Posts Tagged Postal Service

USPS 7 Day Service for Holiday Mail

USPS 7 Day Service for Holiday Mail

Getting everything done – both personal and professional – during the holiday season can be tough. The Postal Service is stepping in to help you out by offering seven day a week delivery in major cities and high volume areas beginning November 17th through Christmas day.

They expect double digit growth of their package services during this period – up roughly 12% over the same period last year. The expectation is that they will handle 450 – 470 million packages. This is in large part due to continued e-commerce growth and improvements to Priority Mail services.

“Football has its season. But the holidays? That’s our season,” said Donahoe. “That’s crunch time for us, and year after year, we step up our game. E-commerce package business continues to be a big player now more than ever, so we’ve enhanced our network to ensure America that we’ll deliver their cards, gifts and letters in time for the holidays.”

USPS’ competitors recently announced increases to their services, while the Postal Service lowered some of its prices for businesses and other large shippers. The reduced Priority Mail pricing has affordable options and improved tracking ability.USPSHoliday

“The Postal Service will be out making deliveries every single day during the holiday season, including Christmas Day,” said Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe. “During the holidays, no carrier makes more deliveries to more places than the Postal Service, and this year, we’re raising the bar with enhanced tracking and Sunday delivery.”

With the continued growth of online retailers, more products are shipped directly to consumers.

“Every household in America relies on us to get their packages in time for the holidays, and we take great pride in taking on that responsibility,” said Donahoe. “We’re prepared to do whatever it takes to deliver for our customers.”

 2014 Christmas Shipping Deadlines

For expected delivery of holiday mail and packages by Christmas, the Postal Service recommends keeping the following mailing and shipping deadlines in mind:

  • Dec. 2 – First-Class Mail International/Priority Mail International
  • Dec. 10 – Priority Mail Express International
  • Dec. 15 – Standard Post
  • Dec. 17 – Global Express Guaranteed
  • Dec. 20 – First-Class Mail/Priority Mail (domestic)
  • Dec. 23 – Priority Mail Express (domestic)

Skip the lines and ship online

Consumers can avoid holiday hassles by visiting usps.com — the Postal Service’s website that will help make mailing and shipping easier. Nearly 75 million customers will skip the trip to the Post Office altogether and take advantage of convenient online shipping this holiday season. Click-N-Ship and other online services allow customers to print shipping labels, order free Priority Mail boxes, purchase postage and even request free next-day Package Pickup.

Next week’s blog? Our annual guide to holiday shipping tricks and tips!

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USPS Update | USPS Cyber Intrusion and Employee Data Compromise

USPS Cyber Intrusion and Employee Data Compromise

united-states-postal-service-usps-logo

You may have heard in the news this week that USPS has experienced a data security breach. This impacted USPS employees and also consumers who directly contacted the USPS call center. Mail Systems Management Association has provided a great review of what happened and who is at risk.

You can read it here:

USPS IT performed work this past weekend to upgrade system security, which resulted in some loss of system functionality. It is also in response to a cyber-intrusion into some of our information systems. You may see this in the news today.

The extent of the breach is somewhat limited. We have had some employee data compromised and some customer care data compromised. We are notifying our employees today and are providing resources for them.

The compromised call center data was submitted by customers who contacted the Postal Service customer care center with inquiries via telephone or email between January 1, 2014 and August 16, 2014. The compromised data consists of names, addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses and other information for customers who may have provided this information. At this time we do not believe that affected customers need to take any action as a result of this incident. It appears that no customer credit card or financial data was compromised.

We are investigating the intrusion and are working closely with all the agencies you would expect – the FBI, the Department of Justice, our own Inspector General and Postal Inspection Service, and the US Computer Emergency Readiness Team. Additionally, we have brought in outside experts who specialize in investigations and data systems to help us understand what happened and how to improve our security.

We have already implemented some important security measures over the weekend and we will continue to roll out other new security measures in the coming days and weeks.

