POSTAL SERVICE ENDS 2009 WITH $3.8 BILLION LOSS
2010 FINANCIAL PLAN PREDICTS MORE LOSSES NEXT YEAR
The Postal Service yesterday filed its 2009 fiscal year-end financial results, showing a net loss of $3.8 billion for the year — despite cost-cutting efforts resulting in $6 billion in cost savings and a $4 billion reduction in required payments for retiree health benefits. Cost savings reflect a reduction of 40,000 career USPS employees as well as reductions in overtime hours, transportation and other costs. The $4 billion reduction in required retiree health benefit payments was passed into law for fiscal 2009 to allow USPS to maintain fiscal solvency while continuing to provide universal, affordable service to the nation.
Details of 2009 results include:
Operating revenue of $68.1 billion, compared to $74.9 billion in 2008;
- Operating expenses of $71.8 billion, compared to $77.7 billion in 2008;
- Net loss of $3.8 billion, compared to $2.8 billion in 2008; and
- Total mail volume of 177.1 billion pieces, compared to 202.7 billion pieces in 2008, a decline of more than 25 billion pieces, or 12.7 percent.
“Our 2009 fiscal year proved to be one of the most challenging in the history of the Postal Service,” said Chief Financial Officer Joseph Corbett. “The deep economic recession, and to a lesser extent the ongoing migration of mail to electronic alternatives, significantly affected all mail products, creating a large imbalance between revenues and costs.”
Corbett said that USPS responded aggressively to unprecedented mail volume declines and the ongoing recession. “We undertook comprehensive cost-cutting measures across all areas of the organization,” he said. “Most notably, we reduced work hours by 115 million, or the equivalent of 65,000 full-time employees — a larger number than the entire workforce at more than 80 percent of Fortune 500 companies today.”
The Postal Service will file its 2010 Integrated Financial Plan later this week, outlining plans and goals for the coming year. While further revenue losses and mail volume declines are expected, Postmaster General John Potter said USPS will continue to move aggressively to meet the challenges posed by the current economic downturn.
The 2010 plan, which estimates a revenue decline of $2.2 billion, a net loss of $7.8 billion, cost reductions of more than $3.5 billion and a reduction in mail volume of 11 billion pieces for the year, is based on the assumption that there will be no change in the number of delivery days per week, and no change in the current retiree health benefits payment schedule.
“We’re grateful to Congress and the Administration for the necessary 2009 adjustment to our retiree health payment,” said Potter. “This was a welcome and much-needed change to assure that the Postal Service was able to meet all of its obligations at the end of the fiscal year and over the course of 2010.” Potter stated, however, that the Postal Service faces “a sobering reality” of the same problem in 2010 and every year in the near future. “As volume contracts and we struggle to match the costs of an expanding delivery network with revenues received, it’s clear that long-term success requires fundamental, legislative change,” he said.
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2010 SHIPPING PRICES
USPS INTRODUCES PRIORITY MAIL INNOVATIONS
When new prices for Postal Service shipping services take effect Jan. 4, customers can take advantage of several Priority Mail innovations. These include:
- Cubic volume-based pricing for large commercial Priority Mail shippers.
- A decrease in the domestic Priority Mail Flat Rate Envelope retail price.
- A new Priority Mail Flat Rate padded envelope for Commercial Plus shippers.
In addition, the domestic Priority Mail Small Flat Rate Box retail price will remain at $4.95, the Priority Mail Large Flat Rate Box shipped to APO/FPO/DPO addresses still will be priced $2 below the retail price, and the Commercial Plus Express Mail Flat Rate Envelope price will remain at $14.96.
Remember that prices for First-Class Mail, Standard Mail, Parcel Post and other mailing services products will not change.
A complete listing of the 2010 shipping services prices is available at Postal Explorer at http://pe.usps.com under the “Jan. 2010 Price Change” link.
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PROCESSING HARD-COPY POSTAGE STATEMENTS
CHANGES AHEAD WILL SPEED AND IMPROVE SERVICE
As part of ongoing efforts to improve customer service and increase efficiency, the Postal Service will streamline Business Mail Acceptance processing of hard-copy postage statements.
Starting March 15, when a customer brings in a hard-copy postage statement to accompany a mailing, the Postal Service will no longer fill out the USPS section of the form nor round-stamp the document. To obtain a receipt, mailers are encouraged to visit the Business Customer Gateway at usps.com to access PostalOne!, the system of record. This procedural change will speed and improve service and reduce the amount of paper generated.
Upon request, a customer may obtain a hard copy receipt of the postage statement or Statement of Mailing/ Weighing and Dispatch Certificate, PS Form 3607, after acceptance and verification are completed. In the upcoming March 15 release of PostalOne!, the Weighing and Dispatch Certificate, PS Form 3607, currently used as a mailing transaction receipt, will be revised and renamed Mailing Transaction Receipt, PS Form 3607-R.
