New US Postage Rates 2016

The First-Class stamp has increased to 47 cents as of April 10, 2016. The US Postal Service has officially announced the postage rates for the 2016 mailing season. The Post Office has recently switched from doing large postage increases every 4 years to a smaller increase each year to keep up with costs and industry fluctuations.

This April we actually got a postage PRICE REDUCTION.

CSG Direct likes to keep you informed of changing postage rates!

New Postage Rates for 2012

Beginning early next year, it will cost just a penny more to mail letters to any location in the United States, the first price change for First-Class Mail stamps (Forever stamps) in more than two and a half years. The new 45-cent price for Forever stamps is among price changes filed with the Postal Regulatory Commission.

“The overall average price increase is small and is needed to help address our current financial crisis,” said Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe. “We continue to take actions within our control to increase revenue in other ways and to aggressively cut costs. To return to sound financial footing we urgently need enactment of comprehensive, long-term legislation to provide the Postal Service with a more flexible business model.”

Highlights of the new single-piece First-Class Mail pricing, effective Jan. 22, 2012, include:

• Letters (1 oz.) – 1-cent increase to 45 cents
• Letters additional ounces – unchanged at 20 cents
• Postcards – 3-cent increase to 32 cents
• Letters to Canada or Mexico (1 oz.) – 5-cent increase to 85 cents.
• Letters to other international destinations – 7-cent increase to $1.05

Prices also will change for other mailing services, including Standard Mail, Periodicals, Package Services and Extra Services. This announcement does not affect Express Mail and Priority Mail prices.

More information on the new pricing is available Here. Download the PDF

While actual percentage price increases vary, the overall average price increase across all mailing services is capped by law at 2.1 percent, the rate of inflation calculated based on the Consumer Price Index.

For business mailers, this announcement offers good news for First-Class Mail Presort mailers. When the new prices go into effect on Jan. 22, the second ounce for presorted letters will be free. “This gives companies expanded opportunities to advertise new services and products to their customers as part of bill and statement mailings,” said Paul Vogel, president and chief marketing/sales officer.

And new for all customers is a 3-month pricing option to rent PO Boxes, perfect for people on the move and others who need a PO Box for a short time period.

The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations.

Find out more on USPS.com

New Intelligent Mail Barcode Requirements

Direct Mailing ManThe US Postal Service has come down with some new deadlines for full implementation of Intelligent Mail Barcodes (IMB).

Full Text Here: http://csgurl.com/IMB_Requirements

They seem to be putting a huge emphasis on packages, however mailpieces references are sprinkled into all the text as well.

” On January 7, 2013, the Postal Service finalizes the implementation of this final rule by requiring an Intelligent Mail package barcode (IMpb) for all commercial mailpieces that include a tracking or extra service barcode …” seems to refer to all customers using 2 barcodes currently which apply to people using postnet barcodes and planet codes combined. (quit laughing, some people still do this, lol)

We of course have been using these barcodes and developing  new programs around these new barcodes since 2008. It’s nice to see that they are finally asking the rest of the country to step up the plate or get out of the game.

The first deadline is January 2012 with some limited flexibility until July 2012, Then again January 2013 with flexibility until July 2013.  A weak roll-out but they are going to get to embrace their cool new features even if they have to drag all the rest of the public forward.

Lower Postage Rates for Full Service Intelligent Mail Option

The Intelligent Mail Barcode is a 65-bar code for use on mail in the United States. The term “Intelligent Mail” refers to services offered by the United States Postal Service for domestic mail delivery. IM is intended to provide greater information and functionality than its predecessors POSTNET and PLANET. The Postal Service was going to require use of the Intelligent Mail barcode to qualify for automation prices beginning May 2011.

Some of the benefits for Full Service Intelligent Mail barcodes include: Better visibility into the mailstream, Ability to track individual pieces, handling units and containers, Receive information about mail preparation and address quality, Determine when a mailing was inducted to the postal system, Address correction services, if requested Mail induction (start-the-clock) information and Optional Confirm Service.

Mail pieces prepared in accordance with full-service requirements are eligible for the applicable discount. Full-service discounts are summarized as follows:
• First-Class Mail Letters, Cards, and Flats: Subtract $0.003 for each automation piece that meets the requirements of the full-service Intelligent Mail option.
• Standard Mail Regular and Nonprofit Letters: Subtract $0.001 for each letter that meets the requirements of the full-service Intelligent Mail option.
• Standard Mail Regular and Nonprofit Flats: Subtract $0.001 for each flat that meets the requirements of the full-service Intelligent Mail option (not available for saturation).
• Periodicals Letters and Flats: Subtract $0.001 for each addressed piece that meets the requirements of the full-service Intelligent Mail option.
• Bound Printed Matter (BPM) Flats: Subtract $0.001 for each flat that meets the requirements of the full- service Intelligent Mail option.

New Postage Rates for 2011

New Postage 2011

First we’ll share the announcement from the US Postal Service about the newly released 2011 Postage Rates then we’ll give you our take below.

