USPS price changes coming January

November 1, 2016

By Max Heath
Postal Tips

In-County Periodicals same, shopper mail low or declining

The U.S. Postal Service announced Oct. 12 price and rule changes to be effective Jan. 22, 2017, subject to approval of the Postal Regulatory Commission.

On the surface, there aren’t drastic changes coming for Periodicals or Standard Mail in a case when urban CPI used in calculating increases is running less 1 percent at 0.871 percent. Overall, Periodicals are said to be increasing by 0.832 percent. However, the price cells most commonly used by In-County newspapers escape any changes whatsoever, a boon for publishers for at least another year, most likely.

And in fact, the most common price used by newspaper shoppers, Saturation and High-Density Standard Mail, are said to be declining by an average of 2 percent with break point increasing from 3.3 ounces to 4.0 ounces (see below). High-Density Plus for 300 or more pieces on a route has over 7 percent decline on the first 3 ounces.

The Saturation letter price used by Val-Pak, a newspaper competitor, will increase by 2.295 percent. However, the weight break for that mail will increase from 3.3 ounces to 3.5 ounces

More detailed charts by weight and sortation for In-County Periodicals and Standard Mail Carrier Route are posted on this page and the next.

 

STANDARD MAIL WEIGHT

BREAK UP TO 4 OUNCES

Significantly, the weight break below, which Standard mail flats like newspaper shoppers or free newspapers pay flat-rate instead of pound prices has been increased from 3.3 ounces (.2063 pound) to 4 ounces (.25 pound). This will allow newspaper shoppers (or marriage mail competitors) to mail more weight before the pound price kicks in. This proposal could allow more profit for those working to get their Standard Mail print products at or just below this weight, especially with sales of more single-sheet inserts or even just adding an insert weighing 7 ounces.

This increase in the weight break is the largest in history. What does this mean in practical terms? Pound price charged for Saturation, High-Density Plus, and High-Density copies entered at the delivery office (DDU) would not kick in over 4 ounces instead of 3.3 ounces, as now. That equals a savings of 1.58 cents per piece in postage for any Standard Mail shopper or free newspaper that weighed 4 ounces. The proposal is obviously designed to keep more ad mail like newspaper TMC shoppers in the mail.

First Class Mail and Standard Mail presorted commercial letters would get a smaller increase in weight break to 3.5 ounces, but not single-piece mail.

Permit imprint fees would also be eliminated under this price case, as stated: “Mail Anywhere allows a qualified mailer to maintain a single permit for a postage payment method for mailings at any Business Mail Acceptance site under 705.23.3.2.b.” Annual bulk mailing fees would continue, it appears.

 

STANDARD MAIL RENAMED

MARKETING MAIL FOR 2017

The biggest change involving Standard Mail is that it will no longer be known by that name, but instead will be called “USPS Marketing Mail,” perhaps to increase awareness of its value in the promotion of products and services.

Veterans of the mailing industry recall when Periodicals was “Second-Class” and Standard Mail was “Third-Class,” nicely designating delivery priority after “First Class Mail.” That change came in 1996 with “Product ReClassification” within the Postal Service, which changed a lot more than class names, including elimination of some mail sortations helpful to Periodicals whose replacement has never worked quite as well for either delivery or cost savings.

 

OTHER HIGHLIGHTS

The First-Class “Forever” stamp price will increase to 49 cents, back to where it was for more than 27 months before the exigent surcharge was removed last April. Metered mail will get a 0.5 cent decrease to 46 cents, instead of an increase. “This pricing strategy is designed to keep bills and statements in the mail by continuing to add value to commercial First Class Mail,” said USPS. Also, the “second ounce free” has been extended to 3.5 ounces for presorted First Class letters.

 

FLATS SORTATION SEQUENCING

ELIMINATED FOR PERIODICALS

After a flurry of complaints from big mailers and printers, USPS has reversed its position on higher prices imposed in May 2015 for mail run through Flats Sortation Sequencing equipment in areas of relatively high “flats” mail volume. Newspapers and their shoppers, primarily entered at the office of delivery, have not been and should not be affected by this pricing or the machines.

Increased prices led to some catalogs skipping entire FSS zones across the country because of higher prices in effect, lowering volume and revenue for the machines. Thus, the prices will be returned to the prior prices in an attempt to restore mail volume. The Postal Service is now restoring the rate structure to one that charges the same for FSS and non-FSS mail.

In fact, USPS proposes to eliminate all FSS prices for Periodicals from the Postage Statement Form 3541, ending confusion among some newspaper mailers.

 

OTHER PROPOSALS

EDDM Retail would be 17.7 cents, up just slightly from 17.6 cents. The weight limit continues to be 3.3 ounces or less, however, not going up with the weight breaks elsewhere.

Manual (hardcopy) address correction service would cost 58 cents, although Full-Service Intelligent Mail barcode continues to be free, and available electronically.

Permit fees would go up an average of 4.7 percent. Permit fee for all classes would be $225, although Periodicals application fee would be $685.

Post office box service fees would increase 6.7 percent overall.

Rates for shoppers and free papers are on Page 17.

 

MAX HEATH, NNA postal chair, is a postal consultant for Athlon Media Group, publisher of Parade, American Profile, Relish and Spry newspaper supplements, and also for Landmark Community Newspapers LLC. Email maxheath@lcni.com.

 

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