March 10, 2014
PostCom Members! The latest issue of the PostCom Postal Executive Summary has been posted on this site.
Interactive Investor: Escher Group - a leading provider of outsourced point-of-service software to the postal industry - posts lower pre-tax profits despite 'a robust year of development and growth' in the 12 months to the end of December. Revenues rose by 8% to $24.7m with a strong increase in services revenues, up 35% from core customers. But profit before tax fell to $1.5m (2012: $4.4m)a and adjusted profit before tax excluding share based payments dropped to $2.0m (2012: $4.8m).
Linns: Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, just wanted to make sure he understood the dispute over “bypass mail.” That is the Alaska-only postal service that for 42 years has allowed sodas, chips and other goods to be shipped at greatly discounted rates to the remote areas of the vast state. Does this mean, Farenthold asked, that when I buy a forever stamp to send a Valentine’s card to my wife, a portion of that money will go to subsidize the shipments of Diet Coke? The answer, of course, was yes. The Alaska mail program last year needed a $76.8 million subsidy to operate, a subsidy that postal rate payers must bear.
Roll Call: The chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee did what he had to do to minimize the immediate political damage he inflicted on his House GOP colleagues last week. But the disdain stirred up in the Democrats, the annoyance revealed by many Republicans and the dismay expressed by institutionalists in both parties won’t disappear. Footage of the incident quickly went viral, and surely will be revived for the foreseeable future to illustrate stories about heightened partisan tensions, lowered standards of decorum or intensified investigative zealotry at the Capitol. That is why Issa has assured lasting trouble for himself, especially in his own ranks. For the final nine months of his term-limited time with the Oversight gavel, expect him to be under a very tight leadership leash.
Politico: It’s an opportunity that has some Republicans salivating: becoming the next Darrell Issa.
University, Center for Research in Regulated Industries, Advanced Workshop
in Regulation & Competition 2013-2014
March 9, 2014
Wall Street Journal: Mohawk, the town's largest private employer, was fast losing revenues as companies cut back on paper for brochures, reports and marketing materials. Operations at its 350,000 square-foot mill shrank from seven days a week to five to four. "For the first time in hundreds of years," Mr. O'Connor said, "paper had to justify itself." Then, in 2004, Mr. O'Connor made an extraordinary bet, given the digital revolution that appeared ready to crumple Mohawk and every paper firm like it: His company borrowed millions to expand into the fine stationery business. The investment is now paying off as Americans renew their relationship with paper—consuming less of the cheap stuff for reading news, bill-paying and record-keeping and, in Mohawk's case, buying more expensive stock for personalized holiday cards, announcements and photo books from online juggernauts such as Shutterfly Inc.
Zawya: The Emirates Post Group has launched its Strategic Plan for 2014-2016, following the approval from the Prime Minister's Office. The Strategic Plan will be published and circulated among partners and stakeholders during subsequent meetings. Emirates Post Group has based its Strategic Plan on its vision of taking a leadership role and adopting innovation in the field of postal, logistics and financial services, driven by a strong and sophisticated infrastructure and competent workforce.
The Jerusalem Post: Israel's postal service is set to hold a general strike on Monday and hold protests outside the company's administrative offices in Tel Aviv over a planned restructuring. The union is upset over a restructuring plan that will lay off dozens of workers.
Examiner: Misusing USPS Priority Mail supplies is serious business. There are often discussions on the eBay Community Packaging and Shipping board about this topic. On one hand, the USPS blatantly advertises, "If it fits, it ships." On the other hand, the eBay customer gets the final word on the packaging job, and she may not like a designer handbag or a pair of designer jeans shoved into a flat rate mailer. So what is an eBay seller to do? Sellers want to offer the most economical shipping cost to their buyers, but sometimes the USPS doesn't stand by their advertising. Several sellers on the eBay Community Packaging and Shipping board have reported that the USPS is not accepting flat rate envelopes (FREs) for merchandise, as they state FREs are intended for documents. Clerks are measuring the FREs and if thicker than 1/2 inch, rejecting the package.
Des Moines Register: The U.S. Postal Service — victim of declining revenue and threats of trimmed delivery days — is holding its own in at least one place: On college campuses, packages and envelopes still get pre-Internet-style respect. “If you ask a student, they say absolutely. They love getting the mail,” said Renee Allan, who coordinates the Briar Cliff University mail room. The school has four residence halls and processes up to 25 mesh bags of mail a week, each holding about 70 pounds. The numbers are steady in large part because of something email, tweets and texts can’t replace for students living on campus: reminders of home.
The Times-Tribune: The U.S. Postal Service has spent about $180,000 since June 1, 2008, to lease space for a Chinchilla Post Office that's yet to open. The Postal Service pays Brian McCarthy Family LTD $30,916.87 annually to lease a 1,500-interior-square-foot property inside the McCarthy Flowers building, according to a spreadsheet provided by the agency. The lease agreement lasts through May 2023. But nearly six years later, the post office's front door remains locked. Officials now peg June 8 as the "occupied date," the spreadsheet shows.
Investors.com: The war on plastic bags, petroleum-based products that foes say fill landfills and collect in oceans, may benefit a leading alternative: good old biodegradable paper bags. Even without a legal mandate, a growing number of merchants have been rolling out the welcome mat for paper, Whole Foods (WFM) and Trader Joe's among them. McDonald's (MCD) is switching to paper cups from polystyrene for hot coffee in its thousands of U.S. units. Does this mean old-school paper products are making a comeback? "It's not a dying industry," said Cathy Foley, vice president of the American Forest & Paper Association, or AF&PA. "We're growing. We're innovating. We're putting sustainable products into the marketplace."