———-

Announcement from the US Postal Service:

January 14, 2011

Announcing the continuation of POSTNET barcodes for automation rates beyond May 2011, the continued use of those barcodes for CONFIRM subscribers, and new pricing set to take effect April 17, 2011.

• The new price sheet for CONFIRM can be found online at www.usps.com/prices.

• POSTNET usage has been extended for automation rates beyond May 2011.

• CONFIRM subscribers using PLANET barcodes will also be allowed to continue using the PLANET barcodes beyond May 2011.

• CONFIRM subscribers who have already transitioned to the IMb are encouraged to continue using the IMb. Please do not reactivate a PLANET Code subscriber ID in your system if you have already discontinued its use.

Thanks,
USPS-National Customer Support Center
———-

New Postage Rates ChartHere is our compiled list of common new postage rates for 2011

As we dig through the new rates there is a lot you can tell by where they raise the rates the most as well as hidden rate reductions. Over the years we have been able to design services based on where we see the direction of increases going.

This year we see the biggest changes in the smaller postcards (4.25×6″ max).
We also see a small reduction in non-profit automation:

postage rate review

There has been a lot of pressure on the post office to increase rates and still balance the public relations nightmare of hurting all the small non-profits that count on direct mail to raise funds. In this rate-case we see a decrease in the automation rates charged to non-profit groups. This is likely to help push them into automation and away from stamps, labels, tape and staples.

The rest of this rate-case is pretty small really. One of the smallest I have seen in a long time.  This is probably due to the fact that we are now getting increases annually instead of every 4 years like in decades past.

Notice also how the largest increases are in the smaller postcards in 1st-class non-automation and single piece rates. This would tend to indicate that this is either a category that is more labor intensive, or there are so few that nobody will notice; which is highly possible. I know from experience that these cards rarely have enough room to do a proper address and the full rate ones are those handwritten ones you get at every tourist attraction in the world.

Those postcards are impossible to automate with that old-fashion vertical-line style design in the middle of the address side of the card.  They need one of our new postal automated designs from one of our USPS Mailpiece quality certified designers here at CSG Direct.direct mail quotes

(postage rates at csg here)

Setup a Direct Mail Postage CAPS Account?

What is a Direct Mail CAPS Account and how do you set one up?

A CAPS Account stands for Centralized Account Processing System. The post office makes it easy for your business to electronically put money into your postal account, instead of the hassle of getting a check prepared and deposited at the Post Office before the 5:30 deadline every day. It is the easiest way to fund your permit, business reply mail, merchandise return service, postage due account, and express mail corporate account.
There are two different CAPS Accounts available for postal customers to use. There is a centralized trust account, where customers deposit funds using electronic funds transfer to the CAPS bank prior to mailing. Then, your account is automatically reduced when your local post office processes postage statements. The next CAPS account is the centralized debit account, where customers designate a debit-enabled bank account for postage charges. The bank account is debited for the total day’s postage on the next bank business day.
Each CAPS account customer will have their own unique account number and password to ensure that funds are properly administered. It makes it quick and convenient to mail under the same permit imprint that they have already held (if a personal permit previously existed.) Postal Customers can set up their accounts to have mailing and accounting fees administered automatically.
To set-up a CAPS account contact your USPS local post office, or you can call the CAPS Service Center at (650) 377-1334. You can also download the forms to sign up for CAPS at http://caps.usps.gov/business/caps.asp and mail them into:

CAPS Service Center Postage CAPS Account
2700 Campus Drive
San Mateo, CA 94497-9442

CSG Direct, Inc works very closely with the USPS and we know all about CAPS Accounts. If you need my help, I am just a phone call away 775-852-9777.

No Postage Rate Increase this January

In an announcement that shocked many today, the Postal Direct Mail PostageRegulatory Commission soundly rejected the Postal Service’s request for a postage rate increase of 5.4 percent on January 1, 2011.

This means that postage rates will remain the same until they can be legally changed under the price cap formula next May.  This is also a stunning loss for the Postal Service has it has pleaded that it desperately needs the money to sustain its operations and it comes in the middle of union negotiations with two of the largest postal unions.

The Envelope Manufacturers Association strongly fought this increase through our Affordable Mail Alliance and we filed many hours of testimony showing how this rate increase would damage a recovery in our industry.  This decision to hold prices stable will have a positive impact on mailings both in the Fall and next year and upholds an important principal in the Postal Accountability and Enforcement Act that price increases could not be greater than inflation.  EMA fought hard for that position as we did to uphold the law.

Are new postage rates justified in direct mail?

All things being what they are, I am normally one of the first people to bash large bureaucratic entities such as the US Postal Service. The monopoly that they hold over the industry, the civil service mentality and attitude as well as the constant increases in the cost of doing business leave them as a wide-open target.

In thinking about the new Postage Rates, however, I also feel compelled to compliment the postal service for the latest developments that they have introduced. It has been quite an undertaking! Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of room for improvement and a many areas that they can improve on. Today let’s look at some of the positives, because they deserve to be recognized.

One of the most amazing new developments with the US Postal Service is the implementation of the intelligent mail barcode systems. It is mind-boggling to think of the amount of data retrieval, data collection and data distribution that this system is capable of. This helps the post office to track delivery times and pinpoint problematic areas within their system.

