Do you know why some magazines include postcards in the middle? Or have you mailed a letter back to a company in their envelope without having to put a stamp on it? Did you ever wonder how this service works?

The Postal Service offers a service called Business Reply Mail (BRM). By opening an account with the local Post Office, a business may supply their customers with return envelopes or labels. This allows customers to send a reply via First-Class Mail or Priority Mail. The business pays the postage and a per piece fee only for the pieces returned. To ensure the postage is collected, clerks at the delivery Post Office calculate the amount due and withdraw the money from a customer account. In some cases, carriers collect the postage when they deliver the pieces to the business. Generally, BRM pieces are identified through automation process; however, the Postal Service relies on clerks and carriers to identify and hold out any BRM pieces that have not been isolated through automation.

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Recent changes in the public’s mailing habits alongside increased use of the internet to communicate with customers have led to reductions in BRM volume. This coupled with a smaller workforce with greater responsibilities may increase the risk to the Postal Service of not collecting all revenue from BRM.

Do you think a change in the way the Postal Service charges for these pieces would increase the mailing volume while also helping the Postal Service reduce work hours? Is a flat rate based on quarterly volume estimates a more attractive option? Share your thoughts on BRM.

This blog topic is hosted by the OIG's Field Financial East directorate.

Comments (51)

  • anon

    The Postal Service collects money in two ways. Either through a direct deduction from the customer account or at the time of delivery. High volume customers have money on deposit with the Postal Service. The charge for the BRM pieces processed is deducted from those accounts. For lower volume or infrequent users, the Postal Service collects upon delivery. Sometimes carriers collect and sometimes the customer picks-up the mail at the office and pays at that time. The different per piece charges take into account these different processing methods and are structured to recoup Postal Service costs.

    May 18, 2009

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