It is February 2013 and time for a look at changes you’ll be making to move your customer’s mail from where it is to where your customers want it to be. Besides the annual postage rate increase, there are new standards for mail processing to qualify for automation-based postage rates, new postage discount programs, and some odds and ends of interest.
The annual USPS postage rate increase took effect on January 27, 2013. Overall, the rate increases average two to three percent, consistent with the Consumer Price Index. To help your customers with budgeting for 2013, report the average percentage increases for the mail categories they use most.
- • Single piece letters, cards and flats: For single-piece mail, the price for a first class stamp for letters weighing up to one ounce rose from 45-cents to 46-cents, or about 2.3 percent. For cards, the increase is from 32-cents to 33-cents (about 3.1 percent) For flats, the increase for the first ounce is from 90-cents to 92-cents, or about 2.2 percent.
- • Presorted first class letter, cards, and flats: The increase for presorted letters weighing up to one ounce and for cards rose by about 2.5 percent; flats by about 2.7 percent.
- • Standard mail letters and flats: Standard mail letters up to three ounces increased by about 2.7 percent and flats by about 2.6 percent. Periodicals mail rose by about 2.5 percent, with non-profit periodicals continuing to receive a five percent discount.
- • Standard mail high-density/saturation: High-density/saturation rates for standard mail letters up to three ounces increased by about 2.2 percent, while high density/saturation flats increased by about 2.3 percent.
- • EDDM: The lowest EDDM rate (for DDU entry) increased from 14.5 cents to 14.9 cents (about 2.3 percent).
The new rates can be viewed at the Postal Explorer website (http://pe.usps.com/) or as a PDF of Notice 123 (the ratefold): http://pe.usps.com/cpim/ftp/manuals/dmm300/notice123.pdf.
Intelligent Mail Barcode
Mailers got a respite in 2011 when the USPS changed the Intelligent Mail barcode (IMb) implementation date from May 2011 to January 2012, but now it is upon us. Effective January 28, the POSTNET barcode was replaced by the IMb to qualify for automation-based postage discounts. Use of the IMb gives the USPS more flexibility in sorting mail and enables tracking as mail moves through the mail processing system. Eventually IMb will provide door-to-door tracking, though not in this first implementation.
Here are a few tips to help the transition to IMb:
- • IMb requires more space than POSTNET. When designing a mail piece, remember that IMb is taller than POSTNET and may require more space on the address panel. This is especially important for mailings that use window envelopes. Mailers may have to use a 1.25-inch window opening rather than the standard one-inch, depending on how many lines are in the outbound address.
- • IMb is now required on all reply mail. As your customer’s business reply cards and letters come up for reprint, you will need to use the IMb in place of the POSTNET barcode. This means your customer will need a Mailer ID (MID), which can be obtained from the Business Customer gateway at https://gateway.usps.com/bcg/login.htm. Then ask your Mailpiece Design Analyst (MDA) to provide artwork that includes the IMb.
- • Full service IMb will be required in January 2014. During 2013, mailers can use IMb basic service and still qualify for automation discounts. But in January 2014, mailers will be required to upgrade to full service IMb to keep the automation discounts. Among other things, this will require submitting Mail.dat files for mailings over 10,000 pieces and assigning unique barcode numbers to each mail piece. Mailers who intend to maintain qualification for automation-based discounts should begin now to prepare for the shift to full service IMb.