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AUGUST 2009

FRONT PAGE WHAT'S UP PCC BLOG. CLICK HERE.
KEEPING POSTED SPOTLIGHT ON SUCCESS INFO@USPS

FRONT PAGE

SHIP NOW, PAY LATER

USPS LAUNCHES PAYMENT OPTION FOR ONLINE SHIPPING

Customers can print shipping labels today and pay for postage later through the Bill Me Later payment option available at usps.com. Both consumers and businesses are able to take advantage of this service by applying online for an account and obtaining credit approval. For approved Postal Service customers, Bill Me Later will instantly authorize purchases online at checkout and then customers will receive regular monthly statements.

There are two options — Bill Me Later is designed for individual consumers and Bill Me Later Business is for businesses, allowing multiple users to access the same account for purchases and providing the ability to track business expenses by retailer.

Learn more about Bill Me Later at usps.com/clicknship. Choose Bill Me Later or Bill Me Later Business as the payment method at checkout, answer a few quick questions and accept the terms. Approval takes only a few seconds and there is no fee to sign up. All applicants are subject to credit approval by the lender.

FRESH INCENTIVE

FIRST CAME SUMMER SALE, NEXT COMES FALL EVENT

We know companies are feeling the pinch of the economic downturn. In an effort to help our valued business customers get through these challenging times, and for the first time ever, the Postal Service launched the Standard Mail Summer Sale. And now that summer is well under way, it's an excellent time to introduce our next big event.

The First-Class Mail Incentive will give eligible companies a 20 percent postage rebate on presorted letter, flat and card volumes that exceed a predetermined threshold. The incentive runs Oct. 1 through Dec. 31 this year. This is how the program works:

  • To be eligible for the incentive, a company must have mailed 500,000 or more non-parcel First-Class Mail presort pieces between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31 in both 2007 and 2008.
  • Companies interested in taking advantage of the incentive can register online after Aug. 21 at
    http://usps.com/firstclassmailincentive. The deadline for registration is Nov. 1, 2009.
  • Participants will be asked to provide documentation to verify their 2007 and 2008 monthly volumes for the period of Sept. 1 through Dec. 31, and January 2009. Some companies may need to work with their mail service provider to obtain accurate counts. The percentage increase or decrease calculated between 2007 and 2008 volumes will be applied to the company’s 2008 volume to establish the incentive threshold.
  • First-Class Mail presort volume above the threshold will qualify for a 20 percent postage rebate, which will be credited to the company’s trust account after the incentive ends and all qualifying volumes are reconciled.
  • A volume threshold also will be established for September 2009 and January 2010 using the same calculation as the incentive threshold. If a participating company’s First-Class Mail presort volume does not meet these thresholds, the difference will be deducted from the incentive rebate volume.

In accordance with the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, the First-Class Mail Incentive will undergo a 45-day review prior to implementation. Questions? Send an e-mail to firstclassmailincentive@usps.gov.

POTTER ON CAPITOL HILL

URGES RESTRUCTURING OF LEGISLATIVE, REGULATORY FRAMEWORK

In testimony before a Senate panel, Postmaster General John Potter stressed the need for fundamental restructuring of legislative and regulatory framework of the Postal Service. He said such changes are critical to future growth and depend on a commitment from all stakeholders.

Potter appeared Aug. 6 before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs subcommittee on federal services. He said “the issue is not in the mail,” rather, it is a weak economy coupled with changing mail patterns and the need to give the Postal Service the flexibility to operate in a changing economy.

Potter said the Postal Service supports efforts on Capitol Hill to approve of S. 1507, a bill he said “will provide immediate relief from a crushing prepayment schedule for retiree health benefits.” He noted the Postal Service supports the bill’s amendments, citing one that requires an arbitrator to consider the agency’s financial health in a binding arbitration settlement and another that accelerates the completion of a GAO report on our business model. “This will initiate a necessary and broader debate about the manner in which the Postal Service can continue to serve the American public,” he said, adding that mail was one of the most trusted services in America, as well as one of the most effective.

“Together, we must identify a new business model,” said Potter. "We must close the huge gap between our revenues and our costs."

WHAT'S UP

BRM: EXPANDED BARCODE PLACEMENT

Business Reply Mail (BRM) is available to mailers who want to grow their business and generate a better response rate from their customers. The Postal Service is implementing a more liberal barcode placement standard for mailers printing a barcode in the lower right corner of BRM pieces as well as automation letters and barcoded carrier route letters.

In response to requests from mailers, the Postal Service is revising the standards to increase the upper limit of the allowable vertical placement for a POSTNET or an Intelligent Mail barcode. This new standard provides an additional 1/16 inch of vertical clearance for mailers choosing to print a barcode in the lower right corner of these mailpieces.

Mailers preparing Courtesy Reply Mail or meter reply mail for enclosure within automation mailings may also place barcodes on these pieces in accordance with this new standard. The Postal Service on Aug. 3 revised the DMM and Quick Service Guide to reflect this new option.

SUBMIT YOUR PROPOSAL YET?

The deadline is nearing. If you're interested in being considered as a speaker at the next National Postal Forum, your proposal must be submitted by Aug. 21. The 2010 NPF is April 11-14 in Nashville, TN. According to feedback received from PCC members and other customers — and in spite of the gloomy economy — this year's Forum in Washington, DC, was rated one of the best in recent history. We're going to build on that success for the next NPF, and we're looking for mailing experts who can share their knowledge with others.

