on Feb 17th, 2009 in Ideas Worth Exploring | 23 comments
The Postal Service requires full addresses on most mail, but this creates unnecessary complications for small local businesses such as pizza parlors and dry cleaners that simply want to send a flyer to every address in the surrounding area. It would be much easier for them to bring a stack of unaddressed mail pieces to the Postal Service and let the Postal Service deliver one to each address.

The Postal Service previously worked on a concept called Neighborhood Mail to meet this need. Using Neighborhood Mail, a business could send unaddressed mail to potential customers in the community it serves. The Postal Service would tell the business how many pieces were necessary to cover the delivery area and charge it for delivery. Such a service is not unusual. Many postal services in other countries offer unaddressed mail service.

Neighborhood Mail, however, has its opponents. Newspapers, which compete with mail for local advertising, opposed the development of the Neighborhood Mail concept in the past. Neighborhood Mail would also compete with mail consolidators and alternate delivery providers which currently help small businesses deliver information to the community. In addition, unaddressed mail could raise environmental concerns, so the Postal Service might want to offer households the ability to opt out of receiving Neighborhood Mail.

What do you think about Neighborhood Mail? Are there other services the Postal Service could introduce to help local communities?


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I think it's a great idea. And long overdue I might add.

If the Postal Service is looking for a significant revenue generating idea, neighborhood mail or unaddressed mail, could provide such an opportunity. This opportunity could generate hundreds of millions of new revenue and potentially billions. Neighborhood mail is offered by virtually every industrialized post and it has been successful anywhere it was tried.

And I believe the political climate has changed favorably. Historically, newspapers who provided coupon inserts were against the Postal Service offering it. But this was a self-serving position. After all, neighborhood mail would constitute a direct competition and threat to a lucrative revenue stream for newspapers. Commercial mail services who provide similar services using the Postal service, like Advo and Valpak, were also against it. But all these entities are struggling financially anyway. The Postal Service should have the political courage to try again this great idea. It needs the additional revenues and it needs to be in the business of serving neighborhoods with relevant and inexpensive mail.

Neighborhood mail (unaddressed mail) is an awful answer!! It failed in the 1950's and now the USPS has developed high tech letter and flat sorters in intersort Standard A mail into Walk Route Sequence...now in a single stream. For nearly 60 years we and a number of progressive responsible regional and national mailers have mailed Resident mail for retailers in walk sequence...long before the USPS built its own address system. It was and is a good and efficient product which has saved the USPS many tons of money during that time period. Harry Turner

Bad idea. Trends are to target and personlize more, not less. This practice would create more unwanted junk mail and there would be no way to have yourself removed from the list.

I do not think this is a good idea for the US Postal Service. Postal is trying to automate--that is have a machine sort into delivery address order--as much mail as possible. The Postal Service should not create any new letter mail or flat mail delivery services that do not require a full mailing address.

Considering that Neighborhood Mail has been profitable in virtually every industrialized country where it was tried, why would the US Postal Service want to take private sector jobs out of the US economy?

If adopted, this type of idea shows the USPS is beginning to think differently strategically. Currently or in the recent past (if I'm not mistaken), rural route mail could be addressed with a simple "postal customer" address, but city routes required the full blown address. It's always been difficult to justify or rationalize the difference to our customers.

Let's keep thinking forward, USPS!

Any idea from the OIG is self-serving and against the best interests of the USPS itself. These guys spend all day looking for ways to justify their existence (and paycheck).

I thik this is a good idea. I costs nothing to implement and the numbers for the mailers are already in place. Since management contends that a third bundle takes no extra time in the street (which is bogus) this is a win/win.

The postal service seems to forget the SERVICE is part of it's name. In this current economy, doing business locally makes sense for the USPS and it's customers. This is a good idea and should be championed by district managers.

It's money for nothing. We lose business everyday from online banking to the sunday paper. Lets try to be flexible and give the people what they want. There are so many different options for package and information delivery out there, lets make the Postal Service the best one.

It's time to actually act like a business, rather than a wasteful pseudo-government agency.

I have previously wrote at PostalMag that the USPS needs a Google Adwords-type program. With Google Adwords, potential advertisers log in, design and create their ad, determine where it will be shown on the Internet (local, national, countries, etc.), and then hit Confirm, and voila it is done. Now I know the USPS has something similar for mailings (Netpost I believe), but if it was as easy as Adwords where a pizza parlor, dry cleaner etc. could just log in, design a FSS/DPS compatible post card, designate neighborhoods for mailing, then I think it could generate volume for the USPS as well as helping local businesses.

See: http://www.postalmag.com/editorial26.htm

As for "Neighborhood Mail" I think that's a great idea. About a month ago, a restaurant owner had a stack of about 1000 flyers advertising their restaurant. (Due to the economy, this restaurant is suffering and the owner was trying to drum up business by handing out flyers.) The owner asked me if I could put a flyer in each mailbox at the apartments I deliver to for $20. I declined. But this would have been a great opportunity for the Postal Service if it had a Neighborhood Mail service. Many small business owners don't understand how to get a Standard Mail permit, but they would easily understand Neighborhood Mail.


seems to me that your losing business by not doing this and in the end they end up throwing them in driveways and littering doors with all of them. the opponents are newspapers? why does that matter? we would pick up revenue and a new business which in turn could turn them on to othre businesses or other services that business may need. and opting out isnt an option with circulars so why would it be an option for this concept? also mail consolidators are a problem just as companies like pitney bowes build new presort houses while we excess people from our buildings, it just doesnt make sense. it could pick up legit business and in turn revenue.

