• on Sep 26th, 2013 in Pricing & Rates | 9 comments

    The U.S. Postal Service’s governing body, the Board of Governors, voted this week to request permission to raise postage prices above the inflation-based price cap to generate $2 billion in revenue in 2014. It is asking the regulator, the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC), to allow the Postal Service to raise the price of a stamp by 3 cents (to 49 cents), which is 2 cents more than the annual inflationary increase. Prices on other single-piece and commercial mail products would also increase. This request is known as an “exigent” price increase because it will exceed the statutorily mandated price cap that is tied to growth in the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

    By law, the Postal Service can only raise prices on its market-dominant products, such as First-Class Mail, advertising mail, and magazines, by the annual growth in inflation. The law allows it to ask the regulator for a price increase above inflation for “exceptional or extraordinary” circumstances. In a public letter to customers, Board Chairman Mickey Barnett described the “precarious financial condition” of the Postal Service and the “uncertain path toward enactment of postal reform legislation” as primary reasons for seeking price changes above inflation. Barnett said if comprehensive postal reform legislation were to pass, the Postal Service would reconsider its pricing strategy.

    The Postal Service filed for an exigent price increase in July 2010, saying the economic recession was an exceptional circumstance that threatened its viability. The PRC rejected the proposal and the Postal Service challenged the rejection in federal appeals court. The court remanded the original case back to the PRC, but at that time, the Postal Service did not pursue it.

    If the PRC were to approve this current request, the Postal Service would raise prices on January 14, 2014. On average, postage rates would increase 5.9 percent – or 4.3 percent above CPI. Mailer groups are expected to oppose the exigent price increase. The PRC has 90 days to issue an opinion on the Postal Service’s exigent price increase proposal.

    What do you think? Share your thoughts on the proposed exigent price increase.

  • on Feb 6th, 2012 in Delivery & Collection | 17 comments
    In an effort to reduce costs, the U.S. Postal Service has proposed cutting delivery service to five days per week by eliminating Saturday delivery. For a moment, let’s ignore the argument over whether the delivery days should be cut to five to ask another question: is Saturday the right day to cut? While the Postal Service says Saturday has the lowest daily mail volume, it is the one day when most people are home to accept their mail. Some mail recipients say that Saturday is the delivery day they would least like to eliminate. Many periodicals and advertising mailers value Saturday above all other days because their customers have more time to read their magazines and ads and are more likely to act on them. Equally important, busy households are also available to accept packages—a competitive advantage the Postal Service has over the competition. Lastly, eliminating Saturday delivery could further crowd post offices with customers retrieving their packages. In its recent filing with the Postal Regulatory Commission proposing the end of Saturday delivery the Postal Service did not cite the impact on service of having two consecutive non-delivery days (such as Saturday and Sunday). Eliminating delivery on Saturdays or Mondays could slow service more than eliminating it on some other day. For example, let’s take a product like Priority Mail or First-Class Mail that we will assume takes exactly two days to be delivered after it is deposited. Since the Postal Service does not accept or deliver mail on Sunday, the current average delivery time would be 2.17 days. If you end delivery on Saturday, the average delivery time would increase to 2.50 days (pieces sent on Friday and Thursday would take 3 and 4 days respectively). Alternately, ending Tuesday service would keep the average delivery days at 2.17. So ignoring the argument over whether it makes sense to convert to 5-day delivery, would it be better to cut Saturday delivery rather than some other day? Are there better options? Would it be possible to end Saturday delivery for business addresses while eliminating Tuesday delivery for residential addresses instead? Tell us what you think.

    This blog is hosted by the OIG’s Risk Analysis Research Center.

  • on Mar 28th, 2011 in Delivery & Collection | 57 comments
    [dropcap style="font-size: 60px; color: #9b9b9b;"]L[/dropcap]ast Thursday the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) issued its advisory opinion on the U. S. Postal Service’s proposal to switch to five-day delivery. Following a year-long analysis, the PRC voiced concerns with the request, questioning the potential savings, the impact on service, and the effect on communities, especially in rural areas. However, the Commission was unable to reach a consensus and did not issue an opinion to endorse or reject the proposal to cut Saturday delivery. The Postal Service responded with a statement from the Postmaster General, reiterating that five-day delivery is a core element of the Postal Service’s strategy for the future. The statement also said the Postal Service will continue to press its case before Congress, which has the authority to change delivery requirements. Do you think the Postal Service has a case for five-day delivery? Although 5-day delivery is a key element of the Postal Service's future plans, there are many other options under consideration at this point in time. In your mind, what do you think are the most important options? Give your comments below. Note: The U.S. Governement Accountability office just released its own report on 5-day delivery. This topic is hosted by the OIG’s Risk Analysis Research Center (RARC).

     

     

     

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