Plan for Another Postal Increase, Cautions Expert
The bottom line: Put some money in the budget for it. In my opinion, there are just too many challenges at this point not to take precautionary measures.
INBOX: With all of the uncertainty surrounding the future of postal rates, how would you advise publishers remain active rather than reactive in their projecting and budgeting as they relate to postal costs?
WIDENER: To be safe, I would recommend being active and, as I said earlier, plan on an increase for next year. The $1 million question is "How much?" to which no one knows the answer. Your crystal ball is as good as anyone else's. [Planning for] a 4-percent increase might be a good middle-of-the-road approach.
INBOX: How likely is it that the USPS will nix Saturday delivery, and how should publishers expect this to affect their businesses?
WIDENER: Saturday delivery is one of the cost-cutting measures they have made a commitment to implementing due to the savings. And if the savings are accurate, which must be validated, we must give them a fair hearing on it. If this does occur, the earliest [it would happen] would be late in the fall of 2010, and probably not until 2011.
The biggest concern to publishers would be to time-sensitive publications that want their copies delivered on Saturday. How will their customers react to not getting their copies until Monday, or, if Monday is a holiday, until Tuesday? To change an edit close and/or production schedule to deliver on another day is not the easiest thing for a publication to do.
Though the Postal Service may prefer to eliminate Saturday delivery, it has to be approved by Congress. There will be strong opposition from certain parties which include the public, postal unions, some mailing customers and possibly Congress.
INBOX: What's the latest with Intelligent Mail Barcodes, and are publishers using them effectively yet?
WIDENER: Publishers are not using them effectively at this point. The main benefit with the May 18 implementation for publishers was to obtain free Address Correction Service (ACS) changes by being a full-service participant. Three months after the program went live, no publishers are utilizing this service. There are several who are close and may begin using it in the next week or so.