Visit the NPF website at npf.org and click on the box “Call for Papers” to submit your 2010 speaker proposal form. Every proposal will be reviewed and all submissions will receive responses by mid-October. And all speakers who are selected to present in Nashville receive a complimentary NPF registration.

INTELLIGENT MAIL OPTIONS

Increasing numbers of mailers are taking advantage of the Intelligent Mail Full Service option and receiving the benefits of Full-Service ACS. The Postal Service offers flexible options for distribution of this address correction information. It can be received by the mail owner or a third party as authorized by the mail owner. This valuable information helps mailers keep their address lists up to date, which can help increase ROI of mailings. If you're ready to test Full Service, contact the PostalOne! help desk at 800-522-9085.

Full-Service ACS is the topic of a Postal Service webinar on Aug. 21 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. ET. This webinar will describe the contents of the address correction information, how it is provisioned and the flexible data distribution options available. Check the Intelligent Mail calendar at ribbs.usps.gov for more details.

BEHIND THE LOGO

Is your PCC thinking of starting a new publication? Ready to put up some PCC banners at your next meeting? Launching a new website? Before you start designing your communication materials, be sure to check out the PCC graphic guidelines and templates at the National PCC website at usps.com/pcc. They’ve been developed to assist you in giving consistent direction to the outside suppliers with whom you work.

These online resources provide information on everything from use of Postal Service intellectual property and advertising to what colors and font to use for the familiar PCC logo. There are guidelines on how to modify or update a local PCC website using a template provided by the Postal Service. And you can find contact information for the Postal Service's Brand Equity and Design group.

No need to reinvent the wheel when everything you need to create communications that effectively reflect the PCC mission are only a click away.

Inside Scoop. National PCC Day is the premier fall mailing event. Find your local events at usps.com/pcc.

KEEPING POSTED

2009

  • National PCC Day is scheduled for Sept. 16 in New York City.

2010

  • National Postal Forum, April 11-14, Nashville, TN. For information, go to npf.org.

INFO@USPS

YOUR LINKS TO MAILING RESOURCES

U.S. Postal Service: usps.com
National PCC Network: usps.com/pcc
RIBBS: ribbs.usps.gov
Questions? Comments? Send an e-mail to pccinsider@usps.gov
Sign up for PCC Insider at usps.com/pcc, select “PCC Insider Registration”
Back issues: PCC Insider online archive

SPOTLIGHT ON SUCCESS

CERTAIN BANKS ARE RAMPING UP MAIL VOLUMES

Editor’s note: The following article, posted Aug. 6 in MediaPost’s Marketing Daily, notes an increase in credit card offers through the mail, which reporter Tanya Irwin says could indicate the economic recovery is here.

Perhaps a sign that the economic doom is lifting, U.S. households are starting to receive more credit card offers from certain banks. Card mailers that ramped up their mail volumes in the second quarter this year included Bank of America (77 percent more than the first quarter) and Citibank (up 65 percent), according to Synovate's Mail Monitor, a credit card direct mail tracking service.

Overall, 349.1 million credit card offers were extended during the quarter — a 67 percent drop from the 1.06 billion offers received during the same quarter of 2008, but only a 6 percent drop from the 372.4 million offers received during the first quarter of this year.

“We are seeing mailed credit card offers bottoming out and anticipate that there will be an uptick next year,” says Anuj Shahani, director of competitive tracking services for Synovate's financial services group. “Apart from those issuers that increased their mail volumes this quarter, we are seeing almost all issuers either mail somewhat less or somewhat higher, albeit from extremely depressed levels. This is giving credence to the now universal mantra: Less bad is the new good.”

For starters, issuers are no longer risk-averse. “While the economy starts getting back on its feet, issuers are getting creative and tweaking their product mixes to adapt to the new regulated environment,” Shahani says. “We saw certain types of card offers resurface this past quarter, showing that issuers are starting those jammed credit engines once again.”

Every single offer mailed during the second quarter had a variable APR associated with it, compared to 60 percent of the offers in the same period a year ago. As the Federal Reserve Board eventually moves away from quantitative easing, (when the central bank floods the market with cash to help stimulate the economy) and starts increasing the rates, it will have zero impact on the issuers, Shahani says.

“Issuers are capitalizing on the lowest levels in the prime rate and have locked in an average of more than 8 percent of every dollar in new debt that they can attract on their credit card,” Shahani says. “This huge margin may be instrumental in causing the issuers to push the credit gas pedal again.”

While there may be more offers arriving, banks are being pickier about who they close the deal with. Applicants are being asked to jump through more hoops to get credit, such as sending copies of their pay stubs or bank account statements. And those who are approved are facing higher rates and fees and smaller credit lines.

The recently passed Credit Card Act of 2009 is forcing the industry to limit fluctuating interest rates, and bans some controversial practices. Banks have until February to comply with the act's key provisions, although some new requirements have earlier deadlines. Beginning this month, issuers have to mail bills at least 21 days before the due date and provide at least 45 days' notice before changing any significant terms on a card.

Reprinted with permission from mediapost.com.

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