I think Neighborhood Mail is a good service and can be marketed and may produce alternate source of revenue for USPS. However it may be beneficial if there is a bin provided by USPS for recycling of the mails for each significant location or around letter boxes who wanted to return the mails that they consider are not relevent to them and this can be reused by USPS to recirculate to other locations or sent for recycling. Alternate sources can be allow advertisements for a fee to businesses for various USPS products as sponsors that could generate the revenue for USPS.

The question of whether the FSS machines can handle Neighborhood needs to be addressed. However, the argument that it would take private sector jobs is costly, wasteful, and ignorant. Suppose the Postal Service could deliver the materials by employing 500 additional people, all taken from the private sector, all who would have otherwise been producing some goods that people want. And suppose that the private sector could deliver the materials by employing 50,000 additional people. Why would you want to take 50,000 people from otherwise useful jobs when you can take only 500?

Great Post. All too often, government related sites are full of rubbish, however this post has been useful. Cheers for the information.

I think that Neighborhood Mail is bad idea because of privacy and environmental issues.

Neighborhood mail could work for small churches and businesses needing to reach the community. However, some rules would need to be in place to insure it was cost effective for the Postal Service. First it would cost the same as regular mail no discount. The advantage for the customer is they can hit each house on the street. The Postal Service would provide a list of street and a number of stops each carrier makes to the business or church. The business would place a first class stamp on each piece and then divide the number of pieces by carrier and street. Example: CR 6 gets 200 letters for Ridge Ave. CR 7 gets 50 letters for Ridge Ave. That way if several carriers worked the same street it would not be a problem. Second the business would have to separate by carrier and street. As I said earlier they would bring a tray or sack for each carrier in that neighborhood with the number for each street. The requirement would be they must take it to the BMEU and then after approval they deliver it DDU style to the unit. The carriers would basically take out their flyers for the street and deliver house by house similar to what they do already. It is a win win for the customer and the post office.

I am a small business owner, and rather than walk around putting door hangers onto people's doors, I would rather pay the USPS to pop them into a mailbox.

I think that unaddressed mail is a bad idea for the USPS. It will destroy the value of advertising mail and fuel the fires of Do Not Mail Legislation.

Just what would be the charge on this? Some papers deliver it already in the for $29 per thousand for a single sheet flyer. Can the Post Office offer this rate? Also, most times 1,000 flyers doesn't get the saturation an advertiser needs to pull in customers.

I like the idea. It seems it would help small local business that add so much to a community. I'm not so worried about newspapers, they're in decline as it is and blocking something like neighborhood mail won't change that. And while some newspapers may offer a service like this, not all do of them do so this would be a good option for small business owners to have to get the most bang for the buck.

I am a MFSA member. I resent USPS deciding to compete with their best customer the Direct Mail Industry with the EDDU Program.
A new Postmaster General wants MSPs to partner with him to promote a program that makes it easier for businesses to bypass our services and prepare their own mailings. The stated goal of the EDDM program is to go after SMBs that are not using the mail stream. But where have postal marketing and sales teams gone to find these “NEW” customers? To their local BMEU’s where they gather contact information (provided by MSPs) of our existing customers.
Every time there is a big postal marketing push, postal sales people rush to BMEU’s to collect proprietary mail owner information (identified as a Ghost Number) that was provided in confidence by MSPs. Also available to postal sales people is the type of mail utilized, quantities mailed, frequency, and postage amounts paid by these Ghost Number accounts. For many MSPs, this privileged information is not allowed to be shared with anyone and is covered by confidentiality agreements. And yet the USPS takes this proprietary information and is able to share it with the world!

Very good post. In many European countries like Germany for example, they offer a similar service.
The online counterpart of this of course is the local search on Google Places, where businesses who target customers like dentists, pizza places, plumbers, locksmiths etc. can receive very targeted traffic to their website.
Googles service Google AdWords allows you to limit your advertisement activities locally.

Very good post, I like the idea that it well help small business with their mails, flyers and ads.

Several times a year our antiques business needs to ship expensive but typically non-fragile items (metal vases, things like that). This often requires Registered Mail service for insurance over $5,000, and this requires a special tamper-evident paper packing tape activated by moisture - not regular packaging tape. For some reason, USPS does not sell this tape, they've only occasionally agreed to give me a few feet to take home, and I'd attempt to apply this tape, and make a second trip back to the post office. Today, they had no sponges to moisten the tape and apply it on the spot, so they gave me a glue stick. Which was horribly ineffective, totally incompatible with this moisture-activated tape, and it fell off immediately. It took all day to secure one package for shipping.

We are happy to pay whatever the shipping cost - it's covered by the customer - but the increasingly arduous task of mailing these items with insurance has forced us to seek out other shipping companies. One would think something so logistically simple wouldn't be such a constant issue. Please just sell the effing tape so I can arrive at the post office prepared (or better yet use something that doesn't use water-activated adhesive). It's just plain ridiculous, and it makes things exceedingly difficult for everybody.

I moved 7 mos ago from one city to the other and they quit sending me the shopper flyers and they told me because previous tenantchanged her address now, I too changed my address but, no longer getting them, I think this is ignorant that I have to call an 8oo number to get them again! And by the way, why isn't it on here so I don't have to speak to the rude supervisor at my post office? I am not at my home address right now so don'tbe thinking that thisis P.O. I'm talking about!