The verification and resolution process will not change. Mailers will be notified of any issues, as they are today.
Mailers are encouraged to go online to view their mailing activities and retrieve processed postage statements. In lieu of hard-copy postage statements, mailers are encouraged to use the electronic options available for submitting postage statements: Postal Wizard, Mail.dat, Mail.XML or the eVS file format.
For questions regarding the Business Customer Gateway or accessing postage statements, contact the PostalOne! help desk at 800-522-9085 or e-mail email@example.com.
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SATISFACTION SCORE REACHES FOUR-YEAR HIGH
NEW CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE MEASUREMENT SYSTEM DEBUTS FOR 2010
Despite continuing economic challenges, the Postal Service continues to deliver high levels of service, with 94 percent of customers surveyed rating USPS as “excellent, very good or good” in the period July 1 to Sept. 30.
“Customer service and satisfaction are always our priorities,” said Postmaster General John Potter. “The Postal Service remains focused on its mission to provide universal, affordable service to all Americans.” Potter said he is pleased with the 94 percent rating — the highest in four years — and USPS will build on the achievement to reach even higher levels. Prior to the 94 percent rating, USPS received a 93 percent rating of “excellent, very good or good” for five consecutive quarters.
“We will continue to improve service,” Potter pledged. “In fact, we have implemented an even more demanding service measurement system that will allow us to see more easily where we need to focus improvement efforts,” he said.
USPS is implementing the new Customer Experience Measurement (CEM) program, effective with the start of fiscal year 2010, replacing the Customer Satisfaction Measurement program that has been in place since 1991.
CEM is designed to evaluate the total customer experience, from the buying process through service quality. Insights and information from the new measurement system will allow the Postal Service to pinpoint areas of improvement as well as better adjust to changing customer needs. The new system will allow USPS to collect and analyze data from customer surveys and other sources for a more detailed view of customer feedback.
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DEFINING FOLDED SELF-MAILERS
INDUSTRY FEEDBACK HELPS ENHANCE MAILING STANDARDS
In collaboration with the Mailers’ Technical Advisory Committee and several mailer associations, the Postal Service initiated a study of letter-sized folded self-mailers. Many mail owners, printers and preparers provided samples of mailpieces using current formats for testing, and some customers submitted samples with new innovative designs.
Testing has concluded, and now the analysis process is under way. Given the extent of the samples submitted, analysis will take a little time to reconcile.
While there is no definite timeline, the Postal Service plans to communicate an overview of the test findings by the end of this year. After informal comments and suggestions are received from study participants, the Postal Service will seek broader industry feedback as it develops new folded self-mailer standards.
The Federal Register process gives mailers the opportunity to comment on mailing standard revisions. Now, with the additional round of feedback built in up front, there will be two rounds of industry feedback. This collaborative process is likely to extend into calendar year 2010.
Be sure to look for additional information on the self-mailer study in the coming months.
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INTELLIGENT MAIL SERVICES
GETTING A MAILER ID IS THE FIRST STEP
Are you thinking about joining the more than 200 other mailers participating in Intelligent Mail services? Whether you sign up for the Basic or Full-Service option, you’ll need a Mailer ID (MID) to get started.
A MID is a numeric value represented within the Intelligent Mail barcode that’s used to identify the Mail Owner or Mailing Agent. It’s required in all Intelligent Mail barcodes, including Intelligent Mail container barcodes, Intelligent Mail tray barcodes and Intelligent Mail barcodes on mailpieces and in Full-Service electronic documentation. The MID along with a serial number is designed to uniquely identify the mailpieces for 45 days for Full-Service mailings.
MIDs are a six-or nine-digit numeric code assigned to a mailer based on annual mail volume as verified by USPS. Since six-digit MIDs provide mailers greater data capacity within the serial number field than nine-digit MIDs, a six-digit MID is usually issued to mailers with annual volume of 10 million or more mailpieces, with a maximum of five six-digit MIDs issued to the mailer for 50 million verified mailpieces or more. An initial nine-digit MID can be issued to a mailer with no verified volume. Additional nine-digit MIDs can be issued for each additional 1 million mailpieces in verified volume, with a maximum of nine nine-digit MIDs.
MIDs are sometimes confused with Customer Registration IDs — or CRIDs. These are numeric identifiers created by the Postal Service customer registration system to uniquely identify a USPS customer at a particular location. CRIDs connect a company’s information at a physical address across USPS applications. CRIDs allow USPS customers to view online information through the Business Customer Gateway. A customer with one facility will have a single CRID. A customer with five different facilities will have five different CRIDs, one per location. Unlike MIDs, CRIDs are not part of the Intelligent Mail barcode.
