Posts Tagged Standard

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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A Day in the Life of the U.S. Postal Service

A Day in the Life of the U.S. Postal Service

Mail bins

Each day, the Postal Service picks up, processes and delivers millions of letters and packages. No single operation in the world comes close to this level of connectivity to so many households and businesses. Here’s just ONE day in the life of the United States Postal Service (figures are averages):

215 million — revenue received, in dollars
157 million — dollars paid to postal employees in salaries and benefits
528 million — number of mailpieces processed and delivered
22 million — average number of mailpieces processed each hour
366,000 —average number of mailpieces processed each minute
6,100 — average number of mailpieces processed each second
226.7 million — pieces of First-Class Mail processed and delivered
262.4 million — pieces of Advertising Mail processed and delivered
727,167 —number of packages picked up through Package Pickup
4.3 million — number of miles driven by letter carriers and truck drivers
7,753 — number of letter carriers who deliver mail entirely on foot — The USPS Fleet of Feet
130,592 — number of address changes processed
2,160 — number of addresses added to our delivery network
1 million – number of peple who visit
809,210 — dollar amount of online stamp and retail sales at
1.6 million — amount of money spent on postage for Click-N-Ship labels
44.1 million — number of Click-N-Ship labels printed
18,750 — number of passport applications accepted
358,553 — number of money orders issued
1.6 million — dollars spent at Self-Service Kiosks in Post Office lobbies
3.2 million — customers served at more the 31,000 retail locations
0 — tax dollars received for operating the Postal Service

A self-supporting government enterprise, the U.S. Postal Service is the only delivery service that reaches every address in the nation: 152 million residences, businesses and Post Office Boxes. The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses, and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations. With more than 31,000 retail locations and the most frequently visited website in the federal government,, the Postal Service has annual revenue of more than $65 billion and delivers nearly 40 percent of the world’s mail. If it were a private sector company, the U.S. Postal Service would rank 42nd in the 2012 Fortune 500.

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USPS |Flats and Flexibility

Flats and Flexibility – or How My CD was Broken*


Flats must meet current USPS flexibility and deflection tests to qualify for automation flats postage rates.  Instructions below:

All flats (see Exhibit 1.3a):

  1. Place the piece with the length parallel to the edge of a flat surface and extend the piece halfway off the surface.
  2. Press down on the piece at a point 1 inch from the outer edge, in the center of the piece’s length, exerting steady pressure.
  3. The piece is not flexible if it cannot bend at least 1 inch vertically without being damaged.
  4. The piece is flexible if it can bend at least 1 inch vertically without being damaged and it does not contain a rigid insert. No further testing is necessary.
  5. Test the piece according to 1.3b. or 1.3c. below if it can bend at least 1 inch vertically without being damaged and it contains a rigid insert.

Exhibit 1.3a Flexibility Test—All Flats

b. Flats 10 inches or longer that pass the test in 1.3a. and contain a rigid insert (see Exhibit 1.3b):

  1. Place the piece with the length perpendicular to the edge of a flat surface and extend the piece 5 inches off the surface.
  2. Press down on the piece at a point 1 inch from the outer edge, in the center of the piece’s width, exerting steady pressure.
  3. Turn the piece around and repeat steps 1 and 2. The piece is flexible if both ends can bend at least 2 inches vertically without being damaged.

Exhibit 1.3b Flexibility Test—Flats 10 Inches or Longer

c. Flats less than 10 inches long that pass the test in 1.3a. and contain a rigid insert ( see Exhibit 1.3c):

  1. Place the piece with the length perpendicular to the edge of a flat surface and extend the piece one-half of its length off the surface.
  2. Press down on the piece at a point 1 inch from the outer edge, in the center of the piece’s width, exerting steady pressure.
  3. Turn the piece around and repeat steps 1 and 2. The piece is flexible if both ends can bend at least 1 inch vertically without being damaged.

Exhibit 1.3c Flexibility Test—Flats Less Than 10 Inches Long

Uniform Thickness

Flat-size mailpieces must be uniformly thick so that any bumps, protrusions, or other irregularities do not cause more than 1/4-inch variance in thickness. When determining thickness, exclude the outside edges (1 inch from each edge) when the contents do not extend into those edges. Mailers must secure nonpaper contents (such as pens, keys or coins) to prevent shifting of more than 2 inches within the mailpiece if shifting would cause the piece to be nonuniformly thick or result in the contents bursting out of the mailpiece.


Maximum weight for First Class is 13 ounces.

Standard mail must weight less than 16 ounces.

These are the basic rules of flats and determining flexibility.  You should always consult with your local post office (especially the good folks in the Business Mail Acceptance department) to ensure your mailpiece meets all current standards.

