March 6, 2015. According to the American Catalog Mailers Assoc, "The Postal Regulatory Commission today rejected proposed rates for Standard Mail, Periodicals, and Package Services, contending that the prices in the USPS proposal from January 15th "do not comply with certain statutory and regulatory requirements and are therefore remanded to the Postal Service for further action.”
According to many long-time postal observers, this was the most poorly prepared rate filing in memory, containing mixed pricing signals and shifts of workload that may create inefficiencies for both USPS and mailers. Highlights from the PRC's Order:
- PRC determines that the unequal commercial and nonprofit discounts in Standard Mail must be made equal or justified.
- PRC finds that, without adequate justification, several Standard Mail workshare discounts exceed 100% of avoided costs.
- The Postal Service must review and resubmit its proposal, including amending rates and Mail Classification language to remedy deficiencies described in the Order, and respond by March 12th.
Whether the Postal Service can make this happen in time for the new rates to be implemented by April 26th as originally intended is questionable. ACMA (and for that matter, the entire mailing industry) has been working diligently since January to understand all implications of the structural changes and new regulations being promulgated.
The entire Postal Service filing, including new FSS rates it contains, represents significant current and long-term changes and challenges for catalog mailers. There are many issues in play that must be satisfactorily resolved. You can expect spirited discussions with postal executives about the rate case at the 2015 National Catalog Forum, April 7-9. We hope you will join us in Washington as we work towards getting these issues resolved. In the meantime, we will monitor this situation and keep you posted as it develops.