Federal Workforce, US Postal Service and Census March 13, 2014 | 1:30 p.m. in 2247 Rayburn House Office Building "At a Crossroads: the Postal Service’s $100 Billion in Unfunded Liabilities"
March 8, 2014
Arbitrage Magazine: There has been a lot of outrage, resistance, and debate as Canada Post rolls out its new Five-point Action Plan, which was announced in December 2013. One of the most controversial and talked about points in the plan is the discontinuation of door-to-door mail delivery. The company claims to be taking these precautionary steps to deal with a $20 million drop in the first three quarters of 2013, and insists that they are “aligning postal services with the choices of Canadians.”
Disruptive Wireless: ""Sender-pays" is a ridiculous 19th-Century idea misapplied to the Internet"
Financial Times: E-bike sales are expected to increase in coming years as they are adopted by middle-aged mountain bikers, commuters and for commercial uses. E-cargo bikes, which have a box or platform to carry freight, are gaining popularity for pizza and postal deliveries. Families are also using e-cargo bikes to ferry children to school. In China, electric two-wheel bikes are already a huge business. Some 30m are sold annually due to a government ban on combustion-engine scooters.
News Gnomes: Perhaps this may come to many as a surprise given Amazon’s resources, size and aggressive business practices, the Ulmart model, which Kostygin calls the “fourth generation” of retail, is one that is more appropriately geared for the particularities of the Russian market. Amazon’s reliance on third-party delivery companies like USPS, FedEx and others only permits them to make delivery in a couple of days. By permitting customers to purchase what they want where they want and when they want, Ulmart has in fact managed to tame the logistics beast that has so often humbled larger multi-nationals in Russia.
Bloomberg Businessweek: This is a good time to be in the package delivery business in China. Last year, Chinese bought 1.85 trillion yuan ($300 billion) worth of goods online. There were 9.2 billion deliveries in 2013, a 60 percent increase, worth 143 billion yuan, according to the Xinhua News Agency. Only the express delivery market in the U.S. is bigger. All that activity should translate into business for United Parcel Service (UPS) and FedEx (FDX). Both have been building China operations for decades, with FedEx entering the market in 1984 and UPS following in 1988. By 2009, FedEx had 58 Chinese branches to UPS’s 33. But the two have gone into reverse since then. Not only have they not opened new branches, but they also have had to seek reapproval for existing operations. After a new law governing the industry was passed in 2009, the State Post Bureau decided that all carriers, local and foreign, needed new licenses. FedEx and UPS are still waiting for the regulator to grant many of theirs. Neither has official approval for domestic operations in Beijing, though they can make deliveries between some other Chinese cities. “Instead of giving us one permit for all of our branches, they said, ‘We are going to grant you individual permits for each of your branches,’ ” says Alan Turley, FedEx’s vice president for international affairs, Asia Pacific. While FedEx received permits for international service in 2010, it was 2012 before it got eight permit renewals for domestic service. They said Beijing “was too sensitive, so they did not give us a permit,” Turley says. Last July, FedEx received 29 more licenses—again, not including Beijing. It is still waiting for the remaining 21 to get back to serving 58 branches.
WDAZ: U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp called on the U.S. Postal Service to make needed changes to address strong concerns expressed by North Dakotans about their mail service and standards. During the past two months, Heitkamp has encouraged North Dakotans who are experiencing problems with their mail delivery to send in their stories via her website. Heitkamp has received well over 100 stories from North Dakotans from across the state about the difficulties they face with mail delivery and standards. Heitkamp shared those stories with U.S. Postmaster General Patrick Donahue and called on him to correct problems and issues raised.
March 7, 2014
Post & Parcel: Parcel carrier DPD Germany is reducing its prices for customers accessing its shipping services online. The company said that from the start of this month, it is cutting rates for all parcels that are paid for online and then shipped from one of its ParcelShops. DPD is also launching a new XS parcel service, for very small parcels, up to 35cm long, shipping at the flat rate of EUR 3.90, which will only be available through its website dpdwebpaket.de. However, prices for parcels customers pay for at ParcelShops increase by an average of 6%.
Associated Press: A new exhibition is looking at the history of Chinese and U.S. relations through mail and stamps at the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum. The museum opened “Pacific Exchange: China and U.S. Mail” on Thursday to showcase pieces from its international collection for the first time.
From the Federal Register:
Baltimore Sun: Federal employment is expected to drop sharply in the span of a decade, government projections show, as budget cuts and retirements begin to reshape the workforce. The Postal Service will be one of the hardest-hit agencies, projections show, as consumers continue to rely on the Internet and order fewer magazines and catalogs. The agency stands to lose an estimated 169,000 positions — more than 40 percent of lost government jobs. "We do see declines in occupations in the Postal Service as people use more email and online payments to pay bills, so there's not as much mail volume," said Teri Morisi, branch chief for occupational employment projections at the Bureau of Labor Statistics. "The Postal Service is using automated systems to sort mail and also is moving toward more centralized mail delivery, clustered mailboxes and not door-to-door." Unions that represent postal workers, including those in the greater Baltimore area, believe the Postal Service has been unfairly targeted as a money-losing enterprise. Much of the agency's fiscal woe stems from a congressional requirement that it pre-fund health benefits for future retirees for the next 75 years. "The postal worker's job is definitely under attack right now," said George Askew, president of the Baltimore-based Local 181 of the American Postal Workers Union. "Any business owner will tell you you can't cut your way to prosperity."
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USPS Lite: Recent assertions have been made that the Postal Service has “declared war” on the custodians who work in its facilities. These assertions are both false and inaccurate.7
Fox4KC: Have you ever won an international lottery or sweepstakes that you didn’t even realize you’d entered? Now the feds are issuing a new warning about the fraudsters behind these scams that they believe rob Americans of hundreds of millions of dollars every year.
