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Mar 1, 2011 12:00 AM

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On January 13, 2011, the United States Postal Service (USPS) notified the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) of its intent to change prices for Mailing Services products, which includes First-Class Mail (FCM), Standard Mail, Periodicals, Package Services and Extra Services. Upon PRC approval, the new prices will take effect on April 17, 2011. New pricing for Shipping Services, including Priority Mail and Express Mail, took effect this January.

It's been almost two years since the USPS increased prices for Mailing Services products. Price increases for Mailing Services are limited to a price ceiling or cap, i.e., the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which for this proposed increase is 1.7%. Actual percentage price increases for products and services vary. In addition to price increases, the USPS has proposed some interesting changes, especially to that of FCM parcels.

A quick overview follows — for complete details, see the proposed prices on Postal Explorer: The Federal Register regarding Mailing Services can be accessed here:

Highlights of the USPS proposed price increases:

  • Additional ounce could result in FCM ‘ouch’:

    The overall FCM proposed increase is 1.741%. Mostly due to the increase in the additional ounce price for single-piece letters and flats from 17 to 20 cents, FCM flats might increase 5.3%. The additional ounce price for retail parcels, as well as commercial letters, flats or parcels, remains unchanged. A one-ounce single letter will remain 44 cents.

  • Flat is definitely where it's at:

    The overall increase to Standard Mail is 1.739%; however Standard Mail parcels and Not Flat-Machinables (NFM) might increase 11.3%. Because postage for flat-size mailpieces is significantly lower than that of NFMs and parcels, mailers might want to redesign mailpieces, where at all possible, to mitigate postage costs. Commercial flats must measure

    no greater than 12 × 15 × ¾ inches; be rectangular, uniform in thickness and flexible; and meet deflection criteria.

  • Two key changes for FCM parcels:

    Today, FCM pieces are charged per ounce or fraction thereof. Under the proposal, the first three ounces in each FCM parcel pricing category will be a single price cell and the additional ounce price of 17 cents would apply thereafter.

    New price categories: Currently, there are two price categories for FCM parcels, Retail and Commercial. Single FCM parcels pay retail prices. Mailers meeting preparation and volume requirements might qualify for commercial (discounted) prices. The new categories for FCM parcels are Commercial Base and Commercial Plus. Mailers using approved postage methods and meeting certain criteria may pay significantly less postage than that of retail pricing. To that end, when mailpieces cannot meet the criteria for the lower flat-size pricing, these new FCM parcel categories present a great cost-saving opportunity.

Read all about it

The overall increase to Periodicals is 1.741% and to Package Services is 1.740%.

POSTNET discount extension

The Postal Service announced that automation discounts for mail with POSTNET barcodes will continue to be offered beyond May 2011 which had been the “due date” for use of only the Intelligent Mail barcode to qualify for automation-price mailings. But don't procrastinate when it comes to IMb planning and implementation!

Elizabeth Lombard, CMDSM, CMDSS, MDP, MDC, EMCM, is national postal-carrier manager for Pitney Bowes. Contact her via