As things currently stand, it is business as usual for nearly every aspect of our operations – Post Offices are functioning normally and mail and packages are being delivered as usual. We have posted Q&As and other information about this on usps.com.

Click here to read FAQs written by the USPS.

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Planning for USPS Rate Increases

Will They or Won’t They?  Planning for USPS Rate Increases

imagesIt’s that time of year when my customers want direction and help planning their postage budgets for the coming year. The past few years we’ve had notice in October or November of a coming rate increase to be effective in January. For some working on budgets, this is late in the game so we fudge a little by going with the tried-and-true formula of postage rate hikes based on the rate of inflation.

This year, however, who knows what’s coming. Rates could go up or even down. Rates could decrease sometime in the coming year due to the expiration of the exigent rate case of last year. Right now it looks more like a guessing game.

Below is a link to an informative article discussing potential rates for 2015.  It gives a nice explanation of the situation as a whole.

http://deadtreeedition.blogspot.com/2014/09/postal-rates-in-2015-could-rise-or-fall.html

So it’s going to be a tricky year for mailers working on 2015 budgets. As always, we will notify our customers of rate changes as soon as they are made available.

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National Postal Museum Exhibit: Behind the Badge

“Behind the Badge”

The Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum has opened a new exhibit “Behind the Badge” showcasing the fascinating history of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

jcb-001_8x10The Postal Inspection Service is one of the nation’s oldest federal law enforcement agencies, dating back to 1776.  Then USPS Postmaster General Benjamin wanted to measure the efficiency and security of mail routes. Today there is a network of U.S. postal inspectors whose job it is to keep the mail safe and help protect consumers and prevent crime.

The exhibit is interactive and has many interesting artifacts on display and videos where inspectors, forensic analysts and postal police officers share stories of their lives “behind the badge”.  At the close of the exhibit is a video commemorating fallen heroes who gave their lives in the line of duty.

Below is a link to a series of videos designed to keep postal customers informed about scams and how to protect yourself.  Make sure to watch the first video “We are the U.S. Postal Inspection Service”!

http://www.postalmuseum.si.edu/behindthebadge/videos.html

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Penalties Assessed by USPS June 2014

Penalties Assessed by USPS June 2014

Screen_Shot_2011-10-02_at_3_22_44_PM_large_verge_medium_landscapeOccasionally readers ask me why I spend so much time reviewing postal rules and regulations. Most often these questions are regarding meeting Move Update requirements, specs for postcards, self-mailers and letters vs flats.

In the news this week were two good examples of why understanding these regulations is crucial.

The postal service hit Southern California Edison with $7.6 million in penalties for allegedly not keeping its address lists up to date. The postal service noted a “suspiciously high increase” in the amount of undeliverable and return-to-sender First Class mail SCE sent between 2006 and 2008.

SCE acknowledged two errors in managing its address correction procedures. These errors showed up in missing apartment or suite numbers and how to handle fractional number street address (such as 29 ½ Elm Street). They contend that these instances did not cause an appreciable increase in bad addresses.

The postal service ordered a refund of postage discounts SCE earned for mail presented between May 14, 2007 and November 26, 2008. The estimate was 82 million pieces of mail at a total penalty of $7.6 million.

The second news story involved Sears allegedly violating rules for folded self-mailers. The trouble was over the placement and type of seals used on 6.3 million folded Standard Class self-mailers sent out for promotions in 2009.

Sears stated that the pieces met postal regulations or were specifically approved by postal officials because they were designed not to jam letter sorting machinery. USPS determined that the pieces needed a second tab and that some were improperly sealed with glue instead of tabs.

Sears was dinged with $1.1 million for the alleged violation.

Both Sears and Southern California Edison have filed appeals of the USPS decisions with the U.S. District Court in Washington.

Keeping up-to-date on postal rulings and regulations is no laughing matter when your company is fined for non-compliance. Please reach out to USPS Mailpiece Design Analysts and/or your outsource mail vendor. Both are there to help guide you through maximizing your mailings.

