Tag Archives: USPS

First Class Postage to Increase: Plan Ahead on Mailings

5 Mar

The Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) recently approved First-Class Mail price adjustments which will take effect on April 26, 2015.

In a separate order, the PRC also approved an average price increase of 5.5% for certain competitive products such as Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express.

The USPS price adjustment request for all remaining Market Dominant products are still being reviewed by the PRC and are in a pending state. That means rates for other postal rate increasescategories of mail, including standard and periodicals, have not yet been determined.

In summary, First-Class Mailers can expect the following price changes in April of 2015:

  • First-Class Stamp remains unchanged at $0.49/stamp
  • The Single-Piece additional ounce for letters increases to $ .22 from $ 0.21.
  • First-Class pre-sorted letters and postcards will go up an average of 2.4%. Specific rates have yet to be announced but will be revealed at a time closer to the date of the change.
  • Single-Piece Postcard rate will go up to $ .35 from $ .34.
  • Free second-ounce continues for all Presort First-Class Mail Letters – Non-automation and Automation
  • Metered Single-Piece Letters will increase by $0.05/pc
  • The price of the first ounce for a Single-Piece Flat remains $0.98.
  • The retail First-Class Mail Parcels price for the first three ounces increases to $2.54.

A copy of the notice is found on the PRC website:  http://www.prc.gov/docs/91/91582/Order%20No.%202365.pdf

The DC Court of Appeals decision regarding the exigent rate increase is still pending. As it stands today, the exigent amount of 4.3% will be rolled back once the Postal Service achieves $3.2 billion in revenue associated with the exigent increase. At the current collection rate, it is estimated to occur around August of 2015.

Confused About Folded Self Mailer Regulation Changes?

21 Feb

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words.

We have discussed postal regulation changes regarding a category of mail called Folded Self Mailers in previous blogs. (See New Requirements for Folded Self-Mailers). Recently, however, we ran across a video (thanks Fold Factory!) which clearly shows and explains the new regulations.


One important part of this video is the description of what can and cannot be used as the addressing panel. This change is catching many designers by surprise. Under the new regulations, the mailing panel cannot be created by the final fold.

Another change catching printers and designers by surprise is the paper weight requirement. Whereas compliance with postal regulations used to be based on mail piece thickness, you will see in the video that compliance is now based on a combination of thickness and paper weights.

The video is well done and only seven and a half minutes long. Happy viewing!

Postage, Shipping Costs to Rise

17 Jan

It’s going to cost a little bit more to mail that letter or ship that package this year, say industry sources.

The cost of a standard, first class stamp will increase by one cent, from $.45 to $.46, on January 27, 2013, the U.S. Postal Service reports. This will be the second year in a row that the cost of stamps have risen by one cent.

The Postal Service urges people to buy Forever Stamps at $.45 cents per stamp before the price change. Forever Stamps will also rise to $.46 on January 27. Once bought, the Forever Stamps can be used indefinitely and will remain applicable for one-ounce letters, even when postage rates rise.

Global Forever stamp

2013 Global Forever stamp

A new Global Forever Stamp will also be available for consumers. With these stamps, any letter can be shipped anywhere overseas for the flat rate of $1.10.

Other services that have also increased rates, according to stamps.com, include:

  • A one cent increase to $0.33 cents from $0.32 cents for postcards
  • Express Mail will increase an average of 5.9 percent
  • Priority Mail prices will increase an average of 6.3 percent. Online discounted rates will increase 3.7 percent
  • Rates for First Class Package Service will see an average increase of 3 percent
  • Parcel Post (renamed Standard Post) will increase an average of 6.3 percent
  • Parcel Select will increase an average of 9 percent
  • Certified Mail will increase by 5.1 percent

For presorted mail, the increase will depend on the class and category of mail as well as the presort concentration. As shown below, rates for these classes will increase from 0.5 – 5%.

First Class Presort Letters will increase 1.5 – 2.8%
First Class Presort Flats will increase 1.3 – 3.5%
Standard (Bulk) Letters will increase 2 – 3%
Standard (Bulk) Flats will increase 1 – 4%
Non-Profit Letters will increase 2 – 3.5%
Non-Profit Flats will increase 0.5 – 5%

FedEx and UPS also announced rate increases for 2013. According to Internet Retailer, the average cost for ground shipments and home deliveries increased approximately 4.9% across the board for standard ground shipments.

At FedEx, the rate hike took effect January 7th and the 4.9% percent increase covered shipments of parcels weighing up to 150 pounds through FedEx Ground and FedEx Home Delivery. At UPS, the rate hike went into effect December 31st for UPS Ground Services, and the average increase also applies for parcels of up to 150 pounds.

Ken Wood, president of shipping advisory firm LJM Consulting, notes that the lighter the package, the higher the rate increase. And because most online retailers ship packages of 30 pounds or less, their average rate increase will run higher than 4.9%, he says.  “Overall, most e-commerce retailers will have a rate increase of about 7% or 8%,” he says.

USPS Offers Holiday Mobile Shopping Promotion

29 Aug

As you may have heard, the United States Postal Service is creating promotions and incentives to create awareness of innovative uses of mail. As technology changes the marketing landscape, the Postal Service needs to ensure that direct mail continues to be a relevant part of the marketing mix. By encouraging customers to adopt and invest in technologies that enhance how consumers interact and engage with mail, they are solidifying the link between technology and mail.

