," Collins said Tuesday."

August 4, 2009

The Financial Times has reported that "Georgia will stand by its liberal economic policy despite a recession that has stoked popular discontent since the disastrous war with Russia last August, Nika Gilauri, the Georgian prime minister said. The country’s western leaning government unleashed a whirlwind of economic reforms after the Rose Revolution in 2004, cutting taxation and red tape, reducing corruption and vowing in the words of Kakha Bendukidze, the former economy minister, to privatise “everything that could be sold except its conscience....Some arable land, real estate and, possibly, the post office will be sold off this year, underscoring the government’s commitment to privatisation."

The BBC has reported that "Post deliveries and collections in large areas of Bristol and Somerset are set to be halted on Saturday by a strike of Royal Mail workers. Up to 900 members of the Communications Workers Union (CWU) in 15 local centres may take part in the one-day stoppage."

According to The Examiner, "No one knows as of this writing how many of us are trying to access the www.prc.gov (postal regulatory commission) website to see if "our" post office is one of those on a proposed hit list, but I do know that it's at least one too many. Over the past hour, multiple attempts to access the site utilizing two different internet browsers have all resulted in the same "waiting for www.prc.gov..." message at the bottom of the screen. Frankly it's not much different than the agonizingly long waits I must endure every time I visit my own local postal interface exchange to mail a package or pick up some stamps. No matter the time of day, no matter the day of week, the story the same: long lines due to never having enough employees to serve the demand and then those that are there slowing the line even further with a barrage of "upsells" to every customer at the counter."

The Fort Myers News-Press has told its readers that "With one post office in Fort Myers (Miracle Mile), three in Naples and two in Punta Gorda on the latest to-be-closed list, with a $7 billion loss looming for the postal service despite yet another increase in stamp prices (2 cents in May), it’s a reminder that this outfit should have given up the ghost years ago. Abolish the postal service, or at least abolish its monopoly on first-class mail. One justification for the monopoly was to allow mail to reach remote locations at a price people could afford, a social benefit at one time, perhaps. But today with telephone and Internet, regular first-class mail delivery is not the lifeline it once was. This is not medical care. Let mail delivery go private and let the market pick the winners."

At the Postal Regulatory Commission:

Courier, Express and Postal Observer has told its readers that "reading recent news reports about the Postal Service, one would think that it is on its deathbed. While times are dire and a major restructuring is in order, the underlying business may be better than what some of its competitors face even if the Postal Service's ability to remain a sustaining enterprise under the current business model looks increasingly unlikely. Why do I think the future of the mail business is positive even though the Postal Service's situation is dire?"

Check out the latest entry on the 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 http://blog.uspsoig.gov/. Will Electronic Reader Technology Affect the Postal Service? A revolution is occurring in the publishing industry with the introduction of electronic reading devices such as the Amazon Kindle and Sony Reader that allows users to download digital versions of books, newspapers, and magazines. Now, newspaper and magazine publishers have another option besides the Postal Service to reach customers. The OIG blog asks, “How will this affect the Postal Service?” You can visit Office of Inspector General’s public website at: www.uspsoig.gov. If you have additional questions, please contact Communication and Work Life Director Agapi Doulaveris at 703.248.2286.

From PR Web: "Window Book releases new 'IMb NMS Number Management System' in TagMaster software to ensure 45-day uniqueness of Intelligent Mail® barcode numbers on tray/sack/pallet tags across all jobs for all classes of mail."

The Associated Press has reported that "The local post office long has been the center of many American communities, but with people turning increasingly to the Internet to send messages and pay bills, financial losses are forcing the Postal Service to consider consolidating or closing hundreds of local facilities. The post office is facing a $7 billion loss this year despite a 2-cent rate increase. The agency has shed 150,000 workers since 2000, removed hundreds of mail collection boxes and taken other steps to save money."

The Independent has reported that "Communications ministers from Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) countries will meet in Zimbabwe from Wednesday to consider ways of strengthening postal services in the region. The three-day meeting under the auspices of the Southern Africa Postal Operators Association would draft a four-year plan for postal services in the region, the SA Post Office said in a statement."

From the Federal Register:

Postal Regulatory Commission
 
RULES
Express Mail and Priority Mail Contract ,
38533–38536 [E9–18593] [TEXT]  [PDF]

The Star has noted that "vsHub (short for Virtual Shopping Hub) is a local parcel forwarding service aimed at reducing the hassle of online shopping in the United States. Once users become a vsHub member they will get a physical US address, which is used as the local shipping address when shopping online before getting the products re-delivered to their home."

According to CNN Money, "It's a bad time for the Postal Service to be hamstrung, because its entire business model is under threat. Mail use is in epic decline. Any solution has to address the fact that the USPS is still functioning on a scale far larger than the demand for mail. Last week the Government Accountability Office released a report with several recommendations for what the USPS should do. Among the solutions: speed up the streamlining. There are about 400 major mail processing facilities, far more than the USPS needs given that it has 50% excess capacity for processing first-class mail alone. The Postal Service also needs to scale back its workforce, most likely through attrition. (The USPS has never had layoffs.) In March, about 150,000 out of 646,000 workers were offered early retirement. That process will speed up as more workers approach retirement age."