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Nine Surprising Facts About The Postal Service

Nine Things You Should Know About The Postal Service

“You probably know your mail carrier and the clerks at your neighborhood Post Office, but how well do you know the Postal Service itself? Here are nine facts that might surprise you.”

PostalFactsAbove is a quote from this great USPS blog we discovered. It can’t be said any better, “how well do you know the postal service itself?” Please take a minute to check out this wonderful blog: http://uspsblog.com/nine-things-you-should-know-about-the-postal-service/ and learn nine facts that might surprise you about the postal service.

We would love to hear your feedback and see if you knew any of the facts or if you were truly surprised. Comment below!

 

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USPS | Postal History In 15 Photos

Postal History In 15 Photos

Can you believe it’s been 238 years since the establishment of the United States postal system? Yep, that’s right. The postal system (as it was originally called) was approved by the Second Continental Congress on July 26, 1775.

There were no post offices in early colonial times, so mail was typically left at inns and taverns. Nearly all mail was from overseas as the colonists had no need to send correspondence “locally”. Mail deliveries from across the Atlantic were sporadic and could take months to arrive.

Today the United States Postal Service® delivers more mail to more addresses in a larger geographical area than any other post in the world. They deliver to nearly 151 million homes, businesses and Post Office Boxes in every state, city, town and borough in this country. Everyone living in the U.S. and its territories has access to postal products and services and pays the same postage regardless of location.

Before the internet, before email, texting and video chatting, there was the Postal Service. Take a look at photos from the Smithsonian Institute’s archives and watch how our mail system has changed as transportation and technology has changed our world.

1. The “Chesapeake” (1887)

The “Chesapeake,” a USPS steamboat.


2. Owney the stray (1895)

Owney was a stray that walked into a post office in upstate New York where he fell asleep on a pile of mailbags. Presumably he became attracted to the scent of the mail because he began following them on mail wagons and then trains.


3. Mail-sorting vehicle (1907)

Only two of these mail-sorting vehicles were in service in Wisconsin. They carried mail sorters around as they sorted mail between offices.


 4. Horse-drawn delivery (1909)

Posing for a picture on a horse-drawn delivery carriage, a carrier shows off his modified seat with a sling to carry the day’s mail.


5. Through rain, sleet and snow (1910)

Using a horse-drawn sleigh, a female mail carrier makes her morning rounds in deep snow.


6. USPS savings accounts (1914)

Ending in 1966, the USPS offered savings accounts to customers looking to hold money in a federal institution with the convenience of the location of a post office.


7. War-time censorship (1918)

During the first World War, the U.S. military began large-scale mail censoring to remove information that could aid the enemy.


8. Airmail is introduced (1918)

The first USPS plane takes off in Washington, D.C. to begin the service’s airmail.


9. Mail sorting (1920)

A post office mail-sorter puts mail into pigeon holes for Hazelton, NJ, Bellefonte, PA, Cleveland, OH, Bryan, OH, Iowa City, IA, Omaha, NB, North Platte, NB Cheyenne, WY, Rock Springs, WY, Salt Lake City, UT, and Elko, NV.


10. Rural mail carriers (1925)

Unlike city carriers, urban mail letter carriers had to provide their own transportation such as the Ford pictured. Though they weren’t required to wear a uniform, the unidentified carrier in this picture purchased and wore one on his routes.


11. Modified Ford Model-T (1926)

A modified Ford Model-T fitted for carrier service in inclement winter weather.


12. James A. Farley Post Office (1936)

At the James A. Farley Post Office Building in New York City, mail carriers head out on their morning rounds.


13. Making the rounds (1947)

Postal workers would collect mail from tree-mounted boxes.


14. “Mailsters” on parade (1954)

To introduce their latest three-wheeled carrier vehicles and celebrate the holidays, postal workers organized an appearance in a parade in Maryland.


