Get Ready for Roller-Coaster Postage Rates
Because the new rules and incentives make apples-to-apples comparisons of the old and new rates difficult, many publishers are still not sure exactly what the new rates will cost them.
The exigent surcharge, which was implemented in January 2014 to repair the financial damage the recent recession did to USPS, is supposed to expire when it has added $2.8 billion to the agency's coffers. To give the Postal Service and its customers time to revise their software and make other adjustments, postal officials must state at least 45 days in advance when they project that the surcharge should expire.
So don't stock up on Forever Stamps: Their value is slated to drop from 49 cents to 47 cents when the surcharge expires.
Mailers groups asked the appeals court to declare that the surcharge was invalid, while the Postal Service's appeal argued to the same court that the surcharge should be permanent.
After a September 2014 hearing, all parties hoped and expected the court to issue an "expedited" ruling by the end of last year. But instead the judges let the matter gestate for 9 months; their timing could make the ruling especially disruptive to postal operations and mail-dependent industries.
The court agreed with the Postal Regulatory Commission's creation of a temporary surcharge, but said the commission's "count once" method did not "recognize the cost to the Postal Service of lost mail volume beyond the year in which it first disappeared."
"For example, a worker laid off during the recession might cancel her cable subscription, and no longer pay her monthly bill by mail," the judges wrote. "The Commission would count that change as a loss of no more than twelve pieces of mail" even "if it takes her four years to find a new job and resubscribe."