Size (and thickness)! matters with new postal rates
The US Postal Service launched its new postal rate plan today; the new rates mean that larger packages automatically cost more to ship than smaller ones (regardless of weight) and also puts in restrictions on how thick envelopes can be. Not surprisingly, it's reportedly driving businesses nuts.
For first-class, letter envelopes, the allowed thickness is a quarter inch. If you go over a quarter inch, you run into more costly large envelope or parcel rates.
Postal Service spokesman Dave Partenheimer said the new rates take shape into account because it requires more effort to process a larger piece of mail.
"Before, thickness didn't matter," he said. Now, "thickness does come into play. If it gets too thick you create a new shape."
Cindy Golebiewski, an office manager in Wilmington, Delaware, said her company faces much higher postage costs under the new rules.
"The price is just doubling," she said.
If not for the new thickness limits, "we would be better off stuffing a 6-by-9-inch envelope than putting it into a big brown envelope," she said.
The Direct Marketing Association in New York is "very, very unhappy," said spokeswoman Stephanie Hendricks. "The rates go into effect on Monday under protest."
She complained that businesses also have to deal with a new pricing category called "not flat-machinable."
That pertains to mailings that are not flat and more rigid because they might contain things like cardboard. As such, they don't go through processing machines as easily as letters -- they have "parcel-like characteristics," Partenheimer said.
The new rules pose a problem for Roska Direct Advertising in suburban Philadelphia, which produces marketing pieces in unique shapes like small boxes.
"We're trying to figure it out," said Mario Amici, senior vice president of production, operations and project management. "The post office hasn't really explained this."
Even mailing a simple brochure may pose a problem for businesses.
Postage for a three-panel brochure weighing an ounce might cost the new rate of 41 cents -- up from 39 cents -- unless it's not folded well and the envelope puffs up to half an inch. If the mail can't be easily flattened, then the postage would shoot up to 80 cents. Under the old rules, the envelope could puff out and still cost the same.
Details of the new rates are available at www.usps.com or (800) 275-8777.