MIDs and CRIDs are assigned through the Business Customer Gateway at usps.com. New MIDs assigned through the Business Customer Gateway will automatically receive a default Full-Service ACS designation. Mailers may use their MIDs for OneCode ACS or OneCode Confirm, but must contact those application customer service centers to sign up and activate these services. If a mailer wants to use traditional ACS, they must also contact the National Customer Service Center in Memphis. Mailers cannot use the same MID for traditional ACS that is used for Full-Service or OneCode ACS. Questions? Call 800-522-9085 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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HOLIDAY SHIPPING SOLUTION
Everybody’s looking for value this holiday season, and the Postal Service offers retail ground shipping solutions that can help make the season brighter — and lighter on the pocketbook. Parcel Post is the workhorse of the Postal Service. For heavier packages that have to go longer distances, Parcel Post is the best value for your shipping dollar, featuring:
- Delivery to every U.S. address and PO Box, and military addresses.
- Two- to eight-day delivery standard (except Alaska and Hawaii) for small to large packages weighing up to 70 pounds and 130 inches in length and girth combined (all other mail categories allow for 108 inches in length and girth combined).
- Insurance and tracking available for an additional fee.
- Prices, based on weight and distance, start as low as $4.90 for a 1-pound package.
For more information on retail ground shipping prices, go to usps.com/prices.
GREETINGS AND SALUTATIONS
Busy consumers now can buy, address and mail a greeting card while conducting other Postal Service business. The Postal Service is testing a limited line of greeting cards in about 500 Post Offices. An additional 1,000 locations will begin offering cards after the first of the year.
RIBBS NEW FEATURES
Two new tools have been added to enhance the RIBBS website at http://ribbs.usps.gov. E-mail subscription will provide you with automatic e-mail notifications when pages posted on RIBBS are updated. You can subscribe to one or more page notifications. And a new search feature has been added so you can search for words or phrases within the RIBBS website.
USPS.COM GOES MOBILE
It’s a Post Office on your phone. Some of the most popular functions currently available on usps.com are now available on cell phones and other Web-enabled mobile devices. This includes Track and Confirm, Post Office locator and the popular ZIP Code lookup. The Postal Service also is designing applications for “smartphones” and other mobile devices like the Apple iPhone, BlackBerry and iPod Touch that take advantage of additional capabilities, such as GPS.
With the holiday season approaching, it’s a good time to review PCC guidelines for charitable endeavors. All PCCs should refer to the most recent PCC Management Insights posted on the PCC Operations page at http://www.usps.com/nationalpcc/resources.htm. Revisiting this information should provide your PCC with the assurance that your holiday season activities follow the guidelines.
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- Direct mail webinar, Mailing List, the Key to Better Response, Nov. 18. Go to: https:www2.gotomeeting.com/register/858339994, to reserve a seat.
- National Postal Forum, April 11-14, Nashville, TN. For information, go to npf.org.
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YOUR LINKS TO MAILING RESOURCES
U.S. Postal Service: usps.com
National PCC Network: usps.com/pcc
Questions? Comments? Send an e-mail to email@example.com
Sign up for PCC Insider at usps.com/pcc, select “PCC Insider Registration”
Back issues: PCC Insider online archive
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CENTRAL MISSOURI PCC DEBUTS ITS PCC UNIVERSITY
|Jim Williams, manager of Business Mail Entry for the Postal Service’s Gateway District, speaks at Central Missouri PCC’s Fall Mailers’ Conference.
For the Central Missouri PCC, mailer education doesn’t stop with earning Executive Mail Center Manager or Mail Design Professional certificates. The council has launched its own “PCC University” to provide continuing education to its members.
“We are hoping this program will not only help build membership but increase participation in educational opportunities,” says Industry Co-chair Cathy Rupard, who announced the new program at the PCC’s annual Fall Mailers’ Conference.
Rupard says members who aren’t interested in following a specific track to earn a certain certificate can find value in the courses offered. Members will get “credits” for attending educational events sponsored by the PCC or through the National Postal Forum.
St. Louis County Collector of Revenue Tim Lee, a longtime executive board member, says it’s a “great way to promote PCC education and keep members active and engaged.” He says participants will be able to show their companies that they are improving their skills and learning more to help their company improve its bottom line.
“The program promotes active participation in the PCC, and gets participants involved in leadership roles,” says Lee.
There already has been increased attendance at PCC education sessions, says Jim Williams, manager of Business Mail Entry for the Postal Service’s Gateway District. BME employees had been delivering mailer education programs but “we are now able to draw on a wide range of qualified teachers from various mailing industry sources to offer even more educational opportunities to PCC members.”
Williams says this program also will strengthen relationships between the four PCCs in the Gateway District as they work together to provide more formal training opportunities to members.
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