March 6, 2014
Bloomberg Businessweek: Staples’ decision to close 225 stores in an order to save $500 million in expenses is grim news for the company’s shareholders, and the stock price tumbled by 15 percent on the news. It’s also an unwelcome development for the U.S. Postal Service, which had hoped to open 84 postal outlets in Staples stores. The fate of the outlets remains unclear, but the closings can’t help. Yet one group that couldn’t have been happier with the news is the American Postal Workers Union, whose leaders feared that the Staples partnership would lead to the privatization of members’ jobs. “This proves, more than ever, that it’s a bad idea to turn public services over to a private company that can close stores at will, with no public input and no public comment.” said APWU President Mark Dimondstein in a statement. Here’s a further reason why Dimonstein shouldn’t become too giddy. He wants to create a coalition of postal workers and liberal members of the public to oppose U.S Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe’s reform agenda, which includes service cuts, and he’s been trying to do that with a boycott of Staples stores. If Staples goes under, he’ll have find another cause to built a movement around. That’s tough. Maybe the APWU should try investing in Staples stock instead.
SWNewsHerald: The recent decision by the U.S. Postal Service to have Chicago mail carriers start their shifts later in the morning is not going over too well with some local carriers and their union. Some mail carriers have expressed concerns about safety issues because, with the start time being moved from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m., it will mean having to work later into the evenings, even after dark. Their start time had been as early as 6:30 a.m., but it has gradually been moved later.
At the Postal Regulatory Commission:
Wall Street Journal: Staples announced today that its sales are declining, its earnings are less than expectations, and it will close 225 stores in North America by the end of 2015. This proves, more than ever, that it’s a bad idea to turn public services over to a private company that can close stores at will, with no public input and no public comment. Staples currently has a no-bid, sweetheart deal to operate postal counters – staffed by poorly trained, low-wage, high-turnover employees – at more than 80 of its stores. The U.S. Postmaster General has said he plans to expand this “pilot plan” to 1,500 U.S. Staples stores. And bills pending in Congress would make it easier to close and sell off U.S. Post Offices. What would happen if service is moved to a Staples store, the nearby Post Office is closed and sold – and then Staples closes its store?
Haaretz: The Israel Post has announced immediate emergency measures to cut costs as the first step in its recovery program. Management said the moves, which include the immediate dismissal of 130 temporary workers, will save 53 million shekels ($15.2 million) a year. In addition to the dismissals, the postal service is also eliminating one of two daily collections of mail from outdoor (red) collection boxes. At present mail is picked up at 10 A.M. and at 4 P.M. The agency said the move will have little effect on customers, since in any event the mail is usually sorted only in the evening, for the next day’s delivery. Employee overtime hours are also to be reduced 50%, a move that is expected to face opposition from workers.
Money AOL: A Cambridgeshire news agent has launched its own local postal service - and will deliver letters the next day to 19 local villages for just 30p. The service is regulated, insured, and runs seven days a week - for half the cost of Royal Mail. So is this the future of postal deliveries?
Belleville News Democrat: A postal workers union is planning to picket along the sidewalks Friday outside Ben's Crafts & Floral because the downtown Belleville retailer houses a new post office.
Direct Marketing News: Mailers and catalogers, reeling from the jolt that the 5.9% rate increase has dealt their businesses, are about to test the depth of the Postal Service's sensitivity. Because the Postal Regulatory Commission's (PRC) approval of the exigent increase last Christmas Eve greeted them like a stickup man in a parking lot, direct mailers were unable to substantially alter mailings they had already printed and scheduled for the first quarter of 2014. It's possible, then, that standard mail volumes may drop only slightly as the PRA maneuvers its way to the Senate floor in the coming months, and if the bill passes as it stands based on those volumes, the passage may prove premature. According to mailers, it won't be until this year's fourth quarter that the Postal Service will begin to pay the wages of exigency.
Post & Parcel: Britain’s largest postal union has called on the national consumer watchdog, Consumer Futures, to monitor the delivery standards of Royal Mail’s competitors. The Communication Workers Union said today that rivals like TNT Post UK were threatening the UK’s universal postal service by “cherry picking” the most profitable routes for delivery.
Itumanaho: Rwanda's National Postal services will this May launch a new SMS mail alert to enable users to access and get updated on all postal services , including renewal of letter box subscription, parcel processing, balance on postal checking accounts and incoming mail. The Director-General of the National Post Office (NPO), Celestin Kayitare, said that once the program is in place, postal services and service delivery will be improved and win the trust of clients. He said that the project is aimed offering better customer service and modernizing postal operations which have to be competitive as the modern society keeps changing with trends of communication and access to information.
Direct Marketing News: Businesses can actually help pull the struggling USPS out of the red and make a decent buck in the process by investing more, not less, in direct mail marketing during 2014. The key is designing clever, targeted direct mail campaigns that take advantage of some creative approaches—and technology. The Direct Marketing Association found that while telemarketing has the highest response rate among existing customers (12.95%), direct mail still has a healthy 4.4% response rate. Compared to email (0.12%), a direct mail piece is 30 times more likely to receive a response. Therefore, every business should increase direct mail in their marketing mix this year.
PRNewswire: There is only one commercial American enterprise that includes every citizen and resident as a customer. It's the U.S. Postal Service. Yet given a declining need for letter delivery on the one hand and an increasing need for e-commerce driven parcel delivery on the other, the nation's residential delivery ecosystem is facing a critical challenge to serve growing consumer expectations for greater speed, privacy, security and trust. The nation's postal delivery ecosystem needs to be re-envisioned and new systems put into place to accommodate changing 21st century societal demands. That's the focus of the fourth annual PostalVision 2020 Conference (www.postalvision2020.com) that will host experts from around the U.S. and the world April 10-11, at the Westin City Center in Washington, D.C. Attendees and speakers will include some of the world's most innovative e-merchants, digital communicators and logistics innovators as well as organizations involved in traditional mailing and shipping such as financial institutions, direct advertisers, catalogers, third-party software and transportation service providers. The event is supported at the highest levels by private industry and the public sector. Leading sponsors include eBay, DHL Global Mail, Pitney Bowes, and Accenture. The conference will include experts from across the U.S. as well as from Italy, Germany, Austria, United Kingdom, Australia and China. The U.S. and more than 200 other countries – whose postal systems are co-dependent – make up a global delivery network for the Universal Postal Union.
