Kudos, an open letter (and a warning) to the USPS Postmaster General (spread this around)

Over the years I’ve been super vocal about my dislike for the U.S. Postal Service and its less-than-forward-thinking bureaucracy. When it slammed direct marketers with a 20 percent postal increase back in 2007, I went (pun intended) postal on it in my Catalog Success Magazine Column.

Earlier this year after it announced its summer postage sale, I was optimistic. But once I looked at the fine print (i.e., how much you had to mail to qualify), I was critical then, too.

I try to be fair in the offering of my opinions.

Therefore, I have to applaud the USPS for its announcement last week that there would not be a postal rate increase in 2010 for dominant classes.

For those of you not aware yet, last week the Postmaster General sent out a memo announcing no 2010 rate increase, which has spread around the internet faster than a scandalous YouTube video goes viral. That memo can be reviewed here.

I know, I know: Postal rates are already ridiculously and restrictively high, but at least mailers can build their 2010 mail plans without having to cut circ from marginal lists and housefile segments.

But along with my kudos to our Postmaster and the USPS, I also want to put them on notice.  Here goes:

Dear Mr. Postmaster General,
You’ve started a trend here. Between the postal summer sale and now this offer to keep postal rates stable in 2010, catalog and direct mailers believe that you may actually be interested in working to our benefit. We look forward to the next postal sale, and hope that the USPS opens it up to smaller mailers to take advantage of. We truly hope that you’ll continue to stop thinking like a bureaucracy and encourage more mail volume with innovative special offers and such.

But we’re also wary. Direct marketers are wary because the USPS holds a great deal of power and leverage over us. The last substantial postal rate increase nearly put us under with rate increases of 20 percent-plus. What was the USPS thinking? That move single-handedly drove more and more mailers into the online world. If we were to do the math, we believe the increase in postage actually caused your revenues to go down due to less mail in the mailstream.

Remember this Mr. Postmaster General: Every penny more it costs us to mail means we need to generate about two cents more per catalog and direct mail piece mailed just to breakeven. In this economy, we need every opportunity we can get to mail profitably. We’re struggling to stay alive and keep our workers employed and our customers satisfied.

Keep up the good work, Mr. Postmaster. Please continue this trend.

The Direct Mail Industry

As to you, my loyal readers, I encourage you to send your letters to the Postmaster General (or just copy mine and send it). Make your voice heard! Remember, the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

Reach the Postmaster General at the following:

The Honorable John E. Potter
Postmaster General

U.S. Postal Service

475 L’Enfant Plaza, SW

Washington, DC 20260-0010

Email: pmgceo@usps.gov

Speak to you next week, when I’ll discuss a tactic to help you reduce mail costs by doing a specific suppression on your housefile and list rentals.

Orignally published in All About ROI (formerly Catalog Success) Magazine.

11 thoughts on “Kudos, an open letter (and a warning) to the USPS Postmaster General (spread this around)

  1. Scott Cheffer says:

    This is a great piece of information. I will send my own letter. Maybe the USPS could get some economic stimulus money to keep rates low for a while. It seems to be working for homeowners.

  2. Dave says:

    I’s just as soon NOT find “Direct” mail catalogues, other un-solicated JUNK mail filling my P.O. Box. thanks for removing me from your list and saving you money.

    • Jim Gilbert says:

      David, if you don’t want to receive direct mail, there are four quick ways to do so.

      1. Contact the companies who’s catalogs and direct mail you receive and ask to be removed from their lists

      2. Contact the direct marketing associations’s mail preference service. https://www.dmachoice.org/

      3. Also contact catalog choice: http://www.catalogchoice.org/ to remove yourself from catalog mailing lists

      4. And to remove yourself from credit driven mail offers go to: https://www.optoutprescreen.com/?rf=t

      As an industry direct mailers strive to mail only to people receptive to their offerings. I encourage you, if you don’t want to receive direct mail, to use the above services.

      Jim Gilbert

      • Hazel says:

        I use a much simpler & more expedent method than wasting my time calling, writing, contacting the DMA, etc.

        Every time my partner or I get a piece of junk mail (sorry, guys, but that’s what it is — junk), I file a good ol’ PS1500. Of the dozens filed to date, only one company has defied the prohibitory order issued by the USPS, and I immediately filed a violation report. End of *that* story.

        Effective? You bet your sweet attitude it is. Since the first of July, 2090, my partner and I have received a total of five catalogs (two of which we requested) and a whooping twenty-one other pieces of junk mail. Any guesses as to how many PS1500s I’ve filed during that time period?

        Yeah, I know, Jim — I’m a hater, but I wear my “hate” as a badge of honor & a crown of glory.

        • Jim Gilbert says:

          You are right Hazel. You are a hater. I remember your last comments and only put this comment up as I think it really makes a nice clean point that your anger is misdirected.

          BTW, ever stop to think how much power your computer, and the internet that fuels your hate consumes? Add all that up and it dwarfs the direct mail business.


    • Steve says:

      Dave – simply recycle them – you have to realize that it is the direct mailers that actually subsidize your own postage – without their support our own mailing costs for letters to our families and packages sent at the holidays would be extremely expensive and I would not even venture to guess how much. Futhermore, the USPS employs a large workforce which also contributes to our economy. I am critical of how the USPS spends money and I certainly think there is to much bureaucracy that needs to be addressed – no pun intended –
      Keep the larger picture in mind –

  3. Lisa Bickford says:

    Just wanted to put in my 2 cents worth – I took a tour of the Mpls post office last year and it was a remarkably well run operation. The technology and managment techniques they employed were what we all strive for. I think they are doing a great job.

  4. Jim Gilbert says:

    Someone told me the other day that even if the Postmaster says NO increase, the Postal Rate Commission can still push one through. Can you confirm this anyone?

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