USPS Holiday Mobile Shopping Promotion, November 7 through November 21, 2012

A Holiday Mobile Shopping Promotion is scheduled to run from November 7 – 21, 2012, with registration beginning September 15, 2012. The holiday promotion is designed to spur mobile purchasing by putting mobile-optimized promotional offers, coupons and catalogs into customers’ hands in time for Black Friday-Cyber Monday shopping sprees.

This promotion is intended to show how direct mail combined with mobile technology can be a convenient method for consumers to do their holiday shopping.

Discount and Rebate Amounts

The Holiday Mobile Shopping Promotion will provide business mailers with an upfront two percent postage discount on Standard Mail and First-Class Mail letters, flats and cards (presort and automation) that include a mobile barcode or print/mobile technology that can be read or scanned by a mobile device and leads the recipient to a mobile optimized shopping website. The technology must lead the recipient to a website that allows the recipient to purchase an advertised product on the mobile device (the sale of services will not qualify).

Mailers may also qualify for an additional one percent rebate on the postage of their qualifying mailings if a portion of their orders are fulfilled via Priority Mail between November 9, 2012 and December 31, 2012.

The Holiday Mobile Shopping Promotion Program Requirements describe the rules in further detail. It can be downloaded from RIBBS at: https://ribbs.usps.gov/index.cfm?page=mobilebarcode.

Further questions about this program can be directed to: mobilebarcode@usps.gov.

This is the third promotion the Postal Service has offered to encourage the integration of mail and mobile technology.

Changing the Way We Mail

16 Mar

Much has been in the news lately about the United States Postal Service (USPS). It has been financially struggling for some time now, and continues to show a loss each year. Changes are in the works to reverse this trend, and those changes will affect everyone.

United States Postal Service


First class mail is one area likely to be hardest hit. For one thing, President Obama has endorsed the idea of discontinuing Saturday delivery. Additionally, due to postal network optimization, overnight mail delivery of first class mail will be a rarity, even if the recipient is in the next town over. Because of decreased overall volumes, more than half of the current mail sorting facilities are being reviewed for efficiency and may be closed. In September of 2011, the USPS announced a study of the operations of 252 of its 487 mail processing facilities. The goal is to reduce the number of processing centers to fewer than 200 by 2013. The remaining facilities will expand their work hours from an average of seven hours per day to up to 18 hours per day. This change in hours will impact the current cut-off times for mail delivery to Business Mail Entry Units (BMEUs). For first-class presort mail, entry times will change for 8 a.m. for mixed mail and noon for 5-digit presort mail.

Postal officials say delivery times of first class mail will change to 2 – 3 days, up from the current 1 – 3 days. Periodicals will change to 2 – 9 days, also up from the current 1 – 9 days. The USPS does say, however, that based on mail entry times, one-day delivery for local mail is still possible but only for presorted mail and only for mail to ZIP codes in your local Sectional Center Facility.

With these changes, the best way for mailers to reduce their delivery times is through presorting and separating the mail for quicker processing through the streamlined USPS network.

Mailers should be aware of these changes and continue to develop new strategies for working with them. At the very least, people need to allow more time for delivery of pieces; large-scale commercial mailers may also want to change production schedules in order to meet new entry times.

Improve Deliverability by Using Proper Addresses

19 Jan

It is important to address mail items correctly in order for them to be delivered as intended. Experts in the mail industry have several things they watch in order to help with deliverability. Here are some things we keep an eye on when working with addresses.

Street Names

Spell out street names rather than abbreviate them, and make sure the spelling is correct. For example, 123 MLK Dr should be 123 Martin Luther King Dr.

Insert a space, but no symbol, between a house number and street name. Eliminating the space or using a symbol will result in an “address not found” error during CASS Certification. For example, it is proper to use 143 15th St but not 143-15th St or 143Fifteenth St.

Undeliverable Mail

Improper Addressing Leads to Undeliverable Mail


Be sure to use the correct abbreviation for street type. If you aren’t sure of the abbreviation, spell out the entire word. Correct abbreviations include ST, AVE, PKWY, TPKE, TER, CIR, and PL.

Use No., #, APT or STE when abbreviating Apartment or Suite.

Use County Rd, State Hwy, State Rd, and US Highway when appropriate and do not abbreviate by using St for State or Co or Cty for County. Used properly, the address reads 123 County Rd W, not 123W.

Street Directions

Do not use spaces in street directions. Proper use is NW and SE.

Using Fields and Spreadsheet Columns Correctly

Fields should consistently contain the same type of information. Examples of fields include Company Name, Contact, Street Address or PO Box, Street Address Line 2 (if needed), City, State, Zip.

Place PO Box address and Street Address in two different fields.

Do not include building names or other non-USPS address information on the line with the street address.

Box versus PO Box

Box 99 and P.O. Box 99 are two different things. Don’t assume it is okay to put the letters “PO” in front of a box number.

Zip Codes

Zip Codes should not contain any extra numbers, letters or symbols.

Rural Addresses

In some states, addresses include both a direction and an identifying number such as N1234 or 123N456. This type of address should be listed with no spaces between the letters and the numbers.

Military Addresses

For military addresses, use APO and FPO as the city, and AP and AE as the state abbreviation.

The United States Postal Service (USPS) has a great resource for looking up addresses. If you are unsure of an address, you can look it up on the USPS website:  http://usps.com. Go to “Look Up a Zip Code” feature to see the standard format of an address.