It has also been a great tool for mail service providers such as CSG Direct to build systems around for individual US Mail tracking. This is a dream come true for Direct Marketing professionals to be able to track their mailings online. It allows them to gauge delivery times, track individual pieces and better plan their projects.

Another item that I believe bears consideration is the expense of fuel that has spiked and dropped several times in recent memory. As a transportation and delivery entity, the postal service is sharply affected by fuel costs. I know in my household fuel prices have strained the budget considerably. These costs cannot be absorbed for long periods of time – especially at the volumes that the USPS consumes.

I believe that the postal service is working diligently to improve service and delivery times. With some of the new requirements for NCOA standards, enhanced barcoding and ongoing customer relationship building. I am seeing great strides of improvement in a large entity that is slow to change.

If we can only get them to work in a more customer friendly atmosphere in regard to the incessant changes and rules for mailpiece design and construction. They change the rules – industry adjusts – then they change the rules because they do not like the industry adjustments. The recent flat changes are a good example of this.

In May of 2007, the flat rate increase was harsh, so the industry started changing to smaller booklets and slimjims that were subject to the letter rate category. Now the post office is implementing new rules on these types of mailers that will cost the preparers more money to process and slow down the production. This should have been taken into consideration in 2007 when the USPS raised the flat rates to get mailers to change their formats and remove some of the burden from the flat sorters.

OOPS… I am going off on a rant – not the intention here.

Let’s take a moment to appreciate some of the positive changes that the post office and the mailing industry are encountering. The new technologies are very cool, and very useful. If you are not taking advantage of these new technologies, then you are missing the boat! If you would like to learn more about US Mail Tracking, give one of the Direct Mail Specialists at CSG Direct a call. We are here to help!

The 7 Deadly Sins of Direct Mail – Sin #7

…and how our clients avoid them and save thousands

Finally we can confront Sin #7:

Direct Mail Sin #7

Proof sign-offs taken too casually

Every job that we receive with electronic files requires some kind of manipulation or adjustment prior to mailing. RGB to CMYK, resizing, recropping, data merging, font replacement etc…

When your project requires a final signoff we hope that you take this opportunity seriously!

By the time it gets to this stage you have seen it many many times. Take a moment and read every line of your offer and confirm that everything is exactly the way it should be. This is your final opportunity to adjust dates, copy or data before your clients or prospects see the piece.

This is also the moment in time when the mistakes slide though and become major issues when the customers start calling.

We know that you are probably tired of reading at this point but you need to try to read the piece like it was your very first time looking at it. Study the text, confirm the data, dates, phone numbers, call-to-actions and all other components.

Common errors found at this point:

* Right date/wrong day (is it really a Thursday on that date?)

* Brand colors off

* Wrong or missing telephone numbers

* Newest art changes not sent (were we sent the most recent version of artwork?)

* Wrong offers, or error in disclaimers

* Spelling errors/typos

We know this is cumbersome but it also one of the unavoidable steps. We highly recommend you let someone else look at it and sign off with you. This identifies more errors and changes the dynamic if something is missed.

On a personal note, it doesn’t leave you standing alone as responsible for errors if more people on the team miss the same detail. If many people missed it than it must not have been obvious.  If only one person signs off it is easy for everyone to just point at you and steer clear of responsibility.  This is human nature.

Either way, the signoff process and authorization for us to proceed is your decision only.  We will not proceed without it and we are responsible to print and mail it exactly as the proof you signed off on.

Added Note about all 7 Deadly Sins of Direct Mail:
Allow the time needed for the quality and price you desire. This time gives you the breathing room needed to be flexible if  things you plan go wrong. No human process or timing is perfect, however much you try!

You cannot be consistently successful when you are expecting everyone involved to “jump from miracle to miracle”! You’ll save money in the end by not paying for rushed and fixed jobs. Being rushed always creates additional errors as you skip details to meet timeframes.

Our most successful customers have learned to work backwards from deadlines, successfully creating a smooth process from start to finish.

Intelligent Mail Barcodes

This is a new feature from the Post Office that was originally slated as a requirement starting May 2009.  So many mailshops and software vendors freaked out that the USPS has decided to delay that requirement for one more year.  The program is alive and well, however, just not yet required.

We have been using and developing systems around the Intelligent Mail barcode since January 2008 and have had extensive experience in Planet codes before that.

Have you seen our new US Mail Tracking tools?

We are ready for this and have actually lead the way.  Is your mailshop using this technology?  How many other things are coming that your current mailshop is going to wait for, before learning on your project?  Why do they put your mailings at risk as they “figure it out” near deadlines? It’s because most shops are reactive instead of proactive.

You deserve to be kept at the front of the direct mail revolution, not in the backseat.  These new systems create dynamic advantages for the people that partner with us. What if your competition is using these advanced services and you are not?  Mailing with CSG Direct ensures that you are staying at the front of the pack. 

This is another core reason to work with a company that is a mailshop first, printer second.  It just makes sense!