Your issue of The Prescott Report awaits you at www.PrescottReport.com or use this Safe Download Link

 
The latest issue of Postal Technology International is available for downloading.

According to My San Antonio, "Congress has much on its plate, but it is time to tackle the job of fixing the USPS without increasing debt."

According to Multichannel Merchant, "If there’s an upside to the down economy, it’s that you can probably get lower prices for some services—including parcel delivery."

Yahoo! Tech has reported that "Coming soon to your TV: More advertising, in places you might not expect. The ads are showing up where people used to enjoy a break from advertising, such as video on demand and on-screen channel guides. Even TiVo, which became popular for its technology that lets people skip TV commercials, is developing new ways to show ads. As a result, you won't necessarily see more traditional, 30-second commercials. Instead, many of the new TV ads will resemble online ads — interactive and often shaped for individual members of the audience. They'll also be harder to ignore. Typically, you can't opt out of seeing them." [EdNote: What?? No newspapers protesting all this "junk" TV? No greenies decrying the waste of energy generating resources?]

August 3, 2009


The agenda for the August 11 - 13, 2009 Mailers’ Technical Advisory Committee (MTAC) meeting has been posted on this site.

The Guernsey Press has reported that "Guernsey Post could lose its monopoly under plans unveiled by the Office of Utility Regulation. The OUR, which regulates Guernsey Post, Guernsey Electricity and the island’s telecoms industry, today announced its proposals aimed at increasing competition in the postal market."

The Cloud Computing Journal has reported that "The US Secret Service, the Italian Post Office and the postal division of the Italian police are teaming up to fight transnational cyber-crime as the Rome-based European Electronic Crimes Task Force (EECTF). It will be the first - and long overdue - task force designed to fight cyber crimes outside the United States and will use as its model the Electronic Crimes Task Force the Secret Service created in America. Poste Italiane, which describes the Task Force as "the first step in a global project that will develop over the coming month according to a well-defined plan," has software and an infrastructure - derived from its banking and insurance interests - that tracks electronic payments, monitoring some 20 million transactions a day."

At the Postal Regulatory Commission:

DMM Advisory:  The Postal Service has released two DMM Advisories today, both of which you can find on this site:

  The Postal Regulatory Commission has submitted to Members of the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on the Federal Workforce, Postal Service, and the District of Columbia its Review of Retiree Health Benefit Fund Liability as Calculated by Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General (OIG).

'The Situation Room.'
Follow a mail carrier on his route to see if people are mailing less today on "The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer." Today at 4 p.m. ET.

The Board of Governors of the U.S. Postal Service will meet in Washington, DC, at Postal Service Headquarters, 475 L’Enfant Plaza, SW, Aug. 3-5. The public is welcome to observe the Board’s open session, scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m. Aug. 5 in the Ben Franklin Room on the 11th floor.  The Board is expected to discuss the following items: 

Wednesday, Aug. 5 at 8:30 a.m. 

  1. Call to order and approval of minutes of previous meetings.
  2. Remarks of the Chairman of the Board.
  3. Remarks of the Postmaster General and CEO.
  4. Amendments to Board Bylaws.
  5. Committee charters, assignments and reports.
  6. Quarterly report on service performance.
  7. Quarterly report on financial performance.
  8. Tentative agenda for the Sept. 21, 22 and 23, 2009, meeting in Washington, D.C., and adjourn.

According to the Journal of Commerce, "The decline in gross domestic product slowed dramatically in the second quarter, giving hope the recession may indeed be coming to an end."

The Fort Myers News-Press has reported that "mailings typically decline when tourists and snowbirds depart for the summer. This is more severe, Hixson and Murray said: It’s the economy cutting into direct mail advertising — fliers, postcards and catalogs. There’s no single answer as to why. Some businesses — seeking to cut costs and try new media — are redirecting some of their advertising to Web sites, e-mail, and social media tools such as Twitter and Facebook. Others make direct mailings but are more closely defining their target areas. Some businesses just hope to keep their doors open. Some have closed."

According to SearchEngineLand, "The direct mail industry is enormously sophisticated. They’ve been on the leading edge of data modeling since the 1970s, and smart PPC advertisers and agencies would do well to study them. RKG is in the midst of a research collaboration with Digital Element and Kevin Hillstrom of MineThatData to determine if some well-known truths from the catalog industry also apply to the world of paid search, namely that geography matters. Catalogers have known for 50 years or more that people in rural areas respond to offers at a significantly higher rate than those in urban areas. Indeed, postal zones C & D, corresponding to semi-rural and rural areas, have always outperformed zones A & B. Is the same true in Paid Search? The early answer appears to be: “Absolutely!”