15. The “Mailster” (1955)

A city “mailster,” a three-wheeled motor vehicle that was introduced following the second World War to help transport the ever-growing amount of mail.

City letter carrier seated in a three-wheeled “mailster” motor vehicle. Carriers used these vehicles to carry the ever-increasing amounts of mail that was being delivered to American households after end of the Second World War.

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USPS Update | Rate Increase January 26th, 2014

Increased 2014 Postage Rates – Effective January 26, 2014

uspspostalrateincreaseJanuary 26, 2014 Mailing Services Price Change

As per a news release on September 25, 2013 prices for most Postal Service mailing products and services will change on January 26, 2014.  This includes First Class Mail, Standard Mail, Periodicals, Package Services and Extra Services.

The proposed changes are intended to generate $2 billion in incremental annual revenue for the Postal Service.

Highlights of the new single-piece First-Class Mail pricing, effective Jan. 26, 2014 include:

  • Letters (1 oz.) — 3-cent increase to 49 cents
  • Letters additional ounces —  1-cent increase to 21 cents
  • Letters to all international destinations (1 oz.) — $1.15
  • Postcards — 1-cent increase to 34 cents

Stamp prices have stayed consistent with the average annual rate of inflation of 4.2 percent since the Postal Service was formed in 1971.
Pricing for Standard Mail, Periodicals, Package Services and Extra Services also will be adjusted.

In a letter from Board of Governors Chairman Mickey Barnett described the “precarious financial condition” of the Postal Service and the “uncertain path toward enactment of postal reform legislation” as primary reasons for seeking price changes above the CPI increase. He also indicated that the price adjustment above the CPI increase is necessary in order to ensure that the Postal Service will be able to maintain and continue the development of postal services of the type and quality which America needs.

“Of the options currently available to the Postal Service to align costs and revenues, increasing postage prices is a last resort that reflects extreme financial challenges,” said Barnett in the letter. “However, if these financial challenges were alleviated by the timely enactment of laws that close a $20 billion budget gap, the Postal Service would reconsider its pricing strategy. We are encouraged by the recent introduction of comprehensive postal reform legislation in Congress, and despite an uncertain legislative process, we are hopeful that legislation can be enacted this year.”

Except in exceptional or extraordinary circumstances, postage price increases are capped at the rate of inflation as measured by the CPI-U. The Postal Service is filing a price increase above CPI-U due to extraordinary and exceptional circumstances which have contributed to continued financial losses. The Postal Service recorded a $15.9 billion net loss last fiscal year and expects to record a loss of roughly $6 billion in the current fiscal year, and has an intolerably low level of available liquidity even after defaulting on its obligation to make prefunding payments for retiree health benefits.

If your business is not already using a presort vendor, now is the time to look into that service.  With ever increasing postage rates, why not take advantage of discounted rates presort houses are able to offer you?

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Fun Facts All About The USPS

USPS Fun Facts – gathered from USPS.com

Image: A view shows U.S. postal service mail boxes at a post office in EncinitasThe United States Postal Service® delivers more mail to more addresses in a larger geographical area than any other post in the world. They deliver to nearly 151 million homes, businesses and Post Office Boxes in every state, city, town and borough in this country. Everyone living in the U.S. and its territories has access to postal products and services and pays the same postage regardless of location.

 

The Postal Service:

