On Sunday, January 21, 2018, the new US Postal Service (USPS) postage rates and rules go into effect, so mailers need to take action to be properly prepared. For most mailers, the first day of mailing under the new rates will be Monday, January 22, 2018. The new rates represent about a 1.9% increase over the current prices for mailing, or “Market Dominant” products and 3.9% increases for shipping, or “competitive” products.
Even with the increase, postage rates are a great deal. The USPS retail rates for letter mail remain lower than our trading partners – including the countries that have privatized their posts. Take a look at the price for one-ounce stamps:
- US $0.50
- Canada $0.68
- Japan $0.73
- Australia $0.78
- Germany $0.82
- Great Britain $0.85
- France $0.86
The first step in preparing for the new rates is to send an announcement to your customers. If you manage a corporate mail center, that means the departments you service. The notice should include an explanation of the new rates, and how the rates will impact your customers’ costs.
Provide a chart on the new retail rates, and explain how the rates will impact personal mailings, such as bills. Also, include ideas on how your customers can take advantage of the “extra ounce” available for automated, presorted mail. By providing this type of information, you reinforce your image as the expert on postal affairs, and that you add value to the process.
Meet with local USPS representatives, including the acceptance unit. Review the changes with the new sortation rules and postal statements. If possible, meet with the Business Mail Acceptance unit manager or supervisor. Ensure that everyone is on the same page with any changes.
Talk to postage meter and software vendors. Include your programmers on the call, to make sure they understand when and how the updates will be delivered, how to properly install the updates, and how to test the changes. Establish a phone tree for reporting and resolving any problems with the installation.
Schedule training for your employees about the new rates. Review the new rates and forms for every category of mail your shop produces. Go over the update schedule for the meters and software, discussing any potential impact to production. Lastly, cover the actions the department will take directly before and after the new rates go into effect.
Prepare to implement all the changes at the end of the day on either January 19 (Monday through Friday operations) or January 20 (Monday through Saturday operations). Download and install meter and software updates. Post reminders around your mail center about the new rates. This includes putting printed notices at the meters, the inserters and the customer service desk. For corporate mail centers, also post reminders at internal mail stops. Replace all internal and postage statement forms.
On Monday, January 22, send out another notice to your internal and external customers about the rate change. At the daily huddle with your employees, remind them about the changes and answer any last-minute questions. Inspect every meter to make sure the settings are correct, and review the testing the programmers completed on the software updates. Conduct additional quality control checks throughout the day.
If possible, have a manager or supervisor accompany the mail to the post office at the end of the day. Rate cases are a significant change for everyone involved, and there may be confusion. Have someone with your mail who is authorized to resolve any problems and answer any questions.
To assist mailers with these changes, The Berkshire Company has published a new e-book, “Preparing Your Mail Operation for the U.S. Postal Service 2018 Rate Change”. This free resource, which includes an implementation checklist, is designed to help managers ensure a successful transition to the new postal rates.
Along with the National Postal Forum, we invite you to be our guests at our complimentary webinar on January 10, 2018 - Getting Ready for the 2018 Postal Rate Changes. This webinar will review those upcoming changes, and give you strategies and hints to take advantage of the new rate structures. Register today.