Stars and Stripes has reported that "The Army plans to consolidate mailing centers scattered throughout communities into centralized locations called postal service centers. The centers will combine unit and community mail rooms, regional post offices, Army post offices and official mail distribution centers all into one facility for each military community, according to Installation Management Command-Europe officials."

August 2, 2009

Dead Tree Edition is wondering: "The rapid decrease in prices for coated paper the past few months caught nearly everyone by surprise. Now the question is whether the drop is over. Some people argue that prices will start rising because the mills are hurting so bad. By that logic, magazines will see their ad pages start bouncing back and the Postal Service can stop worrying about the loss of First Class Mail. Wishes don't always come true. In fact, mills that are struggling to stay afloat are more tempted to drop their prices rather than idle their machines -- unless the prices no longer cover their cash costs."

Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) has sent a letter to Postmaster General and CEO of the U.S. Postal Service Mr. John Potter requesting assurance that the needs of greater Cleveland would be central in the decision-making process used in the review of 16 area post office locations for potential closure. Congressman Kucinich sent the letter after demanding assurances from a representative of the U.S.P.S, Mr. Jordan Small, that community input would be included in the review. In the hearing, Congressman Kucinich also expressed concern about the potential for privatization of the services provided by the U.S.P.S.

The Indianapolis Star has reported that "Authorities say a postal carrier in northern Indiana stockpiled hundreds of pieces of undelivered mail in vacant mailboxes and parcel lockers along his Elkhart County route. A three-count federal grand jury indictment charges 56-year-old Bruce R. Graybill with obstruction of mail, unlawful delay of mail by a postal employee and embezzlement of mail by a postal employee."

The Times has reported that "trade union leaders have received increases in their pay packages of up to 20%, despite many of their members having their wages frozen or even cut. The union “fat cats” include those whose members are causing serious disruption to the public over the summer through a series of strikes. Billy Hayes, leader of the 260,000-member Communication Workers Union, which carried out four postal strikes in London last month, had a 5% pay rise. The union declined to comment."

August 1, 2009

The Great Falls Tribune has reported that "Members of a group dedicated to keeping the Black Eagle post office opened hand-delivered a petition with more than 1,000 signatures supporting their cause to Great Falls Postmaster Dave Chiavaras on Friday. The group, Citizens Against Closing Black Eagle Post Office formed after a July 21 public meeting in which United States Postal Service officials informed the community that the Black Eagle station may be closed and consolidated with the Great Falls office as part of a nationwide budget reducing effort."

The Society of Procurement Officers has noted that "Royal Mail is looking for suppliers to help its business and technology transformation under deals that could be worth up to £750m. According to a contract notice issued by the firm, the plan is to establish a framework for the provision of business and technology transformation and execution services. Suppliers are required under three separate agreements – expected to last for five years – which will include systems design, build and implementation, as well as the support and hosting of the postal service’s software applications."

BtoB has reported that "In a video announcement delivered to its membership Friday, American Business Media CEO Gordon T. Hughes II said opposition in Congress to the elimination of Saturday postal delivery "appears to be waning." In the "Presidential Flash" video, Hughes goes on to say: "Mailers appear to be accepting with reluctance [the] inevitability" of the end of Saturday postal delivery."

"Closing stations and branches and reducing mail delivery to five days per week “will unquestionably have a negative effect on the postal monopoly,” APWU President William Burrus told a House subcommittee at a hearing July 30. Such actions “will impede the Postal Service’s ability to compete” when the economy rebounds, he said. “These are acts of surrender — when the outcome of the battle is still in doubt,” Burrus said."

The Expositer has reported that "The end-of-the-driveway mailbox, its red flag alerting homeowners to a delivery, have been dotting roadsides for decades. Now these country symbols are being assessed for safety in Brant County and across Canada. Canada Post began a review two years ago of the way it delivers mail to rural areas as a result of a growing number of health and safety complaints from drivers who put mail in rural boxes."

According to Folio, "While there has been recent speculation that the U.S. Postal Service is close to raising First Class stamps from 44 cents to 50 cents or seeking an “exigent increase” of 2 to 3 percent in order to improve its dire financial outlook, there are a couple of actions that it will probably take before getting to that point, according to postal consultant Ed Mayhew. While each class is supposed to contribute 100 percent of its postal costs, the Periodicals class only contributes about 83 percent. Because Periodicals only accounts for 5 percent of overall volume, Mayhew said, this fact has gone largely unnoticed—that is, until coupon mailing company Val Pak recently filed a complaint. In order for periodicals to start contributing what it should, the USPS will have to increase their rates by 17 percent, which would be financially detrimental to most publishers. Mayhew guesses that if the Commission does decide to make the periodical class pay up, the increase won’t come this year and will most likely be done in phases."

Dead Tree Edition has reported that "The “black liquor” tax credit is driving down paper prices, according to NewPage, North America’s largest maker of coated paper."

The July 31, 2009 issue of the National Association of Postal Supervisors Legislative & Regulatory Update has been posted on this site.

CNN has reported that "The U.S. Postal Service is considering ways to save money on mail delivery as Americans send less mail and the service loses more money."