PRNewsOnline: Businesses operate in an increasingly complex—and digital—world. Understanding how to promote your brand and make it stand out is a challenge that needs simple solutions. From traditional and content marketing strategies to myriad public relations opportunities, there are several ways to be successful in today's working environment. Companies that want to embrace digital but haven't yet found the right way to do so have multiple avenues to pursue. Consistency and transparency are the name of the game in today's digital world. To be effective you must also be engaged. Make a plan that strategically aligns with your goals and maintain regular, multi-way audience engagement with a common voice.
Herald Sun: Australia Post is poised to tumble into the red for the first time in more than 30 years. And managing director Ahmed Fahour has warned the postal service will soon be unable to pay dividends to the Federal Government as losses in its letters business surge. Mr Fahour has revealed he expects the authority "as a whole" to lose money in the current half. It will be the first time the service has posted a loss in any six-month period since it was corporatised in 1989.
ProPrint: Printers and mail houses are increasingly angry about the Australia Post bulk mail price rises coming on March 31, and are fearful it will prompt direct mail advertisers to slash print volume to stay within budget. Australia Post is planning price increases for bulk mail of more than 13 per cent for the types of mail most critical for direct mail campaigns many printers rely on for revenue. BlueStar print and direct mail general manager Matt Aitken says Australia's third biggest printer continues to be disappointed with Australia Post's behaviour and its effect on print business. "They continue to put prices up and we continue to see a reduction in client budgets and spending – clients are not going to increase their budgets so they will lower volumes which will continue to put pressure on the industry," he says. "There is every indication that they will continue to raise prices, as they did in July and April last year." [EdNote: This all has a familiar American ring.]
March 5, 2014
Final Rule Published in the Federal Register 39 CFR Part 121-Service Standards for Destination Sectional Center Facility Rate Standard Mail The Postal Service is revising the service standards for Standard Mail that is eligible for Destination Sectional Center Facility (DSCF) rates. These changes will allow a more balanced distribution of DSCF Standard Mail across delivery days. Standard Mail pieces that qualify for the Destination Sectional Center Facility rate generally are delivered in three days. With its new rules, USPS is extending delivery expectation to four days for mail entered on Friday and Saturday. This change will improve delivery efficiency and reduce the traditional heavy Monday workload by spreading the delivery of these Standard Mail pieces across the week. This change does not affect First-Class Mail or Periodicals Mail and the Postal Service is not proposing any other revisions to its service standards at this time. The final rule is available on the Federal Register. The effective date is April 10, 2014. The table below summarizes the impact on DSCF Standard Mail with delivery in the continental United States.
At the Postal Regulatory Commission:
Fedweek: The American Postal Workers Union recently sent a 27-point request for information on a pilot program the USPS is conducting with the Staples office-supply chain, but was reportedly rebuffed on the grounds that the request was overly broad and burdensome, and in some cases concerned proprietary information. APWU says the program outsources postal retail work to Staples, and that while it did receive some information, it was heavily redacted. The union also says Staples declined to meet and referred all inquiries to the USPS. APWU has now filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board.
Save the Post Office: Today the Postal Service published the Final Rule on the Load Leveling plan in the Federal Register. As the Rule states, "The Postal Service is revising the service standards for Standard Mail that is eligible for Destination Sectional Center Facility (DSCF) rates. These changes will allow a more balanced distribution of DSCF Standard Mail across delivery days." The effective date is April 10, 2014. Apparently the Postal Service is not going to wait to hear what the Postal Regulatory Commission has to say about Load Leveling in its Advisory Opinion, which is due out around March 27. It's been clear for a while now that the Postal Service was going to implement the plan regardless of what the PRC or anyone else had to say about it. The fact that there's an Advisory Opinion under way is relegated to a mere footnote in the Final Rule.
Dead Tree Edition: "10 Reasons Coated Paper Is Ripe for Collusion"
Press Release: UPS today announced plans to purchase 1,000 propane package delivery trucks and install an initial 50 fueling stations at UPS locations. The investment in propane vehicles and infrastructure is approximately $70 million. The propane fleet will replace gasoline- and diesel-fueled vehicles used largely in rural areas in Louisiana and Oklahoma with other states pending. The vehicles on these routes can travel up to 200 miles on a tank of propane. Operations will begin by mid-2014 and be completed early next year. UPS, in collaboration with the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC), a non-profit propane technology incubator, worked with equipment manufacturers to secure certifications with the EPA and California Air Resources Board.
DMM Advisory: Attention Postal One! Users: Full-Service Webinar Series — The Postal Service encourages mailers to migrate to the use of Full-Service Intelligent Mail® when mailing First-Class Mail® postcards, letters, and flats, Standard Mail® letters and flats, Periodicals letters and flats and Bound Printed Matter flats. Full-Service provides customers with:
A Full-Service Intelligent Mail "Open Line" is scheduled for the first Wednesday of every month from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. EST. USPS® representatives will be online to answer any questions related to Full-Service Intelligent Mail. To join the call, click on the link no more than 15 minutes before the start of the call. Log On: http://meetingplace4.usps.gov/join.asp?0602495 Audio: (866) 966-6305 Conference ID: 0602495
USPS News Link: USPS is implementing new rules designed to revise delivery expectations for some Standard Mail that will result in a more balanced distribution of volume throughout the week. Standard Mail pieces that qualify for the Destination Sectional Center Facility rate generally are delivered in three days. With its new rules, USPS is extending delivery to four days for mail entered Friday or Saturday. USPS says this change will improve delivery efficiency and reduce the traditional heavy Monday workload by spreading the delivery of these Standard Mail pieces across the week. The broadened delivery expectation also benefits customers, since a smaller number of mailpieces delivered each day will more effectively compete for the consumer's attention. Prior to implementing this change, the Postal Service worked with a mail industry work group to conduct a test of the load-leveling concept. The test confirmed that extending the delivery date for Standard Mail entered Friday or Saturday helps balance delivery volume during the following week. The new rules will go into effect April 10. The Federal Register has more information on the final rulemaking.
