PRC Extends Deadline for Public Comment; DMA Again Urges Members to Write PRC, Capitol Hill Regarding Standard Mail Flats
April 13, 2007 — The Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) has extended its deadline for public comment on the three postal rate matters that the Postal Governors on March 19 returned to the agency, asking for reconsideration. In response, the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) again urges its members to contact the PRC regarding its reconsideration of Standard Mail flats postal rates. DMA also requests that members send copies of their PRC letters to the US Postal Service (USPS) Board of Governors and the Postmaster General. [See information below.]
In addition, DMA requests that members send letters to their members of Congress, explaining the adverse impact of the higher-than-expected flats rates on mailers’ operations. [See information below.] Also, DMA asks that members send copies of their letters – both those to the PRC and to Capitol Hill – to the Association’s Washington, DC office.
The Governors of the US Postal Service (USPS) on March 19 approved most of the PRC’s postal rate recommendations, which were announced on February 26. Most of the new rates will take effect on May 14, 2007.
However, the Governors did return three matters to the Commission, requesting that the agency take a second look at issues and rates relating to (1) Standard Mail flats, (2) Priority Mail Flat Rate box, and (3) the nonmachinable surcharge for First-Class Mail letters.
To assist members, DMA sent the following call-to-action to members via a “DMA Politically Direct” e-mail on March 30:
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Hundreds of you sent letters to the US Postal Service (USPS) Board of Governors earlier this month. We thank you for that tremendous effort!
Now, once again, we need you to join forces with us to make certain that the mailing community’s message is heard loud and clear as the rate process continues.
After hearing from the Postal Governors, the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) has announced its procedure for reconsidering the proposed rate increase for Standard Mail flats.
The PRC is accepting public comments on the reconsideration. Comments must be submitted no later than Thursday, April 12!
DMA is asking our members to let the PRC know that its rate recommendations, which far exceed those requested by the Postal Service, would increase postage costs for many catalog mailings by as much as 40 percent. This increase would be devastating — not only to mail volumes, but to the ability of catalog mailers to communicate with customers and successfully conduct business.
Even if you have already sent letters, please submit new letters to the PRC so that your views will become part of this formal comment process.
WHAT YOU NEED TO DO
Here is what DMA is asking you to do as soon as possible:
1. Write a new letter to the Postal Regulatory Commission.
As a mailer, you need to write to the PRC and tell the Commissioners how the rate increases for Standard Mail flats will affect YOUR business. Specifically, you should explain how much greater your drop in business mail volume would be under the PRC’s recommended rates compared to those rates the USPS had initially proposed.
It is important not only to ask the PRC to revise its recommended rate increase for Standard Mail flats, but also to stress that the change can be made without affecting the rates for other classes of mail.
A sample letter is provided below to help you create your own letter to the PRC.
Fax your letter to the Postal Regulatory Commission:
The Honorable Dan G. Blair
Postal Regulatory Commission
Fax a copy of your PRC letter to:
The Honorable James C. Miller III
Chairman, Board of Governors
United States Postal Service
The Honorable John E. Potter
Postmaster General & Chief Executive Officer
United States Postal Service
2. Write to your members of Congress.
Please fax a separate letter to your US Senators and Representative that explains the devastating impact this rate increase will have on your business, your customers, and your employees. Ask your members of Congress to write to the PRC urging it to adjust its recommended rates and minimize the adverse impact on your company.
A sample letter is also provided below.
For contact information for your members of Congress, please go to DMA’s Legislative Action Center at http://capwiz.com/aim/home/.
3. Please send a copy of your letters to DMA.
Sending copies of your letters to DMA’s Washington office is very important because we will include them with the formal comments that we will submit to the PRC as an official participant in the rate case.
Please fax or e-mail copies to:
Director, Public Affairs
Direct Marketing Association
Fax: 202-955-0085 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
NOTE: If you are a nonprofit member, please go to www.nonprofitfederation.org for information on our continued efforts to address the issue of Not-Flat Machinable mailings.
