A Mailer's Take on the State of Catalog Mailings, Part 1
Historically, catalogers have relied heavily on printers and consultants to keep them abreast of postal matters. There have been, and will continue to be, plenty of exceptions, of course. One such exception is Allen Abbott, EVP/COO at Paul Fredrick MenStyle, a Fleetwood, Pa.-based marketer of men’s apparel. An active backer and member of the upstart American Catalog Mailers Association, Allen gives one mailer’s view of where the U.S. Postal Service is headed and how catalog mailers fit into the picture. Here's part 1 of that interview; part 2 will appear in our May 5 edition. —Paul Miller
Catalog Success: How has postal rate making changed since the implementation of the 2006 postal reform legislation?
Allen Abbott: Prior to the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA), postal rate making was a lengthy litigation process, presided over by the [former] Postal Rate Commission. Rate decisions were made based on cost attribution arguments, with the overriding legal consideration that the Postal Service was mandated to run its operation on a break-even basis.
Under the new law, the USPS has been given much broader latitude to price products and services on a market basis. The time frame for rate making decisions has been dramatically reduced.
CS: What's the current role of the Postal Regulatory Commission?
AA: The Postal Rate Commission was renamed the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) in the PAEA, and the agency’s role has changed from active rate setting to more of an oversight role with much broader powers. The commission does still play a major role in the “rate adjustment” process, however.
The PRC reviews all rates proposed by the USPS to make certain that one, price increases for entire classes of mail don't exceed the legal cap based on the consumer price index (CPI), and two, that other stipulations of PAEA are being met. All subclasses of mail, for example, must pay rates that at least cover their attributable costs.