Los Angeles Times: Nearly 120,000 letters and bills went up in flames early Tuesday when a pair of big rigs collided along the 57 Freeway in Brea. One was from a U.S. Postal Service facility in Santa Ana, where workers process about 1 million pieces of mail daily, according to officials. The letters that were burned had originated from Orange County and parts of the San Gabriel Valley and were being trucked to Ontario Airport at the time of the crash. The mail that caught fire had been marked first class, but because it was not certified, officials say they cannot track whose mail burned. The letters would have been sent out of state or at least out of the Southern California area.
ACTMedia: The number of employees of the Romanian Postal Service National Company (CNPR) will get down to 27,000 in 2014, while total revenue forecast is 1.194 billion lei (approximately 265 million euro at an average exchange rate of 4.5 lei / euro), according to the Government Decision on the company's 2014 budget published in the Official Gazette.
ITAR-TASS: Journalists and publishing houses are raising the alarm: printed media are on the verge of a precipice. The government has abolished subsidies for the delivery of subscription editions. Postal tariffs will soar and become unaffordable to many. Last year Russians received more than 1 billion papers and magazines on subscription, which is almost 40% of all of the country's periodicals. Pensioners and people in the regions will thus have no alternative to federal television and local papers. The threat has encouraged the media to address a letter to President Vladimir Putin published in many papers on Wednesday. The letter signed by almost 50 chiefs of printed periodicals and publishers points to the fact that from July 1 on Russian Post will be stripped of the 3-billion-ruble ($83 million) annual subsidy that covered press delivery costs, while increased postal tariffs will hike subscription prices 1.5—2 times. "Most subscribers will not be able to subscribe at new prices. The government's refusal to support the press is a stark contrast to foreign experience, where subscription enjoys considerable state support," says the letter. In effect, the letter says, circulations will fall to a level unable to sustain publishing businesses' profitability. "Everything happening to Russian Post now will deliver a deadly blow to the printed media," said editor-in-chief of the Moskovsky Komsomolets daily, Pavel Gusev. "Those who now want to tackle the post's problems do not care a damn about the press and postal services. The press makes up 4% and is not the post's key field of service," he explained.
WFMY: Rest in peace is apparently a phrase some identity thieves are willing to ignore in their quest for ill-gotten gains. One thief stole the identities of dozens of victims who had recently died. Reichheld said she felt helpless when she learned the identity of her wife, Amy, had been stolen "after" her recent death. She said, "It looked like somebody had been requesting death certificates and stealing those identities from the information on the death certificates." When Reichheld called her town to find out who may have requested a copy of Amy's death certificate, she was surprised by the answer. They told her anyone can get one. They said it's publi record, and they don't track it. But Reichheld disagreed. She said, "Her death may be public record, but all that information you're handing out for $10 is not public record." Most death certificates contain the full names of parents of the deceased as well as addresses, and date of birth. An astute town clerk, called postal inspectors after realizing they had a large amount of requests for death certificates. Postal Inspector Brian Evans said, "The bad guy in this case went onto the obituary section of the local paper, realized someone was deceased and they could access their death certificate." It only cost them $10.
If you missed it, here is where you can still listen to the PostCom webinar on the Pre- NPF Executive Overview with Rose Flanagan, Manager, Postal Strategies and Logistics, Data-Mail, Inc. Webinar Recording | Slides
From the Federal Register:
ATN: The head of one of the world's biggest transport and logistics companies has warned a tide of protectionism is stifling global economic growth and castigated his own country for being part of it. Fred Smith, the Chairman, President, CEO and founder of top-three global transport operator FedEx called for greater efforts to battle restrictions on trade, to ensure trade agreements are enforced and that Customs regulations are simplified, US publication Journal of Commerce (JOC) reports from its Trans-Pacific Maritime Conference.
The Kansas City Star: The inspector general of the U.S. Postal Service and Republicans in the House of Representatives are targeting $76 million in annual subsidies that lower the cost of shipping goods to Bush Alaska, saying the struggling postal service needs to cut expenses. PHIL DAQUILA | UNC NEWS21/MCT A man delivers boxes of Wonder Bread at the landing strip at Newtok, Alaska, June 30, 2009. Supplies and mail arrive up to several times each day from points east via Bethel, a town 98 miles from Newtok. More News Chicago mayor explores Soldier Field expansion Gates 'not optimistic' about Ukraine solutions Pottawattamie County veterans office funding OK'd House votes to curtail flood insurance rate hikes Texas primary leaves tea party influence unsettled Read more Politics News Lawmakers from the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform held a hearing on the program Tuesday entitled "Alaska Bypass Mail Delivery: A Broken System." The chairman of the committee, California Republican Rep. Darrell Issa, is pushing measures he said would reduce the subsidy and let more air carriers into the program. Issa said the cost of the subsidy amounts to postal customers buying a giant new bridge for Alaska every six years. Alaska Republican Rep. Don Young accused Issa of meddling in his state, and said Issa's plans would backfire and make the program even more expensive for the postal service. Young criticized the inspector general's report. "He's full of it, right up to his eyeballs," Young told the committee.
Wall Street Journal: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) -- The U.S. Postal Service is one of our most popular and important government agencies. Yet the Postal Service is under constant and vicious attack. Why? The answer is simple. There are very powerful and wealthy special interests who want to privatize or dismember virtually every function that government now performs, whether it is Social Security, Medicare, public education or the Postal Service. They see an opportunity for Wall Street and corporate America to make billions in profits out of these services, and couldn't care less how privatization or a degradation of services affects ordinary Americans.