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SAMPLE LETTER TO THE Postal Regulatory Commission
The Honorable Dan G. Blair
Postal Regulatory Commission
901 New York Avenue, NW, Suite 200
Washington, DC 20268-0001
Dear Chairman Blair:
I am writing to you today to request that the Postal Regulatory Commission reduce its recommended postage increase for Standard Mail flats.
The recommended rates for this type of mail far exceed the significant increase originally requested by the US Postal Service in May 2006. As a catalog mailer and postal customer, (COMPANY) would be seriously harmed by this exorbitant and unexpected increase.
In 2006, (COMPANY) spent more than $______ on catalog mailings. With mailing budgets already in place for 2007–2008, these unplanned postage increases will certainly force our company – and many others like us – to substantially reduce the number of catalogs that we planned to mail under the USPS-requested rates. Fewer mailings to current and potential customers will, in turn, have a negative impact on our overall bottom line.
We estimate that the PRC-proposed rate increases would add $____ to the costs for our planned mailings for the year. With no budget for this additional expense, our company would likely reduce its mail volume by ___ percent. [NOTE: If you can estimate potential cost increases or mailing reductions, please include this information in your letter.]
Moreover, the reduced mail volumes and resultant lost revenue would be immediately harmful to the Postal Service, and would certainly mean that the volume estimates in your initial decision will not be realized. In the long-term, the implications could be even more severe.
It is our belief that the increases for Standard Mail flats can be reduced – and “rate shock” can be avoided – without causing a shortfall in meeting USPS revenue needs, and without affecting the recommended rates for other types of mail that will go into effect on May 14.
I would also like to point out that as proposed, these outrageous increases are in direct contrast to the spirit of the recently enacted postal reform legislation, which sought to provide much-needed predictability for the mailing community.
As an organization whose business depends largely on the success of our catalog mailings, we call on you to reconsider your rate recommendations for flat-shaped mail. It is my sincere belief that if these rate recommendations are not changed, it will be to the detriment of my company, the broader mailing community, and the very future of the US Postal Service.
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Sample Letter to Members of Congress
Dear Senator/Representative _______:
I am writing to ask for your assistance on a matter of utmost importance to (COMPANY), which employs _____ people in (CITY/STATE). Like millions of companies in (STATE) and around the country, we rely on catalog mailings to communicate with both current and potential customers.
On February 26, the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) issued its recommendations to the Postal Governors on postage rate increases that will go into effect on May 14. The specific rate recommendations for “flat” mailings (which include catalogs) were, in most cases, more than double the rates originally requested by the US Postal Service in May 2006. The USPS Governors have now asked the PRC to reconsider its recommended increase for Standard Mail flats.
If not changed, this exorbitant and unplanned postal rate increase would significantly harm our business by limiting our ability to send mail to our customers in 2007 and beyond.
In 2006, (COMPANY) spent more than $______ on catalog mailings. With mailing budgets already in place for 2007–2008, these unplanned increases will certainly force our company – and many others like us – to substantially reduce the number of catalogs that we planned to send under the USPS-requested rates.
We estimate that the proposed rate increases would add $____ to the costs for our planned mailing for the year. With no budget for this additional expense, our company would likely reduce its mail volume by ___ percent. [NOTE: If you can estimate potential cost increases or mailing reductions, please include this information in your letter.]
Fewer mailings to current and potential customers will, in turn, have a negative impact on our overall bottom line. This would also lead to a significant decline in mail volumes and revenues for the US Postal Service.
I also believe the PRC recommendations undercut the spirit of postal reform legislation, which was passed by the 109th Congress just before it adjourned in December. While not yet in effect, the new law was intended to provide predictability for mailers in planning for future rate increases. It also keeps future rate increases for mail – including catalogs – to the rate of inflation or below.
On behalf of my company, I am asking you to please contact the PRC and support our request that the increases for Standard Mail flats be brought in line with what the USPS originally proposed. This change can be made without causing a shortfall in meeting USPS revenue needs, and without affecting the recommended rates for other types of mail that will go into effect on May 14.
I thank you in advance for your assistance in this important matter. It is our sincere belief that if allowed to stand, these exorbitant postal rates will have a dramatically negative impact on your business constituents and on the future of postal revenues in general.
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