As the post that handles almost half of the world’s mail volume, the U.S. Postal Service knows a thing or two about mail. But that doesn’t mean it can’t learn something from other posts.

Although the Postal Service differs in many respects from other posts, many of the regulatory challenges are the same. Recently, in conjunction with expert consultant WIK-Consult, we studied how five other major posts regulate their postage prices. Our white paper, Lessons in Price Regulation from International Posts, looked at how Australia, Canada, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom manage the relationship between price regulation, profitability, and service.

The five posts were chosen carefully: They all have high volumes of mail and large geographic regions but their price regulation differs in some way from the Postal Service’s approach, which under current law includes a price cap based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI) on market dominant products.

Two of the countries (Australia and Canada) have some form of price regulation that is not a price cap. Germany has a price cap formula, while France has a forward-looking cap that uses forecasted cost and revenue information. The United Kingdom has a limited “safeguard cap,” which sets a very high ceiling — one that will most likely never be reached — to ensure that consumers will never be subject to outrageously high rates.

Some of the paper’s key findings:

  • Price regulation in these countries has not been static. In all five, the regulators revisited and modified regulation to allow for greater pricing flexibility in response to changing market conditions.
  • It appears the combination of higher prices, efficiency gains from modernization, and growing parcel volumes have helped stabilize posts’ respective financial positions.
  • In general, posts have been able to maintain service, but it’s unclear what is driving this result.

What can all of this tell us? That, perhaps, we should keep these similar challenges – and key differences – around price regulation for market dominant products in mind as the U.S. continues to debate regulation of the Postal Service?

Comments (2)

  • anon

    Price point for oversea letters and parcels customers that received letter s and parcels from oversea need a pure tracker number between the time it leave from over sea thru labor customer check point til it arrives at one state to another state to it's finally arrived points there are more questions raised with carriers from customers stated my letter or parcels should have been here now there should be a fee made in advance to all customers that you can tracker that letter or package all the way from over sea til arrived here in the right States I does pay attention to my mail one customer ask me over two months about a parcels I told him if I had a tracker number I could call the station and try to get a manager if they not so laziness causes it's three availability but it's so hard to ask nonworking people as managers to do anything and that come to my second point inspector general why we do not have an app download on our scanner were it's will save time and money to input track number to track a customer parcels or letters as we put for the envelope blog let's push for more download apps on the scanner I know one thing at a time it's take time but two of our biggest lost and this is were our money is at we need more advanced in shipping letters and parcels over sea we loose our customers on the tracking part we are mail carrier we have no way of tracking a parcels or letters for them we have to too much technology out there for us not to be advance more the one of the last thing I see as a carrier on a partial business route we loose money on selling postal office stamp there should be an advanced app on those scanner where those customer should be able to order their business stamp for next day fee I had several companies tell me they do not like Winchester post office which is the closest one to them they never have enough stamp to buy in bulk which is soar of crazy we are a mail unit and stamp should be available some customer tell me they drive all the way to hickory Hill just to get stamp and good service sometimes I have to say stop customers we do have a customer service hot line that will save you time I used to have material to order stamp by mail but AMC no longer get supplies any more since the station is moving so I refer to our hot line when it could have been downloaded on our scanner for a quicker way and for those customer who need stamp the same day to short their drive time since no Kroger store had relocate out of the 38118 area white station is over the hill and last shipment of oversea parcels there are customer who try to give you parcels and money to take they parcels to the station for shipping sorry that a no no no we are not allowed to handle your money and parcels like that I think that why we loose slot to FedEx and UPS on pick up service we should have a voice as to say between the low level of town to high level of town there should be a drop off service for shipping parcels and letters for those who can't get off in time for customer who have business open til the time they closed at night you gets a lot of this everyday mail lady I can't get to the post office but I do tell them for now airport is open til 9:00 pm and they are open on Sunday but most forgein customers are seven days a week business operations just my suggestion we need in between shipping drop off point just like FedEx is in with Kroger store for drop off point of packages they have rules in place what can be shipped and what can be shipped thank for listening

    Mar 07, 2017
  • anon

    I think your policy for workers leaving the window where they help customers,in order to write on a little piece of paper, what I will be needing once I get to the window is not efficient. By leaving the window where they would be able to help me has now caused a delay in my time of getting out of the post office. I would like to be able to voice my complaint to the higher up's that put this into effect. I have been sent in a full circle, call, speak , sorry i dont have a name or number you can complain to. So I try the website. Nope nothing there either. Nothing accomplished. Please I need a name and address in order to actually be able to voice my complaint. COULD YOU PLEASE HELP!

    Mar 07, 2017

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