The Toronto Star: As the post office starts phasing out door-to-door home delivery, it is unveiling an updated community mailbox, with flatter slots and bigger parcel boxes. "These boxes are meant for the realities of today and the future," said Canada Post spokesman Jon Hamilton. "The future is less mail in the box, and more boxes in the mail." The new design, with a larger aluminum base, can easily handle online purchases such as small electronics or clothing, but any item that requires a signature it will still be delivered to the door, he said.
Boston.com: This morning, President Obama released his Fiscal Year 2015 budget, which endorsed the Postmaster General's proposed plan to eliminate six-day mail delivery. The following is a statement released by Jeanette Dwyer, President of the National Rural Letter Carriers' Association: "The Administration's budget released today simply misses the mark when it comes to solving the current fiscal crisis plaguing the U.S. Postal Service. For decades, the Postal Service has provided consistent quality service to each and every household nationwide. Despite the Postal Service posting a profit delivering mail and packages in 2013, elected officials continue with misguided and unacceptable attempts to slash and eliminate service. "Our Postal Service is in need of true reform, not ill-advised, counter-productive attempts to slash service. By re-working the Postal Service's funding of its retiree health benefits, an obligation which accounts for 80% of USPS losses over recent years and is forced on no other public or private entity, lawmakers could take the easiest and most-sensible step toward getting this venerable institution back on the right page. Allowing the Postal Service to continue to innovate with same-day parcel delivery and other services will provide a great opportunity to generate needed revenue and allow the USPS to remain a competitive player in the shipping and delivery industry. We need to grow our Postal Service not shrink it. "While many say the Postal Service should be run like a business, it has been shackled by burdensome obligations and left to drown in red ink. Misguided legislation and a dysfunctional Congress have brought the Postal Service to this point, but these problems are easily solvable.
Government Executive: President Obama renewed his longstanding call to overhaul the U.S. Postal Service in his fiscal 2015 budget, saying the agency must be reformed to ensure its future viability. Obama recommended restructuring the Postal Service's requirement to prefund the health care of retirees. His plan would defer the fixed payments due in 2014, and part of the payments due in the two years after that. Those payments would then be restructured into a 40-year amortization schedule starting in 2017. The proposal would provide more than $9 billion in relief to USPS through 2016. Obama also would allow the Postal Service to eliminate Saturday mail delivery immediately, whereas the Senate bill would delay the switch to five-day delivery until 2017. USPS officials have said the schedule change would save almost $2 billion annually. The budget blueprint, similar to the Senate bill, would allow the Postal Service to shift from to-the-door delivery in favor of a more centralized system "where appropriate." It also would ban small and rural post office closures and make permanent the controversial "exigent" rate increase currently set to expire in two years. The pricing issue proved a major sticking point in the Senate and several Democrats declined to support the bill in committee due to the sustained rate increase. The proposed budget would return to the USPS any surplus payments it has made to the Office of Personnel Management for its share of the Federal Employees Retirement System. The Postal Service has complained that a lack of a USPS-specific calculation for those costs has led to significant overpayment, which the White House estimated at $5 billion. The White House called on OPM to create a new postal formula for the payments moving forward. All told, Obama's proposals would provide USPS with $20 billion in cash relief and savings by 2016. The White House included similar postal reform measures in previous budgets, though the president tweaked his 2015 plan to mirror some of the developments in Congress.
Sen. Thomas Carper's Comments on President Obama's 2015 Budget Proposal: ""I...appreciate the president's continued support for postal reform, and welcome his budget's inclusion of a number of key principals in the bipartisan Postal Reform Act that was approved by our committee last month, including the more accurate calculation of postal retirement costs, the restructuring of the postal service's retiree health benefit payments, and the permanent extension of the exigent rate increased authorized by the Postal Regulatory Commission in December 2013."
March 4, 2014
Time: Netflix's DVD business is about to get some competition from GameFly, which is testing mail-order movie rentals on top of its existing games service. GameFly confirmed to VentureBeat that it will offer DVDs and Blu-ray discs to subscribers, with a beta program beginning on April 4. Customers with a two-disc or higher game rental plan will get into the beta first, and movies will count against their disc limit at no extra charge. GameFly's game rentals are twice as expensive as Netflix's movie service, though, starting at $16 per month for one disc at a time.
Atlanta Journal-Constitution: About 50 people picketed a Staples office supply store Tuesday on Peachtree Road in Buckhead, demanding the retailer and U.S. Postal Service use postal workers instead of store employees for a pilot program offering limited postal services at some metro Atlanta stores.
Daily News Egypt: Negotiations between Minister of Communications Atef Helmy and Postal Authority workers failed Tuesday when the minister told the workers that the authority does not have sufficient funds to meet their financial demands, according to a statement by the Centre for Trade Union and Workers Services. The workers strike and sit-in inside the Cairo headquarters of the Postal Authority in Attaba is entering its second week, demanding application of the minimum income along with a 50% bonus and a 7% periodical bonus to their basic salary and a plan to reform workers' wages.
Fierce Government: The Postal Service exceeded its expected revenue in both fiscal 2012 and 2013 by more than a billion dollars each year, a Feb. 27 USPS inspector general report says. USPS breaks down operating revenue into commercial and retail, which which generally make up about 70 percent and 30 percent, of revenue, respectively, the report (.pdf) notes.
Postal Technology International: Poste Italiane and Brazil's postal service Correios have signed an agreement to launch a mobile phone network in Brazil. The two postal firms plan to establish a joint venture to introduce the new wireless communications network. As a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), Poste Italiane and Correios will provide mobile phone services to customers, however they will not directly own the network, instead they will bulk buy access to the network infrastructure before selling it on at retail rates.
LiveCharts: The share price of postal and delivery service firm Royal Mail was trading lower on Tuesday after Credit Suisse initiated coverage of the stock with an 'underperform' rating. The Swiss bank has set a target price of 530p, indicating 12% downside potential to current prices. Credit Suisse believes that the stock's valuation looks "stretched" given its 85% jump since the flotation in London in October 2013. "We think intensifying competition in last-mile delivery could cap Royal Mail's margins at the lower end of its targeted range (5-10%). Challenging consensus expectations on margin progression leave little room for error."