  • Is the nation’s 2nd largest civilian employer
  • Has the nation’s largest retail network
  • Has the world’s largest civilian fleet of vehicles
  • Has the world’s largest alternative fuel-enabled fleet
  • The Postal Service has a larger retail network than McDonald’s, Starbucks and Wal-Mart combined (in US).
  • The Postal Service has one of the largest learning management systems in the country.
  • The Postal Service receives 90 percent of its retail revenue from 15,000 of its nearly 32,000 postal-operated retail locations.
  • The Postal Service prints more than 800,000 IRS W-2 forms, 3.3 million payroll checks, 1.8 million non-payroll checks and 15.4 million payroll earnings statements annually.
  • Most Unusual Delivery Method — mule trains in Arizona. Each mule carries about 130 pounds of mail, food, supplies and furniture down the 8-mile trail to the Havasupai Indians at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, averaging 41,000 pounds per week.
  • Another Unusual Delivery Method — boat in Michigan The JW Westcott is a 45-foot contract mail boat out of Detroit, MI, that delivers mail to passing ships in the Detroit River. The JW Westcott has its own ZIP Code — 48222.
  • Located in MD, the William F. Bolger Center for Leadership Development is a national training facility for the Postal Service. It is the only hotel in the country featuring an on-site Smithsonian exhibit.
  • There are more than 42,000 ZIP codes in the country.
  • The lowest ZIP Code is 00501, a unique ZIP Code for the Internal Revenue Service in Holtsville, NY.
  • The highest ZIP Code is 99950 in Ketchikan, AK.
  • The easiest ZIP Code to remember is 12345, a unique ZIP Code for General Electric in Schenectady, NY.
  • The longest regular rural route is Route 2 in Gridley, KS. The carrier travels 182.8 miles daily and delivers to 258 boxes.
  • The shortest rural delivery route is Route 42 in Henderson, NV. The carrier travels 2.9 miles daily and delivers to 952 boxes.
  • The Postal Service moves mail using planes, trains, trucks, cars, boats, ferries, helicopters, subways, float planes, hovercrafts, T-3s, street cars, mules, snowmobiles, bicycles and feet.

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USPS | Difference Between CASS vs NCOA

CASS vs NCOA – What’s the Difference

NCOAHow can you increase the number of mailpieces successfully delivered and reduce the number of those pesky return pieces?  Return mail, or Undeliverable as Addressed (UAA) is costly for you (think printing and postage) and costly for the USPS to handle as well.

So what can be done?

Always, always, always run your mail through CASS and NCOA processes prior to printing.

 

What is CASS and why do I need it?

CASS stands for Coding Accuracy Support System. The process standardizes address data and certifies that your mailing list meets automation rate specs and USPS presort discounts. Note that this is only improving your address by confirming the carrier route, five-digit zip code, zip +4 code, and delivery point barcode. Name-related fields are not taken into consideration during CASS processing.

What is corrected:

  • Misspellings in street and city names
  • Street suffixes such as Way, Court, Terrace
  • ZIP code and ZIP+4

We let our customers drive what happens if an address fails CASS certification. We receive a report back of any UAA addresses and can either suppress them from the mailing, mail to that address knowing that it will result in UAA mail (some clients must mail to address as given for legal reasons), or return these addresses to client for research/updating as necessary.

What is NCOA?

National Change of Address (NCOA) meets USPS mandated Move Update requirements by bouncing your mailing list against an updated USPS database. The USPS database contains any moves where a Change of Address has been submitted. In 48 months the USPS records more than 150 million permanent address changes filed by postal customers.

In NCOA processing, both the name and address are compared in the database. Strahm receives a report back when a record is identified as having a change of address. This allows our clients the opportunity to update their own database with the new address information. It also prevents mailing to an old address resulting in UAA mail returns.

Keep in mind that you will still receive some amount of UAA mail even after NCOA processing. Not all movers submit a Change of Address to the Postal Service. Sometimes the CoA submitted to the Postal Service is not an exact match to the name in your database (John A. Smith on the CoA, John Smith in your data, for example).

What you gain with NCOA:

  • Reduce printing/mailing costs by reducing the number of UAA pieces
  • Ability to update your mailing list for future mailings
  • Reduce internal processes for handling returned UAA mailpieces
  • Speed delivery to mailboxes since USPS won’t need to reroute from an old address to a new address

To recap, you should always use CASS certification part of a process to qualify for presort postage discounts. Use of NCOA will reduce printing/mailing/handling costs associated with mailing to address which would result in UAA mail.

While you will probably not ever eliminate all Undeliverable as Addressed mail, managing the amount will reap rewards!

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