*And by the way, if you really want to mail Mom your latest mix CD, there are special envelopes available at most big box office supply stores.

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USPS Mail Delivery Estimating Tool

How Long Does It Take To Deliver My Mail?

Many times our customers ask us how long it will take for their mail to be delivered. USPS provides a neat little tool just for this purpose.

Using the tool is pretty simple. In the upper left corner select the mail class – First Class or Standard. Select the mail origination from the drop down menu and click “Display Map”.

There is a color coded map of the United States and the estimated time for mail to be delivered. Here is an example of First Class mail originating from Kansas City, MO with the ZIP code beginning 641:


These delivery times are typically best case scenarios – they are to be used for estimates only. It is safe to use this as a general rule of thumb but in no way is it a promise of a delivery time.

As always, if you have any questions about how Strahm handles your mail or need help determining a general mail delivery time, please contact one of our helpful Customer Service Representatives at

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USPS | Changing the Way You Mail with Presort Services

Presort Services: Changing the Way You Mail

mailworksWith new services and programs offered by the USPS, not to mention changing mail characteristics, have you changed the way you think about your outgoing mail?

Engaging with a Presort Service provider allows companies to take advantage of postal discounts. Discounts are achieved when many pieces are sorted to the same 5-digt ZIP Code. By commingling your outgoing mail with mail from other companies, Presort Service providers are able to maximize postage discounts and pass that savings along to you.

The number of organizations choosing to partner with Presort Service providers has grown over the past several years. The driving factors include security, control and economics.

Presort Services have made large investments in new technology – both equipment and software. Providers have been working closely with the USPS and mailers to improve workflows and standards. While this has forced many smaller shops to close their doors, larger more robust service providers have been thriving.

Here are a few questions you may want to ask a potential service provider:

  • How many pieces of mail do they process daily/weekly/monthly? Is this primarily local or national mail? (This information may help determine your postage rate.)
  • Do they process First Class, Standard and Non-Profit Mail?
  • Do they process letters and flats?
  • How secure is their facility, including the dock area?
  • Do they provide pick up service? Is there a fee for this service?
  • Will they also meter mail for you? Will they agree to serve as a backup should your own meters be out of operation?
  • Are they up-to-date with Intelligent Mail barcode? This will be mandatory beginning January 2013.
  • Are employees background checked?
  • Is there an on-site USPS postal verifier?
  • Does USPS pick up from their dock? Or do they deliver to the nearest postal sorting facility?

Take a few minutes and think of the ways a Presort Service provider could benefit your organization. Cost savings, improved workflows, and security of your mail are just a few of the advantages these vendors bring to your company.

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USPS Update: New Service Standards

USPS Network Rationalization Phases

The Postal Service is moving ahead with the rationalization of its network. The implementation will be executed by modifying service standards in two phases. The first phase will begin July 1, 2012, and the second phase will start on February 1, 2014. Should changes in circumstances warrant, this phased approach will allow the Postal Service to reconsider implementation of the second phase.

When planning your mailing program, how often do you ask “How long will it take my mailpiece to hit the recipient’s mailbox?” 

You must make a choice whether to mail First Class or Standard. Of course, there are rules and limitations to what material can be mailed for either class so that will be a factor in driving your decision.

First Class Mail – any mailable matter can be sent as First Class Mail. Below are types of mail that must be sent as First Class mail.

  • All matter wholly or partly in writing or typewriting
  • All actual and personal correspondence
  • All bills and statements of account
  • All matter sealed or otherwise closed against inspection

Standard Mail – includes the subclasses of regular Standard Mail, Nonprofit Standard Mail, Carrier Route Standard Mail and Nonprofit Carrier Route Standard Mail.

  • Circulars
  • Pamphlets
  • Catalogs
  • Newsletters
  • Direct Mail
  • Merchandise

Let’s say your mail piece is informational in nature and contains no confidential data. You could either mail it First Class or Standard Mail. Let’s go further and say that there is dated information (perhaps an invitation to an event or notice of road construction). Now your mail class decision lies in deliverability.

Taking advantage of the lower postage rates for Standard Mail is a great idea if you plan well enough in advance to account for the slower delivery service standard.

The USPS RIBBS website (Rapid Information Bulletin Board – always good information here, folks!) just published Service Standards Maps for all classes of mail at all points of entry.

These are the new Service Standards effective July 1, 2012 (the beginning of Phase 1 of the USPS network rationalization).

It’s easy to use – simply choose your class of mail and your SCF area (first three digits of your ZIP code) and away you go.

Below are examples generated for my SCF area of 641

First ClassStandard Mail

Plan ahead, review your Service Standards and save a few dollars of your marketing budget!

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