Washington Post: "Three ways of serving the underbanked (without the post office)"
Office of the Inspector General: "Canada Post shares a number of similarities with the U.S. Postal Service, including its founding by Benjamin Franklin in 1753 when both Canada and the 13 colonies were under British rule. Both posts are self-supporting, meaning they pay for their operations through the sale of postage and services. And Canada Post, like the Postal Service, has suffered volume losses the past few years. Here's where things get different, though. Canada Post has adopted a radical plan to restore its financial health, featuring bold initiatives that might seem too politically difficult in the United States. Canada Post's five-point plan is intended to streamline operations, cut costs, and return the corporation to fiscal self-sufficiency by 2019."
Bismarck Tribune: The explosion of new residents in northwestern North Dakota during the last several years, with the housing shortage and escalating wages, has delivered big problems to the local post offices. It's been hard to keep workers, and as a result, mail gets backed up and prompt delivery has been a problem, in particular in the Williston and Watford City areas. There finally may be a fix. The Postal Service and National Rural Mail Carriers Association reached an agreement that allows carriers to get pay increases of up to 20 percent to help deal with retention, and bonuses for signing new employees. The idea is to make positions at the post office competitive with the local job market — keeping existing workers on the job and beefing up their ranks. That makes good sense. The changes at the U.S. Postal Service are geared specifically to northwestern North Dakota. Let's hope they work well.
From the Federal Register:
AEG India: Department of Posts, Ministry of Communication and Information Technology released notification for direct recruitment of postal assistants and sorting assistants for the year 2013 and 2014. There are more than eight thousand posts country wide.
DVIDS: More than 120 soldiers of the 678th Human Resource Company completed 17 days of annual training here at Fort Dix, N.J., this week. The 17-day operation was comprised of convoys and logistical maneuvers that challenged the highly motivated postal and human resource unit. The 678th HRC navigated more than five convoy exercises in conjunction with numerous remote Area Post Office simulations under stressful conditions. While the unit has a main focuses on receiving and delivering, it also practices reception, replacement and redeployment operations as core functions. The mass field training exercise proved to be challenging and added enormous training value.
Dead Tree Edition: The two largest American printing companies recently presented similar lists of the major challenges they face -- and similar strategies for growing in the face of declining demand. Besides overcapacity and declining prices, the two printing giants spelled out other key challenges. Number One was "Postal rates." Both printers believe the recent 6% increase in most postal rates will put a significant dent in the amount of mailing their customers do. Thus, expect less demand for printing, even more overcapacity, and weaker prices.
Rep. Susan A. Davis: Slides from her presentation on "No More Excuses: The Case for Expanding Mail Ballot Eligibility" presented at the 2013 Eighth Voting and Elections Summit.
Attention Postal One! Users: The Memphis Metropolitan area is currently under a winter storm event. The NCSC - Memphis inclement weather policy has been implemented, which impacts the PostalOne! Help Desk. If you should require assistance with PostalOne!, and experience difficulty making contact by phone, please select the after hours options from the menu or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will respond as soon as possible. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.
March 3, 2014
WISN: Milwaukee's postal carriers are feeling first-hand the results of Wisconsin's brutal winter. Postal officials said injuries from slips and falls are up 50 percent this winter over last.
Could Postal Reform be Delivered This Year? Join us for a Webinar on April 2 Space is limited. Reserve your Webinar seat now at: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/978691056 With the recent passage of S. 1486 out of the Senate Committee, will postal reform be delivered this year? Join Jessica Dauer Lowrance, Executive Vice President of the Association for Postal Commerce for a discussion focused on: What is contained in S .1486? What are the pitfalls for the industry? What is the legislative process? How to reach out to your representatives in Congress. Title: Could Postal Reform be Delivered This Year? Date: Wednesday, April 2, 2014 Time: 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM EDT After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.
Donegal Democrat: It is the responsibility of the Government to realise a long-term plan for the future of the postal service, Independent Deputy Thomas Pringle told the Dáil. "The real problem is that the Minister, Deputy Pat Rabbitte, and his Cabinet colleagues do not recognise the value of An Post and of a service that is important to every community in the country," he said.
Business Wire: Quad/Graphics, Inc., is strengthening its market leading direct marketing platform with a multimillion-dollar expansion of its East Coast commingling center in Westampton, N.J. The expansion includes six new state-of-the-art letter sorters housed in newly leased space that will enhance clients' postal savings opportunities and mail delivery efficiencies.
Reuters: FedEx Corp said it will raise shipping rates at its freight business by 3.9 percent, effective March 31. The rate increase is for FedEx Freight shipments within the United States including Alaska and Hawaii, as well as Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, Canada and within Mexico. The world's second biggest parcel delivery company after United Parcel Service Inc, FedEx had earlier raised rates by 3.9 percent for its domestic express shipping unit, effective Jan 6.
Times-Herald: Members of the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) and community activists will picket an Atlanta Staples store during the lunch hour on Tuesday, March 4. "As a nation, we need to decide what kind of Postal Service we want," said APWU President Mark Dimondstein. "Are we going to have a vibrant, modern, public mail system or are we going to let privatizers kill this great institution?"
The Japan News: Japan Post Co. on Monday began selling stamps and postcards for the new postal fees that will go into effect on April 1 in line with the consumption tax rate hike the same day. From April 1, it will cost ¥82 to send a regular-size letter domestically, up from the current ¥80, while a domestic postcard will cost ¥52 instead of the current ¥50. Japan Post has started selling 22 kinds of stamps and postcards at the new rates at about 24,000 post offices nationwide. Two kinds of Letterpack flat-rate cardboard mailers with the new postage fees will be on sale from March 24.
Wall Street Journal: The Czech Postal Service, for the second time in a decade, is ending the sale of tobacco products in its branch network after a brief foray into sales of the goods that are a major cause of disease and death. One year ago Ceska posta, as the state-owned company is called, quietly launched a pilot project to sell tobacco products, initially at just 40 of its branches to combat falling revenue amid growing competition from private courier companies and from electronic communications. At the start of this year Ceska posta ramped up tobacco distribution to about 600 of its more than 3,100 locations. In sparsely populated regions where there are few retail shops, post offices often sell sundries such as toothpaste, toilet paper or laundry detergents, as a public service without much criticism. But as tolerance for smoking among the general population on the decline, it didn't take long for the backlash to hit.
Wall Street Journal: Damon Wayans, now a smartphone app developer, was handing out business cards here last week at the world's largest mobile-phone conference, trying to drum up interest in his alternative to one of the most enduring artifacts of the old economy: the business card. American technology has put people on the moon, invented the Internet and delivered fully functioning cars that drive themselves. But it has thus far met its match against a business tool rooted in the Chinese invention of paper, Gutenberg's brainstorm with the printing press and insurance salesmen's mastery of the cocktail-party buttonhole.
Wisbech Standard: Leverington newspaper delivery service launches postal service for Wisbech and surrounding villages. The service, which is provided by Webbs of Leverington, will cover Wisbech and 19 surrounding villages. It will initially be available to the firm's newspaper and magazine delivery customers, with guaranteed next day delivery – including Sundays – for just 30p, half the cost of a Royal Mail first class stamp. This is only the second service of its kind in the country, following the launch of a service in the Somerset town of Wellington.
eCommerceBytes: Online merchants are already challenged in meeting the expectations of shoppers who wish to get their orders delivered fast and free. Now Amazon and the USPS are adding another standard that online consumers may come to expect - Sunday deliveries. Amazon is expanding Sunday delivery for Prime members - available in New York and LA since November - in St. Louis and southwestern Illinois on March 16th with the help of the United States Postal Service, according to the St. Louis Dispatch and the State Journal Register newspapers.
ABC Local: Australia Post says it is committed to maintaining a "sustainable regional letters business" in the face of rapidly declining mail volumes. It says the average number of letters delivered per letterbox each day is 1.5, down from 2.0 in 2008. Australia Post says losses in its domestic mail business have grown by almost 60 per cent to more than $218 million last financial year. It is also working to minimise job losses. It says the 10 jobs will be lost through voluntary redundancy. Last month, an Australia Post spokeswoman said it would still meet its standards of 94 per cent of letters delivered on time. She said while Australia Post has long been providing a next day service, its target had always been second day delivery between country and metropolitan areas.
March 1, 2014
Yorkshire Post: Consumer campaigners and business leaders have criticised the latest price rise which will see the cost of a first class stamp increase by 2p to 62p and second class by 3p to 53p. The increases will take effect on March 31, two years after the last increase in stamp prices, although the now-privatised Royal Mail maintained it had "thought carefully" about the impact on customers and its business before making the decision. The Consumer Futures group claimed the three per cent rise in first class and five per cent increase in second class stamp prices were above the current inflation rate of 1.9 per cent. Since 2009, prices have increased by 59 per cent for first class and 77 per cent for second class. Robert Hammond, of Consumer Futures, said: "Any price rise is unwelcome especially at a time when household incomes are being squeezed and given that stamp prices have increased more than the rate of inflation over the past five years.
Federal Times: The U.S. Postal Service, an organization whose business still depends on paper, is increasingly making management use of electronic data, according to Scott Davis, the agency's acting controller vice president. "Like many companies, we've grown with the technology," Davis said in an interview this week. Post offices, for example, used to detail monthly sales on paper forms; the information would be keyed into a mainframe computer that would tally it up, then generate "reams and reams" of paper reports that would be mailed back to the offices, Davis said. Now, he said, big-data technology allows the USPS to do that faster, he said. The technology also speeds up the process of paying almost a half-million career USPS employees.
WZZM: The U.S. Postal Service is seeing an uptick in business, but not necessarily in a way it wants. California drug dealers are using Priority Mail and Express Mail to send narcotics to Michigan. In separate incidents this week, cocaine and marijuana were mailed to people in Muskegon and Wyoming.
Pakistan Observer: Senate Standing Committee on Communications on Friday directed the Communications Ministry to hold an inquiry into unauthorized spending of Rs 160 million advertisement to various newspapers. The committee meeting chaired by Daud Khan Achakzai took exception to the decision of the then Federal Minister to dole out Rs 160 million advertisements in various newspapers despite the fact the then secretary Postal services refused to give approval to the decisions.
Office of the Inspector General: Revenue Performance to Plan for Fiscal Years 2012 and 2013 Audit Report. "The Postal Service exceeded its revenue plans in FYs 2012 and 2013 across most channels and organizational levels. We are conducting two audits expected to be issued in spring 2014, which will provide additional details related to the Postal Service's revenue performance. We are performing a detailed assessment of the Postal Service's revenue and cost forecasting models later in 2014.
Business Insider: Amazon's ballyhooed aerial drone delivery program, "Primer Air," is really just a feint. Amazon is threatening FedEx and UPS with aerial drones that would cut them out of the delivery chain so that they'll innovate and invest more in their ground- and air-based shipping, to make it faster, maybe with drones of their own, and more reliable.
Motor Transport: DHL, FedEx and Royal Mail have been named among the top 20 strongest business brands for the second year running in the annual ‘Superbrands' league table. FedEx was voted the strongest of the UK's transport and logistics brands.
CBS Sacramento: A woman opened a box mailed to her home and found the names, personal information and medical records for hundreds of people. That box contained the medical records, test results, and credit card information of people from across the United States. After receiving the mysterious box, Jerri Crabtree reached out to CBS13 to find out who is responsible. "There's hundreds of them here, and I don't know why I got them, or where they came from," she said. She found the FedEx package on her Carmichael doorstep with her name, address and cellphone number on the label. But what's inside doesn't belong to her.